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What Is a Reflective Essay Paper?

What Is a Reflective Essay?

❶Writing a reflective essay is similar to looking into a mirror except that instead of seeing objects reflected in the room behind you, you "see" reflections of a past experience. Common transitional phrases include "for example," "for instance," "as a result," "an opposite view is," and "a different perspective is.

How to Write a Reflective Essay

What Can You Write About in a Reflective Essay?


In the third and last column, describe how much of your personal response to share in your reflection paper. Ask yourself questions to guide your response.

If you are struggling to gauge your own feelings or pinpoint your own response, try asking yourself questions about the experience or reading and how it relates to you. Sample questions might include: Does the reading, lecture, or experience challenge you socially, culturally, emotionally, or theologically? If so, where and how? Why does it bother you or catch your attention? Has the reading, lecture, or experience changed your way of thinking?

Did it conflict with beliefs you held previously, and what evidence did it provide you with in order to change your thought process on the topic?

Does the reading, lecture, or experience leave you with any questions? Were these questions ones you had previously or ones you developed only after finishing? Did the author, speaker, or those involved in the experience fail to address any important issues?

Could a certain fact or idea have dramatically changed the impact or conclusion of the reading, lecture, or experience? How do the issues or ideas brought up in this reading, lecture, or experience mesh with past experiences or readings?

Do the ideas contradict or support each other? Part 1 Quiz When charting your thoughts, which column would include your subjective values? Your plan for your response paper. Keep it short and sweet. A typical reflection paper is between and words long. Verify whether or not your instructor specified a word count for the paper instead of merely following this average. If your instructor demands a word count outside of this range, meet your instructor's requirements.

For a reading or lecture, indicate what you expected based on the title, abstract, or introduction. For an experience, indicate what you expected based on prior knowledge provided by similar experiences or information from others. Develop a thesis statement. At the end of your introduction, you should include a single sentence that quickly explains your transition from your expectations to your final conclusion.

This is essentially a brief explanation of whether or not your expectations were met. A thesis provides focus and cohesion for your reflection paper. You could structure a reflection thesis along the following lines: Explain your conclusions in the body.

Your body paragraphs should explain the conclusions or understandings you reached by the end of the reading, lesson, or experience. Your conclusions must be explained. You should provide details on how you arrived at those conclusions using logic and concrete details. The focus of the paper is not a summary of the text, but you still need to draw concrete, specific details from the text or experience in order to provide context for your conclusions.

Write a separate paragraph for each conclusion or idea you developed. Each paragraph should have its own topic sentence. This topic sentence should clearly identify your major points, conclusions, or understandings. Conclude with a summary. Your conclusion should succinctly describe the overall lesson, feeling, or understanding you got as a result of the reading or experience. The conclusions or understandings explained in your body paragraphs should support your overall conclusion.

One or two may conflict, but the majority should support your final conclusion. Part 2 Quiz What does every good body paragraph include?

A topic sentence, a conclusion or new understanding, and an explanation of how you reached that conclusion. A thesis statement including your conclusion, a topic sentence, and an explanation of how you reached that conclusion. An introduction including your expectations, a topic sentence, and evidence supporting your topic sentence. A reflection paper is somewhat personal in that it includes your subjective feelings and opinions.

Instead of revealing everything about yourself, carefully ask yourself if something is appropriate before including it in your paper. If you feel uncomfortable about a personal issue that affects the conclusions you reached, it is wisest not to include personal details about it. If a certain issue is unavoidable but you feel uncomfortable revealing your personal experiences or feelings regarding it, write about the issue in more general terms.

Identify the issue itself and indicate concerns you have professionally or academically. Maintain a professional or academic tone. A reflection paper is personal and objective, but you should still keep your thoughts organized and sensible. Avoid dragging someone else down in your writing. If a particular person made the experience you are reflecting on difficult, unpleasant, or uncomfortable, you must still maintain a level of detachment as you describe that person's influence.

