Reflective writing

In various models of reflective writing, it’s common to connect personal experience to specific content from your paper/course. This involves:

  • Identifying theories or parts of theories from research
  • Matching theory to concrete experiences, such as examples of what people do, say, think, feel, etc...
  • Using language to make clear links from theory to experience (and vice versa)

These features may be specific to one part of your assignment, or spread throughout, depending on your assignment instructions.

Connecting ideas

Your ability to relate and match experiences to theory shows deep understanding of content. The concrete details of personal experiences may be your own or experiences recorded in research (depending on your assignment question).

Connecting example 1: Theory to experience

Connecting theory to experience

Connecting example 2: Experience to theory

Connecting experience to theory

Connecting example 3: Theory to experience, back to theory

Connecting theory to experience and back to theory

One advantage of example 3 is that you can connect different theories (or different parts of the same theory) to one experience/example. In all three examples, there is a balance of theory and experience, and language is used to make clear links.

Language for linking theory to experience

Linking theory to experience

Language for linking experience to theory

Linking experience to theory

Summary of ways to connect theory and experience

Connecting summary



Reflective writing (3:08)

Video script (pdf)



Your lecturer may specify a particular reflective writing model for you to use. Prompt questions can help you get started.


The notion of the ‘wave’ is an adaption of theory that draws on the dimension of Semantics in Legitimation Code Theory (Maton, 2013).

Maton, K. (2013). Making semantic waves: A key to cumulative knowledge-building. Linguistics and Education, 24(1), 8–22.