Reflective Writing

Hand holding a pencil writing in a notebook with a laptop also on the table

Created by James Wright, MFA, Associate Director and Multilingual Writing Specialist at the UMB Writing Center, and in conjunction with the Center for Global Engagement, this is a guide to help you engage in critical self-reflection to enhance your international experiences and grow from them in ways that skills to take into your career. In addition, this guide can help you turn “field notes” into a compelling narrative that can be used in future personal essays for employment and education and even as a publishable manuscript.

What are the benefits of critically self-reflective writing?

  • Improve academic skills, higher level of thinking and problem solving
  • Promote a deeper understanding and personal development by enhancing self-awareness, sense of community and your own capacities

  • Examine and question belief, opinions and values

  • Facilitate the examination and interpretation of experiences into cognitive learning

  • Learn how to articulate your experience to future employers

Faculty and students can use these resources in a number of ways – from simply learning the value of reflective writing all the way to engaging in a full-blown reflective writing experience that includes peer review and completion of a final written essay. If you are a faculty member interested in a more robust reflective writing component for your students, please contact James Wright in the UMB Writing Center at

Stepping In Stepping Out Reflective Writing Guide

This document will guide you through the reflective writing process. Writing “field notes” process can start before you leave for your global experience, ramp up once you are on the ground in the global setting, and can include notes you write when you return.

Before you leave: Prepare

When you’re away: Write

When you come back: Reflect and Review

While you are engaged in your global experience, write up your field notes and free writing according to the Stepping In Stepping Out Reflective Writing Guide.

Combine field notes into reflective essay according to the Stepping In Stepping Out Reflective Writing Guide. This can start on the plane ride home.

Peer Review

Once you have drafted your field notes into a reflective essay, it is very helpful to ask your peers to review your work – especially peers who were part of the same global experience. You will all learn from each other.

Faculty members: peer review will enhance the reflective writing process for your students. 

Faculty and/or Writing Center Specialist review: After peer review (if you decide to do peer review), you can submit your essay to your faculty member. This may be required as part of the global experience to get academic credit. You can also work with the UMB Writing Center and have them review the essay. The goal of the reviews is to develop the essay into the best shape possible so that it memorializes your experience well and serves as a document your can use and refer to in the future.

See Reflective Essay Review Guide.

Reflective Writing Instructions

Credit: James Wright, MFA, Associate Director and Multilingual Writing Specialist, UMB Writing Center