Reflective Essay Writing
Reflective Essay: Step-by-Step Guide with Examples & Tips
Published on: Apr 27, 2019
Last updated on: Oct 16, 2023
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Thought and reflection are a major part of our inner lives. Whenever we engage with art and literature or experience anything novel, we tend to reflect on it later.
What if we write our reflections down in a structured way? That is a reflective essay.
Among various types of essays , reflective essays stand out for being the most personal form of writing. Reflective writing lets you explore your thoughts and experiences about something and gain profound insights into yourself and the world around you.
So how can you write a great reflective essay? Read on to understand reflective essays better with examples and get useful tips.
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What is a Reflective Essay?
A reflective essay is a type of writing where a writer explores their thoughts, feelings, and observations about a personal experience. These essays are deeply subjective, personal, and introspective.
At its core, a reflective essay prompts you to answer the question: "How did a particular experience impact me?" Unlike narrative or descriptive writing, reflective essays are not just about recounting events. The goal is to analyze and interpret the event with your unique perspective and insights.
In addition, reflective essays do not require you to provide external evidence or validation, nor do you have to argue or prove something. However, it's important to follow a structured approach that allows you to organize your thoughts and engage your readers.
So what is that structured approach to writing a reflective essay? Read below.
How to Write a Reflective Essay?
Writing a reflective essay can become a lot easier if you follow a structured writing process. It allows you to effectively communicate your insights to your audience.
Here is a step-by-step process to start a reflective essay:
Step 1: Brainstorm and Choose a Topic
Begin by brainstorming a specific event, experience, or topic to reflect upon. It could be a personal experience, a book you've read, a class you've taken, or a significant life event.
Here are some helpful tips for choosing a topic:
- Think about your personal experiences and select a topic that resonates with you and offers room for reflection.
- Consider which one is most relevant to the purpose of your reflective essay.
- Choose a topic that holds personal significance and allows you to explore and convey meaningful insights.
Step 2: Reflect Deeply & Gather Your Thoughts
Unlike other types of academic essays, reflection papers do not demand research or gathering sources. The source material for the essay can be found in your own thoughts.
You can write down your thoughts in the form of a bulleted list, mind mapping, or other forms of note-taking. Take time to immerse yourself in the experience and consider its various aspects, including:
- Specific details, emotions, and observations from the event or experience.
- Your initial reactions and thoughts at the time. Recall how the experience affected you and what you learned.
You don’t have to write down complete sentences yet, you can simply note down keywords and phrases.
Step 3: Organize Your Thoughts
To ensure a coherent and logical essay, organize the points you’ve gathered in an outline. The outline should clarify these aspects:
- A clear thesis statement that indicates the main idea of the essay.
- Body paragraphs that explore different aspects of your reflection, organized in a logical sequence.
- Key points, experiences, and insights you want to include in each paragraph.
This is the last step of your pre-writing preparation. With an organized outline for your essay, you have everything you need to start writing.
Learn more about crafting efficient outlines in our reflective essay outline guide
Step 4: Write Your First Draft
With your outline in hand, start writing your first draft. Follow your organizational structure and express your thoughts and experiences clearly and concisely. As you write:
- Maintain a reflective and personal tone, as this is a chance to express your thoughts and emotions.
- Use specific examples, anecdotes, and details to illustrate your points.
- Ensure that each paragraph flows logically to the next, creating a smooth reading experience.
Don't worry too much about perfection at this stage; the first draft is about getting your thoughts on paper.
Step 5: Proofread and Revise
After completing your first draft, take a break before revising. Returning to your essay with fresh eyes will help you identify areas for improvement. During the revision process:
- Check for grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors.
- Ensure clarity and coherence in your writing.
- Review the flow of your essay to ensure that it logically progresses from introduction to conclusion. Paragraphs should be connected to each other through transition phrases.
- Trim unnecessary or repetitive content and add details or insights where needed.
By following these five steps, you'll be well on your way to crafting a well-organized and impactful reflective essay.
Reflective Essay Structure
A reflective essay typically follows a standard structure that includes an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion.
Let’s delve into each of these parts here.
Reflective Essay Introduction
The introduction aims to draw the reader in by catching their interest and providing some context to the topic. A good introduction clearly indicates the subject and type of essay and tells the readers what to expect ahead.
Follow the tips below to craft an engaging introduction.
- Start with a hook or an intriguing opening sentence to pique the reader's interest. For example, you might begin with a thought-provoking quote, a relevant anecdote, or a rhetorical question.
- Provide context by briefly introducing the topic or the experience you will reflect upon. Mention any necessary background information to help the reader understand the context.
- End your introduction with a thesis statement . The thesis statement for a reflective essay can be flexible and can be more than one sentence long. It states the main point you want to convey, such as what you learned, gained, or how were you changed by the experience.
Reflective Essay Body Paragraphs
The body paragraphs of your essay are the heart of your reflection, where you dive deep into the experience and explore it from multiple angles. It's essential to organize your body paragraphs logically to maintain a coherent flow.
Here is how body paragraphs are organized in this type of paper:
First Body Paragraph
Provide a clear and detailed description of the experience or event you are reflecting upon. Set the stage by answering the basic questions: What, when, where, and who?
Share the most significant aspects of the experience. Consider the sensory details, the environment, the people involved, and other aspects. This will help your readers immerse themselves in the situation.
Second Body Paragraph
Once you’ve described the structure of your experience in detail, now is the time to move on to your thoughts, experiences, and observations.
Reflect on your immediate feelings and initial thoughts. Were you excited, anxious, or confused?
What did you notice about the people or surroundings? This section allows the reader to connect with your emotional journey, helping them understand the initial impact of the experience.
Third & Fourth Body Paragraphs
In the subsequent paragraphs, delve into in-depth reflection and analysis of your experience.
This is where you critically examine the experience, asking yourself why it was significant and how it impacted you. Consider the implications and connections to your personal growth, beliefs, or values and analyze the experience in the context of your life, education, or career.
You should also engage in critical reflection. For instance,
- What did you learn from the experience?
- How did it challenge or reinforce your existing beliefs?
- Did it change your perspective on certain issues?
Feel free to use multiple paragraphs for this reflection if needed. Each paragraph can explore different facets of your experience and offer a more comprehensive analysis.
Reflective Essay Conclusion
The conclusion of your reflective essay brings your reflection to a meaningful closure. It ties together the entire essay and aims to leave the reader with a lasting impression.
Here are some tips for writing a good conclusion:
- Summarize the key points you discussed in the body paragraphs without introducing new information. Reinforce the main message of your essay.
- Present the significance of the experience and its impact on your personal growth, beliefs, or understanding.
- Consider ending with a thought-provoking statement or a powerful insight to make it more impactful for the reader.
Reflective Essay Examples
Although you now know how to write a reflective essay, you should read some examples before you start writing. Reading the reflective essay samples below will help you get a feel of this type of writing.
Reflective Essay Sample - Reflections on Reading a Book
Reflective Essay Example - A Visit to a Historical Place
Tips for Writing Better Reflective Essays
Only following the writing steps can help you write a good essay. But to make it even better, you should do something extra. Here are some writing tips that can help you polish your reflective writing.
- Be Genuine and Authentic: Reflective essays thrive on authenticity. Share your true thoughts and feelings without embellishment or pretense. Readers appreciate sincerity and honesty in your reflections.
- Show, Don't Just Tell: Instead of merely stating your emotions or thoughts, demonstrate them through concrete examples and anecdotes. Let readers experience your reflection alongside you.
- Be Concise and Focused: Avoid unnecessary tangents or excessive details that may distract from your main reflection. Keep your essay focused on the central experience and its significance.
- Engage the Reader's Emotions: Touch on universal emotions and experiences that resonate with readers. Connecting on an emotional level can make your reflective essay more relatable and memorable.
- Seek Feedback: Don't hesitate to share your reflective essay with peers, mentors, or writing tutors. Their feedback can offer valuable insights and help you refine your writing.
- Reflect on Your Reflection: After completing your reflective essay, take a moment to reflect on your own reflection process. Consider what you've learned about yourself and your writing style. Use this insight to improve future reflective essays.
Reflective Essay Topics
Reflective essays can be written on a variety of topics. Here are some ideas you can write about:
- Engaging with Art: Reflect on your experience of reading a book, watching a documentary etc.
- A Life-Changing Journey: Reflect lessons learned from a trip or adventure.
- Mentorship and Learning: Reflect on the influence of a particular teacher, mentor, or role model on your life.
- Overcoming a Challenge: Write about a challenging experience or obstacle you've faced
- Life Milestones: Write about a major life event, such as graduating from school, getting married, or becoming a parent, etc.
- Career Transitions: Share your reflections on transitioning between careers or jobs.
- A Turning Point: Reflect on a specific moment or decision in your life that marked a turning point.
- Relationships: Explore the dynamics of a significant friendship or relationship.
- Ethical Dilemmas: Discuss a moral or ethical dilemma you faced and how you navigated it.
- Volunteer or Community Service: Share your experiences with community service.
These are just a few general ideas. With the help of these topics, you can ignite your creativity and choose the most meaningful topic for yourself.
Need more ideas to find a great topic for your reflective paper? Here are 100+ engaging reflective essay topics for your help!
Reflective essays serve as powerful instruments for self-discovery. It allows you to delve into your thoughts and experiences and share them with others in a meaningful way.
By following the steps, tips, and, examples above, you can explore the richness of your own experiences and engage others along the way. Trying to write a reflective essay can even become another one of your amazing experiences! So, embrace authenticity, engage your readers, and inspire those who read your words.
Need help writing a reflective essay? Don’t worry!
We understand the significance of these reflective journeys, and we've expert writers to assist you. At our reflective essay writing service , our team of writing professionals is dedicated to helping you craft insightful and impactful essays that meet your custom requirements.
So contact our essay writing service now!
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you say i in a reflective essay.
Yes! First-person pronouns are a great way to give the reader insight into your life and thoughts. I, me, we - these words all have personal meaning. So, they should be used in a reflective essay.
What person is a reflective essay?
A reflective essay is a type of academic writing that can take on many different forms. You might be asked to write it in the first person or third person, and there's no one correct way to do so!
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Reflective essays are academic essays; what makes an essay "good" will work for a reflective essay. What is different about a reflective essay is that the essay is about you and your thinking. However, you will need evidence from your course to back up your reflections.
You should structure a reflective essay as an essay, that is write to persuade your reader of your key reflections (or argument). The diagram above, details how to stucture your reflections through the essay. To find out more see the section on essay writing .
The following example comes from business. Thanks to Dr Colleen Hayes for the three samples.
Students were asked to write a reflective essay on their learning in the course by responding to the following question:
What key thing have you learned about corporate social responsibility in the course?
Example 1: Retelling
This writing is (1) descriptive/listing of content, not reflective and (2) not properly referenced (the definition of stakeholders is directly copied from Freeman in the lecture slides.
Example 2: Relating
This writing involves relating to personal experience and has some integration of course concepts (stakeholders).
Example 3: Reflecting
More reflective (forward-looking), better citation and integration of multiple course concepts, and reflection that links with personal experience.
