Writing for Students: ‘Critical reflection’ is a method that can easily be learnt by you.

Without fail, I know from experience reading student's work, that your first draft writing will contain what you want to say. The problem is the key points are buried or jumbled up in lots of other words. As that comedian said to Andre Previn," I am playing the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order."

It is common for students beginning their studies to write in this way.

The solution:

  1. Keep moving the words around.
  2. Read the sentence out.
  3. Move sections around again until it is right.
  4. Make it fun!

I learnt this idea from broadcasters and wordsmiths, such as Astley Jones, Timmy Mallet, Johnny Morris and experts in the BBC radio studios while I was presenting on location, producing and scriptwriting. It is a trick of the trade!

Imagine you are emerging from a fog of confusion to a sunny upland of clear vision and knowledge!

Treat your first attempts at writing as rough notes and REWRITE – yes rewriting is normal, is natural and everyone has to do. It is not a weakness. Even Churchill used to rewrite his speeches (and walk about practising them out loud. Bathrooms are good for this!).

Try the following (you can also use the self editing section ideas too):

  1. Circle the most important words of your 'story' or message buried in the paragraphs of your first piece of writing - these are the core of what you want to say. These are called KEYWORDS.
  2. Create an new introduction to your first paragraph of each section of your writing using these KEYWORDS and repeat the KEYWORDS in the sentences that follow. (Example to come here)

You should always begin with an Introduction labelled Introduction. Laid out and numbered exactly as below! DO not underline - difficult to read.

1.0: Introduction

I want to study (or better) This project is a study of (keyword A) and (keyword B) and covers the subjects of keyword d,e,f, etc. A clear introduction spelling out the aim of the section.
These subject areas (keyword A, B, C, etc) are important to the project because…….

Then start a new section.

1.01: Title

Including keyword A in the title.
See illustration below for the method to follow from then on…

Include a summary at the end of the section reminding the reader of how you the researcher will use the information,why thy the information will be valueable and why the research will improve (or not) your own research product or results.

The reason for all this careful organisation is that as students you are required to...

Degree level papers require critical reflection and use the academic form and structure below to show that the writer has read books, compared different ideas and then critically reflects on the information.

‘Critical reflection’ is a new method that can easily be learnt by you.

The whole process is a writing style that allows the writer to be clear about what he is saying and the reader to be able to get the message as precisely as possible.

This example is a paper that requires you to: "Write a critical evaluation of 3 web sites"

Typical Before (poor GCSE – School level) and After (good degree standard) writing structures.

(Originally used by HND students on my Digital Technology Course)


Web site A

Websites are really interesting and I like looking at them. websites need to be easy to navigate (Keyword A navigate) Red is a useful colour, big letters are nice ramble rameblmrramble
Ramlbelarameblarmalralmrlmalmlr That's what I think.
Graphics help Keyword B use of graphic illustrations
Ramlbelarameblarm People like pictures. alralmrlmalmlr
Aasldalskdnlaks Sexy ones help dnlasdalsldn Keyword  C advertising RamlbelaraYou can make money from advertising meblarmalralm Too much drives peole away rlmalmlr

Web site B

Keyword Buse of illustrations
Aasldalskdnlaksdnlasdalsldn Keyword  C – advertising Ramlbelarameblarmalralmrlmalmlr
Ramble rambmle ramble Keyword Anavigation  ramble  rameblmr
ramble Ramlbelarameblarmalralm

1.0 Introduction

In this section five web sites called....... will be studied for [Keywords: ease of navigation, use of illustrations and advertising].
These subject areas [Keywords] are significant for the project because -----
This is what your cover contents sheet page should look like. [ Each Keywordor phrase becomes a section in the paper itself ]..
1.1 WEB 1
1.1.1 ease of navigation
1.1.2 use of illustrations
1.1.3 advertising

1.2 WEB 2
1.2.1 ease of navigation
1.2.2 use of illustrations
1.2.3 advertising

1.3 WEB 3
1.3.1 ease of navigation
1.3.2 use of illustrations
1.3.3 advertising

2.0 Summary
Summarise qualities of each site and explain why.

Web 1

Web 2

Web 3

Subject 1




Subject 2




Subject 3




Fig 1: Summary of relative values of .......
Here you are simply explaining the different qualitiesof each item you are studying, where x = a valuable quality of the website or feature of the item - or not.
Also explain summary of the grid informationa in words in your text.
Give the illustration or data a figure number and title too . This is usually in italics.

urprise! This is critical evaluation