A reflection paper is a paper that students get frequently while at school. Such a paper gives students an opportunity to consider their personal experience, observe it, and critically access it. Professors hand the reflection paper not only to get you familiar with the writing process for reflective papers, but also to encourage you to explore your experiences and ideas and develop better analytical skills.
In this article, you’ll learn everything there is to know about reflection papers. We will explain how to write a reflection paper to all every reader, as well as provide you with guidance in terms of writing this type of essay. On top of that, you’ll have a chance to see some examples and useful tips that will help you understand the process for writing a reflection paper.
Consider this a lecture, but one where you aren’t graded in any way. All you’ll get on this page are useful writing tips from the writing team at Rush-my-essay.com, the ultimate paper writing service that provides you with all the academic papers you need.
Have you been tasked with writing an effective reflection paper? If you have, keep reading our guide to get some ideas and skills to write a reflection paper.
What is Reflection Papers?
A reflection paper is a paper that demands your opinion on a selected topic. But, you cannot simply state what you think for the readers when you write it. This type of paper demands that you use supporting data in the form of personal examples, experiences, and critical observations.
Instead of sharing the ideas and observations of other academics and writers you came across during research, this essay gives you the opportunity to speak your mind and tell people of your point of view.
The best thing about this is that your honest opinion is what matters, and there’s no wrong option when you write such a personal type of paper.
Still, this also means that it is your obligation to find the best way to express your beliefs and thoughts. You need to make this comprehensible and provide clarity for the readers.
The choice of a topic for an educational reflective paper is without limit. You can write about anything you wish to reflect on. However, you first need to choose which format you’ll use.
There are three types of a reflection paper that you can choose from:
- Educational reflection paper. Your task is to write some kind of feedback about a seminar, event, movie, or book in a way that it teachers the reader.
- Professional paper. This paper is usually assigned to students who study the fields of psychology and education, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way.
- Personal reflection paper. As the name suggests, this kind of reflection paper serves to explore your feelings, beliefs, and thoughts about a personal subject you chose to write about.
Reflection Paper Format
The format of a paper you’ll be writing can differ depending on where you study, what your instructor demands, and often even your preference. Reflection papers don’t come with a strict, pre-set format. Since these are based on the opinions and thoughts of the writer, the formatting of college reflection papers is decided on behalf of the student. Whatever you are comfortable with works as long as you meet the instructions and requirements of reflection essays.
Generally speaking, a reflection essay will range between 400 and 900 words in length and can be written in MLA, APA, or Chicago Style format. Because of the nature of reflection writing, you’ll find that most people decide to use a diary entry or learning log format to craft this paper.
This can also be influenced by the target audience i.e. who reads it or who it is intended for. If it is an educational paper, the writer attempts to inspire readers to think critically and deeply about a learning experience or process.
Here are some examples of format that you can consider for your reflection paper:
- Focus on literature that can be applied to your own life experiences
- Focus on your emotional growth or development
Reflection Paper: How to Start
Once you sit down to write your reflection essay, there are certain things that you can do to make this easier. First of all, make sure to read the thing you’re reflecting on if you are using an activity from your journal, another paper or published content, etc. While you do this, take notes for your academic essay.
When you’re done reading the original content that you’ll use to write reflection essays, it is time to brainstorm a bit. Think about the ways that the content affected you, which parts of it captured your attention, whether or not you have questions, etc. If reading it changed your mind or left unaddressed issues that you find to be critical, take notes of this. Have you read anything similar, including other college reflection papers to it in the past? This is important information that you can use in your own article.
When this is done, you can start writing your reflection paper or at least, its first draft. Do so by summarizing the most important concepts you have in the notes. Your first draft should include all the key data that a reader will need to understand the goal and purpose of your reflection paper.
In such papers, it can be helpful to include things like lists and charts, as well as use bullet points and emphasize the most important points for your readers.
To motivate students and help them with writing reflection papers, we’ve created a short list of ideas for topics. Here are some great reflection paper topics you could use:
Relationships and Emotions
Very often, such papers speak of relationship issues and emotions. Here are some great examples:
- A debate or conversation that made me angry
- That unique moment when I realized I was in love
- Watching someone I love struggling with a disease and how it affected me
- Meeting a family member for the first time – what it did for me
- I apologized and really meant it – and it felt great
Outdoors and Nature
Many students decide to connect to something deep, which can of course be found in nature. Here are some ideas:
- The feeling I have when my feet are in the sand, I’m watching the ocean, and feeling the sun
- My first big climb on a mountain
- Looking over a city from a high place
- Practicing sports with some wind in my face
- How listening to the sound of water makes me feel
Memories of events and places
- My feelings for my hometown
- That amazing spot in my school where I hung out with my best friend
- My first car and how I felt when I had to sell it
- My first workplace
- How I feel during a holiday
Reflection Paper Outline
An outline can do wonders for the quality of your paper, your grade, as well as the amount of time you spend on actually writing it. If you have a good outline and notes that you can use to create your drafts, you’ll find that this is much simpler and faster. Using a well-planned outline is a way to avoid many structural mistakes, as well as problems that can occur if you go into this blindly. That being said, here is what this part of your reflection paper should include.