An anthropology marking rubric
For this assessment, students were required to write a 1500-1800 word essay building on the themes of the course to address the question "We are all pirates". Attached under reference documents is the rubric used to mark the essay (thanks to Dr Caroline Schuster). Notice that it requires both the reflection (reflect, relate and retell) as well as the poor traditional requirements of an essay (Writing and organisation, Supporting claims with scholarly sources).
Use contact details to request an alternative file format.
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Structure of academic reflections
Guidance on the structure of academic reflections.
Academic reflections or reflective writing completed for assessment often require a clear structure. Contrary to some people’s belief, reflection is not just a personal diary talking about your day and your feelings.
Both the language and the structure are important for academic reflective writing. For the structure you want to mirror an academic essay closely. You want an introduction, a main body, and a conclusion.
Academic reflection will require you to both describe the context, analyse it, and make conclusions. However, there is not one set of rules for the proportion of your reflection that should be spent describing the context, and what proportion should be spent on analysing and concluding. That being said, as learning tends to happen when analysing and synthesising rather than describing, a good rule of thumb is to describe just enough such that the reader understands your context.
Example structure for academic reflections
Below is an example of how you might structure an academic reflection if you were given no other guidance and what each section might contain. Remember this is only a suggestion and you must consider what is appropriate for the task at hand and for you yourself.
Identifies and introduces your experience or learning
- This can be a critical incident
- This can be the reflective prompt you were given
- A particular learning you have gained
When structuring your academic reflections it might make sense to start with what you have learned and then use the main body to evidence that learning, using specific experiences and events. Alternatively, start with the event and build up your argument. This is a question of personal preference – if you aren’t given explicit guidance you can ask the assessor if they have a preference, however both can work.
Highlights why it was important
- This can be suggesting why this event was important for the learning you gained
- This can be why the learning you gained will benefit you or why you appreciate it in your context
You might find that it is not natural to highlight the importance of an event before you have developed your argument for what you gained from it. It can be okay not to explicitly state the importance in the introduction, but leave it to develop throughout your reflection.
Outline key themes that will appear in the reflection (optional – but particularly relevant when answering a reflective prompt or essay)
- This can be an introduction to your argument, introducing the elements that you will explore, or that builds to the learning you have already gained.
This might not make sense if you are reflecting on a particular experience, but is extremely valuable if you are answering a reflective prompt or writing an essay that includes multiple learning points. A type of prompt or question that could particularly benefit from this would be ‘Reflect on how the skills and theory within this course have helped you meet the benchmark statements of your degree’
It can be helpful to explore one theme/learning per paragraph.
- You should highlight and explore the experience you introduced in the introduction
- If you are building toward answering a reflective prompt, explore each relevant experience.
As reflection is centred around an individual’s personal experience, it is very important to make experiences a main component of reflection. This does not mean that the majority of the reflective piece should be on describing an event – in fact you should only describe enough such that the reader can follow your analysis.
Analyse and synthesise
- You should analyse each of your experiences and from them synthesise new learning
Depending on the requirements of the assessment, you may need to use theoretical literature in your analysis. Theoretical literature is a part of perspective taking which is relevant for reflection, and will happen as a part of your analysis.
Restate or state your learning
- Make a conclusion based on your analysis and synthesis.
- If you have many themes in your reflection, it can be helpful to restate them here.
Plan for the future
- Highlight and discuss how your new-found learnings will influence your future practice
Answer the question or prompt (if applicable)
- If you are answering an essay question or reflective prompt, make sure that your conclusion provides a succinct response using your main body as evidence.
Using a reflective model to structure academic reflections
You might recognise that most reflective models mirror this structure; that is why a lot of the reflective models can be really useful to structure reflective assignments. Models are naturally structured to focus on a single experience – if the assignment requires you to focus on multiple experiences, it can be helpful to simply repeat each step of a model for each experience.
One difference between the structure of reflective writing and the structure of models is that sometimes you may choose to present your learning in the introduction of a piece of writing, whereas models (given that they support working through the reflective process) will have learning appearing at later stages.
However, generally structuring a piece of academic writing around a reflective model will ensure that it involves the correct components, reads coherently and logically, as well as having an appropriate structure.
Reflective journals/diaries/blogs and other pieces of assessed reflection
The example structure above works particularly well for formal assignments such as reflective essays and reports. Reflective journal/blogs and other pieces of assessed reflections tend to be less formal both in language and structure, however you can easily adapt the structure for journals and other reflective assignments if you find that helpful.
That is, if you are asked to produce a reflective journal with multiple entries it will most often (always check with the person who issued the assignment) be a successful journal if each entry mirrors the structure above and the language highlighted in the section on academic language. However, often you can be less concerned with form when producing reflective journals/diaries.
When producing reflective journals, it is often okay to include your original reflection as long as you are comfortable with sharing the content with others, and that the information included is not too personal for an assessor to read.
Ryan, M., 2011. Improving reflective writing in higher education: a social semiotic perspective. Teaching in Higher Education, 16(1), 99-111.
University of Portsmouth, Department for Curriculum and Quality Enhancement (date unavailable). Reflective Writing: a basic introduction [online]. Portsmouth: University of Portsmouth.
Queen Margaret University, Effective Learning Service (date unavailable). Reflection. [online]. Edinburgh: Queen Margaret University.
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Writing reflectively is essential to many academic programmes and also to completing applications for employment. This page considers what reflective writing is and how to do it.
What is reflection?
Reflection is something that we do everyday as part of being human. We plan and undertake actions, then think about whether each was successful or not, and how we might improve next time. We can also feel reflection as emotions, such as satisfaction and regret, or as a need to talk over happenings with friends. See below for an introduction to reflection as a concept.
Reflection in everyday life [Google Slides]
What is reflective writing?
Reflective writing should be thought of as recording reflective thinking. This can be done in an everyday diary entry, or instruction in a recipe book to change a cooking method next time. In academic courses, reflective is more complex and focussed. This section considers the main features of reflective writing.
Reflective writing for employability
When applying for jobs, or further academic study, students are required to think through what they have done in their degrees and translate it into evaluative writing that fulfils the criteria of job descriptions and person specifications. This is a different style of writing, the resource below will enable you to think about how to begin this transition.
There are also lots of resources available through the university's careers service and elsewhere on the Skills Guides. The links below are to pages that can offer further support and guidance.
- Careers and Placements Service resources Lots of resources that relate to all aspects of job applications, including tailored writing styles and techniques.
The language of reflective writing
Reflective academic writing is:
- almost always written in the first person.
- evaluative - you are judging something.
- partly personal, partly based on criteria.
- analytical - you are usually categorising actions and events.
- formal - it is for an academic audience.
- carefully constructed.
Look at the sections below to see specific vocabulary types and sentence constructions that can be useful when writing reflectively.
Language for exploring outcomes
A key element of writing reflectively is being able to explain to the reader what the results of your actions were. This requires careful grading of language to ensure that what you write reflects the evidence of what happened and to convey clearly what you achieved or did not achieve.
Below are some ideas and prompts of how you can write reflectively about outcomes, using clarity and graded language.
Expressing uncertainty when writing about outcomes:
- It is not yet clear that…
- I do not yet (fully) understand...
- It is unclear...
- It is not yet fully clear...
- It is not yet (fully?) known…
- It appears to be the case that…
- It is too soon to tell....
Often, in academic learning, the uncertainty in the outcomes is a key part of the learning and development that you undertake. It is vital therefore that you explain this clearly to the reader using careful choices in your language.
Writing about how the outcome relates to you:
- I gained (xxxx) skills…
- I developed…
- The experience/task/process taught me…
- I achieved…
- I learned that…
- I found that…
In each case you can add in words like, ‘significantly’, ‘greatly’, ‘less importantly’ etc. The use of evaluative adjectives enables you to express to the reader the importance and significance of your learning in terms of the outcomes achieved.
Describing how you reached your outcomes:
- Having read....
- Having completed (xxxx)...
- I analysed…
- I applied…
- I learned…
- I experienced…
- Having reflected…
This gives the reader an idea of the nature of the reflection they are reading. How and why you reach the conclusions and learning that you express in your reflective writing is important so the reader can assess the validity and strength of your reflections.
Projecting your outcomes into the future:
- If I completed a similar task in the future I would…
- Having learned through this process I would…
- Next time I will…
- I will need to develop…. (in light of the outcomes)
- Next time my responses would be different....
When showing the reader how you will use your learning in the future, it is important to be specific and again, to use accurate graded language to show how and why what you choose to highlight matters. Check carefully against task instructions to see what you are expected to reflect into the future about.
When reflecting in academic writing on outcomes, this can mean either the results of the task you have completed, for example, the accuracy of a titration in a Chemistry lab session, or what you have learned/developed within the task, for example, ensuring that an interview question is written clearly enough to produce a response that reflects what you wished to find out.
Language choices are important in ensuring the reader can see what you think in relation to the reflection you have done.
Language for interpretation
When you interpret something you are telling the reader how important it is, or what meaning is attached to it.
You may wish to indicate the value of something:
E.g. 'the accuracy of the transcription was essential to the accuracy of the eventual coding and analysis of the interviews undertaken. The training I undertook was critical to enabling me to transcribe quickly and accurately'
You may wish to show how ideas, actions or some other aspect developed over time:
- in sequence
E.g. 'Before we could produce the final version of the presentation, we had to complete both the research and produce a plan. This was achieved later than expected, leading to subsequent rushing of creating slides, and this contributed to a lower grade'.
You may wish to show your viewpoint or that of others:
- did not think
- did/did not do something
Each of these could be preceded by 'we' or 'I'.
E.g. 'I noticed that the model of the bridge was sagging. I expressed this to the group, and as I did so I noticed that two members did not seem to grasp how serious the problem was. I proposed a break and a meeting, during which I intervened to show the results of inaction.'
There is a huge range of language that can be used for interpretation, the most important thing is to remember your reader and be clear with them about what your interpretation is, so they can see your thinking and agree or disagree with you.
Language for analysis
When reflecting, it is important to show the reader that you have analysed the tasks, outcomes, learning and all other aspects that you are writing about. In most cases, you are using categories to provide structure to your reflection. Some suggestions of language to use when analysing in reflective writing are below:
Signposting that you are breaking down a task or learning into categories:
- An aspect of…
- An element of…
- An example of…
- A key feature of the task was... (e.g. teamwork)
- The task was multifaceted… (then go on to list or describe the facets)
- There were several experiences…
- ‘X’ is related to ‘y’
There may be specific categories that you should consider in your reflection. In teamwork, it could be individual and team performance, in lab work it could be accuracy and the reliability of results. It is important that the reader can see the categories you have used for your analysis.
Analysis by chronology:
- Stage 1 (or other)
In many tasks the order in which they were completed matters. This can be a key part of your reflection, as it is possible that you may learn to do things in a different order next time or that the chronology influenced the outcomes.
Analysis by perspective:
- I considered
These language choices show that you are analysing purely by your own personal perspective. You may provide evidence to support your thinking, but it is your viewpoint that matters.
