A Critical Reflection (also called a reflective essay) is a process of identifying, questioning, and assessing our deeply-held assumptions – about our knowledge, the way we perceive events and issues, our beliefs, feelings, and actions. When you reflect critically, you use course material (lectures, readings, discussions, etc.) to examine our biases, compare theories with current actions, search for causes and triggers, and identify problems at their core. Critical reflection is not a reading assignment, a summary of an activity, or an emotional outlet. Rather, the goal is to change your thinking about a subject, and thus change your behaviour.
How to Critically Reflect
Writing a critical reflection happens in two phases.
- Analyze: In the first phase, analyze the issue and your role by asking critical questions. Use free writing as a way to develop good ideas. Don’t worry about organized paragraphs or good grammar at this stage.
- Articulate: In the second phase, use your analysis to develop a clear argument about what you learned. Organize your ideas so they are clear for your reader.
First phase: Analyze
A popular method for analyzing is the three stage model,
What? So What? Now what?
In the What? stage, describe the issue, including your role, observations, and reactions. The what? stage helps you make initial observations about what you feel and think. At this point, there’s no need to look at your course notes or readings.
Use the questions below to guide your writing during this stage.
- What happened?
- What did you do?
- What did you expect?
- What was different?
- What was your reaction?
- What did you learn?
In the second So What? stage, try to understand on a deeper level why the issue is significant or relevant. Use information from your first stage, your course materials (readings, lectures, discussions) -- as well as previous experience and knowledge to help you think through the issue from a variety of perspectives.
Tip: Since you’ll be using more course resources in this step, review your readings and course notes before you begin writing.
Below are three perspectives you can consider:
- Academic perspective : How did the experience enhance your understanding of a concept/theory/skill? Did the experience confirm your understanding or challenge it? Did you identify strengths or gaps in your knowledge?
- Personal perspective: Why does the experience matter? What are the consequences? Were your previous expectations/assumptions confirmed or refuted? What surprised you and why?
- Systems perspective: What were the sources of power and who benefited/who was harmed? What changes would you suggest? How does this experience help you understand the organization or system?
In the third Now what? stage, explore how the experience will shape your future thinking and behaviour.
Use the following questions to guide your thinking and writing:
- What are you going to do as a result of your experiences?
- What will you do differently?
- How will you apply what you learned?
Second phase: Articulate
After completing the analysis stage, you probably have a lot of writing, but it is not yet organized into a coherent story. You need to build an organized and clear argument about what you learned and how you changed. To do so, develop a thesis statement , make an outline , write , and revise.
Develop a thesis statement
Develop a clear argument to help your reader understand what you learned. This argument should pull together different themes from your analysis into a main idea. You can see an example of a thesis statement in the sample reflection essay at the end of this resource.
Make an outline
Once you have a clear thesis statement for your essay, build an outline. Below is a straightforward method to organize your essay.
Write and revise
Time to get writing! Work from your outline and give yourself enough time for a first draft and revisions.
Sample Critical Reflection
Below are sample annotated paragraphs from one student’s critical reflection for a course on society and privilege.
How to Write a Reflection Paper
Why reflective writing, experiential reflection, reading reflection.
- A note on mechanics
Reflection offers you the opportunity to consider how your personal experiences and observations shape your thinking and your acceptance of new ideas. Professors often ask students to write reading reflections. They do this to encourage you to explore your own ideas about a text, to express your opinion rather than summarize the opinions of others. Reflective writing can help you to improve your analytical skills because it requires you to express what you think, and more significantly, how and why you think that way. In addition, reflective analysis asks you to acknowledge that your thoughts are shaped by your assumptions and preconceived ideas; in doing so, you can appreciate the ideas of others, notice how their assumptions and preconceived ideas may have shaped their thoughts, and perhaps recognize how your ideas support or oppose what you read.
Types of Reflective Writing
Popular in professional programs, like business, nursing, social work, forensics and education, reflection is an important part of making connections between theory and practice. When you are asked to reflect upon experience in a placement, you do not only describe your experience, but you evaluate it based on ideas from class. You can assess a theory or approach based on your observations and practice and evaluate your own knowledge and skills within your professional field. This opportunity to take the time to think about your choices, your actions, your successes and your failures is best done within a specific framework, like course themes or work placement objectives. Abstract concepts can become concrete and real to you when considered within your own experiences, and reflection on your experiences allows you to make plans for improvement.
To encourage thoughtful and balanced assessment of readings, many interdisciplinary courses may ask you to submit a reading reflection. Often instructors will indicate to students what they expect of a reflection, but the general purpose is to elicit your informed opinions about ideas presented in the text and to consider how they affect your interpretation. Reading reflections offer an opportunity to recognize – and perhaps break down – your assumptions which may be challenged by the text(s).
Approaches to Reflective Inquiry
You may wonder how your professors assess your reflective writing. What are they looking for? How can my experiences or ideas be right or wrong? Your instructors expect you to critically engage with concepts from your course by making connections between your observations, experiences, and opinions. They expect you to explain and analyse these concepts from your own point of view, eliciting original ideas and encouraging active interest in the course material.
It can be difficult to know where to begin when writing a critical reflection. First, know that – like any other academic piece of writing – a reflection requires a narrow focus and strong analysis. The best approach for identifying a focus and for reflective analysis is interrogation. The following offers suggestions for your line of inquiry when developing a reflective response.
It is best to discuss your experiences in a work placement or practicum within the context of personal or organizational goals; doing so provides important insights and perspective for your own growth in the profession. For reflective writing, it is important to balance reporting or descriptive writing with critical reflection and analysis.
Consider these questions:
- Contextualize your reflection: What are your learning goals? What are the objectives of the organization? How do these goals fit with the themes or concepts from the course?
- Provide important information: What is the name of the host organization? What is their mission? Who do they serve? What was your role? What did you do?
- Analytical Reflection: What did you learn from this experience? About yourself? About working in the field? About society?
- Lessons from reflection: Did your experience fit with the goals or concepts of the course or organization? Why or why not? What are your lessons for the future? What was successful? Why? What would you do differently? Why? How will you prepare for a future experience in the field?
Consider the purpose of reflection: to demonstrate your learning in the course. It is important to actively and directly connect concepts from class to your personal or experiential reflection. The following example shows how a student’s observations from a classroom can be analysed using a theoretical concept and how the experience can help a student to evaluate this concept.
For Example My observations from the classroom demonstrate that the hierarchical structure of Bloom’s Taxonomy is problematic, a concept also explored by Paul (1993). The students often combined activities like application and synthesis or analysis and evaluation to build their knowledge and comprehension of unfamiliar concepts. This challenges my understanding of traditional teaching methods where knowledge is the basis for inquiry. Perhaps higher-order learning strategies like inquiry and evaluation can also be the basis for knowledge and comprehension, which are classified as lower-order skills in Bloom’s Taxonomy.
Critical reflection requires thoughtful and persistent inquiry. Although basic questions like “what is the thesis?” and “what is the evidence?” are important to demonstrate your understanding, you need to interrogate your own assumptions and knowledge to deepen your analysis and focus your assessment of the text.
Assess the text(s):
- What is the main point? How is it developed? Identify the purpose, impact and/or theoretical framework of the text.
- What ideas stood out to me? Why? Were they new or in opposition to existing scholarship?
Develop your ideas:
- What do I know about this topic? Where does my existing knowledge come from? What are the observations or experiences that shape my understanding?
- Do I agree or disagree with this argument? Why?
- How does this text reinforce my existing ideas or assumptions? How does this text challenge my existing ideas or assumptions?
- How does this text help me to better understand this topic or explore this field of study/discipline?
A Note on Mechanics
As with all written assignments or reports, it is important to have a clear focus for your writing. You do not need to discuss every experience or element of your placement. Pick a few that you can explore within the context of your learning. For reflective responses, identify the main arguments or important elements of the text to develop a stronger analysis which integrates relevant ideas from course materials.
Furthermore, your writing must be organized. Introduce your topic and the point you plan to make about your experience and learning. Develop your point through body paragraph(s), and conclude your paper by exploring the meaning you derive from your reflection. You may find the questions listed above can help you to develop an outline before you write your paper.
You should maintain a formal tone, but it is acceptable to write in the first person and to use personal pronouns. Note, however, that it is important that you maintain confidentiality and anonymity of clients, patients or students from work or volunteer placements by using pseudonyms and masking identifying factors.
The value of reflection: Critical reflection is a meaningful exercise which can require as much time and work as traditional essays and reports because it asks students to be purposeful and engaged participants, readers, and thinkers.
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Reflective writing is a process of identifying, questioning, and critically evaluating course-based learning opportunities, integrated with your own observations, experiences, impressions, beliefs, assumptions, or biases, and which describes how this process stimulated new or creative understanding about the content of the course. A reflective paper describes and explains in an introspective, first person narrative, your reactions and feelings about either a specific element of the class [e.g., a required reading; a film shown in class] or more generally how you experienced learning throughout the course. Reflective writing assignments can be in the form of a single paper, essays, portfolios, journals, diaries, or blogs.
How to Write a Reflection Paper . Academic Skills, Trent University; Writing a Reflection Paper . Writing Center, Lewis University; Critical Reflection . Writing and Communication Centre, University of Waterloo; Tsingos-Lucas et al. "Using Reflective Writing as a Predictor of Academic Success in Different Assessment Formats." American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education 81 (2017): Article 8.
