Reflective Blogs during Internship

The Problem

When students leave the campus for field experience or internship they are expected to construct rich knowledge from their professional experiences. However, this experiential knowledge can remain disconnected from the discipline-specific knowledge that was learnt on campus, especially if nothing is done to explicitly relate the two forms. In addition, industries which accept our graduates observe that while our students are generally knowledgeable, they often lack the capacity to improve their professional practice through critical reflection. It seems that to become a reflective practitioner, in-context practice is important.

The Context

This pattern became evident after earlier unsuccessful attempts of simply asking students to keep a reflective journal while on internship. This pattern appears to work well because, in addition to preparatory treatment of reflective writing, there is tight monitoring of, and timely feedback given to, individual blog posts that students make. In addition, because blog posts are stamped with the submission time and date, they can show a regular and developmental sequence of reflections.
Since this pattern is directed at students who are doing an internship, usually done in the later part of their course, introductory treatment of reflective writing and knowledge of assessment is assumed.
This pattern covers teaching design just prior to, during, and immediately after an internship activity. It can be matched with other patterns that deal with the production of an assessable product.

The Pattern

  1. Early in the semester run a workshop on reflective thinking and writing, concentrating on the purpose reflection plays in professional learning. Activities such as practice writing, analysis of exemplars, and peer assessment can be used. Students who have missed introductory treatment of reflective writing can be directed to models and independent learning resources.
  2. Set up a blog for each student so that it remains private to the student and academic staff.
  3. Cover techniques and frameworks that inform students on how to construct their blog entries. Give them different ways of setting out their posts.
  4. When the students are on internship, provide them with a stimulus (e.g. “starter” questions) each week. These provide possible starting points for their writing, but are not prescriptive.
  5. Each week, academic staff should respond (with comments) to every post the students make. These responses may be quite brief or detailed. In many cases the purpose of the response is to have students further explain phenomena they experience.
  6. Following the internship, run a workshop where students are asked to bring along a (printed) representative posting from their blog. Break classes up into groups or pairs and ask them to discuss the posts. Similar analysis and peer assessment activities (that were used in the pre-internship workshop) can be used.

Related Patterns


The peer interaction in step 6 can be useful as preparation for subsequent assessment of reflective writing.


1. Unit outline for AMB310 Internship


McCarthy, P. R. & McCarthy, H. M. (2006). When case studies are not enough: Integrating experiential learning into business curricula. The Journal of Education for Business, 81(4), 201-204.


This pattern was initiated by Ingrid Larkin (Business).