- What I expected from the reading did not happen…
- The Theory did not appear in our results…
- The predictions made were not fulfilled…
- The outcome was surprising because… (and link to what was expected)
These language choices show that you are analysing by making reference to academic learning (from an academic perspective). This means you have read or otherwise learned something and used it to form expectations, ideas and/or predictions. You can then reflect on what you found vs what you expected. The reader needs to know what has informed our reflections.
- Organisation X should therefore…
- A key recommendation is…
- I now know that organisation x is…
- Theory A can be applied to organisation X
These language choices show that analysis is being completed from a systems perspective. You are telling the reader how your learning links into the bigger picture of systems, for example, what an organisation or entity might do in response to what you have learned.
Analysing is a key element of being reflective. You must think through the task, ideas, or learning you are reflecting on and use categories to provide structure to your thought. This then translates into structure and language choices in your writing, so your reader can see clearly how you have used analysis to provide sense and structure to your reflections.
Language for evaluation
Reflecting is fundamentally an evaluative activity. Writing about reflection is therefore replete with evaluative language. A skillful reflective writer is able to grade their language to match the thinking it is expressing to the reader.
Language to show how significant something is:
- Most importantly
- The principal lesson was…
- In each case the language is quantifying the significance of the element you are describing, telling the reader the product of your evaluative thought.
For example, ‘when team working I initially thought that we would succeed by setting out a plan and then working independently, but in fact, constant communication and collaboration were crucial to success. This was the most significant thing I learned.’
Language to show the strength of relationships:
- X is strongly associated with Y
- A is a consequence of B
- There is a probable relationship between…
- C does not cause D
- A may influence B
- I learn most strongly when doing A
In each case the language used can show how significant and strong the relationship between two factors are.
For example, ‘I learned, as part of my research methods module, that the accuracy of the data gained through surveys is directly related to the quality of the questions. Quality can be improved by reading widely and looking at surveys in existing academic papers to inform making your own questions’
Language to evaluate your viewpoint:
- I was convinced...
- I have developed significantly…
- I learned that...
- The most significant thing that I learned was…
- Next time, I would definitely…
- I am unclear about…
- I was uncertain about…
These language choices show that you are attaching a level of significance to your reflection. This enables the reader to see what you think about the learning you achieved and the level of significance you attach to each reflection.
For example, ‘when using systematic sampling of a mixed woodland, I was convinced that method A would be most effective, but in reality, it was clear that method B produced the most accurate results. I learned that assumptions based on reading previous research can lead to inaccurate predictions. This is very important for me as I will be planning a similar sampling activity as part of my fourth year project’
Evaluating is the main element of reflecting. You need to evaluate the outcomes of the activities you have done, your part in them, the learning you achieved and the process/methods you used in your learning, among many other things. It is important that you carefully use language to show the evaluative thinking you have completed to the reader.
Varieties of reflective writing in academic studies
There are a huge variety of reflective writing tasks, which differ between programmes and modules. Some are required by the nature of the subject, like in Education, where reflection is a required standard in teaching.
Some are required by the industry area graduates are training for, such as 'Human Resources Management', where the industry accreditation body require evidence of reflective capabilities in graduates.
In some cases, reflection is about the 'learning to learn' element of degree studies, to help you to become a more effective learner. Below, some of the main reflective writing tasks found in University of York degrees are explored. In each case the advice, guidance and materials do not substitute for those provided within your modules.
Reflective essay writing
Reflective essay tasks vary greatly in what they require of you. The most important thing to do is to read the assessment brief carefully, attend any sessions and read any materials provided as guidance and to allocate time to ensure you can do the task well.
Reflective learning statements
Reflective learning statements are often attached to dissertations and projects, as well as practical activities. They are an opportunity to think about and tell the reader what you have learned, how you will use the learning, what you can do better next time and to link to other areas, such as your intended career.
Making a judgement about academic performance
Think of this type of writing as producing your own feedback. How did you do? Why? What could you improve next time? These activities may be a part of modules, they could be attached to a bigger piece of work like a dissertation or essay, or could be just a part of your module learning.
The four main questions to ask yourself when reflecting on your academic performance.
- Why exactly did you achieve the grade you have been awarded? Look at your feedback, the instructions, the marking scheme and talk to your tutors to find out if you don't know.
- How did your learning behaviours affect your academic performance? This covers aspects such as attendance, reading for lectures/seminars, asking questions, working with peers... the list goes on.
- How did your performance compare to others? Can you identify when others did better or worse? Can you talk to your peers to find out if they are doing something you are not or being more/less effective?
- What can you do differently to improve your performance? In each case, how will you ensure you can do it? Do you need training? Do you need a guide book or resources?
When writing about each of the above, you need to keep in mind the context of how you are being asked to judge your performance and ensure the reader gains the detail they need (and as this is usually a marker, this means they can give you a high grade!).
Writing a learning diary/blog/record
A learning diary or blog has become a very common method of assessing and supporting learning in many degree programmes. The aim is to help you to think through your day-to-day learning and identify what you have and have not learned, why that is and what you can improve as you go along. You are also encouraged to link your learning to bigger thinking, like future careers or your overall degree.
Other support for reflective writing
The general writing pages of this site offer guidance that can be applied to all types of writing, including reflective writing. Also check your department's guidance and VLE sites for tailored resources.
Other useful resources for reflective writing:
Appointments and workshops
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Guide on How to Write a Reflection Paper with Free Tips and Example
A reflection paper is a very common type of paper among college students. Almost any subject you enroll in requires you to express your opinion on certain matters. In this article, we will explain how to write a reflection paper and provide examples and useful tips to make the essay writing process easier.
Reflection papers should have an academic tone yet be personal and subjective. In this paper, you should analyze and reflect upon how an experience, academic task, article, or lecture shaped your perception and thoughts on a subject.
Here is what you need to know about writing an effective critical reflection paper. Stick around until the end of our guide to get some useful writing tips from the writing team at EssayPro — a research paper writing service
What Is a Reflection Paper
A reflection paper is a type of paper that requires you to write your opinion on a topic, supporting it with your observations and personal experiences. As opposed to presenting your reader with the views of other academics and writers, in this essay, you get an opportunity to write your point of view—and the best part is that there is no wrong answer. It is YOUR opinion, and it is your job to express your thoughts in a manner that will be understandable and clear for all readers that will read your paper. The topic range is endless. Here are some examples: whether or not you think aliens exist, your favorite TV show, or your opinion on the outcome of WWII. You can write about pretty much anything.
There are three types of reflection paper; depending on which one you end up with, the tone you write with can be slightly different. The first type is the educational reflective paper. Here your job is to write feedback about a book, movie, or seminar you attended—in a manner that teaches the reader about it. The second is the professional paper. Usually, it is written by people who study or work in education or psychology. For example, it can be a reflection of someone’s behavior. And the last is the personal type, which explores your thoughts and feelings about an individual subject.
However, reflection paper writing will stop eventually with one very important final paper to write - your resume. This is where you will need to reflect on your entire life leading up to that moment. To learn how to list education on resume perfectly, follow the link on our dissertation writing services .
Free Reflection Paper Example
Now that we went over all of the essentials about a reflection paper and how to approach it, we would like to show you some examples that will definitely help you with getting started on your paper.
Reflection Paper Format
Reflection papers typically do not follow any specific format. Since it is your opinion, professors usually let you handle them in any comfortable way. It is best to write your thoughts freely, without guideline constraints. If a personal reflection paper was assigned to you, the format of your paper might depend on the criteria set by your professor. College reflection papers (also known as reflection essays) can typically range from about 400-800 words in length.
Here’s how we can suggest you format your reflection paper:
How to Start a Reflection Paper
The first thing to do when beginning to work on a reflection essay is to read your article thoroughly while taking notes. Whether you are reflecting on, for example, an activity, book/newspaper, or academic essay, you want to highlight key ideas and concepts.
You can start writing your reflection paper by summarizing the main concept of your notes to see if your essay includes all the information needed for your readers. It is helpful to add charts, diagrams, and lists to deliver your ideas to the audience in a better fashion.
After you have finished reading your article, it’s time to brainstorm. We’ve got a simple brainstorming technique for writing reflection papers. Just answer some of the basic questions below:
- How did the article affect you?
- How does this article catch the reader’s attention (or does it all)?
- Has the article changed your mind about something? If so, explain how.
- Has the article left you with any questions?
- Were there any unaddressed critical issues that didn’t appear in the article?
- Does the article relate to anything from your past reading experiences?
- Does the article agree with any of your past reading experiences?
Here are some reflection paper topic examples for you to keep in mind before preparing to write your own:
- How my views on rap music have changed over time
- My reflection and interpretation of Moby Dick by Herman Melville
- Why my theory about the size of the universe has changed over time
- How my observations for clinical psychological studies have developed in the last year
The result of your brainstorming should be a written outline of the contents of your future paper. Do not skip this step, as it will ensure that your essay will have a proper flow and appropriate organization.
Another good way to organize your ideas is to write them down in a 3-column chart or table.
Do you want your task look awesome?
If you would like your reflection paper to look professional, feel free to check out one of our articles on how to format MLA, APA or Chicago style
Writing a Reflection Paper Outline
Reflection paper should contain few key elements:
Your introduction should specify what you’re reflecting upon. Make sure that your thesis informs your reader about your general position, or opinion, toward your subject.
- State what you are analyzing: a passage, a lecture, an academic article, an experience, etc...)
- Briefly summarize the work.
- Write a thesis statement stating how your subject has affected you.
One way you can start your thesis is to write:
Example: “After reading/experiencing (your chosen topic), I gained the knowledge of…”
The body paragraphs should examine your ideas and experiences in context to your topic. Make sure each new body paragraph starts with a topic sentence.
Your reflection may include quotes and passages if you are writing about a book or an academic paper. They give your reader a point of reference to fully understand your feedback. Feel free to describe what you saw, what you heard, and how you felt.
Example: “I saw many people participating in our weight experiment. The atmosphere felt nervous yet inspiring. I was amazed by the excitement of the event.”
As with any conclusion, you should summarize what you’ve learned from the experience. Next, tell the reader how your newfound knowledge has affected your understanding of the subject in general. Finally, describe the feeling and overall lesson you had from the reading or experience.
There are a few good ways to conclude a reflection paper:
- Tie all the ideas from your body paragraphs together, and generalize the major insights you’ve experienced.
- Restate your thesis and summarize the content of your paper.
We have a separate blog post dedicated to writing a great conclusion. Be sure to check it out for an in-depth look at how to make a good final impression on your reader.
Need a hand? Get help from our writers. Edit, proofread or buy essay .
How to Write a Reflection Paper: Step-by-Step Guide
Step 1: create a main theme.
After you choose your topic, write a short summary about what you have learned about your experience with that topic. Then, let readers know how you feel about your case — and be honest. Chances are that your readers will likely be able to relate to your opinion or at least the way you form your perspective, which will help them better understand your reflection.
For example: After watching a TEDx episode on Wim Hof, I was able to reevaluate my preconceived notions about the negative effects of cold exposure.
Step 2: Brainstorm Ideas and Experiences You’ve Had Related to Your Topic
You can write down specific quotes, predispositions you have, things that influenced you, or anything memorable. Be personal and explain, in simple words, how you felt.