Benefits of Reflective Writing Assignments
As the term implies, a reflective paper involves looking inward at oneself in contemplating and bringing meaning to the relationship between course content and the acquisition of new knowledge . Educational research [Bolton, 2010; Ryan, 2011; Tsingos-Lucas et al., 2017] demonstrates that assigning reflective writing tasks enhances learning because it challenges students to confront their own assumptions, biases, and belief systems around what is being taught in class and, in so doing, stimulate student’s decisions, actions, attitudes, and understanding about themselves as learners and in relation to having mastery over their learning. Reflection assignments are also an opportunity to write in a first person narrative about elements of the course, such as the required readings, separate from the exegetic and analytical prose of academic research papers.
Reflection writing often serves multiple purposes simultaneously. In no particular order, here are some of reasons why professors assign reflection papers:
- Enhances learning from previous knowledge and experience in order to improve future decision-making and reasoning in practice . Reflective writing in the applied social sciences enhances decision-making skills and academic performance in ways that can inform professional practice. The act of reflective writing creates self-awareness and understanding of others. This is particularly important in clinical and service-oriented professional settings.
- Allows students to make sense of classroom content and overall learning experiences in relation to oneself, others, and the conditions that shaped the content and classroom experiences . Reflective writing places you within the course content in ways that can deepen your understanding of the material. Because reflective thinking can help reveal hidden biases, it can help you critically interrogate moments when you do not like or agree with discussions, readings, or other aspects of the course.
- Increases awareness of one’s cognitive abilities and the evidence for these attributes . Reflective writing can break down personal doubts about yourself as a learner and highlight specific abilities that may have been hidden or suppressed due to prior assumptions about the strength of your academic abilities [e.g., reading comprehension; problem-solving skills]. Reflective writing, therefore, can have a positive affective [i.e., emotional] impact on your sense of self-worth.
- Applying theoretical knowledge and frameworks to real experiences . Reflective writing can help build a bridge of relevancy between theoretical knowledge and the real world. In so doing, this form of writing can lead to a better understanding of underlying theories and their analytical properties applied to professional practice.
- Reveals shortcomings that the reader will identify . Evidence suggests that reflective writing can uncover your own shortcomings as a learner, thereby, creating opportunities to anticipate the responses of your professor may have about the quality of your coursework. This can be particularly productive if the reflective paper is written before final submission of an assignment.
- Helps students identify their tacit [a.k.a., implicit] knowledge and possible gaps in that knowledge . Tacit knowledge refers to ways of knowing rooted in lived experience, insight, and intuition rather than formal, codified, categorical, or explicit knowledge. In so doing, reflective writing can stimulate students to question their beliefs about a research problem or an element of the course content beyond positivist modes of understanding and representation.
- Encourages students to actively monitor their learning processes over a period of time . On-going reflective writing in journals or blogs, for example, can help you maintain or adapt learning strategies in other contexts. The regular, purposeful act of reflection can facilitate continuous deep thinking about the course content as it evolves and changes throughout the term. This, in turn, can increase your overall confidence as a learner.
- Relates a student’s personal experience to a wider perspective . Reflection papers can help you see the big picture associated with the content of a course by forcing you to think about the connections between scholarly content and your lived experiences outside of school. It can provide a macro-level understanding of one’s own experiences in relation to the specifics of what is being taught.
- If reflective writing is shared, students can exchange stories about their learning experiences, thereby, creating an opportunity to reevaluate their original assumptions or perspectives . In most cases, reflective writing is only viewed by your professor in order to ensure candid feedback from students. However, occasionally, reflective writing is shared and openly discussed in class. During these discussions, new or different perspectives and alternative approaches to solving problems can be generated that would otherwise be hidden. Sharing student's reflections can also reveal collective patterns of thought and emotions about a particular element of the course.
Bolton, Gillie. Reflective Practice: Writing and Professional Development . London: Sage, 2010; Chang, Bo. "Reflection in Learning." Online Learning 23 (2019), 95-110; Cavilla, Derek. "The Effects of Student Reflection on Academic Performance and Motivation." Sage Open 7 (July-September 2017): 1–13; Culbert, Patrick. “Better Teaching? You Can Write On It “ Liberal Education (February 2022); McCabe, Gavin and Tobias Thejll-Madsen. The Reflection Toolkit . University of Edinburgh; The Purpose of Reflection . Introductory Composition at Purdue University; Practice-based and Reflective Learning . Study Advice Study Guides, University of Reading; Ryan, Mary. "Improving Reflective Writing in Higher Education: A Social Semiotic Perspective." Teaching in Higher Education 16 (2011): 99-111; Tsingos-Lucas et al. "Using Reflective Writing as a Predictor of Academic Success in Different Assessment Formats." American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education 81 (2017): Article 8; What Benefits Might Reflective Writing Have for My Students? Writing Across the Curriculum Clearinghouse; Rykkje, Linda. "The Tacit Care Knowledge in Reflective Writing: A Practical Wisdom." International Practice Development Journal 7 (September 2017): Article 5; Using Reflective Writing to Deepen Student Learning . Center for Writing, University of Minnesota.
How to Approach Writing a Reflection Paper
Thinking About Reflective Thinking
Educational theorists have developed numerous models of reflective thinking that your professor may use to frame a reflective writing assignment. These models can help you systematically interpret your learning experiences, thereby ensuring that you ask the right questions and have a clear understanding of what should be covered. A model can also represent the overall structure of a reflective paper. Each model establishes a different approach to reflection and will require you to think about your writing differently. If you are unclear how to fit your writing within a particular reflective model, seek clarification from your professor. There are generally two types of reflective writing assignments, each approached in slightly different ways.
1. Reflective Thinking about Course Readings
This type of reflective writing focuses on thoughtfully thinking about the course readings that underpin how most students acquire new knowledge and understanding about the subject of a course. Reflecting on course readings is often assigned in freshmen-level, interdisciplinary courses where the required readings examine topics viewed from multiple perspectives and, as such, provide different ways of analyzing a topic, issue, event, or phenomenon. The purpose of reflective thinking about course readings in the social and behavioral sciences is to elicit your opinions, beliefs, and feelings about the research and its significance. This type of writing can provide an opportunity to break down key assumptions you may have and, in so doing, reveal potential biases in how you interpret the scholarship.
If you are assigned to reflect on course readings, consider the following methods of analysis as prompts that can help you get started :
- Examine carefully the main introductory elements of the reading, including the purpose of the study, the theoretical framework being used to test assumptions, and the research questions being addressed. Think about what ideas stood out to you. Why did they? Were these ideas new to you or familiar in some way based on your own lived experiences or prior knowledge?
- Develop your ideas around the readings by asking yourself, what do I know about this topic? Where does my existing knowledge about this topic come from? What are the observations or experiences in my life that influence my understanding of the topic? Do I agree or disagree with the main arguments, recommended course of actions, or conclusions made by the author(s)? Why do I feel this way and what is the basis of these feelings?
- Make connections between the text and your own beliefs, opinions, or feelings by considering questions like, how do the readings reinforce my existing ideas or assumptions? How the readings challenge these ideas or assumptions? How does this text help me to better understand this topic or research in ways that motivate me to learn more about this area of study?
2. Reflective Thinking about Course Experiences
This type of reflective writing asks you to critically reflect on locating yourself at the conceptual intersection of theory and practice. The purpose of experiential reflection is to evaluate theories or disciplinary-based analytical models based on your introspective assessment of the relationship between hypothetical thinking and practical reality; it offers a way to consider how your own knowledge and skills fit within professional practice. This type of writing also provides an opportunity to evaluate your decisions and actions, as well as how you managed your subsequent successes and failures, within a specific theoretical framework. As a result, abstract concepts can crystallize and become more relevant to you when considered within your own experiences. This can help you formulate plans for self-improvement as you learn.
If you are assigned to reflect on your experiences, consider the following questions as prompts to help you get started :
- Contextualize your reflection in relation to the overarching purpose of the course by asking yourself, what did you hope to learn from this course? What were the learning objectives for the course and how did I fit within each of them? How did these goals relate to the main themes or concepts of the course?
- Analyze how you experienced the course by asking yourself, what did I learn from this experience? What did I learn about myself? About working in this area of research and study? About how the course relates to my place in society? What assumptions about the course were supported or refuted?
- Think introspectively about the ways you experienced learning during the course by asking yourself, did your learning experiences align with the goals or concepts of the course? Why or why do you not feel this way? What was successful and why do you believe this? What would you do differently and why is this important? How will you prepare for a future experience in this area of study?
NOTE: If you are assigned to write a journal or other type of on-going reflection exercise, a helpful approach is to reflect on your reflections by re-reading what you have already written. In other words, review your previous entries as a way to contextualize your feelings, opinions, or beliefs regarding your overall learning experiences. Over time, this can also help reveal hidden patterns or themes related to how you processed your learning experiences. Consider concluding your reflective journal with a summary of how you felt about your learning experiences at critical junctures throughout the course, then use these to write about how you grew as a student learner and how the act of reflecting helped you gain new understanding about the subject of the course and its content.
