A reflection paper is, without exaggeration, the deepest type of written work. The essence of the reflection essay is to analyze your experience. You have to not only state the events but also tell how they influenced you. Various events can be a reference experience, from reading a book to moving abroad.
Writing such a paper is important for a student’s individual growth. A good reflection paper will improve your academic performance in many interdisciplinary courses and enhance your analytical skills. You will gain useful skills, as well as test your ability to think logically and determine cause-and-effect relationships. Let’s see how to write a reflection paper and get the highest results.
What is a Reflection Paper
A reflective essay is a written work in which the author expresses his thoughts and observations regarding his experience. The point is not only to list the facts but also to analyze in-depth what happened. This kind of written work requires the student to have metacognitive abilities, which means the ability to analyze their thoughts and actions. Such an essay will not tolerate a superficial approach. Reflection writing is usually divided into two categories – experiential reflection and reading reflection.
In the first type of essay, reflection is based on lived experience. In this case, the event should be instructive, forming new attitudes or life views. According to the teachings of David Kolb, a famous psychologist, there is a 4-stage learning process based on experience. If you struggle to understand this topic, ask Edusson experts to provide detailed information. The stages of experiential learning are concrete experience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualisation, and active experimentation.
The second type of reflective writing involves studying and analysing the material read or seen. The basis for such work can be any printed publication, film, piece of music, theatrical play, and much more. Sometimes, to confirm our thoughts, we need to hear them from other people or characters. Thus, works of art can be a trigger for your reflections.
Both varieties of reflective writing are united by the need to analyze causes and effects. The author wonders why this particular event/book evoked a specific reaction in him. The author’s own assumptions are presented in a structured form to obtain a good reflective paper.
Personal Experiences as a Basis for Reflection
The ability to analyze the events that have happened to you is the basis for the organic development of your personality. That is why writing reflection papers is so important for students. Everyone knows that if you do not attempt to analyze your actions and decisions, there is a high probability of repeating the same mistakes in the future. However, when you write a reflection, there is no wrong answer. Your personal options are valuable.
When writing a theoretical framework based on personal experience, you can reconsider your personal opinions regarding certain issues. This kind of analysis will be a basis for personal development and a good topic for writing reflection papers.
How to Start a Reflection Paper
There is a strategy that will make it much easier for you to write a reflective essay. It must be applied before planning the structure of the essay. The pre-flection aims to improve the speed and enrichment of the analysis process. The strategy is often applied before the actual event, as students are asked to present their emotions and impressions of the process. Their expectations are then compared with actual reactions.
When writing a reflection paper, you need to focus on your experience. Brainstorm ideas and think about your emotions and associations. Be sure to write them down for further analysis. A reflective paper requires not only dry logical analysis but also empathy, so you can get assignment help and not struggle with time-consuming tasks. Your emotional reactions are the key to the conclusions you will come to. Use the pre-flection strategy to find an idea you would like to describe in detail in your reflection paper.
Structuring Your Reflection Paper
To write a coherent essay, you need to have an idea of its structure and write a reflection paper outline. Each component of your written work should be a logical continuation of the previous fragment. So what does a reflection paper consist of? Like other types of academic paper pieces, a reflective paper consists of an introduction, body paragraphs and conclusions. Also, don’t forget the title page with all the necessary information.
The Key Elements of Reflection papers
The first section of the reflection paper is the introduction. This paragraph exists to explain to the reader the main theme and idea of your essay. Also, your goal is to get the reader’s attention by getting them to read the work to the end. In this paragraph, you need to mention the life experience/artwork you are talking about.
A good introduction has three elements: a hook, background information and a thesis statement. A hook is a bait to keep the readers interested in your critical thinking essay. It should be something intriguing, don’t use clichés, and don’t be stuffy and predictable. Make the first sentence of your reflection paper non-obvious, mysterious, and requiring clarification.
An example of a good hook: Quitting my studies was never a good idea…or was it?
Background information is important for clarifying the prerequisites for writing a reflection paper. The reader needs to be in context, so try to make your reflection essay resonate. The coherence and consistency of your essay directly depend on the context. So what you need is to briefly summarize the baseline information.
A strong thesis statement is one sentence that clearly and concisely expresses your opinion on the topic of the essay. This statement sets the course flow for your future work. Therefore, try to make it reflect the idea you want to put into your work.
An example of a strong thesis statement for a reflection paper about “1984” by George Orwell: The aim of the party is total domination. Power is not needed FOR a global goal, it IS the goal.
Introduction example: Freedom is being able to say that 2+2 equals 4. The first thought that came to my mind was: “What a fool can argue with that”? George Orwell’s utopia “1984” shows the cruel realities of a totalitarian regime, where a person does not have freedom of choice, thought and self-expression. The aim of the party is total domination. Power is not needed FOR a global goal, it IS the goal.