For example: • A lot of people think that even a small amount of carbohydrates will make people gain weight • A specific moment when I struggled with an excess weight where I avoided carbohydrates entirely • The consequences of my actions that gave rise to my research • The evidence and studies of nutritional science that claim carbohydrates alone are to blame for making people obese • My new experience with having a healthy diet with a well-balanced intake of nutrients • The influence of other people’s perceptions on the harm of carbohydrates, and the role their influence has had on me • New ideas I’ve created as a result of my shift in perspective
Step 3: Analyze How and Why These Ideas and Experiences Have Affected Your Interpretation of Your Theme
Pick an idea or experience you had from the last step, and analyze it further. Then, write your reasoning for agreeing or disagreeing with it.
For example, Idea: I was raised to think that carbohydrates make people gain weight.
Analysis: Most people think that if they eat any carbohydrates, such as bread, cereal, and sugar, they will gain weight. I believe in this misconception to such a great extent that I avoided carbohydrates entirely. As a result, my blood glucose levels were very low. I needed to do a lot of research to overcome my beliefs finally. Afterward, I adopted the philosophy of “everything in moderation” as a key to a healthy lifestyle.
For example: Idea: I was brought up to think that carbohydrates make people gain weight. Analysis: Most people think that if they eat any carbohydrates, such as bread, cereal, and sugar, they will gain weight. I believe in this misconception to such a great extent that I avoided carbohydrates entirely. As a result, my blood glucose levels were very low. I needed to do a lot of my own research to finally overcome my beliefs. After, I adopted the philosophy of “everything in moderation” as a key for having a healthy lifestyle.
Step 4: Make Connections Between Your Observations, Experiences, and Opinions
Try to connect your ideas and insights to form a cohesive picture for your theme. You can also try to recognize and break down your assumptions, which you may challenge in the future.
There are some subjects for reflection papers that are most commonly written about. They include:
- Book – Start by writing some information about the author’s biography and summarize the plot—without revealing the ending to keep your readers interested. Make sure to include the names of the characters, the main themes, and any issues mentioned in the book. Finally, express your thoughts and reflect on the book itself.
- Course – Including the course name and description is a good place to start. Then, you can write about the course flow, explain why you took this course, and tell readers what you learned from it. Since it is a reflection paper, express your opinion, supporting it with examples from the course.
- Project – The structure for a reflection paper about a project has identical guidelines to that of a course. One of the things you might want to add would be the pros and cons of the course. Also, mention some changes you might want to see, and evaluate how relevant the skills you acquired are to real life.
- Interview – First, introduce the person and briefly mention the discussion. Touch on the main points, controversies, and your opinion of that person.
Everyone has their style of writing a reflective essay – and that's the beauty of it; you have plenty of leeway with this type of paper – but there are still a few tips everyone should incorporate.
Before you start your piece, read some examples of other papers; they will likely help you better understand what they are and how to approach yours. When picking your subject, try to write about something unusual and memorable — it is more likely to capture your readers' attention. Never write the whole essay at once. Space out the time slots when you work on your reflection paper to at least a day apart. This will allow your brain to generate new thoughts and reflections.
- Short and Sweet – Most reflection papers are between 250 and 750 words. Don't go off on tangents. Only include relevant information.
- Clear and Concise – Make your paper as clear and concise as possible. Use a strong thesis statement so your essay can follow it with the same strength.
- Maintain the Right Tone – Use a professional and academic tone—even though the writing is personal.
- Cite Your Sources – Try to cite authoritative sources and experts to back up your personal opinions.
- Proofreading – Not only should you proofread for spelling and grammatical errors, but you should proofread to focus on your organization as well. Answer the question presented in the introduction.
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How to Write a Reflective Essay: Definition, Outline, Examples
A reflective essay is a piece of writing in which an author uses personal life experiences to either teach a lesson or give life advice. The writer usually starts from an initial point and progresses using thorough details from the event(s), eventually bringing out some sort of conclusion to the story. The author's main task in such texts is to explain how those life experiences influenced their lives. To make things clear, a reflection essay aims to express how the progression of events influenced one's thoughts and feelings about certain life events and what quality lessons they took away from those events!
Experts from our essay writing service have prepared all the necessary information for you, which will surely help you write a reflective essay worth the high grade. Alternatively, you can buy essay in advance to avoid any unnecessary stress!
What Is A Reflective Essay?
A simple reflective essay definition is a paper that dwells on the author's experiences or opinions on chosen issues. Yet, to fully define reflective paper, one needs to learn the primary types of writing and their specific features. For example, at first glance, an analytical essay may resemble a reflective one. However, papers of the first type analyze issues without associating them with the writer's personality.
In its turn, every reflective essay differs from other types due to personal pronouns and real-life examples related to the writer's own experience - this is exactly what makes an essay reflective. So, next time you ask, "what is a reflective essay?", remember that reflective essay writing is an essential part of many college disciplines and job interviews. Regardless of the writing circumstances, the format of reflective essay suffers few alterations.
While working on a format for a reflective essay, the author explores different situations and uncovers their views on the issues and situations. Due to its nature, a reflective essay may look like a flurry of speculation. Generally, writings of this type form two subgroups depending on the focal points.
- Personal experience-based
Such writings usually reveal real-life facts about the writer. The key to success is making the author's image and related stories relatable to the target audience to engage the readers. Here, the author must back all arguments and main points up with relevant examples.
- Opinions on literary characters, public persons, events, etc.
Reflective essays of this subtype also allocate a lot of space for personal opinions, ideas, and reflections. Yet, the focus of the study here shifts from the author himself to literary characters and events.
For example, the title My attitude towards Holden Caulfield is a perfect example of a reflective essay dedicated to the literary character. A reflective essay format is probably the only essay where you can avoid any normal academic writing style. Of course, not unless your teacher requires you to use MLA or APA format.
- You should use Times New Roman, 12 font, and double-spaced.
- 1" margins.
- All of your titles must be centered.
- The top right of every page includes your last name and the page number.
- The header on your paper should have your name, the professor's name, the course number, and the date.
- The last page must include a Works Cited.
- Have a header on top of every page.
- Make sure every page is numbered in the top right corner.
- Your essay must be divided into four parts: title page, Abstract, Main Body, and References.
How To Write A Reflective Essay?
- As mentioned above, topics suggested for this type of writing differ depending on the writing circumstances. Job seekers often need to write personal reflective essays to make employers consider their candidature. Children write reflective essays about their families, hobbies, and summer holidays at school. Define your purpose and target audience.
- Depending on the TA, pick the most suitable writing style and think of the relevant linguistic means to bring your idea to the readers.
- There are no limitations on what you can write. Yet, to maintain the smooth flow of the text, the writer needs to see the ultimate goal. What it would be is up to you: a thought-provoking story, a mere reminiscence, a piece that aims to make people cry, or even a warning.
- Read the instructions carefully. Some may come in handy for writing a preliminary plan.
- Thinking about how to write a reflective essay, remember that no particular chain of logic is required for a high grade. What counts is the ability to write your thoughts, stick to the main point, and notice life around you. Do not force yourself to follow the standard introduction-body-conclusion pattern. Some reflective essay titles are synonymous with thesis statements. They may even reveal the conclusions the author dwells on in the text.
- Do not overload the text with excessive explanations and petty details unrelated to the ultimate goal.
- Those who have trouble when thinking about how to start a reflective essay need to remember two tips:
- Write the introduction last when the rest of the text is ready. This trick could help avoid clumsy unengaging sentences telling the readers as little as nothing about the matter.
- If the text seems incoherent, try crossing out the first sentences of each abstract idea. Experience shows people tend to use long lead-ins in reflective essays to make the text appear more substantial.
Remember that this type of essay requires a creative approach. For example, you may include your conclusion in the last body paragraph or end it with a cliffhanger. You could keep the suspense or reveal everything at the very beginning.
Reflective Essay Outline
The order of abstracts in an essay is usually reduced to three main parts. Yet, just as stated above, in this type of writing, a traditional formula may suffer significant changes:
The introduction should intrigue the reader so that they can't refrain from reading the rest. Writers achieve this goal through the use of contradictions, ironic instances, and suspense. A great example is a reflective essay outline works throughout the paper and is an excellent approach to organizing your ideas. The order of abstracts in an essay is usually reduced to three main parts, the same as in other essays. Yet, just as stated above, in this type of writing, a traditional formula may suffer significant changes:
Also, the introduction should grab the reader's attention so they can't refrain from reading the rest. Writers achieve this goal through contradictions, ironic instances, and suspense. A great example is " My first college frat party."
My friends invited me to my first college frat party this weekend, and the things I saw and experienced were just unbelievable.
That sentence is an amazing example of a captivating reflective essay introduction. In one sentence, you explained to the reader what you would be talking about and made it sound interesting. The first few sentences of your introduction should always contain a small glimpse of the big picture, which you shall reveal in the body paragraph of the essay. The final sentence of the intro is the core point of your entire paper and is called the reflective essay thesis, which will be based on the most significant moment. In this sentence, you clearly state the effects of the catalytic event and the overall significance of those changes. The thesis statement will be proven in the body paragraphs!
The body of the text should dwell on the matter introduced by the reflective essay thesis. The first problem students encounter when writing such essays is complete freedom of thought expression. It is easy to lose the chain of logic and start jumping from one idea to another. So, a practical suggestion – stick to the chosen narration line. Or better, make a separate structural plan for the body paragraphs.
There could be as many body paragraphs as you want. Depending on the topic, the text may, for example, have a one-sentence introduction and a hidden conclusion, but the body part will always be the biggest one. In this middle part, use as many opinion-showing words as possible. Introduce arguments to support your position or reinforce descriptions. Argumentative points may appear in a few examples, facts, phenomena of public life, events, real-life situations and experiences, scientific evidence, references to scholars and scientists, etc. Do not use too many examples unless you want to sound unsure of your views. One piece of evidence would suffice for a personal reflective essay. Two reinforcing examples will be enough for reflective essays, engaging elements of literary analysis or speculating about various phenomena. A reflective essay example with three or more sample facts will seem overloaded.
After the frat party I went to this weekend, it became evident that almost every other college student can’t handle a drink whatsoever.
Up top, you will see a good body paragraph intro. The topic sentence of that paragraph already explains what you will be discussing in the paragraph. Like in the introductory paragraph, the first sentence in your body paragraphs should excite the reader to read the entire story. During the body paragraphs, give vivid detail and examples to give the essay real-life features. In other words, put the reader into the story by giving relatable examples of situations and meticulously describing minor details. The more creative each sentence is and the more it captivates the reader with its literary style, the higher the excitement and interest level of the reader will be.
The conclusion as a separate element is not mandatory for reflective essays. Yet, make it concise if you decide upon the essay structure that requires final notes to back up the body part of the text. The main requirement for the conclusion: it should not be purely formal. This part should organically supervise the arguments presented in the body paragraphs. Looking for a reflective essay sample on the internet, you will most likely find examples featuring a full-blown conclusion. Of course, you could use them as templates for essay writing. Still, if you want to impress your readers and make them think about your work more, do not blatantly feed personal observations to them. Make people read between the lines and see your ideas and emotions in the body part of the text instead.