ANOTHER NOTE: Regardless of whether you write a reflection paper or a journal, do not focus your writing on the past. The act of reflection is intended to think introspectively about previous learning experiences. However, reflective thinking should document the ways in which you progressed in obtaining new insights and understandings about your growth as a learner that can be carried forward in subsequent coursework or in future professional practice. Your writing should reflect a furtherance of increasing personal autonomy and confidence gained from understanding more about yourself as a learner.
Structure and Writing Style
There are no strict academic rules for writing a reflective paper. Reflective writing may be assigned in any class taught in the social and behavioral sciences and, therefore, requirements for the assignment can vary depending on disciplinary-based models of inquiry and learning. The organization of content can also depend on what your professor wants you to write about or based on the type of reflective model used to frame the writing assignment. Despite these possible variations, below is a basic approach to organizing and writing a good reflective paper, followed by a list of problems to avoid.
In most cases, it's helpful to begin by thinking about your learning experiences and outline what you want to focus on before you begin to write the paper. This can help you organize your thoughts around what was most important to you and what experiences [good or bad] had the most impact on your learning. As described by the University of Waterloo Writing and Communication Centre, preparing to write a reflective paper involves a process of self-analysis that can help organize your thoughts around significant moments of in-class knowledge discovery.
- Using a thesis statement as a guide, note what experiences or course content stood out to you , then place these within the context of your observations, reactions, feelings, and opinions. This will help you develop a rough outline of key moments during the course that reflect your growth as a learner. To identify these moments, pose these questions to yourself: What happened? What was my reaction? What were my expectations and how were they different from what transpired? What did I learn?
- Critically think about your learning experiences and the course content . This will help you develop a deeper, more nuanced understanding about why these moments were significant or relevant to you. Use the ideas you formulated during the first stage of reflecting to help you think through these moments from both an academic and personal perspective. From an academic perspective, contemplate how the experience enhanced your understanding of a concept, theory, or skill. Ask yourself, did the experience confirm my previous understanding or challenge it in some way. As a result, did this highlight strengths or gaps in your current knowledge? From a personal perspective, think introspectively about why these experiences mattered, if previous expectations or assumptions were confirmed or refuted, and if this surprised, confused, or unnerved you in some way.
- Analyze how these experiences and your reactions to them will shape your future thinking and behavior . Reflection implies looking back, but the most important act of reflective writing is considering how beliefs, assumptions, opinions, and feelings were transformed in ways that better prepare you as a learner in the future. Note how this reflective analysis can lead to actions you will take as a result of your experiences, what you will do differently, and how you will apply what you learned in other courses or in professional practice.
Basic Structure and Writing Style
Reflective Background and Context
The first part of your reflection paper should briefly provide background and context in relation to the content or experiences that stood out to you. Highlight the settings, summarize the key readings, or narrate the experiences in relation to the course objectives. Provide background that sets the stage for your reflection. You do not need to go into great detail, but you should provide enough information for the reader to understand what sources of learning you are writing about [e.g., course readings, field experience, guest lecture, class discussions] and why they were important. This section should end with an explanatory thesis statement that expresses the central ideas of your paper and what you want the readers to know, believe, or understand after they finish reading your paper.
Drawing from your reflective analysis, this is where you can be personal, critical, and creative in expressing how you felt about the course content and learning experiences and how they influenced or altered your feelings, beliefs, assumptions, or biases about the subject of the course. This section is also where you explore the meaning of these experiences in the context of the course and how you gained an awareness of the connections between these moments and your own prior knowledge.
Guided by your thesis statement, a helpful approach is to interpret your learning throughout the course with a series of specific examples drawn from the course content and your learning experiences. These examples should be arranged in sequential order that illustrate your growth as a learner. Reflecting on each example can be done by: 1) introducing a theme or moment that was meaningful to you, 2) describing your previous position about the learning moment and what you thought about it, 3) explaining how your perspective was challenged and/or changed and why, and 4) introspectively stating your current or new feelings, opinions, or beliefs about that experience in class.
It is important to include specific examples drawn from the course and placed within the context of your assumptions, thoughts, opinions, and feelings. A reflective narrative without specific examples does not provide an effective way for the reader to understand the relationship between the course content and how you grew as a learner.
The conclusion of your reflective paper should provide a summary of your thoughts, feelings, or opinions regarding what you learned about yourself as a result of taking the course. Here are several ways you can frame your conclusions based on the examples you interpreted and reflected on what they meant to you. Each example would need to be tied to the basic theme [thesis statement] of your reflective background section.
- Your reflective conclusions can be described in relation to any expectations you had before taking the class [e.g., “I expected the readings to not be relevant to my own experiences growing up in a rural community, but the research actually helped me see that the challenges of developing my identity as a child of immigrants was not that unusual...”].
- Your reflective conclusions can explain how what you learned about yourself will change your actions in the future [e.g., “During a discussion in class about the challenges of helping homeless people, I realized that many of these people hate living on the street but lack the ability to see a way out. This made me realize that I wanted to take more classes in psychology...”].
- Your reflective conclusions can describe major insights you experienced a critical junctures during the course and how these moments enhanced how you see yourself as a student learner [e.g., "The guest speaker from the Head Start program made me realize why I wanted to pursue a career in elementary education..."].
- Your reflective conclusions can reconfigure or reframe how you will approach professional practice and your understanding of your future career aspirations [e.g.,, "The course changed my perceptions about seeking a career in business finance because it made me realize I want to be more engaged in customer service..."]
- Your reflective conclusions can explore any learning you derived from the act of reflecting itself [e.g., “Reflecting on the course readings that described how minority students perceive campus activities helped me identify my own biases about the benefits of those activities in acclimating to campus life...”].
NOTE: The length of a reflective paper in the social sciences is usually less than a traditional research paper. However, don’t assume that writing a reflective paper is easier than writing a research paper. A well-conceived critical reflection paper often requires as much time and effort as a research paper because you must purposeful engage in thinking about your learning in ways that you may not be comfortable with or used to. This is particular true while preparing to write because reflective papers are not as structured as a traditional research paper and, therefore, you have to think deliberately about how you want to organize the paper and what elements of the course you want to reflect upon.
ANOTHER NOTE: Do not limit yourself to using only text in reflecting on your learning. If you believe it would be helpful, consider using creative modes of thought or expression such as, illustrations, photographs, or material objects that reflects an experience related to the subject of the course that was important to you [e.g., like a ticket stub to a renowned speaker on campus]. Whatever non-textual element you include, be sure to describe the object's relevance to your personal relationship to the course content.
Problems to Avoid
A reflective paper is not a “mind dump” . Reflective papers document your personal and emotional experiences and, therefore, they do not conform to rigid structures, or schema, to organize information. However, the paper should not be a disjointed, stream-of-consciousness narrative. Reflective papers are still academic pieces of writing that require organized thought, that use academic language and tone , and that apply intellectually-driven critical thinking to the course content and your learning experiences and their significance.
A reflective paper is not a research paper . If you are asked to reflect on a course reading, the reflection will obviously include some description of the research. However, the goal of reflective writing is not to present extraneous ideas to the reader or to "educate" them about the course. The goal is to share a story about your relationship with the learning objectives of the course. Therefore, unlike research papers, you are expected to write from a first person point of view which includes an introspective examination of your own opinions, feelings, and personal assumptions.
A reflection paper is not a book review . Descriptions of the course readings using your own words is not a reflective paper. Reflective writing should focus on how you understood the implications of and were challenged by the course in relation to your own lived experiences or personal assumptions, combined with explanations of how you grew as a student learner based on this internal dialogue. Remember that you are the central object of the paper, not the research materials.
A reflective paper is not an all-inclusive meditation. Do not try to cover everything. The scope of your paper should be well-defined and limited to your specific opinions, feelings, and beliefs about what you determine to be the most significant content of the course and in relation to the learning that took place. Reflections should be detailed enough to covey what you think is important, but your thoughts should be expressed concisely and coherently [as is true for any academic writing assignment].
Critical Reflection . Writing and Communication Centre, University of Waterloo; Critical Reflection: Journals, Opinions, & Reactions . University Writing Center, Texas A&M University; Connor-Greene, Patricia A. “Making Connections: Evaluating the Effectiveness of Journal Writing in Enhancing Student Learning.” Teaching of Psychology 27 (2000): 44-46; Good vs. Bad Reflection Papers , Franklin University; Dyment, Janet E. and Timothy S. O’Connell. "The Quality of Reflection in Student Journals: A Review of Limiting and Enabling Factors." Innovative Higher Education 35 (2010): 233-244: How to Write a Reflection Paper . Academic Skills, Trent University; Amelia TaraJane House. Reflection Paper . Cordia Harrington Center for Excellence, University of Arkansas; Ramlal, Alana, and Désirée S. Augustin. “Engaging Students in Reflective Writing: An Action Research Project.” Educational Action Research 28 (2020): 518-533; Writing a Reflection Paper . Writing Center, Lewis University; McGuire, Lisa, Kathy Lay, and Jon Peters. “Pedagogy of Reflective Writing in Professional Education.” Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (2009): 93-107; Critical Reflection . Writing and Communication Centre, University of Waterloo; How Do I Write Reflectively? Academic Skills Toolkit, University of New South Wales Sydney; Reflective Writing . Skills@Library. University of Leeds; Walling, Anne, Johanna Shapiro, and Terry Ast. “What Makes a Good Reflective Paper?” Family Medicine 45 (2013): 7-12; Williams, Kate, Mary Woolliams, and Jane Spiro. Reflective Writing . 2nd edition. London: Red Globe Press, 2020; Yeh, Hui-Chin, Shih-hsien Yang, Jo Shan Fu, and Yen-Chen Shih. “Developing College Students’ Critical Thinking through Reflective Writing.” Higher Education Research and Development (2022): 1-16.
