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How to Write a Reflection Paper and Where to Start

Reflection paper is a specific type of writing, as it combines academic traits with subjective experience. That’s why if you are assigned to write such a paper, it means you are expected to share how some particular experience (any event, book, film, meeting, person, motion picture, etc.) affects your understanding of the material. Here we gathered all the necessary tips you should know about the productive reflection paper writing.

Reflection Writing Approaches

It can be difficult to know where to start when writing a reflection paper. It seems like there can be nothing simpler than sharing your own thoughts, experience, and ideas as you don’t have to make them up. They’re all yours. But how to break the ice correctly? Should you prepare your reader for what’s coming or get straight to the point? You also my wonder how professors assess your paper. What are they looking for?

Reflection paper is about explaining and analyzing different concepts from your own point of view by making connections between them and your observations, experiences, feelings, and opinions. The best approach that the reflection paper requires is a narrow focus and strong analysis.

The following offers suggestions for developing a proper reflective paper:

  • Identify the main themes and note the brightest materials that come to your mind. First of all, you should summarize and write down your readings, lessons and experiences in a short form – 2-3 sentences for every point would be enough. The next step is to determine why they came to your mind, and again don’t forget to note your thoughts. It may be somebody’s statements, quotes, music, images, life episodes and even senses – all of them are good.
  • Make the gradation of your ideas. For that, you should take a sheet of paper and divide it into three parts. In the first section, you should write down the experiences found the most important. In the second one, your responses to the above points should be listed. In the third section, you define how much of these responses you would like to share in your paper.
  • Specify your response by means of questions. Ask yourself how some experiences relate to you. The types of questions you raise can be the most diverse, in particular, has it changed your point of view/way of thinking? Have you experienced an internal conflict? Did you feel some doubts and misunderstandings?
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Think of the Paper Structure

Keep in mind that the common reflection paper covers 300-700 words. That’s why you should effectively divide the number of words and ideas you want to write about. Sometimes such limitations can be rough so you should choose the most important material.

A reflection paper follows the classic essay format of introduction, main body, and conclusion. Sometimes you may be instructed to follow a specific reflective model using for only part of the paper. But if it’s not set, it’s still a good idea to keep a personal outline to track your writing.

Here is the model for developing your reflection paper structure:

  1. Express your expectations in the introduction. This part of the text is a perfect opportunity to describe your initial attitude based on your previous knowledge and background. It is better to start with a hook-sentence that will certainly grab readers’ attention.
  2. Create a thesis statement. Place your thesis statement at the end of the introduction. In one single sentence link your expectations with the conclusion and show whether you’ve met the expectations or not.
  3. Shape the body of the paper. You are expected to reflect how you came to your conclusions. The main point is to explain everything using details and logic. Details only create a context, that’s why be careful and don’t turn your paper on the summary. One paragraph should cover one idea and begin with a topic sentence.
  4. Work on the final conclusion.  This paragraph characterizes the specific knowledge, feelings, emotions and experience you’ve ultimately got. Your body paragraphs should support the conclusion.
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Writing Process

When everything is thought out, it’s high time to take the pen in your hands. If you are a bit unsure about your writing skills, you can have a look at some reflective essay examples. The best ones created by talented students are very often published by different colleges.

Remember that the essential point of reflective essay writing is the examination of your attitudes, assumptions and values, so be upfront about how you feel. You must consciously make an effort to identify and examine your own thoughts in relation to a particular experience.

Here are some writing tips for you to succeed:

  • Reveal your personal information carefully. You can avoid some facts of your life if their sharing with others makes you feel uncomfortable. Another possible solution is to tell it but in very general words.
  • Follow the requirements of the appropriate academic tone. In the reflection paper, it’s a decisive factor to keep the balance between subjectivity and academic requirements. This may be done when the writer doesn’t drag other people and focuses on actions. Use “I” and apply relevant evidence, forget about slang and create sentences according to the grammatical and stylistic rules.
  • Review the written text.  First of all, pay attention to your sentences. Combine different length of the sentences (but always with a subject and a predicate), and the text will look natural and stylistically developed. Don’t combine two ideas in one sentence.
  • Make smooth transitions. For doing that you will have to add linking phrases into the text.  As a result, you will get a tightly connected chain of arguments and evidence.