After looking back at that frat party experience, I have come to the conclusion that I will not support underage drinking.
As you may already know, your conclusion is where you sum up everything you have been speaking about in your essay. Then, using the information and events described in the body paragraph, bring everything back to a final concluding point in which you briefly reinstate how the experiences regarding this event molded and shaped your body physically and or mentally. Lastly, you should inform the reader of your final opinion on the topic.
Reflective Essay Topics
A reflective essay is, without a doubt, one of the only essays that this essay is all about you and your experiences. Therefore, write my essays service professionals have prepared some ideas that could help you come up with a few good reflective essay topic examples.
1. My first volunteer experience.
2. What strengthens my self-confidence?
3. Reflections on how I overcame life's difficulties.
4. What I learned from a joint trip with my friends.
5. First experience as a public speaker.
6. What traits in people discourage a friendly attitude?
7. A time when I knew it was depression.
8. White lies. The one time I had to lie to make life easier for my friend.
9. My first month in therapy.
10. My favorite book in childhood.
1. What role do family traditions play in my life?
2. What is a perfect family?
3. Meeting my partner's parents for the first time.
4. Story of how I separated from my parents.
5. Losing a loved one and how to cope with it.
6. Taking care of elderly relatives.
7. Relationships with younger siblings.
8. What holidays are most celebrated in your family?
9. Have you ever run away from home?
10. The last time my parents and I went on vacation.
1. A bike ride in the mountains.
2. The weekend I spent by the lake.
3. What thoughts do sunsets invoke in my mind?
4. From a seed to a tree. My experience in gardening.
5. Pondering nature's beauty during morning power walks.
6. Out in the wilderness. My first camping trip.
7. What steps do I take every day to protect the planet?
8. How living in a village changed my perception of nature.
9. Reflections on my first encounter with a wild animal.
10. Five laws regarding environmental protection I find most efficient.
Significant Places Topics
1. A first visit to the capital city.
2. The first foreign country I visited.
3. A place described in a book that I want to visit.
4. Beautiful places I visited as a child.
5. Following the historical paths. A visit to old battlefields.
6. My family's summerhouse and childhood nostalgia.
7. Places that bring up memories of the first love.
8. Visiting my grandparents' house.
9. My Alma Mater.
10. The city I want to move to after graduation.
Topics about Hobbies
1. Why are hobbies important in children's lives?
2. How I turned my hobby into a full-time job.
3. Reflections on how my hobby made me closer to my parents.
4. One whole day, I dedicated myself to my hobby.
5. Can a hobby bring both joy and money?
6. How university gave me a new hobby.
7. Reading comic books.
8. How I learned to play guitar in one year.
9. Why I had to abandon my hobby.
10. How I used hobbies to reinforce my resume.
Crafting a reflective essay involves thoroughly going through the writing process. First, let's look at the given examples:
A Good Essay Shows The Following:
The essay showed the reader the "big picture" that you, as an author, tried to show. Focus on showing how your reflection on the event brought about new changes to your mentality or physicality!
Your essay has an overall "cause and effect" notion. Something happened to you, and from that experience, you have changed.
Throughout the essay, you have shown the reader that you can look at your actions from an outside perspective.
Preferably have a super interesting reflective essay topic. It should be unique, something you won't read or hear about often.
A Bad Essay Fails To Show The Following:
The essay has failed to show the reader the author's "big picture."
Your reflective essay does not have even the slightest hint of a cause and effect essay.
Throughout the essay, you failed to show the reader that you can look at your actions and decisions from another perspective.
Reflective Essay Examples
Here we prepared reflective essay examples that will inspire your writing process!
"My first day at work after graduation"
To grasp the idea of how all the tips above work when combined, our team prepared examples. For example, one of the reflective essay samples to consider would be the following one:
Agitation. Excitement. Shock. Anger. Melancholy. Relief. Gratefulness. This list hardly covers half of the emotional spectrum I experienced on my first day at my job.
As soon as I graduated from the University with a technical degree, I realized that people interest me more than machines. I passed a career aptitude test and found out that working with people suits my personality type better than dealing with mechanisms. So, right before graduation, I entered the HR-related internship program at a bank. In a month, I got my diploma, put it on a shelf, and got a job as an assistant in the personnel department of a big IT company. This area caught my interest after watching one too many TV series.
And here it is – my first day. The air of importance and intricate business processes was so thick that I thought I could touch it. Strangers, most of them older than I was, seemed all-knowing and experienced. Excitement filled me to the top of my head. It was hard to keep a serious face while everything inside my head was shouting: "I did it! I am a big-shot HR manager!". Finally, I got my first job. It got everything a young green manager wanted – a comfy chair, a set of office supplies, and a computer screen that took half of the desk. Pure happiness and bliss enveloped by a naïve soul.
At a new job, everyone wants to show their best traits. You are ready to jump out of your skin to endear yourself to your boss and colleagues when it is your first job. Unfortunately, this approach puts immense pressure on the new employee.
At first, everything went well. My new boss gave me a pretty simple task, and I finished it in just a couple of hours. To my way of thinking, it should have been my first success. While I was walking across the room to show the result of my work, I painted a picture in my head where Mr. Smith (my boss) shook my hand and told me that I was a capable manager and so on. Should I tell you that nothing of the kind happened at that moment?
Mr. Smith did not share my enthusiasm toward the presentation I made. Long story short, instead of the expected praise, it received scads of criticism, and I returned to my desk sobbing. And at first, I didn't even know how to react.
A young HR manager named Tina from our department came up to me and offered to get some air. It was a real shock and a pleasant surprise. She was nice to me and explained that our boss was busy developing new recruitment plans for the upcoming meeting with the CEO, and my presentation was a part of the project. She said that it did contain mistakes Mr. Smith pointed out, but there was nothing to cry over. Later, she helped me fix it, and then I realized that justified criticism could become a stimulus for growth.
I accepted criticism and turned it into a new skill. From that day on, I started seeing the different approaches to work typical for top and middle managers.
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- How to write an essay introduction | 4 steps & examples
How to Write an Essay Introduction | 4 Steps & Examples
Published on February 4, 2019 by Shona McCombes . Revised on July 23, 2023.
A good introduction paragraph is an essential part of any academic essay . It sets up your argument and tells the reader what to expect.
The main goals of an introduction are to:
- Catch your reader’s attention.
- Give background on your topic.
- Present your thesis statement —the central point of your essay.
This introduction example is taken from our interactive essay example on the history of Braille.
The invention of Braille was a major turning point in the history of disability. The writing system of raised dots used by visually impaired people was developed by Louis Braille in nineteenth-century France. In a society that did not value disabled people in general, blindness was particularly stigmatized, and lack of access to reading and writing was a significant barrier to social participation. The idea of tactile reading was not entirely new, but existing methods based on sighted systems were difficult to learn and use. As the first writing system designed for blind people’s needs, Braille was a groundbreaking new accessibility tool. It not only provided practical benefits, but also helped change the cultural status of blindness. This essay begins by discussing the situation of blind people in nineteenth-century Europe. It then describes the invention of Braille and the gradual process of its acceptance within blind education. Subsequently, it explores the wide-ranging effects of this invention on blind people’s social and cultural lives.
Table of contents
Step 1: hook your reader, step 2: give background information, step 3: present your thesis statement, step 4: map your essay’s structure, step 5: check and revise, more examples of essay introductions, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about the essay introduction.
Your first sentence sets the tone for the whole essay, so spend some time on writing an effective hook.
Avoid long, dense sentences—start with something clear, concise and catchy that will spark your reader’s curiosity.
The hook should lead the reader into your essay, giving a sense of the topic you’re writing about and why it’s interesting. Avoid overly broad claims or plain statements of fact.
Examples: Writing a good hook
Take a look at these examples of weak hooks and learn how to improve them.
- Braille was an extremely important invention.
- The invention of Braille was a major turning point in the history of disability.
The first sentence is a dry fact; the second sentence is more interesting, making a bold claim about exactly why the topic is important.
- The internet is defined as “a global computer network providing a variety of information and communication facilities.”
- The spread of the internet has had a world-changing effect, not least on the world of education.
Avoid using a dictionary definition as your hook, especially if it’s an obvious term that everyone knows. The improved example here is still broad, but it gives us a much clearer sense of what the essay will be about.
- Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is a famous book from the nineteenth century.
- Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is often read as a crude cautionary tale about the dangers of scientific advancement.
Instead of just stating a fact that the reader already knows, the improved hook here tells us about the mainstream interpretation of the book, implying that this essay will offer a different interpretation.
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Next, give your reader the context they need to understand your topic and argument. Depending on the subject of your essay, this might include:
- Historical, geographical, or social context
- An outline of the debate you’re addressing
- A summary of relevant theories or research about the topic
- Definitions of key terms
The information here should be broad but clearly focused and relevant to your argument. Don’t give too much detail—you can mention points that you will return to later, but save your evidence and interpretation for the main body of the essay.
How much space you need for background depends on your topic and the scope of your essay. In our Braille example, we take a few sentences to introduce the topic and sketch the social context that the essay will address:
Now it’s time to narrow your focus and show exactly what you want to say about the topic. This is your thesis statement —a sentence or two that sums up your overall argument.
This is the most important part of your introduction. A good thesis isn’t just a statement of fact, but a claim that requires evidence and explanation.
The goal is to clearly convey your own position in a debate or your central point about a topic.
Particularly in longer essays, it’s helpful to end the introduction by signposting what will be covered in each part. Keep it concise and give your reader a clear sense of the direction your argument will take.
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As you research and write, your argument might change focus or direction as you learn more.
For this reason, it’s often a good idea to wait until later in the writing process before you write the introduction paragraph—it can even be the very last thing you write.
When you’ve finished writing the essay body and conclusion , you should return to the introduction and check that it matches the content of the essay.
It’s especially important to make sure your thesis statement accurately represents what you do in the essay. If your argument has gone in a different direction than planned, tweak your thesis statement to match what you actually say.
To polish your writing, you can use something like a paraphrasing tool .
You can use the checklist below to make sure your introduction does everything it’s supposed to.
Checklist: Essay introduction
My first sentence is engaging and relevant.
I have introduced the topic with necessary background information.
I have defined any important terms.
My thesis statement clearly presents my main point or argument.
Everything in the introduction is relevant to the main body of the essay.
You have a strong introduction - now make sure the rest of your essay is just as good.
- Literary analysis
This introduction to an argumentative essay sets up the debate about the internet and education, and then clearly states the position the essay will argue for.
The spread of the internet has had a world-changing effect, not least on the world of education. The use of the internet in academic contexts is on the rise, and its role in learning is hotly debated. For many teachers who did not grow up with this technology, its effects seem alarming and potentially harmful. This concern, while understandable, is misguided. The negatives of internet use are outweighed by its critical benefits for students and educators—as a uniquely comprehensive and accessible information source; a means of exposure to and engagement with different perspectives; and a highly flexible learning environment.
This introduction to a short expository essay leads into the topic (the invention of the printing press) and states the main point the essay will explain (the effect of this invention on European society).
