Frameworks for Reflective Writing

Researchers have developed several different frameworks or models for how reflective writing can be structured. John Driscoll[1] used Terry Borton’s[2] three stem questions to devise The Borton Framework pictured below.

Borton Framework: What, describe an action or event; So what? Explain why that action or event was important; Now what? Explain how you will use that information to inform future practice.

The DEAL model[3] structures reflective writing through a three-stage approach of description, examination, and articulation of learning.

D: Describe the experience, E: Examine the experience through the lens of academic concepts or strategies, AL: Articulate learning by explaining what you learned, how you learned it, and why it's important.

The DIEP model (Boud, Keogh & Walker,1985) incorporates aspects of both the Borton and DEAL frameworks with its emphasis on significance and future action.

Describe what happened, what did you do; Interpret: what does the experience mean to you as a learner; Evaluate: how valuable was the experience?; Plan: what will you do with your learning?

Each of the models speaks to the reflective writer’s tasks: briefly describing an event or experience; analyzing the significance and value of the experience in terms of larger theory or practice; and forecasting how the learning might be useful in other situations.

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  1. Driscoll J (1994) Reflective practice for practise - a framework of structured reflection for clinical areas. Senior Nurse 14 (1):47–50
  2. Ash, S.L, Clayton, P.H., & Moses, M.G. (2009). Learning through critical reflection: A tutorial for service-learning students (instructor version). Raleigh, NC.
  3. Boud, D.; Keogh, R.; Walker, D. (Eds) (1985) Reflection: turning experience into learning. London: Kogan Page