The body paragraphs develop the ideas presented in the introduction. In this section, you must try to convey your emotions, own feelings, and personal conclusions. Each body paragraph presents new ideas. However, be careful not to have conflicting ideas. It’s better if each new body paragraph starts with a topic sentence. This strategy will give the reader a hint about the main themes.
Body paragraph example: Before reading this book, I had never thought about the importance of language for propaganda and dictatorship. Suppose you remove the word or change its meaning, so you can change the very essence of the phenomenon. How do you explain “love” if there is no such word?
The final paragraph of a personal reflection paper should make the point clear. The reader should have no doubts about your conclusions. To enhance the effect, you can use the concluding statement. This phrase should not be opposed to the thesis, but it can complement and complete it. Conclusions is a very important paragraph because it leaves the final impression.
Conclusion example: 2+2=5, a person needs only a series of victories over his memory and common sense to realize the depth of his helplessness. There is no happy ending in Orwell’s utopia. The unjust government has again won over a sharp mind.
An example of a concluding statement for a reflection paper about “1984” by George Orwell: Power for the sake of power is the essence of the party. You have to believe that 2+2=5.
Remember that no matter how deep the meaning of your critical reflection paper is, mistakes can ruin your good mark. Checking and editing are very important processes that cannot be neglected. Ask your friend to read your essay aloud to you. Does it sound the way you intended? You can also seek help with descriptive essay writing from professionals who will correct grammatical and lexical errors. Read your essay with fresh eyes a day after writing it, and only then hand it in.
Writing Strategies for a Reflection Paper
Let’s look at the main strategies tol make reflective writing faster and more productive. Creating the outline is the first and most crucial step that will save you time.
This is an action plan that structures your thoughts and gives them the proper reflection paper format. Write down a list of major insights you want to present in your reflective analysis. Then divide the page into three parts: introduction, body, and conclusions adding word count for each section. Design your introduction so that it’s a brief summary of your ideas. The main part should develop these insights, and the conclusion should summarize the findings.
The next key is to study a reflection paper example. You need to get inspired by the format and get an idea of the essence of such type of academic writing. This will make it easier for you to develop your vision of presenting personal experiences.
Furthermore, the reflection paper writing process combines critical reflection with your personal perspective. Your task is to strike a balance between the two factors, making the essay informative but not unemotional. Use vivid details and descriptive language to make your narrative vibrant. However, stick to an academic tone.
Strengthen your work with solid examples. Perhaps some famous personalities have already described a similar experience in their works. Or does your article relate to any artwork and reflect on existing ideas? Use this prior knowledge to come to your conclusions, adding some personal details.
To create a cohesive picture for an effective reflection paper, it’s necessary to obtain theoretical knowledge. We have already mentioned Kolb’s research, in which he identified four stages of reflection and learning from experience. The stages include concrete experience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualisation, and active experimentation. Consider how these stages have been reflected in your experience. Identify how each phase went and what emotions you associate it with. In the end, indicate your own knowledge this experience led you to.
Tips for Effective Reflection
Now that you’re familiar with all traditional research paper requirements let’s look at some writing tips to make the process easier. So how to write a reflection paper in the best way possible?
- First of all, concentrate on reflective thinking and not on the description. The reader will not be interested in revisiting the already existing knowledge. Give critics fresh ideas. Write about your attitude to abstract concepts, and present your own opinions and belief systems. From an academic perspective, explain why particular ideas stood out and why you want to share them. At the same time, be honest and share personal experiences to connect with the reader.
- Don’t stop there, embrace future thinking. Describe in your academic article how the knowledge gained will help you in the future. Tell your reflective writing readers about the prospects for your beliefs and in what direction you would like to continue development.
- Create a reflective environment by using narration in the first person. This technique will create an atmosphere of direct dialogue between readers and the author, giving your personal response. It’s like you’re telling a friend a story. Research papers rarely use this format, but it’s great for reflective writing.
- Asking open-ended questions encourages the reader to interact. We aren’t talking about some basic questions, it’s more about rhetorical topics. This technique will force critics to think about their own answers to the question before reading your idea.
- When you write a reflection paper, connect it to theoretical concepts. There is no doubt scientists have described the ideas you are talking about. Combine your personal reasoning and scientific analysis to get a perfectly harmonious essay.
- Be open to different perspectives. Consider different approaches to the topic you are studying. What is the opinion of other experts? Are there any contradictory arguments? Explore different points of view to have a clearer understanding of the topic.
- Critical analysis is an integral part of reflection. Challenge your ideas, find their flaws, and hone your persuasive skills. This way, you will create compelling concepts that interest the reader.
The process of writing a reflective essay is hard work that requires concentration. However, the result is worth it because the skills acquired while doing the work are helpful in life. Every conscious person must be subject to reflection and critical evaluation of the events happening to one. It is metacognitive abilities that underlie the development of a student as a person. We hope this article will help you write an essay and get an A!