In many ways, the invention of the printing press marked the end of the Middle Ages. The medieval period in Europe is often remembered as a time of intellectual and political stagnation. Prior to the Renaissance, the average person had very limited access to books and was unlikely to be literate. The invention of the printing press in the 15th century allowed for much less restricted circulation of information in Europe, paving the way for the Reformation.
This introduction to a literary analysis essay , about Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein , starts by describing a simplistic popular view of the story, and then states how the author will give a more complex analysis of the text’s literary devices.
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is often read as a crude cautionary tale. Arguably the first science fiction novel, its plot can be read as a warning about the dangers of scientific advancement unrestrained by ethical considerations. In this reading, and in popular culture representations of the character as a “mad scientist”, Victor Frankenstein represents the callous, arrogant ambition of modern science. However, far from providing a stable image of the character, Shelley uses shifting narrative perspectives to gradually transform our impression of Frankenstein, portraying him in an increasingly negative light as the novel goes on. While he initially appears to be a naive but sympathetic idealist, after the creature’s narrative Frankenstein begins to resemble—even in his own telling—the thoughtlessly cruel figure the creature represents him as.
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Your essay introduction should include three main things, in this order:
- An opening hook to catch the reader’s attention.
- Relevant background information that the reader needs to know.
- A thesis statement that presents your main point or argument.
The length of each part depends on the length and complexity of your essay .
The “hook” is the first sentence of your essay introduction . It should lead the reader into your essay, giving a sense of why it’s interesting.
To write a good hook, avoid overly broad statements or long, dense sentences. Try to start with something clear, concise and catchy that will spark your reader’s curiosity.
A thesis statement is a sentence that sums up the central point of your paper or essay . Everything else you write should relate to this key idea.
The thesis statement is essential in any academic essay or research paper for two main reasons:
- It gives your writing direction and focus.
- It gives the reader a concise summary of your main point.
Without a clear thesis statement, an essay can end up rambling and unfocused, leaving your reader unsure of exactly what you want to say.
The structure of an essay is divided into an introduction that presents your topic and thesis statement , a body containing your in-depth analysis and arguments, and a conclusion wrapping up your ideas.
The structure of the body is flexible, but you should always spend some time thinking about how you can organize your essay to best serve your ideas.
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How to Write an Introduction to a Reflective Essay
How to Write a Speculative Essay
A reflective essay incites the writer to reflect on topics from the framework of personal experience. Reflective essays must have a clearly defined focus with a consistent point of view. They should provide background information and include narrative elements such as plot, characters, setting and conflict. Reflective essays should present events in a clear format such as chronologically. Although they differ from other essays in their content, they follow the same basic format.
Introduce and define the essay topic. The first sentence should be strong to enable the reader to become immersed in the topic. Do this by providing interesting details and stating personal feelings and/or expectations. Provide background and personal information in the context of the essay topic. The point of view of your essay can be in first or third person but should be consistent.
Provide the purpose or rationale for writing the essay. Ensure that your stated purpose is clear as it will anchor your flow of ideas to the topic. Although this does not have to be persuasive or argumentative, your reader should be able to get a sense of why you chose the topic.
State your thesis about the topic. Your thesis should encapsulate your viewpoint about the topic. Make this statement realistic and able to be substantiated with information provided in the body of your essay.
Edit your introductory paragraph at the completion of your essay. Check that your flow of ideas is logical and you have avoided any ambiguity about the topic, rationale and thesis. Ensure the paragraph is free of grammatical, spelling and punctuation errors.
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Emily Rose is a full-time freelance writer who began writing professionally in 2010. Rose's interests include psychology-driven topics such as mental health, human relationships, addiction and stigma and discrimination. She has a bachelor's degree in arts from the Queensland University of Technology and is currently obtaining a degree in creative writing (nonfiction narrative) at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia.
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How to Write a Reflective Essay Outline: Tips And Example
09 Dec 2021
❓What is a Reflective Essay Outline?
📑Reflective Essay Outline Structure
✍️Reflective Essay Format and Style
📄Outline Example for an Essay
When you are asked to write a reflective essay, it might feel like an unusual task. After all, what do they normally reflect? Well, your own beliefs and ideas! However, the difficulty of such an assignment lies in the fact that you need to explore your own ideas on a topic so thoroughly that you can then write about them at length.
Even though it can be challenging, especially when writing specific reflective essay topics for university students , they are also a great opportunity to showcase your best writing skills. Such papers require you as the writer to go beyond just stating your ideas and providing evidence for them.
In order to create a truly exceptional piece of work, you will need to put in some additional effort and planning. So, here’s how you can write a reflection essay template and knock it out of the park.
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What is a Reflective Essay Outline?
Writing a reflective essay can be a difficult and challenging process, but it's also a very rewarding one. In order to write a successful one, you need to be able to articulate your thoughts and feelings about your experiences. The best way to do this is to use a reflective essay outline template.
An outline for a reflective essay is a plan for your academic paper, where you structure and break down the main points into logically ordered paragraphs in order to write it more efficiently. This is like a skeleton for your future work, which makes it easier and faster to write.
It helps to prevent writer’s block and organize your ideas. Whether you’re a beginner needing to write college admission essay or a seasoned essayist, having an outline is always a solid starting point.
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What is the Best Reflective Essay Outline Structure?
A reflective essay template is like a roadmap. It helps you organize your thoughts and plan what you're going to say in advance. It also makes it easier to write your paper because you know exactly what you're going to include in each section.
A typical reflective essay format includes three parts:
- Introduction: Introduce your topic.
- Body: Explore your topic in depth.
- Conclusion: Summarize your thoughts and reflect.
What Should be Included in the Introduction?
The introduction should begin with a hook that grabs the reader's attention. This can be a rhetorical question, a quote, or a shocking statistic. The goal is to get the reader engaged and interested in the material.
After the hook, the introduction should give some background information on the topic. This can help to provide context for the reader. The introduction should also include a strong thesis statement. This will be the main idea of your essay, and it should be clear and concise.
The introduction should not include any unnecessary details. The goal is to give the reader a general idea of what the paper will be about. Ensure that the introduction is engaging and makes the reader want to continue reading.
What Should be in the Body Paragraphs of a Self Reflective Essay?
In general, the body paragraphs should contain supporting evidence that backs up your thesis statement. This evidence can come in the form of quotes, statistics, real-life examples, or anything else that supports your claim. In addition to proof, your body paragraphs should also include analysis.
This is where you discuss how the evidence supports your thesis in the introduction and explain what it all means. Finally, each body paragraph should have a concluding sentence that sums up everything you've discussed and drives home your main point. By following this reflection paragraph template, you can ensure that your writing is well-organized and your argument is clear and convincing.
How to Write a Reflective Essay Conclusion?
When it comes to writing a conclusion, there are a few things that you need to keep in mind. First and foremost, you need to make sure that your conclusion is reflective of the rest of your essay. This means that it should maintain the same tone and style.
Secondly, your conclusion should be concise and to the point. You don't want to ramble on or include any new information. And finally, your final paragraph should leave the reader with something to think about. An excellent way to do this is to end with a question or a call to action.
If you are struggling with writing a reflective essay, one great solution would be to use an essay writing company . They can provide you with great support and guidance in developing your outline and structure for your reflective essay. PapersOwl is a reliable and trustworthy essay writing company that can help you with all your reflective essay needs.
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How Should One Choose a Reflective Essay Format and Style?
If you are working on or looking for process analysis essay ideas and are struggling to decide which referencing style to use, there are a few things you should keep in mind. First and most important is to get to know what your professor or institution requires.
If no style is specified, you can ask your professor for guidance. The second thing that you need to check is what format is most commonly used in your field of study. For example, if you are studying sciences, you will likely use the APA style. If you are studying humanities, you will likely use the MLA style.
Third, what style is most comfortable for you to use? This is a personal preference, and you should choose the style that you feel most comfortable with. Remember, whichever style you choose, you must be consistent throughout your writing.
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How to Write a Reflective Essay Template: Example
A self reflection essay outline will help you better understand the purpose of what you're writing. If you're struggling, it is even possible to find a template in many academic writing textbooks or online, where you can pay someone to write an essay for you .
A compelling reflection essay format can be challenging and difficult to write, which is why there is a university essay writing service available anytime you need help. But it's also a very rewarding one, in which you are free to articulate your thoughts and feelings about your experiences. The best way to do this is to use a reflection paper outline template.
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How to start a reflection paper | Introduction Paragraph Examples
How to start a reflection paper
There are many steps in writing a reflection paper , including the planning stages, drafting and finalizing stages. But the most important step is learning how to start off a reflection paper for college.
Below, you will find some of the tips that can be used to create an effective introduction for your reflection paper writing. Among these tips, you may choose which one is most appropriate to help you write a good piece for this assignment.
What makes a good introduction for a reflection paper?
The introduction must give clear impression about the writer’s position on topic that he or she needs to write about. It should also provide general idea about what content is going to be presented in the whole paper (if possible). The main aim of this part is to tell your reader what things are important and why they need to be explored further. If there were any events in past that changed your views and led you into writing this essay then share them with your reader. The introduction should also make clear on whether the essay is going to be descriptive or argumentative and why so?
reflection paper conclusion
Reflection paper outline, reflection paper examples, class reflection essay, internship reflection essay, how to write a movie reflection paper.
The statement of purpose for a reflection paper gives you an opportunity to share with your readers about what it is that you are trying to achieve from writing this essay. Your statement must clearly show what kind of things will be covered in your paper and which opinions are more likely to be supported through examples, facts, etc. You may start the essay by stating some of the purposes that have moved into writing this kind of papers like: analyzing past events in order to summarize the important things about life; pointing out existing problems and offering solutions for these issues; describing successful personal characteristics based on certain experiences; telling stories that have taught you certain lessons in life; and listing reasons for why a certain issue must be further dealt with.
What is the purpose of an introduction paragraph for reflection essay?
You should not use too many words to reveal your objectives since it might affect the quality of content that you want to discuss in your paper. Therefore, you should avoid using long sentences or detailed explanations about what you are going to achieve from writing this paper. Your statement of purpose also offers a chance for you to introduce yourself as well as your classmates, friends or other people who directly or indirectly helped you during some past events which have inspired your writing on this paper. You may also include certain facts about the situation under discussion like: how old were you when these things happened; where you were; and what experiences or lessons did you learn from the events that led to writing this essay.
The best way to start a reflection paper is to follow the steps outlined below. These steps will guide you from starting to the end of your research paper writing process.
Here’s you can start to write reflection paper:
- Finding a topic . Selecting a subject for your reflection paper is the first step toward completing it. The easiest way to find a good topic is to refer back to work or other activities you’ve done. These might include volunteering, working at an internship or apprenticeship position or taking classes you enjoyed. Choose something that really stands out to you as important — not just enjoyable in general but valuable in your chosen field. Research the subject area so you know what’s already been written about it.
- Creating an outline . Once you have a topic, you need to decide what the most important aspects of that subject are so that they’re covered in the paper. Put them into an outline format.
- Drafting and writing the reflection paper . This is where most of your effort will go — and where proper planning during earlier stages will pay off. You may write several drafts of your essay before you’re happy with it, but keep going until you’ve conveyed everything you want to without adding anything unnecessary or boring — this is one time when shorter really is better!
