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Reflective writing: Reflective questioning

“...reflection does not necessarily just happen but conditions can be structured to encourage it to happen”

Moon, Reflection in learning & professional development

Reflective questioning

Reflective thinking should always start with the six strategic questions:

  • What?
  • When?
  • Who?
  • Where?
  • Why?
  • How?

Examples of reflective questions

What prior knowledge did I have?

How did I act during the event?

What did I learn from the event that I did not know before?

What links can I make between my experience and other events/ideas from my studies or workplace?

How can I use the knowledge I have gained from this event/experience in the future?

Are there other interpretations of the event? Do I need to consider them?

What are the implications of what happened?

If I distance myself from the event and observe my reactions to it, does it change my perspective?

Based on what I have learned, how should I act in future?

What other information do I need in order to understand the implications of the event?

What is the best way to go forward?

Looking back, would I have done things differently?  If so, what and why? If not, why not?

A student self questioning

Structuring your reflective thoughts

As an exercise in reflective thinking, choose an experience and try to organise your thoughts into this table. This is based on the model from the previous page. The questions below are there to help guide you through your reflection. Note: If you fill in these boxes this page will not store your answers.

An experience/event


Thinking about the experience


Learning from the experience


Tip: When you are asked to keep a learning log/journal/diary as part of a portfolio or assignment for your course, the above format will help you to reflect on, rather than simply describe, your experience.


As suggested on the previous page, critical thinking is an important part of reflection. The reflective questions on this page can be used as a base for deconstructing your own experiences and the form above is a simple example of how you can structure reflection.

The experience (1), think (2), learn (3) model is very useful for applying to portfolios and simple assignments. The next page will introduce theoretical approaches to reflective practice that can be used to structure reflections that are more detailed.