Cardiff Award

Reflection and the Cardiff Award

Vicky, with her 'Highly Commended' trophy at the Cardiff Award Celebration 2018
Vicky, with her 'Highly Commended' trophy at the Cardiff Award Celebration 2018
Reflection is a key part of the Cardiff Award. When you log extra-curricular hours, you have the option to write reflective accounts. In these, you can reflect on the skills and attributes you have developed from taking part in an activity. Vicky Lord, who won ‘Highly Commended’ for Cardiff Award Student of the Year 2018, submitted excellent reflections as part of her portfolio. In this blog, she shares some tips on writing reflective accounts…..

It’s always hard to know exactly how many optional things to do generally let alone within a particular scheme. However, the Cardiff Award is built around making the most of every extra opportunity given to you and, in turn, making those opportunities count towards creating new ones. Whilst I was completing the Award I felt that the reflective accounts were the epitome of putting in the extra effort to complete optional aspects which actively benefit you in the long run. In this blog I’ll be going through both the processes and benefits of completing optional reflective accounts alongside your activities whilst completing the Award.

Reflective accounts are actually quite easy to complete as long as you think through each question with an example by using the STAR method. Each of these examples will not only give you a bank of examples for each question to draw on for interviews and application forms but they will also allow to practice not only writing but also thinking in the STAR method. This might seem a little strange but as you complete more reflective accounts, as you complete your extra-curricular activities, and even your work after university, you will begin to pick up on the skills that you’re developing as you’re doing them. Basically, reflecting will become a mind-set more than a chore.

However, if your degree is very heavy on contact hours and you find yourself having to set aside a couple of days to go through everything towards the end of the Award, I promise that reflective accounts are also perfect for this. All you have to do is go through each of the activities which you completed for the Award and set aside a sheet for each activity. This gives you the perfect opportunity to take the reflective part of these accounts literally. Use this as your chance to think back over each activity and remember exactly what you have overcome and how you have developed as a direct result of that activity. Again, you still develop your ability to write answers using the STAR method, but it is a slightly different kind of reflection.

You can choose to do either method depending on either your university commitments, your style of reflection or a combination of the two. Remember, if you are on our 2017-19 cohort that you also have until 1st March 2019 to complete the Cardiff Award so even if you don’t figure out the perfect style of reflection to suit you it’s okay to try again with another method.

Personally, I managed to find a balance between the two methods above. Initially, when I had first started the award, I wrote a few reflective accounts for the activities I was already undertaking as I had also been doing them before starting the Award. However, my summer holiday got very hectic, so I had to prioritise work commitments, and, after the summer, this applied to my university work as well. So, when it came time to begin thinking about finishing my portfolio not only did I set about writing reflective accounts for new activities, but I also read back over the ones I had completed nearly 18 months previously. Some of them went unchanged but I found areas in some of them where I knew that the writing style, for example, could be improved because I personally knew what I was trying to say but I couldn’t be sure if an external marker would be able to see that.

I understand that this isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, and might not even be possible for everyone, but when I look back at my time completing the Award I’m so glad that I was able to do this. The only thing I honestly would have changed about my portfolio is that I would have tried to complete more reflective accounts, as there were some activities which didn’t have one, to practice writing and reflecting using the STAR method.

By Vicky Lord

View our video on the ‘The Art of Reflection’ here:

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