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Rhetorical functions in academic writing: Describing feelings


Often, for example in relective writing, it is necessary to describe your feelings about something.

Based on Kolb's work on refelcetion, Gibbs (1988, p. 47) suggests the following stages to encourage deeper reflection:


What happened? What are you going to reflect on? Don't make judgements yet or try to draw conclusions.


What were your reactions and feelings?


What was good or bad about the experience? Make value judgements.


What sense can you make of the situation?  Bring in ideas from outside the experience to help you.  What was really going on?


What can be concluded, in a general sense, from these experiences and the analyses you have undertaken?


What can be concluded about your own specific, unique, personal situation or ways of working?

Personal action plans:

What are you going to do differently in this type of situation next time? What steps are you going to take on the basis of what you have learnt?



See: Writing Functions 40: Reflecting


Reflective writing should include both descriptions, feelings, analysis and thoughts about what you have experienced.

Unlike other academic writing, reflective writing is usually written in the first person and should definitely include your thoughts, feelings and opinions e.g. "I read the handout before the lecture. This is often recommended. I was therefore well-prepared for the lecture and understood it well. I was happy with that. I will continue to read the handouts before the lecture".

Some useful language is:


Describe how you felt.

I felt (very) pleased with ...
I was (really) delighted ...
I was quite satisfied.

It wasn't very nice.
I didn't (really) like ... 
I wasn't (very) happy with ...

I didn't like ...

I (really) hated ...
I was (very) annoyed ...
I was (really) angry ...
I was (extremely) irritated/exasperated/displeased/unhappy/angry.



On the one hand, ...
On the other hand, ...


Read this example. Can you recognise the sections and language identified above.


I was very worried before the presentation.  I was afraid that I would not be able to say the right things and that I would not be able to represent our progress adequately.  I had done one or two oral presentations before but had never been very satisfied with them. 
I decided to use Power Point.  I was not very secure about its use, though, because I have seen it go wrong so many times.  I thought it would be a good idea to practise in advance but I couldn’t get access to the room with the projector in so I wasn’t able to. I was quite annoyed about that.
When it came to giving the presentation, I really wanted to do it well. But, as it turned out, the presentation was terrible. It just didn’t go smoothly at all. It has left me feeling very unconfident in my ability. I even worry about it at home and it’s affecting my other courses.  The timing was terrible and everyone seemed bored. No one asked me any sensible questions, either. The PowerPoint presentation itself went wrong. I think I clicked on the wrong button. I was very nervous and my voice was very unsteady. Well, that was how I felt, anyway.




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