- Revising and editing . Read over your work carefully, fixing spelling and grammatical errors as well as reworking phrases so that they’re more clear and concise. Remember to use simple, straightforward language when possible — especially in technical papers like this one. Make sure your writing flows smoothly and that all the pieces fit together well.
- Publishing and presenting . Finally, you’ll need to share your paper with others either directly by having people read it or indirectly through publication. This may include submitting a research pape r to a journal for peer review before printing it for wider distribution. It also might mean giving an oral presentation of your findings at an academic conference or other professional event in order to receive feedback from peers or colleagues about whether the paper is ready for wider distribution as a published article. Most reflection papers are written for internal circulation within a professional field rather than for publication.
- Creating and maintaining a portfolio . If you’re considering applying to graduate school or other advanced studies, you might want to compile a collection of your reflection papers into a portfolio that you can send with your application or use during interviews with admissions officers. A portfolio is a collection of different research projects bundled into one source to show off the breadth and depth of your experience and interests as well as reflect on how far you’ve come in developing skills and talents. Create an appropriate way to organize and present all the papers in your portfolio so that it tells an interesting story about yourself. Whether this includes putting them together in one place with explanatory notes or posting them on personal website, setting up a self-portfolio makes it easier for admissions officers, teachers and others to see what you’ve accomplished.
Need help to start a reflection paper? Looking for how to start off a reflection paper? Here is simple guide that will help you:
- Write an Introduction – In this section, you should give some background information about your topic and how it relates with other fields of studies (it depends on what are you writing about). The introduction also includes thesis statement, which is sort of promise to readers what they can expect from your work. This part is often called “introduction”, but in fact it’s not really an introduction, since it must include main parts of your future research paper: thesis statement, problem description and solution possibilities. They show the readers the direction you’re going to research.
- Write the body paragraphs – The body of your work should include everything that ties together with the thesis statement and helps you prove it. Here is where you analyse your topic by using critical thinking skills and presenting evidence (quotes, statistics, etc.). Everything that supports your point of view belongs here. If you know your topic well, then finding supporting material shouldn’t be difficult – all it takes is a bit of time and hard work.
- Write the conclusion – This section usually contains summary of key ideas from the previous part in order to confirm the strength of your argumentation. Recall most important points or arguments that support your thesis statement. A good conclusion leaves readers with a sense of satisfaction . It brings them back to the thesis statement and reaffirms why your paper is important.
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How to Write a Reflective Essay: Examples, Intro, Body, & Conclusion
18 August 2023
This article is a guideline on how to write a good reflective essay, addressing the areas students should pay attention to when their lecturers give them assignments to produce such papers. Basically, a reflective essay examines the writer’s experience in life. People explore how their involvement changed or developed their characters and gather accurate details to support the main argument. In this case, each topic is essential because it teaches readers most important details that should guide their writing, from choosing a topic, following the correct outline, and going through each technical step to produce a quality document. Reading this guideline gives writers critical insights on writing an outstanding reflective essay, guaranteeing they can create a high-quality paper under any context. Although the article focuses on students as the primary audience, anyone needs to understand that an effective reflective essay should have a proper introduction, a compelling body, and a conclusion that brings an appropriate closure and apply the knowledge to be an expert, thoughtful essay writer.
General Aspects for Writing an Outstanding Reflective Essay
When lecturers give students writing reflection papers, they aim to develop intellectuals. The writing process of different types of papers demands learners to utilize their academic training to produce knowledge that others can consume for enlightenment. As such, various types of essays are central to providing college students with a platform for their reflection papers, constructing their intellectual personas and influencing others. Reading this guideline helps students and anyone interested in writing to gain insights into essential requirements when organizing essays. Specifically, this article provides a guideline for writing a reflective essay by addressing key aspects that authors of reflection papers need to know and essay topics they can choose to produce a high-quality scholarly document.
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Definition of What Is a Reflective Essay and Its Meaning
A reflective essay is a document whose primary focus is the writer’s self-reflection on his or her experience or a topic. Ideally, students writing a reflective essay must use their creative thinking skills to examine an experience or an issue and clearly state what it means to them without relying on others’ inputs. Therefore, the main purpose of writing a reflective essay is to present the writer’s own perspective on an issue. College professors assign their students tasks to write these essays because they understand that applying knowledge is the most effective strategy meaning to entrench knowledge. Self-reflection on an experience or topic means the way in which students apply what they have learned and create new knowledge through creative thinking. However, a reflective essay is not similar to an argumentative essay , an analytical essay , a cause and effect essay , an expository essay , or a research paper because, while writing about personal aspects allows students to use their own knowledge and experience, other papers have different purposes and requirements.
Common Types of Reflective Essays
Reflective essays take different forms because limiting what students can reflect on is impossible. Typically, English professors require students to write thoughtful texts about what they have read or studied in class and their experience on something personal as their reflection. The reasoning behind such expectation is that human beings have the imagination to judge events that occur in diverse contexts. Everyone learns something from experiences that shape their existence. Hence, when writing a reflective essay, students must first understand its purpose because it forms the foundation of their focus.
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Reflection on an Assigned Reading
College students read various texts in any semester, including assigned textbooks, articles, research papers, essays, reflections, commentaries, and opinions. These documents have one similarity in common since they all address topics lecturers consider important to learners’ intellectual development. In this respect, it is common for students to receive paper assignments requiring them to write a reflective paper on an article, poem, play, novel, or research topic. While professors often specify essay topics, students may encounter scenarios where they must construct sentences themselves. The most important thing they must consider when organizing reflection papers properly is that they must reflect the text the tutor prescribes.
Writing a Reflective Essay About an Article
Articles are texts commonly found online where writers pick an issue of concern to society or a specific community and discuss it from various perspectives as a reflection. For example, authors of articles posted in the New York Times journal may write about how social policies of the New York state government have contributed to homelessness. Some authors may claim that these policies have resulted in high rental prices, forcing many individuals and families to seek alternative accommodation, including living with relatives and in homeless shelters. A lecturer may require students to write a reflective essay on such articles. In turn, one must read the online article to understand the author’s perspectives in such an instance. As a result, students must reflect on how these viewpoints apply to them, people they know, and society. Their reflection paper writing should underscore the article’s significance.
Writing a Reflective Essay About a Poem
Poems are texts that paint a picture of society through words. Like art, they address many societal issues, such as leadership, love, family, morality, and tragedy. However, unlike most texts, poems are complex since their language requires readers to engage in critical thinking and reflection. Like an artist hides a message in a mural, a poet uses words to communicate deep insights. As such, lecturers often require students to read poems and write reflective papers. In such a scenario, students should read poems through their creative thinking lens and pick critical insights that they can expound on. However, their exposition and reflection should be based on what they think and not what others say.
Writing a Reflective Essay About a Play
Like poems, plays serve the purpose of communicating ideas with a profound message or hidden meaning. It is common for college students to read plays as part of course content and write reflection papers. As such, reflecting on such literature plays helps learners to apply knowledge to specific contexts. Therefore, when writing a reflective essay on a poem, students should read assigned plays to understand the information or knowledge the author intends to convey. The next step is to write a paper that allows them to self-reflect by explaining how the profound message or hidden meaning applies to real life.
Writing a Reflective Essay About a Novel
Unlike plays and poems, novels are long texts. Nonetheless, they are similar to the extent they address issues common in society. Most novelists use their creative imagination and reflection to communicate social problems through texts. Therefore, reading novels across generations is the best way to know how modern society reflects human civilization. With this understanding, English professors often require students to read novels and write reflective essays for the final semester assessment. In such a context, students should read the novel and interact with other materials about this work, such as commentaries and reviews by different authors. However, these texts should only help students to better understand the novel rather than form part of a reflective essay.
Writing a Reflective Essay About a Research Topic
It is common for college students to read research topics as part of their academic work. Almost all disciplines have issues that attract the attention of researchers. However, social sciences tend to have the highest level of this attention and reflection because they are about the social world. One approach lecturers in social sciences develop students into intellectuals requires them to analyze different research topics and produce a reflection paper. If students receive such instructions, they should read the study to understand critical points. Because researchers tend to be broad in assessing issues, writers should narrow their focus by picking a problem they think has the greatest significance to them or an aspect of their academic or social environment.
Reflection on an Experience
The most effective way of helping students to gain a deeper understanding of concepts, thoughts, and ideas is to require them to apply what they have learned to their personal lives as their reflection. Like everyone else, learners have personal experiences that enrich their existence despite their impact. In other words, a unique experience may have been pleasant or unpleasant. In turn, people can always get a moral lesson if they view it through optimism. Lecturers often require students to write reflective essays on personal experiences, including a life event, work experience, peer relation, domestic experience, and a hobby.
Writing a Reflective Essay About a Life Event
It is natural for everyone to experience a life event that leaves a lasting impact on them and close relations, including parents, siblings, friends, and even neighbors. Examples of these events include a near-death experience, such as an automobile accident, a chronic disease, or a personal loss, such as losing a parent. While these events are unique, they can trigger people’s creative imagination and reflection if they are discussing such topics. Lecturers understand this truth, and they give their learners assignments to write reflective essays about personal experiences. When students receive such instructions, they should use their imagination and reflection to link what they have learned with what happened to them in the past that remains significant today. Doing so gives a reelection essay a scholarly characteristic, allowing it to be an academic text others can consume.
Writing a Reflective Essay About a Work Experience
Working is an activity that no one can avoid from adolescence. While students may not be employable because they are yet to complete their education, employers give them opportunities to gain practical work experience along their academic journey. Work attachments are integral to a college education because they allow students to experience the work environment before graduation. Moreover, some students come from families with established businesses, while others seek employment during holidays to fund their education. This reality explains why professors ask learners to write reflective essays about a work experience. Under such an instruction, students should recall and talk about an incident in a work environment with a lasting impact as their reflection.
Writing a Reflective Essay About a Peer Relation
Peer relations are rich sources of personal experiences for college students. As social beings, adolescents develop friendships with their peers in diverse environments, including schools, workplaces, and neighborhoods. For example, a significant peer relationship reflection can be romantic or friendly. Almost every college student has experienced a romantic encounter that left them with lasting memories. Professors can ask their audience to write a reflective essay on a romantic relationship and how it generally shapes their view of life. In such a reflection paper, writers should include how the relationship challenged their perceptions or entrenched ideals, like commitment and honesty. In turn, people can focus on friendship and how it changed their lives. Essentially, the text should focus on the dynamics that shaped the relationship, such as availability, and how they think they are essential or nonessential for a lasting engagement.
Writing a Reflective Essay About a Domestic Experience
The domestic environment directly impacts people’s attitudes and behaviors. It is impossible for one to live without the influence of parents, whether biological or foster, guardians, or siblings. Standard domestic experiences for writing a reflection paper include family vacations, parental divorce, domestic violence, or events like family get-togethers. Lecturers often require students to think about how such experiences have impacted their worldview, including entrenching values, like hard work, empathy, and integrity. When students have to write a reflective essay on a domestic experience, their focus should be on events that have a lasting impact on their memory. Such events are easy to evaluate because they stand out in the writer’s behavior and mannerisms.
