Reflective writing essay

Reflective writing essay guidelines


Your reflective essay should be between 800 to 1000 words in length. The structure and style of any piece of reflective writing can vary greatly. However, we have provided a specific structure for you to follow in this instance, using Gibbs Reflective Cycle (Gibbs, 1988) to guide your thinking and writing processes.


Please see the folder Assessment > Portfolio – Google Ads Certification > Resources to Assist You for helpful information about using the model. You are also encouraged to do your own research to find other resources that may help. Also, be sure to closely examine the rubric used for marking this piece of assessment.


A reflective essay should follow the classic essay format of introduction, body, and conclusion but remember, you only have 1000 words to succinctly make your case.


While keeping a journal of your learning experiences when completing the Google Certification modules is advisable to help with your reflection, you will not submit any journaling as part of this assignment. The task is a reflective essay.


Your paper should be typed in 12-point Times New Roman font, double-spaced, with 2.54cm margins. Please attach a cover page and include references and appendix material if used. These will not count toward the 1000 word limit. Referencing style should be APA 6th or 7th.


Upon completion of each individual Google Ad Certification, you will be able to access a web page displaying your “certificate”. The URL (i.e. web address) of each of these certifications must be provided in an appendix in your submitted document.


The PDF version of your document must be uploaded to two locations: Blackboard and Turnitin. The links to these will appear in the Assessment > Portfolio – Google Ads Certification folder closer to the due date.


Some general features of reflective essays



  • To record, the development of your ideas and insights and their implications for practice
  • To reflect on the content of the subject and on your own learning process
  • To analyse and discuss your responses to key concepts/issues from course work, reading, and/or practical learning, etc.



  • Often a response to an aspect of a course: e.g. learning modules and/or readings
  • Generally focuses on a particular aspect of course content and its potential application to theory and/or practice



  • Written for yourself as a record of a learning experience (although your lecturer is also the audience in an assessment task)



  • Usually no headings; may be separated into sections if it suits the purpose
  • May follow the structure of a “reflective learning model” (e.g. Gibbs Reflective




  • Standard written English, using paragraphs and complete sentences; use of ‘I’ is permitted
  • May be subjective to reflect your responses and interpretations



  • Success depends on demonstration of insights into the course content, and developing awareness of inter-relationships and implications of different aspects of course content



Information on Applying the Gibbs’ Reflective Model


‘It is not sufficient simply to have an experience in order to learn. Without reflecting upon this experience it may quickly be forgotten, or its learning potential lost. It is from the feelings and thoughts emerging from this reflection that generalisations or concepts can be generated and it is generalisations that allow new situations to be tackled effectively.’ (Gibbs 1988) 




Using this 6-step model should help to identify your strengths, areas for development and actions you can take to enhance your professional skills. Steps 1 – 3 relate to what happened during the experience and steps 4 – 6 focus on how you could improve on the experience and outcome in the future.



Step 1 – Description

This should be a brief description of the experience to set the scene and give context.


Step 2 – Feelings

Consider what you were thinking and how you felt before the experience. How did you feel during the experience? How did you feel after the experience? This is another short descriptive step, rather than being analytical.


Step 3 – Evaluation

Evaluation looks objectively at both positive and negative aspects of the experience. Describe key elements that went particularly well. Was there anything that did not go well or did not work? If appropriate, you can include what others (e.g. Google) did or did not do well.


Step 4 – Analysis

Analysis attempts to explain why the experience was positive or negative and should form the largest section of your reflection. Take into account points made in the previous steps and identify any factors which helped you e.g. previous experiences, carrying out research or consulting with others. Consider your role in the experience and how you contributed to the success of this experience?


If things did not go to plan, why do you think this was e.g. lack of preparation or external factors beyond your control? It can be useful to consider other people who also may have participated in this experience (e.g. classmates; professionals you may know). Did they have similar views or reactions to you? If not, why do you think that was the case?


Step 5 – Conclusion

Focus on what you have learned. Are there any skills you developed as a result of the experience? If so, how would you apply them in future experiences or situations? Are there areas of knowledge or particular skills you now need to develop? Is there anything you would do differently in the future? Try to give specific examples.


Step 6 – Action Plan

What specific actions can you now take to build on your knowledge or skills? You could include any training that would benefit you (formal or otherwise), as well as identifying sources of information or support (people or resources).



Example Items to Consider

What key skills (if any) were developed through your completion of the accreditation modules?

What information in the course (if any) informed your experience and thinking during the learning process?

Which aspects of the accreditation (if any) will be most useful or applicable to you or your career in the future? Why you think these will/will not be useful or applicable to your career.


Using a Word Count

To avoid over-writing and to ensure your reflection is well-balanced and structured, the following is a general guide as to how each section should be weighted, depending on the final word count of any reflection you produce. The following guideline is for a reflection in the region of 1000 words.



Steps % Approx. Words
1 20% 200
2 10-20% 150
3 20% 200
4 30% 300
5 5-10% 75
6 5-10% 75
TOTAL 100% 1000 words


* NOTE: The above figures are a rough guide only.






Gibbs G (1988). Learning by Doing: A guide to teaching and learning methods. Further Education Unit. Oxford Polytechnic: Oxford.