Focus on Reflecting, Not on Describing
Minimal time and effort should be spent describing the course content you are asked to reflect upon. The purpose of a reflection assignment is to introspectively contemplate your reactions to and feeling about an element of the course. D eflecting the focus away from your own feelings by concentrating on describing the course content can happen particularly if "talking about yourself" [i.e., reflecting] makes you uncomfortable or it is intimidating. However, the intent of reflective writing is to overcome these inhibitions so as to maximize the benefits of introspectively assessing your learning experiences. Keep in mind that, if it is relevant, your feelings of discomfort could be a part of how you critically reflect on any challenges you had during the course [e.g., you realize this discomfort inhibited your willingness to ask questions during class, it fed into your propensity to procrastinate, or it made it difficult participating in groups].
Writing a Reflection Paper . Writing Center, Lewis University; Reflection Paper . Cordia Harrington Center for Excellence, University of Arkansas.
Another Writing Tip
Helpful Videos about Reflective Writing
These two short videos succinctly describe how to approach a reflective writing assignment. They are produced by the Academic Skills department at the University of Melbourne and the Skills Team of the University of Hull, respectively.
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Structure of academic reflections
Guidance on the structure of academic reflections.
Academic reflections or reflective writing completed for assessment often require a clear structure. Contrary to some people’s belief, reflection is not just a personal diary talking about your day and your feelings.
Both the language and the structure are important for academic reflective writing. For the structure you want to mirror an academic essay closely. You want an introduction, a main body, and a conclusion.
Academic reflection will require you to both describe the context, analyse it, and make conclusions. However, there is not one set of rules for the proportion of your reflection that should be spent describing the context, and what proportion should be spent on analysing and concluding. That being said, as learning tends to happen when analysing and synthesising rather than describing, a good rule of thumb is to describe just enough such that the reader understands your context.
Example structure for academic reflections
Below is an example of how you might structure an academic reflection if you were given no other guidance and what each section might contain. Remember this is only a suggestion and you must consider what is appropriate for the task at hand and for you yourself.
Identifies and introduces your experience or learning
- This can be a critical incident
- This can be the reflective prompt you were given
- A particular learning you have gained
When structuring your academic reflections it might make sense to start with what you have learned and then use the main body to evidence that learning, using specific experiences and events. Alternatively, start with the event and build up your argument. This is a question of personal preference – if you aren’t given explicit guidance you can ask the assessor if they have a preference, however both can work.
Highlights why it was important
- This can be suggesting why this event was important for the learning you gained
- This can be why the learning you gained will benefit you or why you appreciate it in your context
You might find that it is not natural to highlight the importance of an event before you have developed your argument for what you gained from it. It can be okay not to explicitly state the importance in the introduction, but leave it to develop throughout your reflection.
Outline key themes that will appear in the reflection (optional – but particularly relevant when answering a reflective prompt or essay)
- This can be an introduction to your argument, introducing the elements that you will explore, or that builds to the learning you have already gained.
This might not make sense if you are reflecting on a particular experience, but is extremely valuable if you are answering a reflective prompt or writing an essay that includes multiple learning points. A type of prompt or question that could particularly benefit from this would be ‘Reflect on how the skills and theory within this course have helped you meet the benchmark statements of your degree’
It can be helpful to explore one theme/learning per paragraph.
- You should highlight and explore the experience you introduced in the introduction
- If you are building toward answering a reflective prompt, explore each relevant experience.
As reflection is centred around an individual’s personal experience, it is very important to make experiences a main component of reflection. This does not mean that the majority of the reflective piece should be on describing an event – in fact you should only describe enough such that the reader can follow your analysis.
Analyse and synthesise
- You should analyse each of your experiences and from them synthesise new learning
Depending on the requirements of the assessment, you may need to use theoretical literature in your analysis. Theoretical literature is a part of perspective taking which is relevant for reflection, and will happen as a part of your analysis.
Restate or state your learning
- Make a conclusion based on your analysis and synthesis.
- If you have many themes in your reflection, it can be helpful to restate them here.
Plan for the future
- Highlight and discuss how your new-found learnings will influence your future practice
Answer the question or prompt (if applicable)
- If you are answering an essay question or reflective prompt, make sure that your conclusion provides a succinct response using your main body as evidence.
Using a reflective model to structure academic reflections
You might recognise that most reflective models mirror this structure; that is why a lot of the reflective models can be really useful to structure reflective assignments. Models are naturally structured to focus on a single experience – if the assignment requires you to focus on multiple experiences, it can be helpful to simply repeat each step of a model for each experience.
One difference between the structure of reflective writing and the structure of models is that sometimes you may choose to present your learning in the introduction of a piece of writing, whereas models (given that they support working through the reflective process) will have learning appearing at later stages.
However, generally structuring a piece of academic writing around a reflective model will ensure that it involves the correct components, reads coherently and logically, as well as having an appropriate structure.
Reflective journals/diaries/blogs and other pieces of assessed reflection
The example structure above works particularly well for formal assignments such as reflective essays and reports. Reflective journal/blogs and other pieces of assessed reflections tend to be less formal both in language and structure, however you can easily adapt the structure for journals and other reflective assignments if you find that helpful.
That is, if you are asked to produce a reflective journal with multiple entries it will most often (always check with the person who issued the assignment) be a successful journal if each entry mirrors the structure above and the language highlighted in the section on academic language. However, often you can be less concerned with form when producing reflective journals/diaries.
When producing reflective journals, it is often okay to include your original reflection as long as you are comfortable with sharing the content with others, and that the information included is not too personal for an assessor to read.
Ryan, M., 2011. Improving reflective writing in higher education: a social semiotic perspective. Teaching in Higher Education, 16(1), 99-111.
University of Portsmouth, Department for Curriculum and Quality Enhancement (date unavailable). Reflective Writing: a basic introduction [online]. Portsmouth: University of Portsmouth.
Queen Margaret University, Effective Learning Service (date unavailable). Reflection. [online]. Edinburgh: Queen Margaret University.
Analytical Essay Guide
Analytical Essay Example
15 Analytical Essay Samples to Learn From - Tips Included
Published on: Mar 3, 2018
Last updated on: Nov 22, 2023
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Analytical Essay Guide with Examples & Tips
Interesting Analytical Essay Topics Ideas for Students
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Analytical essay writing can be hard for students because it demands a thorough grasp of a subject and the skill to break it into smaller pieces.
This can lead to stress, lower grades, and a sense of frustration.
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In this blog, we'll provide you with excellent analytical examples and easy-to-follow tips for writing outstanding analytical essays.
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What is an Analytical Essay?
An analytical essay is a type of academic writing that delves deep into a specific subject, dissecting it into its various components and examining how they interrelate.
It requires the writer to not only present a clear understanding of the topic but also to analyze and evaluate it critically.
Unlike a descriptive essay , an analytical essay demands a more in-depth exploration, often involving an argument or thesis statement that guides the analysis.
Analytical Essay Examples
To truly understand the art of analytical essay writing, one of the most effective methods is to examine practical examples.
Analytical essay examples provide a clear blueprint of how to approach this challenging task successfully.
Take a look at these examples to find inspiration for writing a compelling analytical essay.
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IHere are some more examples of analytical essays to help you get inspired.
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Analytical Essay Outline Example
When tackling an analytical essay, having a well-structured outline is your key to success. This outline serves as a roadmap, guiding you through the essay-writing process, ensuring you don't miss vital elements.
Let's break down the essential sections of an analytical essay outline :
Introduction - Setting the Stage
In the introduction , your aim is to set the stage for your analysis. This section should introduce the topic, provide context, and present a clear thesis statement that outlines the main argument or focus of your essay.
Body - Analyzing Key Points
The body paragraphs of your analytical essay are where the real analysis takes place. This section can be divided into multiple paragraphs, each addressing a specific point or aspect related to your thesis.
Here, you should provide evidence, examples, and critical analysis to support your argument.
Conclusion - Summing It Up
As you reach the essay conclusion , it's time to tie it all together. Summarize your main points, restate your thesis statement, and underscore the importance of your analysis.
Remember, this is not the place to introduce new background information. Instead, offer a succinct and impactful recap of your discoveries.
Here's a sample outline for your reference to simplify the process.
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Analytical Essay Topics Examples
Choosing the right type of essay topic is a crucial first step when writing an analytical essay. The topic you select should be engaging, relevant, and suitable for in-depth analysis.
Here are some thought-provoking analytical essay topics to consider:
- The Symbolism of the "Green Light" in F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby"
- The Impact of Social Media on Mental Health
- Analyzing the Causes and Consequences of Income Inequality
- The Role of Nature in Shakespeare's Sonnets
- Analyzing the Historical Significance of the Industrial Revolution
- The Influence of Technology on Education
- The Psychology of Marketing and Consumer Behavior
- The Impact of Globalization on Cultural Identity
- Analyzing the Ethical Dilemmas in Artificial Intelligence
- The Evolution of Environmental Policies and Their Impact on Conservation
Are you still having trouble coming up with a good analytical essay topic? Check out this blog for more than 150 compelling analytical essay topics .