Writing a Reflective Essay About a Hobby
Hobbies are personal engagements that form part of a person’s social experience. People have different hobbies because only some of them are fascinated by one thing, like watching a football game or hiking a mountain. However, everyone has an interest they engage in as a form of unwinding after a difficult task or life season. College tutors view reflective essays as essential for students to relate their hobbies to a course concept or idea. When learners receive instructions to write such a paper, they should be honest and talk about their hobby, not someone else’s. Ideally, reflections enable students to view their hobbies through the lens of coursework .
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Examples of Reflective Essay Topics
Since everyone has unique experiences and perspectives on different reflective essay topics , lecturers often instruct students to write reflective essays without specifying the topic. However, reflecting on a text differs because the lecturer can select the reading. When it comes to individual experience, students have a free hand in deciding personal essay topics . As a result, some examples of reflection essay topics students and other people can choose to write about are:
Sample Topics on Assigned Readings
- How “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley Applies to Contemporary Society
- The Moral Lesson in the Play “Hamlet” by William Shakespeare
- The Essence of Morality Through the Lens of the Poem “Morality” by Mathew Arnold
Topics on a Personal Experience
- Overcoming a Fear That Changed My Life
- The Challenges of Long-Distance Dating
- How Family Fosters Togetherness
- How a Near-Death Experience Shaped My Ideals
Outline Example for Writing a Reflective Essay
I. College Essay Introduction
- Attention-grabbing hook : Dating is a social experience shaped by multiple dynamics.
- Overview of the topic: The challenges of long-distance dating.
- Thesis statement : Long-distance dating has taught me that human beings are naturally dishonest, love cannot flourish without supervision, and faithfulness results from commitment.
II. Body Paragraphs
- First paragraph : Open with a topic sentence about the first lesson and provide a reflection paper for this first lesson.
- Second paragraph: Present the second lesson and reflect on this second lesson.
- The third paragraph: Start by emphasizing the third lesson and write a reflection for this third lesson.
Note: The number of body paragraphs depends on the length of the assignment. Usually, the length of a reflective essay is about 500-1000 words, which means 2-4 double spaced pages or 1-2 single spaced pages.
- Summary of body points
- Restate the thesis statement of a reflection
- Conclude with a final remark
Example of a Good Reflective Essay
Topic: The Challenges of Long-Distance Dating
I. Example of an Introduction for Writing a Personal Essay
Dating is an experience that enriches one’s worldview because of the dynamics that shape it. However, long-distance dating has significant drawbacks that create the wrong impression about dating as a social experience. My experience with long-distance dating is awful because I have learned that human beings are naturally dishonest, love cannot flourish without supervision, and faithfulness is a product of commitment.
II. Example of the First Body Paragraph for Writing a Personal Essay
Long-distance dating challenges the adage ‘honesty is the best policy’ because it reveals humans as naturally dishonest. After my reflection, I learned this painful lesson when I developed a relationship with a friend I met online in my early adolescence. Since this period of growth is when individuals develop most peer relationships, dating is common among youth, especially those in college. The essence of dating for many adolescents is the freedom it represents since one can choose whom they love without social restrictions. However, dating someone you do not regularly meet because of distance is troublesome. After meeting someone on the Internet I thought was a perfect match for me, I hoped to develop a lasting romantic relationship. However, things turned ugly when I learned that the person of my dreams was married. This experience convinced me that human beings are naturally dishonest.
III. Example of the Second Body Paragraph for Writing a Personal Essay
The greatest lesson from my dating experience is that love cannot flourish without supervision and reflection. I always tell myself it was good that I discovered the person was married because I would have continued investing emotionally in a relationship built on a lie. My desire to know my online date more closely saved me from the futile endeavor. Generally, this burning interest to learn more is a form of social supervision because it helps one to discover truths. Although my reflection quest for truth led to the end of the relationship, it helped me to learn that love cannot flourish if no one desires to know more about their partner. I consider this desire to know as supervising love.
IV. Example of the Third Body Paragraph for Writing a Personal Essay
More importantly, my experience with long-distance dating taught me that faithfulness is a product of commitment. I was committed to the relationship because I was faithful, neither married nor dating anyone else. Unfortunately, my partner was not trustworthy because this person was married, explaining why he was less committed to investing emotionally in the relationship. The genesis of my reflection quest for more information about him was that he turned down several of my requests for a physical meet-up. After learning he was married, I understood why he would not agree to meet physically because he was not committed to the relationship. To him, dating was a passive hobby.
V. Example of a Conclusion for Writing a Personal Essay
The above experiences with long-distance dating have shaped my worldview about people and love. While one may consider some individuals pleasant or unpleasant, all are transformative because they have shifted my perceptions. They have convinced me that people are naturally dishonest, one cannot nurture love without supervision, and commitment births faithfulness. While my experience was awful, these lessons are essential for my reflection and emotional well-being in my future romantic relationships.
4 Easy Steps for Writing a Reflective Essay
While reflection writing is straightforward, producing a reflective essay can be complex because one must observe technical details that shape a high-quality paper. Ideally, students should approach a reflective essay as an academic exercise because there are specific issues and rules they must observe and satisfy to make their work meet the requirements of such a document. These issues include sufficient preparation, setting up the stage, producing a first draft, and perfecting a final draft. Important rules include creating an error-free paper, meaning a good reflection paper must not have grammar or formatting mistakes or plagiarized information.
Step 1: Preparation
In this first step, students must prepare themselves by doing specific things. Firstly, they should choose a particular topic of interest and define it. Ideally, the topic should indicate the kind of essay they want to produce, whether a self-reflection about a text or a personal experience. In the case of the former, the lecturer specifies the topic. The next task is to prepare ideas through brainstorming with classmates or friends while considering the audience of their work. A good reflective essay should be an academic paper that meets quality standards because those who will consume it include the lecturer, fellow students, and anyone wanting to know more about the topic. When writing a reflective essay, students should understand that the purpose of their texts is to provide an opportunity for self-reflection by presenting their papers.
Step 2: Setting Up the Stage
The next step in writing a reflective essay is to set up the stage where students need to consider several tasks. The first aspect is to find credible sources if the mission is to talk about assigned readings, such as a poem, short story, or novel. Locating reliable sources is vital to ensure one stays within the topic. Secondly, one should read valid sources while making notes. For reflection papers, they should use the ideas generated in the preparation stage to guide note-taking. The third task is creating a well-organized essay structure and essay outline that reflects the standard format of this type of essay as described by the sample above. Lastly, writers should create an annotated bibliography to ensure that borrowed information in the text has a corresponding original source. Doing so helps avoid plagiarizing the work. However, this task does not apply to an essay about a personal experience.
Step 3: The Writing Process
The third step in producing a reflective essay is to create a first draft. At this stage of writing a reflective paper, students should focus on capturing all the ideas generated when preparing to execute the task. As such, they should not worry about the quality, like grammar and formatting. The importance of a first draft is that it allows writers to put their ideas together. If a particular reflection topic is about assigned readings, students may use this stage to find more sources that help to expand their reasoning. They may also alter the outline to accommodate any additional instructions, such as the length of the paper. The most important thing one should do is develop a clear thesis statement because it should guide their work.
Writing the Introduction
The introduction is the first part of any essay and contains the overall focus of the paper. When developing this part for a reflective essay, students should ensure they capture the reader’s attention, establish the topic’s background, and conclude with a thesis statement. They also should provide background information about the topic. In reflection papers, these three components are essential features of an essay’s opening section. To a greater extent, they determine whether the audience will complete reading the text. Students should know — people do not read unexciting texts when organizing this section. Such texts lack a hook that grabs one’s attention and ignites a desire to learn more in the rest of the paper.
Writing Body Paragraphs
The body of a reflective essay should capture all the ideas that writers have generated in the preparation stage. However, the tutor’s instructions regarding the college essay length should determine whether writers use all the ideas, add new ones, or drop some of them. Each paragraph should open with a topic sentence emphasizing an idea in the thesis statement. These ideas may be lessons for a reflection paper about a personal experience, but, if the focus is on reading the article, they should be arguments or observations since specific details and evidence make the work compelling. In turn, real-life examples make a reflection relevant and persuasive. Ideally, this part of a reflection paper should cover an evidence-based format by integrating course concepts and ideas. All parts must relate to one another, while achieving a proper flow of ideas improves the quality of a reflective essay. People should use the rest of the paragraph to explain the lesson or observation or enrich the argument. Other essential components of each paragraph include a concluding sentence and a transition. Therefore, body paragraphs of a reflection paper
Writing the Conclusion
The conclusion paragraph is the last part of a reflective essay. The most important features include summarizing the paper by emphasizing key lessons for a piece about a personal experience or arguments or observations for an article about a text. Basically, writers sum up all the main points discussed in the body. The next quality is restating the thesis statement by rewording it, and lastly, is to make a final remark about the topic. Such a remark must underscore writers’ primary worldviews as a product of their reflection. Therefore, when organizing this section, students should know that their focus is to finalize the text by making declarations that allow readers to be satisfied. It is illogical for a paper to leave a reader hanging unless it is fiction. Thus, one should bring a reflective essay to a logical closure.
Step 4: Wrapping Up the Paper
The last step in writing a reflective essay is to produce a final draft by perfecting a first draft. This wrap-up exercise involves revising the first version of the text to ensure it captures all the author’s ideas. The second task for writing a reflection paper is to edit the text by adding or eliminating sentences to provide a logical flow of ideas and thoughts. The next mission is to ensure all three parts — introduction, body, and conclusion — capture all essential features, including thesis, topic sentences, and final remarks, as appropriate. The last task is to eliminate all mistakes, including grammatical errors, incorrect punctuation, formatting flaws, and missing citations. To produce a perfect reflection paper, one must familiarize themselves with all rules of academic writing and use them as the measure for polishing a final draft.
Important Rules for Writing a Reflective Essay
When writing a reflective essay, students should observe all the rules applicable to their work, even if the lecturer does not emphasize them. The first convention that one should satisfy is to maintain a formal tone. Apart from using the first-person voice, students should ensure their work is academic. As such, they should avoid slang and any language that dilutes the formality of their text, and they need to write following the active voice. Another convention to consider when writing a reflection paper is to cite ideas that writers borrow from different sources. For example, when students use quotes from the text they are reflecting on, such as an online article, they should cite it properly by paying attention to APA, MLA, Harvard, and Chicago/Turabian writing styles.
Summing Up on How to Write a Perfect Reflective Essay
- Reflective essays allow students to discuss relevant events or course readings that influenced their lives.
- This guideline shows that writing a good reflective essay is a rigorous exercise that requires one to understand several tips.
- Understand the topic when writing a reflection essay: whether one is to reflect on a text or a personal experience.
- Brainstorm and create a mental database of ideas.
- Develop a clear outline that emphasizes the introduction, body, and conclusion and the key features of each.
- Review all the technical steps of producing a high-quality reflective essay.
- Produce a first draft and then perfect a document into a final draft by eliminating all mistakes, like wrong grammar, poor formatting, and illogical sentences.
- Proofread final drafts before presenting them to lecturers.
- It is advisable to give the final draft to someone to read a reflection paper and avoid missing out key details or obvious mistakes.
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