Avoid slang and always use correct spelling and grammar. Do not treat it as a personal journal entry. Check and double-check your spelling and grammar after you finish your paper. Review your reflection paper at the sentence level. A clear, well-written paper must have clear, well-written sentences. Keep your sentences focused. Avoid squeezing multiple ideas into one sentence. Make sure that each sentence has a subject and a verb.

Vary your sentence length. Include both simple sentences with a single subject and verb and complex sentences with multiple clauses.

Doing so makes your paper sound more conversational and natural, and prevents the writing from becoming too wooden. Transitional phrases shift the argument and introduce specific details.

They also allow you to illustrate how one experience or detail directly links to a conclusion or understanding. Common transitional phrases include "for example," "for instance," "as a result," "an opposite view is," and "a different perspective is. Relate relevant classroom information to the experience or reading. You can incorporate information you learned in the classroom with information addressed by the reading, lecture, or experience.

For instance, if reflecting on a piece of literary criticism, you could mention how your beliefs and ideas about the literary theory addressed in the article relate to what your instructor taught you about it or how it applies to prose and poetry read in class. As another example, if reflecting on a new social experience for a sociology class, you could relate that experience to specific ideas or social patterns discussed in class.

Part 3 Quiz What is an example of something you should include in your writing? The first-person point of view. How do I write a reflective essay without using the personal article "I"? You can use "one" instead. For example, "One might say Not Helpful 17 Helpful Think of your answers to the following questions: Do you like dolphins? How have dolphins changed your life?

Do dolphins help you with everyday tasks? If you were a dolphin for a day, what would you do? These are the tough questions that you need to ask in order to start writing your paper. Not Helpful 35 Helpful It can have as many paragraphs as you see fit, but there is usually at least an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. It depends on what your instructor outlines as an expectation.

Usually this will be outlined in the assignment if the answer is 'yes". Not Helpful 28 Helpful If I have five questions to answer in a reflection paper, should I have a title in bold for each question and my reflection below them?

Not Helpful 20 Helpful List all of the qualities a leader needs, and then write how each of those leadership roles applies to you. Not Helpful 22 Helpful Once could start with a statement or question: Not Helpful 14 Helpful If you are writing it on a film and a piece of writing, compare and contrast the two.

A reflection paper is your personal opinions; write about what you thought of the two - whether you liked or disliked them. Write about how they affected you in any way. Sometimes instructors will ask students to respond to a lecture or other school assignment so that they can show what they understand. Writing about what you are learning can also help you share and interact with other students, as well as the instructor.

This kind of writing can help you learn how to understand and analyze your own life experiences. It can also help you grow emotionally as you learn to understand yourself better. Are there things that one should not write in a reflective essay?

Should I put a title on my essay? Explaining the meaning of the event or memory is the best way to end your reflection essay. An excellent way to convey your thoughts is to tell what you are thinking or feeling directly. You can use these sentence starters:. Is there something this lecture made you think of?

Perhaps a personal experience, something in the news or something in the media? Is there anything you would do or think differently because of the information you learned? Most of the time, a reflective essay doesn't have references because it is based on your own observations and experiences.

However, if you are going to refer to some research or an article, you should include that by using the name of the person and the title of the article, or by using whatever reference style your instructor has required MLA, APA or Chicago. I tell my students to use this simple format:.

You can do this kind of personal writing about any experience that you can have. Here are some questions to direct your reflections about military service:. When doing a reflective essay, it can be a good idea to choose a topic to emphasize the meaning of your thinking about memory.

Especially if the memory is something that lots of your readers may have also experienced, it can be helpful to focus on an experience like "stress" and an audience "our generation" to explain what you are talking about.

To write an excellent essay, it is important to make sure that you vividly describe the situation you experienced with lots of details and sense images about stress. While you can point out that your own experience mirrors the experience of others, be careful also to make your reflections personal. Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites. This reflection is so helpful to to me. I have learnt a lot from your example to write my papers.

Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge. At least I will be a bit confident to start on my reflection paper paper now. This was so helpful. This is a great tool for writers to begin with. This reflective essay was very useful for me and by the way I am from India and I am studying in class 6.