Tips to Write an Effective Analytical Essay
Writing an effective analytical essay requires a structured approach and attention to detail. Here are some valuable tips to help you craft a compelling analytical essay:
- Focus Your Topic : Select a specific topic or aspect for in-depth analysis rather than a broad subject.
- Research Thoroughly : Gather reliable sources and evidence to support your analysis.
- Create a Well-Structured Outline : Plan your essay with a clear introduction, body, and conclusion.
- Analyze, Don't Summarize : Avoid summarizing the subject; instead, critically evaluate and interpret it.
- Use Clear Topic Sentences : Start each paragraph with a clear topic sentence that relates to your thesis.
- Provide Evidence : Support your analysis with quotes, examples, and data from your research.
- Critical Thinking : Engage in critical thinking to question assumptions and explore alternative perspectives.
- Maintain Clarity : Use clear and concise language to convey your points effectively.
In conclusion, the analytical essay stands as a potent tool for honing your skills and conveying your understanding of complex subjects.
Through this guide, we've explored the essence of analytical essays and the essential steps to compose a compelling piece.
If you are assigned to write an analytical essay, take help from the above-mentioned examples. Another option is to get assistance from a professional analytical essay writer.
The top analytical essay writing service at MyPerfectWords.com can assist you and provide customized written essays and papers for every academic level. We offer the best essay writing service.
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How to Write an Analytical Reflection
Oubria tronshaw, 29 sep 2017.
At a certain point in your academic or professional career, you may be required to write an analytical reflection. Do not become intimidated by this task, as writing an analytical reflection is simply an exercise in articulating your thoughts with honesty and from an observant perspective. Before handing in your final product, submit it to a mentor, adviser or peer to review. It is easy to get so caught up in getting your point across that you forget the rules of grammar and spelling.
Immerse yourself in your topic. To analyze anything, you must be thoroughly familiar with the subject matter. If you are writing an analytical reflection on a book, read it twice. If you are writing about a piece of art, study it for long periods of time and take occasional breaks to freshen your perspective. Do not allow anything about your topic to escape your attention.
Take notes. Write down your impressions and thoughts surrounding your topic. Do not worry about sentence structure, punctuation or chronological order; the important thing is to get your thoughts on paper. Take notes over a period of time as you simultaneously ponder the work; record how your impressions either change or become stronger. Reflecting on a piece of art, for example, you might write that the piece projects a warm and inviting mood; days later, you might decide that the painting feels oppressive.
Research your topic. Whether you are analyzing a book, work of art, poem, play or piece of clothing, understand it in the context and perspective of its creator. Understand the social, political, emotional, financial and mental constructs that contributed toward the creation and development of your subject. For example, if you are writing an analytical reflection about a book by James Baldwin, research his life and ask yourself, "Why did he start writing? How was his creative work influenced by events surrounding his life? Given his history, how might he have wanted his work to be interpreted?"
Write a rough draft. Begin with a thesis statement that encapsulates what you think and how you feel about your topic. For example, "Zora Neale Hurston's novel, 'Their Eyes Were Watching God,' was a revolutionary act of the pen. The book placed an African American woman at the center of her own universe and declared that her mind, heart, soul, body and life were her own to command and control." Use the body of the essay to elaborate on specific points that support your thesis statement. The conclusion should reiterate the thesis statement, but in a more reflective manner.
Polish your rough draft into a final copy. Ask yourself if the body of the essay and the conclusion support the thesis statement. If they do not, either change them until they do, or consider that your thesis statement needs rewording.
Ask someone you trust to look over your final copy and give you feedback. Incorporate important corrections into the final version of your analytical reflection.
- 1 Custom Writing: How to Write an Analytical Essay
About the Author
Oubria Tronshaw specializes in topics related to parenting and business. She received a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing from the Santa Fe University of Art and Design, and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Chicago State University. She currently teaches English at Harper Community College in the Chicago area.
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Styles of writing
Descriptive writing, analytical writing, reflective writing.
- Effective proof reading
When you’re asked to write an assignment you might immediately think of an essay, and have an idea of the type of writing style that’s required.
This is likely to be a ‘discursive’ style, as often in an essay you’re asked to discuss various theories, ideas and concepts in relation to a given question. For those coming to study maths and science subjects, you might be mistaken in thinking that any guidance on writing styles is not relevant to you.
In reality, you’ll probably be asked to complete a range of different assignments, including reports, problem questions, blog posts, case studies and reflective accounts. So for the mathematicians and scientists amongst you, you’re likely to find that you’ll be expected to write more at university than perhaps you’re used to. You may be asked to write essays, literature reviews or short discussions, in which all the advice on this course, including the advice below, is of relevance. In addition, even writing up your equations or findings will require you to carefully consider your structure and style. Different types of assignment often call for different styles of writing, but within one assignment you might use a variety of writing styles depending on the purpose of that particular section.
Three main writing styles you may come across during your studies are: descriptive , analytical and reflective . These will require you to develop your writing style and perhaps think more deeply about what you’ve read or experienced, in order to make more meaningful conclusions.
The diagram below shows examples of each of these writing styles. It takes as an example a trainee teacher’s experience within a classroom and shows how the writing style develops as they think more deeply about the evidence they are presented with.
All of these forms of writing are needed to write critically . You’ll come across the term critical in lots of contexts during your studies, for example critical thinking, critical writing and critical analysis. Critical writing requires you to:
• view a topic from a variety of angles
• evaluate evidence
• present a clear conclusion
• and reflect on the limitations of your own argument.
So how will you know which writing style is needed in your assignments? As mentioned, most academic assignments will require a certain amount of description but your writing should mainly be analytical and critical. You’ll be given an assignment brief and marking guidelines, which will make clear the expectations with regards to writing style. Make sure you read these carefully before you begin your assignment.
It’s unlikely that you’ll be asked to only write descriptively , though this form of writing is useful in certain sections of reports and essays. You’ll need elements of description in essays before you go on to analyse and evaluate. The description is there to help the reader understand the key principles and for you to set the scene. But description, in this case, needs to be kept to a minimum.
However descriptive writing is often used in the methodology and findings sections of a report, or when completing a laboratory report on an experiment. Here you’re describing (for instance) the methods you adopted so that someone else can replicate them should they need to. Descriptive writing focuses on answering the ‘what?’ ‘when’ and ‘who’ type questions.
Analytical writing style is often called for at university level. It involves reviewing what you’ve read in light of other evidence. Analytical writing shows the thought processes you went through to arrive at a given conclusion and discusses the implications of this. Analytical writing usually follows a brief description and focuses on answering questions like: ‘why?’ ‘how?’ and ‘so what?’
Have a look at our LibGuide on Critical Analysis: Thinking, Reading, and Writing for more in-depth guidance on analytical writing.
Not all writing will require you to write reflectively . However you might be asked to write a reflective account after a work placement or find that at the end of a report it might be appropriate to add some personal observations. This style of writing builds on analysis by considering the learning you’ve gained from practical experience. The purpose of the reflection is to help you to make improvements for the future and, as such, it is a more ‘personal’ form of academic writing often using the first person. Evidence still has a key role in reflective writing; it’s not just about retelling your story and how you felt. And evidence in the case of reflection will include your own personal experience which adds to the discussion. Reflective writing focuses on future improvements and answers questions like ‘what next?’
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How To Write Reflection Paper: Step-by-Step Guide
18 May 2022
❓What Is a Reflection Paper?
📄Types of Reflective Writing
Critical Reflection Paper
Personal reflection paper, reading reflection paper.
🎓Approaches to Reflective Inquiry
✏️Writing a Reflection Paper Outline
🔍Reflection Paper Format
✍How to Write a Reflection Paper: Step-by-Step Guide
✅Tips on Writing Your Paper
📝Reflection Paper Example
Do you have any questions about how to write the methodology?
Now is the time to answer one major question. How to write a reflection paper? To write reflection content, you will need to know a lot of things, and you will need to understand the format and types and also get additional help if you are a newbie. Below we have all of that in a simple and plain form so you can get all the help you need in one place. You will also learn the insights of reflective paper writing, how to format it, and how to make the process more comfortable and appealing. At the end of the day, you will have stunning reflection papers that will impress your professor. All of this may sound complicated or impossible, but it is definitely something you can do, and now you will see how.
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What Is a Reflection Paper?
Before we share what you need to know about reflection paper writing an effective reflection, we need to clarify what this type of essay is. It is your personal opinion and reaction about something. It can be a book, a movie, or a trip. You will have to write about how that topic affected you instead of using facts and arguments only. As such, these papers are very appealing, and most students enjoy writing them. Of course, some don't like these; hence they rely on research paper writing service , and they will always get a paper done in no time that is also professional and answers the main idea perfectly. There are a few variations here, and we will have to explain each one below. The purpose here is to create a paper expressing your thoughts and opinions about the main topic.
Types of Reflective Writing
To write a reflection paper, you must pay close attention to the type you will use. Word count is low here; hence you need to stay focused and use all the steps and all the proper elements. The essential element here is to know about three different types. These will determine how to write a reflection paper, how you need to optimize body paragraphs, and so much more. This is also one reason that makes writing reflection papers so hard.
