Assessing reflective writing: Analysis of reflective writing in an engineering design course

  • Carl Reidsema
  • Pam Mort
Keywords: reflective writing, learning portfolio, engineering design process, causality, self criticism, assessment, peer review


Peer Review is used in a first year engineering design course to assess a series of reflective writing entries on the engineering design process and teamwork. Peer review can be beneficial for both reviewer and writer in increasing their awareness of how well they are communicating their learning, and, in providing opportunities to gain insights from each others’ experiences and understandings of the engineering design process. However, there is limited literature on objective assessment of reflections about the engineering design process. This paper explores the question, what are the linguistic features that distinguish different levels of reflection? The first stage of the investigation was a text analysis of reflective writing representing both high and low peer review scores, to identify similar and dissimilar linguistic features in the texts. While the analysis is ongoing, preliminary findings have revealed clear differences between “good” and “poor” reflective writing. These differences have been found in writers’ use of connectives and appraisal. Reflective texts that provide rich explanations and which are more likely to criticise (rather than praise) their own learning process are more likely to be rated high by peer reviewers. Future investigation will map linguistic features in reflective writing onto learning taxonomies such as Blooms and SOLO taxonomy to provide clear guidelines for assessing reflective writing on the engineering design process.

Author Biography

Pam Mort
How to Cite
ReidsemaC., & MortP. (2009). Assessing reflective writing: Analysis of reflective writing in an engineering design course. Journal of Academic Language and Learning, 3(2), A117-A129. Retrieved from