Reflection essays provide students with a great chance toreinforce everything they’ve learned through personalexperiences, lectures, coursework, etc. Although this academicassignment is focused on personal experiences and emotions, itoften requires the use of concrete examples and multiple sources.In most cases, students involved in such experiential capstonesor classes as practicums and internships find reflection essaywriting invaluable for synthesizing their theoretical knowledgewith applied experiences. Learning how to write a reflectionpaper will help you organize all ideas methodically and gain morefrom your practical experiences.
Basic purposes of reflection essays
Any reflection paper is a type of academic writing that requiresyou to interact with the targeted audience while describingspecific life experiences or moments. You need to explorepersonal emotions, ideas, and opinions about a particular eventand its effect on you. This assignment allows you to do thefollowing:
- Making your analysis and conclusions about what you’ve heard,seen, or read;
- Making certain connections between a given text and yourself;
- Considering what you’ve learned and how you can use newinformation;
- Writing from your point of view while identifying interestingideas for further reading.
The main goal of all reflection essays is to write concisely andclearly about any chosen subject.
The importance of your essay outline
When writing a reflection paper, some students tend to get a bitdisorganized and sound illogical because they discuss anythingand everything in no particular order. Using a detailed outlinecan help you avoid this mistake and improve your writing in manyways.
First, an essay outline helps you lay out all the details andfacts that you want to use before getting started. It’s quitehelpful because you won’t end up realizing that you forgot toinclude something important when your last paragraph is ready.
Outlines provide students with a clear roadmap instead of manydead ends and curvy paths. If you have a good outline, you don’tneed to wonder what must come next because everything is planned.
Ultimately, you will save time on your academic writing becauseyou can always look at your essay outline and follow it. Youdon’t have to waste your precious time on second-guessing whatcomes next, going back for major revisions because you forgotimportant things, or in what order supporting facts must go.That’s why creating a helpful outline of your reflection paper isthe best solution.
The process of writing reflection papers
Teachers and professors usually request reflection papers becausethey allow students to share personal experiences and opinionsabout specific lectures, lessons, or articles. Although thisacademic assignment is quite subjective and personal, it stillneeds to have a formal style and be well-organized. Whenreflecting on a particular text, write down your initial ideasand emotions while reading it. When writing about a specific lifeevent or about your personality, feel free to brainstorm and makea special chart with a few columns about your past experiences,reflection, and description. This simple table can help yououtline and structure your reflection paper successfully.
Personal reflection papers
They reflect your personal experiences, individuality, and majorinfluences. A personal reflection essay helps readers get to knowyou better. Unlike other types of essays, it doesn’t rely on anyresearch or facts because this assignment is focused mainly onyou. The number one thing that differentiates a good reflectionpaper from the bad one is its organization.
The format of reflection essays
The format of reflection essays differs from standard research orargumentative papers because they are all about well-structuredstories or diary entries. A paper in MLA or APA formats isapplicable only if it comes with the external text that you’rereflection upon. The length of your reflection varies between300-700 words. If you have any questions, ask instructors aboutthe required word count and follow all the necessaryinstructions. When writing a reflection essay, avoid the academicwriting style because you need take your original ideas andemotions into account. Remember that this paper is about yourpersonality, not a given text.
How to make a good plan
To start organizing a reflection paper, look at the ideas thatyou’ve brainstormed. For example, your past experiences anddescription should be about 10% of your paper. Limit listing lifeevents because you should tell them to readers as little aspossible, so your basic goal is showing them in this essay. Theessay introduction must consist of:
- A hook that grabs readers’ attention in a brief preview ofwhat you will write about;
- A thesis that includes information about your pastexperiences, and it’s a short statement of what your paper is allabout.
Discuss the structure of your body paragraphs in a chronologicalorder. Besides, answer bold questions in your reflection sectionto come up with a linear storyline, regardless of what your paperis about. Your body paragraph should look the following:
- Personal expectations;
- First impressions;
- Practical and other experiences;
- New discoveries;
- Newly found feelings and passions;
- Your developed mindset.
A conclusion of your reflection paper should wrap all ideas whiledemonstrating a certain personal development. Make sure that itcontains future plans, new discoveries, and personal feelings.
Useful and interesting reflection ideas
Perhaps, a reflection paper is the one you aren’t allowed toborrow a subject for, and the main reason is that it must beabout your personal experiences or feelings. The good news isthat you can use a few helpful prompts to get started:
- Some experiences that you can’t forget;
- The hardest life choice that you made;
- The happiest or scariest moments in your life;
- The time your important beliefs were challenged;
- The time you felt confused or overcame your fears.
It’s helpful to create a specific table or chart to keep a trackof all ideas and split it into a few basic parts:
- Write the main points or key experiences and grade them fromvery to little important;
- List a personal response to these ideas;
- Explain how much of your reflection is shared in a paper.
How students write successful reflections
How to write a reflection paper? First, you should watch whatyou’re writing because this paper is very personal and includesyour opinions or feelings about the chosen subject. Before youdecide to include something in this essay, ask yourself whetherthis information is appropriate or not. If you feel inconvenientabout writing something personal, don’t include it in yourreflection or write about it in more general words.
Although reflection essays are personal, it’s advisable to keepyourself organized and stay professional. Avoid slang and try touse only correct grammar and spelling. This paper is yourpersonal story, so you don’t have to drag anyone else into it. Besure to maintain a high level of professionalism and write aboutcertain actions. Frame them within the main context of yourreflection writing.
Don’t be lazy when reviewing the entire essaysentence-by-sentence to find and fix all mistakes. Keep all partsto the point and avoid squeezing different ideas into onesentence. Be sure that all sentences have a clear purpose anddon’t leave anything in your paper unfinished.
Finally, use special transitional phrases or words to shiftbetween ideas and introduce interesting details. Their use willhelp you make your reflection close to perfection.
Characteristics of satisfactory reflection essays
- Your reflection provides a bigger picture of personalexperiences;
- It interweaves interesting information about specific lifeevents and how they are beneficial;
- Your personal experience paints unique details;
- A reflection shows what you’ve learned from it and revealsmore about your personal goals;
- It demonstrates your readiness to reflect on personal workand provides a number of adequate examples;
- Your paper is well-organized and has no spelling andgrammatical errors;
- It demonstrates your personal perspective.
Features of unsatisfactory reflections
- Your reflection paper isn’t written in a linear format and itprovides readers only with the pieces of your personalexperiences;
- It consists of many generalizations;
- A reflection isn’t memorable and unique;
- Your essay demonstrate the universal perspective andinsufficiently reflect on personal work;
- It’s incoherent and has many spelling or grammaticalmistakes;
- A reflection doesn’t adequately demonstrate your experienceor knowledge;
- It doesn’t state any personal goals.
Throughout your reflection paper, you need to make a certain casefor how personal experiences stimulated your personal growth.After reading it, other people should get a specific idea of howthese experiences affected you and how you’ve made your progress.In this essay, you should approach the writing process by talkingabout how you want to use everything you’ve learned fromparticular life experiences in the future. Write about how yourgained knowledge will be useful in future jobs, classes, andother important life aspects.
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