This is the most common and the hardest type here. It will be based on your studying and has to include different points. For example, you need to elaborate on what you have learned, the experiences you received, and how and what challenges it took. You don't have enough room only, so you will need to be professional in this kind of academic writing, and you still need to focus on the main themes. In addition, you will have to provide details about your experiences and reactions and analyze them in detail. Studying reflection paper example papers may be necessary to get a general idea.
Studying math at college: My experience.
Here you also need to provide your experiences. But you will also have to explain how it concerned you. There are countless examples and plenty of things you are about to discover. It is different from a critical reflection paper and has a greater focus on the personal element of the experience rather than on anything else. You can always write about all the personal experiences you like and want, but try to focus on the essential occasion. This is an essay that will have a huge effect on your life.
A reflection paper is a type of essay that has a huge role in education. This means you will need to clarify how a book or the books have affected you and what experience you got from them. A reflection paper on a book is the most common type at some schools. All teachers will want you to write about this, and you will need to include all the main points and all the elements of this academic paper. How long should a reflection paper be? This type is usually 2-3 pages long.
Why did 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea make me want to read all the books of this genre?
Approaches to Reflective Inquiry
When you start a reflection paper, the first task is to understand your teacher's requirements. Not even mentioning your analysis should be closely related to the course you are studying. The personal subject you’ve decided to reflect on should be directly connected with the key principles you have learned in the course of the subject. The professor will evaluate not only the structure of the work but also the compliance of your opinions to write the essay. That is why you must go through a long thought process requiring critical thinking. As a result, you must come to unique insights that will mirror your perspective toward the analyzed situation.
Talking about your own experiences can be difficult because things become very intimate. When writing a reflection paper based on personal observations, you must clearly link the situation to the learning context.
When you are asked to write a reflective essay based on what you have read, focus on the interpretation of key ideas. Combine the impression of the book or article with your general beliefs. How did the information you read strike you?
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Writing a Reflection Paper Outline
You may ask yourself what an outline is and why it is important. This is a clear plan for writing your work, which gives you a reliable perspective. A reflection paper outline is necessary to mention all the essential facts and keep the correct structure of the reflection paper. These days you can easily use " write my paper for me " and get an outline that will be spotless. The outline is very important in helping you write a reflection paper, and we must reveal something about it.
First comes the Introduction . It is the passage to interest the reader in your reflection paper. To make it coherent, follow these guidelines:
- Begin with a thesis statement. It is a strong phrase that summarizes and presents the main topic of your reflection paper.
- Catch the reader on a hook. It can be any intriguing fact that is related to your study.
- Do a brief overview of what is presented in your essay.
A body paragraph is the heart of any reflection paper. This is the part where you are reflecting on your personal experiences and expressing how your thoughts changed or consolidated because of the occasion. To keep the structure strict, start each new idea with a new paragraph, although having more than three body paragraphs is not advisable.
- Clearly describe the experience.
- Link your practice to the concepts you’re studying.
- Elaborate the conclusions and explain your point to the reader.
- Analyze your new cognitions and link them with your previous beliefs.
The conclusion is an integral part of a reflection paper. To write one, you should summarize the data you received while reflecting.
- Make the conclusions coherent with the introductory section.
- Be brief when summing up the results.
- Tell the reader how the received data can be useful in life.
Know how to structure your paper
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Reflection Paper Format
Here we can see one crucial fact about reflective writing. All papers of this kind must use proper formatting. It is more important than you may believe. A reflective paper format will make your essay look as it should, and you won't have any issues with your professor making any mistakes possible. In simple terms, this is the template you can use for all papers of this kind. To encourage you to explore your own ideas for different reflective essay topics , we will have to interpret the main facts below, and you will need to use them. Keep in mind that your school may have a different requirement, in which case you will have to talk to your professor and get the guidelines and then use them to write a reflection paper. You need to do this before any academic writing, and it is different worldwide.
You need to write on A4 paper (in Office Word or on real paper).
Margins must be 1 inch.
The text size is 12 points.
Fonts you can use are Times New Roman, Arial, and Calibri.
All lines must be paired with double spaces.
The citation will be defined by a teacher (usually, it is APA or Chicago style).
The length should be between 250 and 750 words.
How to Write a Reflection Paper: Step-by-Step Guide
Here we will have a complete process of creating an effective reflective paper. All the experts use this simple guide, and it can have a huge effect on your writing. Each reflective paper must follow the points, so you can imagine how crucial these are. It is necessary to add that you should use all of them and don't skip one. If you do, you can finish up with a poor result and get a lower grade. While at college, you can use these all the time but only on papers of this kind.
Choose the topic
The first is to pick the topic if that is possible. If you do, you will have an easier time writing, and you will be able to focus more on the things you like and find interesting. You can also find some reflection paper topic examples. If the topic is not something you can opt for, you will probably have a harder time. This is one of the reasons why so many students need help and want to get a good reflection paper done. They don't want to write about some topic they don't like. You can always buy research paper or any other and get it over with. In addition, the topic you choose must be a perfect match for your experience and your opinion, and you should be passionate about it. Here is one example.
How can I deal with stress these days?
Start with the main theme.
Here you will need to write about what you have learned from the experience you are defining. Try to match the readers. They will want to be able to link up with you, and they will need that. In other words, if you can choose this, you have a good reflection paper already. They should be able to relate to that from reading your essay. If you are trying to define this from a book, you can use strong words and a lot of details. At college, this is essential.
After watching X-Files, I realized that there are a lot of secrets in society.
This can be an interesting part. You will need to relax, and you will need to write down all the ideas that you have on your mind for reflective writing. It is not substantial how silly they are or how special they sound. Just write them down. Once you are done, you can organize them and make corrections. You should start with a title page when this is a more significant element. In general, you will have to write down anything memorable that may have any impact on the essay you are writing now.
Main theme: A constant fear of missing out.
- I only feel FOMO when I’m studying instead of having fun.
- Studies show that FOMO is a display of fear of social exclusion.
- Social media foments the fomo.
- Now I realize the main solution to FOMO is to spend less time checking on the feed.
Analyze how and why
Now you will need to choose that idea and analyze it in depth. Here you will need to write about how and why it hit you and your experience at the end. This is more important than you may believe, and it has a huge role. While at school, you always need to ask yourself how and why. These are mandatory questions for all types of writing, which can help you get the grade you like.
- “Before” questions: What will I receive from this experience? Which skills do I need to overcome it? Are there any issues I can face?
- “During” questions: What is the expertise I receive from the occasion? How do I feel about it? Does this experience change my outlook?
- “After” questions: How have these past experiences altered my life and thoughts? Did it meet my expectations? How can I express my feelings about it?
Connect your opinion, experience, and observation
Here you will need to write about the connection between what you thought about that idea, what experience you had, and what you have observed. Try to link these in a simple way and try to reach your readers as well. It may sound obvious, but it is one element that can be essential for understanding. If you are writing about the book, you will need to say something about the author, the characters' names, and how it affected you.
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Tips on Writing Your Paper
The ideas from your body paragraphs can vary, and there are countless examples. We have provided you with some experiential reflection writing tips to make this easier. All the experts use the ones below, and in fact, they were developed by professionals. As such, you will want to implement them into any piece of writing you can. We will keep all of this simple and easy because the best tip is the one that is easy but has huge importance.
Firstly, we already have mentioned that it is essential to choose the topic if possible. It will make the title page and the essay a much simpler task for you. You can also check the writing essay service for comprehensive self-reflection paper examples . You will need one topic that you fully understand and are passionate about. If you have to work on something you need help understanding, you probably will need more time to explain all the elements and thoughts.
Secondly, writing an educational reflective paper will be a complicated task. As with any other, you will need days or even weeks to produce high-quality content. This means one thing only. You need time to finish the job, which will take more than 15 minutes. Start as soon as possible, and you can complete it. Even professionals like this tip and have been using it for ages.
Another fact you should know is the importance of a reflective essay outline . It is a path you will follow. It can help you avoid any mistakes and focus on the most important thoughts of your reflection essay. You will need to complete this before you start with the actual writing, and it will apply to all papers and all types of writings out there.
An important remark is that if you use slang words, you might have a problem. Professors don't like these and don't have any room for professional reflection essays. Instead, you will need to use proper and professional words. Use big words when you can so you don't see any problems. But you also need to be direct, and you need to stay focused at any given moment. These are mandatory elements, and they deserve a special spot.
Furthermore, you need to use first-person singular in your reflection essay! This is another mistake many students make, and it can have a huge side effect on the whole content. There are no exceptions, so you can memorize this tip and always use it.
Remember that reflection papers are deep, and they don't need to touch the idea in a shallow way. You need to express as much as you can and use plenty of details. The more details you use, the better. In other words, this is more than a simple summary you will need to provide, and you are done with it. This is complicated content that needs to explore personal emotions, opinions, thoughts, and reflections in the deepest way imaginable. The deeper you get, the easier it is to connect with the readers.
Finally, the description must focus on the life experiences and how they affected your thoughts and understanding, not on the objects or locations. Many students believe the opposite, so they will waste time explaining the wrong element here. Remember that this is not an essay where you must explain all the elements in the same detail level. Some elements, like experiences, are far more important than others.
