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How to write a reflection report?

Almost everyone has to write a reflection report during their study. In a reflection report (reflection paper), you look back at a situation or event with the goal of learning something from it. If you feel that writing a reflection report is really a “must” for you, you’re definitely not alone. But if you stick to a clear structure, it’s actually not that bad!

Structure of a reflection report

A reflection report usually starts with a short introduction, followed by the core (in which you describe and analyze situations, often using the STARR method) and ends with the conclusions. In the introduction, you usually briefly describe what you will be discussing in your reflection report, the subject, the goal and any other information. In the core of your report, you describe the different situations that you are reflecting on. Usually, you describe at least 3 situations to show that you have different competencies (or have met learning goals).

How do I apply the STARR method in my reflection report?

The most commonly used structure for writing a reflection report is the so-called STARR method. This method originated in the HR field and is therefore very task-oriented and not very emotional in nature. That task-oriented nature makes the method very practical. Below we will work through all the steps of the STARR method and give you concrete examples. If you follow these steps and apply them to your context, your reflection report will be finished in no time!

The STARR method with examples

Step 1: The Situation

For a good reflection report, this may be the most important step: describing a situation. You should make the situation as concrete as possible. So a situation is not “my graduation project,” but for example “the final presentation of my graduation project.”

This is about describing a specific event. A specific event can be defined by time and location, for example “the meeting at the headquarters on October 3.” During this specific event, something went very well or not at all, you clearly showed a certain competence or not at all, or the event was important to you for another reason. So think carefully about which event you choose to reflect on!

In describing the situation, you should at least answer the following questions:

What was the event?

Where and when was the event?

Who was involved?

What exactly happened?

When answering these questions, it is good to pay as much attention to details as possible. It is important that the reader of your reflection report can easily visualize the situation.


Step 2: The Task

Once you have clearly described the situation, in the next step you will describe your task or role in that situation. It is important to also indicate what goal you had with that task. In other words, why did you do that task? In describing the task, you should at least answer the following questions:

What was your role? What was the role of others? What was expected of you and by whom? What did you expect of yourself? What was the end goal?

Step 3: The Action

From the task, it is a small step to the action: what did you do concretely? This is about describing your behavior. Describe your behavior like a movie or a story in a book, so that the reader can easily imagine your behavior. The more detailed, the better! There are different ways to do this. For example, you can register all actions and reactions on a timeline (for example: ‘9:00 am start team meeting, 9:30 am presentation of my graduation project, 9:45 am questions about my presentation by team members, etc.’). You can also write this step in the form of a dialogue (for example: ‘Team leader: why did you only take A-clients in your research?, Me: I limited the research to the group where the majority of your revenue comes from, Team leader: are we going to miss any opportunities?, etc.’). Make sure that this description of behavior at least answers the following questions:

What did you do?

What did you say?

How was that responded to by others?

What did you do or say next?

Step 4: The Result

While in step 3 you describe your behavior as a movie or a story in a book, in this step you show the end of that movie or book. And while it is good to add a lot of detail in the previous steps, you can keep it brief and concise in this step. Make sure that your description of the result answers the following questions:

How did the situation end?

What did your behavior yield?

What is the current state of affairs?


Step 5: Reflection

The last step of the STARR method is the actual reflection. In this step, you make it clear how you look back on the situation and especially what you have learned from it. The learning effect is particularly important (that’s ultimately why you do the reflection!), so make sure it comes across well in your report. So you will really have to go into more depth than just writing: ‘I will do that differently next time’.

Example: ‘I learned that in a presentation, I always have to start with the starting point of the project. When you start by sharing the end results, people who are less involved in the project may feel overwhelmed with information. That’s why there were many questions during my presentation that I could have handled better if I had taken everyone into account at the beginning of the project. I could have done that by showing a short animated film about my project at the beginning. For a next presentation, I will make a short animation about my project so that everyone can easily be taken into account in what I am doing for the organization and why. I will ask Sophie for help with this, who already has experience in making short animations about projects’.

In this reflective phase, you at least answer the following questions:

  • How do you look back on your behavior?
  • What went well? What could be better?
  • Are you satisfied with the result?
  • Are others satisfied with the result?
  • What would you do differently next time? What do you need for that?

Your reflection report is now finished! If you want your reflection report to be reviewed (or your internship report), or if you need some help (this can also be done with other ways of reflecting such as Korthagen’s model or the ABCD reflection method), we at Topscriptie are happy to help you.

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