This is the place where you get very specific. Your goal is to introduce the thing you’re reflecting upon. It’s what your thesis statement should revolve around – your opinions and positions toward the subject or topic you’ve chosen. Here is a short list of steps you should take at this point:
- Start your thesis by telling readers what you’re analyzing in the content: an experience you had, a lecture you attended, a passage, an article, a book or a movie, etc.
- Summarize this topic, but only briefly to provide some background.
- Write a thesis statement (usually belongs at the end of your introduction.
Here is a nice example of what this should look like:
"After my evaluation of the article in question, I realized that I don't feel confident with the proponents' understanding of this topic. To me, assisted dying is not a human thing to do. I’m a person who has experienced such suffering firsthand when a family member was on her deathbed. I still don't believe that this is the right choice..."
The previous part was used to tell people what your story will be about. Now is the time to tell your story. You must do this in an organized way, which is what body paragraphs serve to do.
All of your ideas, arguments, as well as new data that you’re introducing should be in separate paragraphs. Every next body paragraph starts with a topic sentence, as well as some kind of a connection to the previous one. You don’t want to be skipping around your topic and making people confused. The body of your paper should include different information, but they all must be connected for good results.
Ideally, in this paper, you should expand on your beliefs and feelings about the topic. This takes part in the body paragraphs.
Finally, it’s time to summarize what this experience taught you. Tell your reader how this affected you, what it did for you, and how you understand the topic. Describe the lesson you got from your reflection and how you feel about it.
Some good ways to conclude a reflection paper include:
- Restate the thesis statement that was initially introduced in the beginning
- Summarize what your paper was about – its main features and goals
- Tie the body paragraphs’ ideas together by generalizing the main points of your paper
Step-by-step Guide on Writing Reflection Paper
To assist you further, our writers have created a very useful step-by-step guide that we frequently follow when assigned to write this type of paper.
Step 1: Find the Focus of Your Paper
Choosing the topic can be challenging, but this doesn’t make the other parts any simpler. In fact, elaborating on a topic is as complex as researching it. Once you pick which topic you’ll reflect on, your first step should be to write a summary that explains your view of it.
In this summary, tell people how you feel about what you’re reflecting on. They should know your point of view and be able to see things from your perspective.
For example: After meeting an area that is so affected by poverty, I started re-evaluating all of my priorities and had more gratitude for my life.
Step 2: Brainstorm Similar Experiences, Thoughts, and Ideas
Your reflection paper should not be solely focused on the selected piece or event you’re reflecting on. You need to relate this to other things such as events, other pieces of content, anything memorable that influenced you in a similar or opposite way.
For example: This reminded me of when I was a child and spent hours walking to school because I had no access to public transportation. It is that period of my life that taught me to see things from this perspective.
Step 3: Perform an Analysis of the Impact of the Experiences on Your Opinion
How did the things you are reflecting on affect you? Have they somehow affected the interpretation you have of the topic. This is the part where you share your reasoning, regardless of your agreement or disagreement with it.
For example: I can see that people think that such decisions are easy to make. Based on my experience, these are some of the hardest things to decide on. I think that such decisions can change your entire life and you won’t even know where things went wrong.
Step 4: Establish Clear Connections between Your Opinions
You can’t and should not throw opinions and observations into the content, hoping that readers will link things. Try and connect them to create a clearer picture for those who will see your reflection. This includes linking your paragraphs with appropriate words and phrases, organizing your content with some order in mind, and providing background information for ideas that might be unfamiliar to those who read it.
For example, you cannot just speak of a course or lecture you attended, a book you read, a project you were part of, or a memory of an event or experience you have without telling people what it was about. Start with a description of the time, the place, date, authors, people you met, etc. This will help you make the instructors understand your point of view and immerse themselves into your story.
Reflection Paper Writing Tips
Writing a reflective essay is easy when you have written dozens of them, know how to approach them, and have a good idea in mind. However, for those who don’t do it on a daily basis, which are most students, crafting a reflection paper can be a problem.
The steps above should help a lot, but you might also make use of a few tips we give to students when they write this type of paper.
Here are some examples of useful tricks our writers use to create customers’ reflection papers:
- Make breaks. This is something that you should make a habit of if you want your papers to be of high quality. Don’t write the entire thing at once. Even if you do, take a couple of minutes before you get back to edit it. Your brain needs time to reflect and separate itself from the thing it created.
- Keep it sweet and short. Most such papers go up to 800 words at the most. Don’t get too carried away. Keep it clear, concise, and short.
- Maintain an academic tone. With a personal paper such as this one, it’s easy to get more flexible with your writing. Don’t do this – always use professional tone in your academic papers.
- Cite every source. Plagiarism is your biggest enemy. Don’t just proofread or edit your paper. Cite every source you use and check the originality with a scanner.
- Support every point. Consider this as a rule for crafting academic content – every new point you introduce should be backed with at least one supporting argument, data, or a reflection.
- Use quotes where applicable. If you’re reflecting on someone else’s work, it’s always smart to use quotes and anecdotes. You might even want to start your introduction with one.
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