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Reflection Paper Example
“Reflecting on the Moment I Received a Long-Desired Possession” I still vividly remember the day I received the item I had been longing for - a sleek, silver MacBook Pro laptop. It was a momentous occasion for me, as I had been saving up for it for months and constantly researching and comparing different models and features. The laptop symbolized a new level of independence and creativity for me, and I was beyond excited to finally have it in my hands. As I eagerly tore open the box, I felt a rush of emotions - excitement, gratitude, and a sense of accomplishment. I had worked hard for this, and it was a tangible representation of my efforts and determination. I felt proud of myself for setting a goal and following through with it, and I couldn't wait to start using my new laptop to its full potential. Using the MacBook Pro was like a dream come true. Its sleek design, fast processing speed, and advanced features made it so much easier for me to accomplish tasks and unleash my creativity. Whether I was working on school projects, writing personal essays, or just browsing the web, I felt inspired and empowered. This experience taught me a valuable lesson about the power of perseverance and hard work. I learned that if I set my mind to something and put in the effort, I can make it happen. This sense of control and autonomy was empowering and gave me a new level of confidence. In conclusion, receiving my long-desired MacBook Pro was a moment that will stay with me for a long time. It taught me about the rewards of hard work and perseverance, and gave me a new sense of confidence and independence. I am grateful for this experience, and I am looking forward to using my laptop for many years to come.
What is a reflection in writing?
How many paragraphs are in a reflection paper, how to conclude a reflection paper, was this article helpful, thanks for your feedback.
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Reflective Report Samples and Examples
Are you stuck at a part of your reflective report and need some inspiration to follow? We understand this problem and have prepared various examples of reflective reports. These reflective report samples have been prepared by professionals and are of the high Research Prospect standard to help you follow a structure for your reflective report. Read our samples and start working on your report now!
Reflective Report Writing Sample
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Mastering Management: A Reflective Report on My Journey and Learning Outcomes
Anthropology mainly studies how humans behave and interact with other humans.
The statement “miscarriage of justice’’ denotes a situation where a court or judicial
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Frequently Ask Questions?
How can our reflective report samples help.
What are reflective reports?
First, let’s look at what reflective reports are. They are assignments frequently given in colleges and universities. Unlike essays and dissertations, reflective reports need to describe individuals, outline their experiences, and critically evaluate occurrences and situations.
Understanding the purpose of a reflective report is key; knowing the exact purpose of what you’re writing, you make a better job of it. These assignments are usually given as a means of grading your ability to critically evaluate.
What is in reflective reports?
Reflective reports ask you to talk about what you have learned in life through different experiences. They allow you to talk about your personal achievements and to outline your future plans.
While relating experiences, it’s important to begin with the academic and progress to the practical. It is advisable to avoid discussing your failures; but you can strategically refer to them if the event led to a subsequent accomplishment.
How are they assessed?
This work will be assessed on how well you evaluate yourself and your experiences. Showing you can learn good lessons from your encounters is very valuable, and is very important within the assignment. A reflective piece is not complete if you do not discuss your learning from experiences and where this supports your plans.
Now you know the purpose of reflective reports, look at the samples published on the site. You’ll see that these samples include the critical evaluation of events and a description of how you can apply what you learned to similar future situations.
Examining our samples will help you in writing and submitting an outstanding reflective report. They demonstrate the usual structure and the format that is required.
Headings are not common in reflective reports because paragraphs start with topic sentences. Another point to note is that you write in the first person; this is because you are talking about personal experiences.
As such – and you’ll see this in our samples – you are unlikely to need to include many references. Although it is still required if you mention particular concepts or theories.
How we can help
Are you looking for help writing your reflective report? Getting professional help can mean the difference between passing or failing – and possibly writing the whole thing again.
At Research Prospect, we can make sure your reflective report contains everything it’s supposed to. Tell us about the requirements of the report and we can get to work on it.
We assign a writer to your task, and while our writers are outstanding, they still need your contribution for a reflective report. So, they will ask for your input, whether it concerns academic or professional experience. This helps them relate to your position and produce a reflection from your point of view.
Why is reflective work so different?
Reflective writing is very different to essay writing. Rather than discussing an academic subject, you write about personal experiences. You then reflect on your experiences, what you learned from them, and how you can apply this learning in the future. The writing is in the first person and you give your opinions because it’s a subjective piece of work.
What academic subjects does Research Prospect’s essay service cover?
We cover subjects from A to Z. Well, OK, there isn’t much call for Z subjects. But if you need some Z-based writing, we’ll be able to do it.
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When ordering you can give us detailed information about experiences or situations encountered. The more information on experiences, feelings, and thoughts, the better. This can be enough for us to formulate an account from your viewpoint. Really, we are rearranging your words to their best advantage.
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How to Write a Reflection Paper
Last Updated: July 8, 2023 Fact Checked
This article was co-authored by Alicia Cook . Alicia Cook is a Professional Writer based in Newark, New Jersey. With over 12 years of experience, Alicia specializes in poetry and uses her platform to advocate for families affected by addiction and to fight for breaking the stigma against addiction and mental illness. She holds a BA in English and Journalism from Georgian Court University and an MBA from Saint Peter’s University. Alicia is a bestselling poet with Andrews McMeel Publishing and her work has been featured in numerous media outlets including the NY Post, CNN, USA Today, the HuffPost, the LA Times, American Songwriter Magazine, and Bustle. She was named by Teen Vogue as one of the 10 social media poets to know and her poetry mixtape, “Stuff I’ve Been Feeling Lately” was a finalist in the 2016 Goodreads Choice Awards. There are 8 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 3,743,502 times.
Reflection papers allow you to communicate with your instructor about how a specific article, lesson, lecture, or experience shapes your understanding of class-related material. Reflection papers are personal and subjective  X Research source , but they must still maintain a somewhat academic tone and must still be thoroughly and cohesively organized. Here's what you need to know about writing an effective reflection.
Things You Should Know
- Write an introduction that outlines the expectations you had and provide a thesis statement in the last sentence.
- State your conclusions in the body paragraphs of the paper. Explain how you arrived at your conclusions using logic and concrete details.
- Conclude the paper with a concise summary of your overall experience.
Sample Outline and Paper
- These sentences should be both descriptive yet straight to the point.
- For lectures or readings, you can write down specific quotations or summarize passages.
- For experiences, make a note of specific portions of your experience. You could even write a small summary or story of an event that happened during the experience that stands out. Images, sounds, or other sensory portions of your experience work, as well.
- In the first column, list the main points or key experiences. These points can include anything that the author or speaker treated with importance as well as any specific details you found to be important. Divide each point into its own separate row.
- In the second column, list your personal response to the points you brought up in the first column. Mention how your subjective values, experiences, and beliefs influence your response.
- In the third and last column, describe how much of your personal response to share in your reflection paper.
- 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?
Organizing a Reflection Paper
- 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.
- 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: “From this reading/experience, I learned...”
- 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.
- 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.
As You Write
- 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.
- 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. Instead of stating something like, “Bob was such a rude jerk,” say something more along the lines of, “One man was abrupt and spoke harshly, making me feel as though I was not welcome there.” Describe the actions, not the person, and frame those actions within the context of how they influenced your conclusions.
- A reflection paper is one of the few pieces of academic writing in which you can get away with using the first person pronoun “I.” That said, you should still relate your subjective feelings and opinions using specific evidence to explain them.  X Research source
- Avoid slang and always use correct spelling and grammar. Internet abbreviations like “LOL” or “OMG” are fine to use personally among friends and family, but this is still an academic paper, so you need to treat it with the grammatical respect it deserves. Do not treat it as a personal journal entry.
- Check and double-check your spelling and grammar after you finish your paper.
- Keep your sentences focused. Avoid squeezing multiple ideas into one sentence.
- Avoid sentence fragments. 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.  X Research source
- Common transitional phrases include "for example," "for instance," "as a result," "an opposite view is," and "a different perspective is."
- 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.
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- ↑ https://www.csuohio.edu/writing-center/reflection-papers
- ↑ https://libguides.usc.edu/writingguide/assignments/reflectionpaper
- ↑ Alicia Cook. Professional Writer. Expert Interview. 11 December 2020.
- ↑ https://www.trentu.ca/academicskills/how-guides/how-write-university/how-approach-any-assignment/how-write-reflection-paper
- ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/thesis-statements/
- ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/conclusions/
- ↑ https://www.anu.edu.au/students/academic-skills/writing-assessment/reflective-writing/reflective-essays
- ↑ https://academicguides.waldenu.edu/writingcenter/scholarlyvoice/sentencestructure
About This Article
To write a reflection paper, start with an introduction where you state any expectations you had for the reading, lesson, or experience you're reflecting on. At the end of your intro, include a thesis statement that explains how your views have changed. In the body of your essay, explain the conclusions you reached after the reading, lesson, or experience and discuss how you arrived at them. Finally, finish your paper with a succinct conclusion that explains what you've learned. To learn how to brainstorm for your paper, keep reading! Did this summary help you? Yes No
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How to Write a Reflective Essay: Easy Guide with Pro Tips 2023
Defining What is a Reflective Essay: Purpose + Importance
Being present is a cornerstone of mindfulness and meditation. You must have often heard that staying in the moment helps you appreciate your surroundings, connects you with people and nature, and allows you to feel whatever emotions you must feel without anxiety. While this is helpful advice as you become more focused and avoid getting lost in thought, how can you truly appreciate the present without reflecting on your past experiences that have led you to the current moment?