Thank you for this! I was assigned to write a reflective essay about a conference I attended. I had never written a reflective essay before, and your prompts really helped me set a direction for my paper. Hi Rao, all of my work is copyrighted and you cannot post this on another website or print it off. However, you are welcome to give your students a link to my page, which they can read and access for free. I provide all of my work for free to users. Advertisements on my page pay me for my time to write new materials so that I can let people look at them for free rather than having them purchase them in a book.

I am introducing this "reflective writing in our pharmacy school. I would like to your guidelines. Do you have copyright stuff? Please let me know. Hi Virginia am glad your samples have been a pivotal to my essay writing. Thank you so much. I am a writer and this is the first day I read your sharing and I am so glad for that, thank you dear Puthy Ken, I used to teach students from Cambodia and I know that you work very hard.

I'm glad you are continuing your studies and I wish you the best! Thanks for your sharing. It helps me much to do my assignment of MA course in Cambodia. I am one of graduated students here are really need more documents in this our developing country.

I'm so glad that my essay helped you. Keep up with your writing. The most important thing is to practice doing some writing every day!

Virginia, my name is Amanda and I am 15 years old. Thank you so much for these advantageous information, and your sample essay?! It was really amazing!!! Hi Ginny--I'm so glad to hear of your teaching to seniors, and especially the fact that you are teaching them reflective writing.

I've also called it personal or memory writing when I've taught it in the past. I think for seniors this sort of writing is so valuable because it allows them to gather memories and reflect on the meaning of events in their lives. What a legacy for them to leave for the younger members of their family. My mom just passed away this week and she was not a writer, but my cousin and I got together with her a couple of months ago and they talked together while I wrote down what they said.

That sort of memory writing is a wonderful legacy for grandchildren. Please remind your seniors that even though children and grandchildren may not be interested in hearing about memories, there will be a time in their lives when they need that strength and the lessons from the family past.

I have taught writing in elementary school for at least 18 years and now that I am retired I have been asked to teach a group of seniors about writing. The reflective writing is one I have done but never called it that. Thanks for all the clear cut ideas to help me be successful teaching it to this new group. I feel sure they will have so much to say! Thanks for taking the time to let me know that my work is helping homeschoolers.

I have many friends who homeschool and they are often concerned about teaching writing correctly. That is one of the reasons I've posted my personal instructions for my own college students.

Thank you for sharing your knowledge. I am a home school mum and this will really help my son with writing a reflective essay. Thank you so very much! Deliberately well explanation of the term "Reflective Essay" with many good points to be induced in the writing, like feelings, observations etc.

I will try to write a reflective essay and for sure, try my best to adopt your instructions. I love teaching Reflective Essays because it helps my students to understand that writing can be personally meaningful.

Many of my students are at turning points in their lives and thinking about lots of important decisions. I teach them that writing down their thoughts and feelings often helps them to clarify what they are thinking. Virginia, congrats on HOTD! I never heard of reflective essays before. This is so interesting and useful for those to explore your own emotions in expressive writing on your ideas, hopes and dreams.

Awesome hub dealing with the many salient features, uses and importance of reflective essays in day-to-day life of so many fields of people. It is very useful and informative. Thanks for sharing this valuable information and congrats on the HOTD award. This is very useful and valuable to teachers and students. I only wish I had this guide when I was in high school. Some great advice here for writing a reflective essay.

This will really help my daughter with her essay writing skills. Voted up and useful. Grand Old Lady-you are so write that teaching can be very tough in the trenches. A lot of it depends on the students you are teaching and the attitude of the administration. I am very fortunate to teach at a wonderful Christian University with many inspiring students.

You gave some very helpful tips and prompts on reflective writing. I also loved the video. It reminded me of my own teaching days and helped me to re-connect with the idea that teaching is a noble profession. It's oh, so true but when you get into the daily battle of it, it can be so easily be forgotten. Other product and company names shown may be trademarks of their respective owners. HubPages and Hubbers authors may earn revenue on this page based on affiliate relationships and advertisements with partners including Amazon, Google, and others.

