Introduction to Reflective Practice and Journaling


Since the publication of Donald Schön's work, The Reflective Practitioner, in 1983, the importance of the ongoing development of professionals has been widely understood.  Many professions today expect their members to engage in 'reflective practice' as part of their ongoing Continuing Professional Development (CPD), and yet very few provide any clear advice as to how to do so, or provide support as this habit is slowly nurtured.  We know that reflective practice is a process that distinguishes mediocre performance from exceptional success in many disciplines.  It is the 'secret' behind many widely accepted, highly talented individuals.

In this course, we take a blended approach to developing the skill and the habit of using it.  We shall explore some well known exemplars, put reflective practice into the context of critical analysis, experiment with a number of different approaches, and support one another as we instill it into our daily lives.

Reflective practice is not simply 'keeping a diary', indeed it may use very different technologies; it is about observing ourselves, the impact of our actions, and our responses to the world around us.  It calls for an openness to challenge and a preparedness to experiment with different approaches to many aspects of our work and life.

Programme details

Week 1:  Introduction, overview and self-assessment; initial exercise

Week 2:  A brief history of reflective practice; working with assistance (eg coaching)

Week 3:  Critical analysis

Week 4:  Journaling (by hand and computer); models and aids to reflection

Week 5:  Cultural influences on our performance

Week 6:  Our ability to observe ourselves - psychological and other barriers to objectivity

Week 7:  Alternative approaches (Blog, Vlog)

Week 8:  Applying our insights - the nature of experimentation

Week 9:  Motivation - theory, practice, finding it

Week 10:  Committing to the process; establishing our own approach


Students who register for CATS points will receive a Record of CATS points on successful completion of their course assessment.

To earn credit (CATS points) you will need to register and pay an additional £10 fee per course. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online.

Coursework is an integral part of all weekly classes and everyone enrolled will be expected to do coursework in order to benefit fully from the course. Only those who have registered for credit will be awarded CATS points for completing work at the required standard.

Students who do not register for CATS points during the enrolment process can either register for CATS points prior to the start of their course or retrospectively from between January 1st and July 31st after the current academic year has been completed. If you are enrolled on the Certificate of Higher Education you need to indicate this on the enrolment form but there is no additional registration fee.


Description Costs
Course Fee £350.00
Take this course for CATS points £10.00


Dr Graham Wilson

A PhD in animal behaviour, and initial career in organisation development - creating exceptional places to work - followed by psychotherapy training, led Graham to coach, write, and speak on leadership development, and practice as an executive confidant for 20+ years.

Course aims

To introduce the theory of reflective practice, to experiment with different approaches, and develop it as a habit, so that participants are equipped to use it on an ongoing basis for years ahead.

Course Objectives:

  • To understand the benefits of reflective practice in our personal and professional lives.
  • To place reflective practice in a historical and theoretical context alongside 'critical theory'.
  • To experiment with, and evaluate, a range of alternative approaches, using different technologies, assisted and individual. 

Teaching methods

Large and small group discussion - variously led by the tutor and participants; self-reflection; triads; pre- and post-session tutor-led input via VLE (Moodle); online and offline peer dialogue.

Learning outcomes

  • To understand the contribution of reflective practice, especially seen in the wider context of critical analysis, to the development of professional excellence and personal success.
  • To raise the level of self-awareness of individuals and their ability to observe themselves more objectively.
  • To enable participants to maintain a habit of reflective practice in a form that best suits them.

Assessment methods

At the end of the course, participants will be expected to share two or more written reflective pieces based on their experience of the group and/or the course.  The total word count will be up to 1500 words.

Students must submit a completed Declaration of Authorship form at the end of term when submitting your final piece of work. CATS points cannot be awarded without the aforementioned form.


To earn credit (CATS points) for your course you will need to register and pay an additional £10 fee per course. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online.

Please use the 'Book' or 'Apply' button on this page. Alternatively, please complete an application form.

Level and demands

This course is intended as an introduction for anyone interested in developing a reflective practice habit in support of their professional and personal development.  It does not require any particular previous experience.

Where an individual is required to demonstrate their use of it in their profession we will consider how they can match those requirements.

We anticipate that most participants will be particularly focused on the use of this approach in their work life, though some others may wish to concentrate on their personal.

It will be of benefit to professionals in the fields of teaching, medicine, law, architecture, health, sports, counselling, coaching, politics, business, leadership, and management.  It may also be of interest to artists of various kinds, designers, and photographers for whom critical analysis in the development of their work is key.

By its nature, reflective practice calls for self-exploration, honesty, and an openness to being challenged personally.  Participants will be expected to support each other in this process too.

Most of the Department's weekly classes have 10 or 20 CATS points assigned to them. 10 CATS points at FHEQ Level 4 usually consist of ten 2-hour sessions. 20 CATS points at FHEQ Level 4 usually consist of twenty 2-hour sessions. It is expected that, for every 2 hours of tuition you are given, you will engage in eight hours of private study.

Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS)