This study examines the ways in which reflective journal writing can be used to promote critical discussion in small group tutorials. Conclusions are drawn by synthesizing findings from action research studies of five professional education courses in the allied health area. It was found that reflective writing serves as a valuable stimulus for discussion and that the two in combination lead to fresh insights for students and promote critical reflection. The study examines the impact upon critical discussion of variables such as disclosure, ground-rules, group size, physical arrangement of classrooms, inter-group interaction and the role of the tutor. In formulating arrangements for journal writing and tutorials, it was often necessary to develop an intelligent working position between apparent dichotomies.