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The most common subjects covered in a reflective essay include the following. A real experience Something you imagined A place or a special object Something you've read, watched, seen, touched, tasted, smelled, or heard. Topic Ideas for a Reflective Essay The above subjects might have already sparked an idea of what you would like to write about. Places You've Been The beach, mountains, countryside, or desert A special hideaway or special room The house you grew up in A relative's home Life-Altering Events A special date Failing or succeeding at something A time you learned something new A new experience A time you overcame one of your fears An important memory A significant conversation Recurring or Significant Thoughts A dream or daydream A conversation you wish you had or something you wish you had done A story you've told about yourself An embarrassing moment The person you'd like to be A strong emotion Impactful Experiences A book, movie, T.

Introductory Paragraph Your first paragraph should be an introduction in which you identify the subject and give the reader a general overview of the impression it made on you. Your introductory paragraph should also included a thesis statement that will serve as the focal point of your paper.

I realized it was because the beach had always been a place of rest to me. Then, write about why. This is a reflective essay, which means you can speculate. There are no right or wrong answers in this type of essay. In the second body paragraph, write about the second reason your subject made the impression on you that it did.

In the third body paragraph, write about the third reason your subject made the impression on you that it did. Conclusion Recap your thesis statement and the reasons you provided in the body of your essay. Sum up your article with some final thoughts on your subject, and some closing reflective thoughts.

Now, I want to find a way to help Rhonda have a day off of her own, and I'm hoping someday we can take a trip to the beach together. Choose a Topic Idea If you haven't been assigned a topic and don't have a topic in mind, check the list of topics above for inspiration. Study Your Subject Depending on your topic, you may need to close your eyes and remember, read, watch, listen, or imagine.

Brainstorm Write down everything you can think about your subject. Pick Reflection Questions Read through the list of reflection questions below and select at least three you want to answer. How did I feel about this? Why did it make me feel this way? How was my experience of this unique to me? How did others who were there experience it differently? How has this changed me? What might I have done differently?

What is the meaning of this event in my life? How is this similar to something else that I've experienced? How can I use this to help someone else? How does this event relate to the rest of my life?

How is this typical in my life? Was this a good or a bad thing for me? How did this experience foretell things that would happen later? Was my experience the same as someone else's or different? What skills did I learn? How can I apply what I learned to my life? How can I apply this experience to my studies? How can this help me in my career? What about this experience challenged me socially? In what way did this expand my understanding of my own culture?

How was this emotionally important? How did this experience relate to my understanding of theology, God or religion? What questions did this experience make me have? How has this changed the way I think? How has this made me realize someone else was right? How was this unexpected? Or how did this fulfill my expectations?

Would I want to repeat this experience? Would this experience be the same if I did it again? How did this affect me and why? Why did I have the reaction I did to this? Answer the Questions You Selected Read your questions, then answer them. Example What did I notice? Couples walked hand in hand.


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A reflective essay is an essay in which the writer examines his or her experiences in life. The writer then writes about those experiences, exploring how he or she .

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Sample Reflective Essays Below we offer two examples of thoughtful reflective essays that effectively and substantively capture the author's growth over time at .

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A good reflective essay can be a great reflective essay with the proper planning. Using a Reflective Essay Outline to Organize Your Thoughts The goal of any essay is to write clearly and concisely about whatever topic you choose or are assigned. How to write a reflective essay 1. How to write a reflective essay 2. Learning outcomes1. Plan a reflective essay appropriately2. Identify an effective way of writing the introduction3. Recognise the structure of body paragraphs to support the introduction4. Produce an effective conclusion5.

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May 19,  · Reflective essays describe an event or experience, then analyze the meaning of that experience and what can be learned from it. What makes an essay reflective is that the writer is analyzing a past event from the directlenders.mls: Reflective essays are usually written at the completion of a milestone. For instance, a scientist may write a reflective essay at the completion of an experiment or a student may be asked to write a reflective essay at the end of a course of study or the completion of an individual or class project.