We don't say that you should dwell on the past and get carried away with a constant thought process, but hey, hear us out - practice reflective thinking! Think back on your previous life events, paint a true picture of history, and make connections to your present self. This requires you to get a bit analytical and creative. So you might as well document your critical reflection on a piece of paper and give direction to your personal observations. That's when the need for reflective essays steps in!
In a reflective essay, you open up about your thoughts and emotions to uncover your mindset, personality, traits of character, and background. Your reflective essay should include a description of the experience/literature piece as well as explanations of your thoughts, feelings, and reactions. In this article, our essay writer service will share our ultimate guide on how to write a reflective essay with a clear format and reflective essay examples that will inspire you.
How to Write a Reflective Essay with a Proper Reflective Essay Outline
To give you a clear idea of structuring a reflective essay template, we broke down the essential steps below. Primarily, the organization of a reflective essay is very similar to other types of papers. However, our custom writers got more specific with the reflective essay outline to ease your writing process.
Reflective Essay Introduction
When wondering how to start a reflective essay, it is no surprise that you should begin writing your paper with an introductory paragraph. So, what's new and different with the reflection essay introduction? Let's dissect:
- Open your intro with an attention-seizing hook that engages your audience into reflective thinking with you. It can be something like: 'As I was sitting on my bed with my notebook placed on my shaky lap waiting for the letter of acceptance, I could not help but reflect, was enrolling in college the path I wanted to take in the future?'
- Provide context with a quick overview of the reflective essay topic. Don't reveal too much information at the start to prevent your audience from becoming discouraged to continue reading.
- Make a claim with a strong reflective essay thesis statement. It should be a simple explanation of the essay's main point, in this example, a specific event that had a big impact on you.
Reflective Essay Body Paragraphs
The next step is to develop the body of your essay. This section of the paper may be the most challenging because it's simple to ramble and replicate yourself both in the outline and the actual writing. Planning the body properly requires a lot of time and work, and the following advice can assist you in doing this effectively:
- Consider using a sequential strategy. This entails reviewing everything you wish to discuss in the order it occurred. This method ensures that your work is structured and cohesive.
- Make sure the body paragraph is well-rounded and employs the right amount of analysis. The body should go into the effects of the event on your life and the insights you've gained as a consequence.
- Prioritize reflecting rather than summarizing your points. In addition to giving readers insight into your personal experience, a reflective stance will also show off your personality and demonstrate your ability to handle certain challenges.
Reflective Essay Conclusion
The goal of your reflective essay conclusion should be to tie everything together by summarizing the key ideas raised throughout, as well as the lessons you were able to take away from experience.
- Don't forget to include the reasons for and the methods used to improve your beliefs and actions. Think about how your personality and skills have changed as well.
- What conclusions can you draw about your behavior in particular circumstances? What could you do differently if the conditions were the same in the future?
Remember that your instructor will be searching for clear signs of reflection.
Understanding a Reflection Paper Format
The format of reflective essay greatly differs from an argumentative or research paper. A reflective essay is more of a well-structured story or a diary entry rife with insight and reflection. You might be required to arrange your essay using the APA style or the MLA format.
And the typical reflection paper length varies between 300 and 700 words, but ask your instructor about the word length if it was assigned to you. Even though this essay is about you, try to avoid too much informal language.
If your instructor asks you to use an APA or MLA style format for reflective essay, here are a few shortcuts:
Reflective Essay in MLA Format
- Times New Roman 12pt font double spaced;
- 1" margins;
- The top right includes the last name and page number on every page;
- Titles are centered;
- The header should include your name, your professor's name, course number, and the date (dd/mm/yy);
- The last page includes a Works Cited.
Reflective Essay in APA Style
- Include a page header on the top of every page;
- Insert page number on the right;
- Your reflective essay should be divided into four parts: Title Page, Abstract, Main Body, and References.
Reflective Essay Writing Tips
You may think we've armed you with enough tips and pointers for reflective writing, but it doesn't stop here. Below we gathered some expert-approved tips for constructing uncontested reflection papers.
- Be as detailed as possible while writing. To make your reflective essay writing come to life, you should employ several tactics such as symbolism, sentence patterns, etc.
- Keep your audience in mind. The reader will become frustrated if you continue writing in the first person without taking a moment to convey something more important, even though you will likely speak about something from your own perspective.
- Put forth the effort to allow the reader to feel the situation or emotion you are attempting to explain.
- Don't preach; demonstrate. Instead of just reporting what happened, use description appropriately to paint a clear picture of the event or sensation.
- Plan the wording and structure of your reflective essay around a central emotion or subject, such as joy, pleasure, fear, or grief.
- Avoid adding dull elements that can lessen the effect of your work. Why include it if it won't enhance the emotion or understanding you wish to convey?
- There must be a constant sense of progression. Consider whether the event has transformed you or others around you.
- Remember to double-check your grammar, syntax, and spelling.
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Reflective Essay Topic Ideas
As a reflective essay should be about your own views and experiences, you generally can't use someone else's ideas. But to help you get started, here are some suggestions for writing topics:
- An experience you will never forget.
- The moment you overcame a fear.
- The most difficult choice you had to make.
- A time your beliefs were challenged.
- A time something changed your life.
- The happiest or most frightening moment of your life so far.
- Ways you think you or people can make the world a better place.
- A time you felt lost.
- An introspective look at your choices or a time you made the wrong choice.
- A moment in your life you would like to relive.
You may find it convenient to create a chart or table to keep track of your ideas. Split your chart into three parts:
- In the first column, write key experiences or your main points. You can arrange them from most important to least important.
- In the second column, list your response to the points you stated in the first column.
- In the third column, write what, from your response, you would like to share in the essay.
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Reflective Essay Sample
Referring to reflective essay examples can help you a lot. A reflective essay sample can provide you with useful insight into how your essay should look like. You can also buy an essay online if you need one customized to your specific requirements.
How to Conclude a Reflective Essay
As we come to an end, it's only logical to reflect on the main points discussed above in the article. By now, you should clearly understand what is a reflective essay and that the key to writing a reflective essay is demonstrating what lessons you have taken away from your experiences and why and how these lessons have shaped you. It should also have a clear reflective essay format, with an opening, development of ideas, and resolution.
Now that you have the tools to create a thorough and accurate reflective paper, you might want to hand over other tasks like writing definition essay examples to our experienced writers. In this case, feel free to buy an essay online on our platform and reflect on your past events without worrying about future assignments!
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Differences between people are abundant in society and especially in a society like American society where so many different cultures have come together in one place. The United States is seen globally as a melting pot, where immigrants are often forced to give up their own cultural values in order to be accepted into American society. I am an immigrant who has always seen the differences between myself and other people in this country. One thing that began to allow me to see beyond these differences was the painting How Mali Lost Her Accent, by Pacita Abad. This painting showed me that I can succeed in this country, despite my differences, as long as I believe that I can and work hard to achieve my goals. I may not be as familiar with American culture as most Americans, but I can still achieve all of my goals as long as I work hard and have the confidence that I can achieve anything.
Pacita Abad was born on a small island in the Philippines in 1946, but she went on to enjoy a painting career that spanned more than three decades. Pacita studied political science in the Philippines, but political and social problems in her country caused her to flee to the United States in search of a better life. She started out in San Francisco and quickly became interested in art once she was there. This interest in art caused her to enroll in both the “Corcoran School of Art in Washington D.C. and The Art Students League in New York City” (Pacita Abad), which got her started on her long and illustrious career. Once she had finished school, Pacita began to travel around the globe, using her experiences as inspiration for her work and also incorporating the techniques that she learned into her various paintings. She lived on 5 continents and worked in over 80 countries during her career, which shows how much diversity her works and techniques have. Pacita’s contributions go further than just her pure artistic talent, however, as she used her work to make political statements a lot of the time, especially in her earlier work because it was influenced by the political problems in her homeland. Pacita did things differently than most artists because she did not confine herself to a studio, but rather traveled around the globe, using the many influences that she encountered to help her work. Her painting How Mali Lost Her Accent is especially significant to me because it shows much about the immigrant experience in the United States. The United States is usually seen as a giant melting pot where everyone who enters is automatically expected to assimilate to American culture or else be persecuted for it. American society is well-known for this, as many immigrants find it necessary to either attempt to shed their historical cultural identities because it makes it so much easier to succeed in the United States. Pacita’s work questions this way of doing things by showing that even though she was educated in the United States, she is able to incorporate countless different cultures into her art. This idea of multiculturalism is significant because it is a different way of doing things than most Americans were brought up to believe. Many of Pacita’s works show how difficult it is for immigrants to attempt to keep some of their historical culture, while still fitting in with the other members of society. Pacita also did not limit this to her own culture, as her travels allowed for her to be opened up to many different cultures, while still maintaining her own cultural identity.
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The painting How Mali Lost Her Accent, and other works by Pacita, has made a significant difference in my life because they reflect much of how I am feeling. When I came to this country, I did not know much about American culture, other than what I had seen on television or read about in magazines, so I did not know what to expect. What this work shows me is that despite this, I will be given the opportunity to succeed in this country, while still maintaining some of my own cultural values. Since the United States is often looked upon as a melting pot society, I did not know if I would have to give up on my own culture in order to be accepted into American society, even though “no other place in the world has such a diverse population“ (Millet). I wished to be accepted into a major American university and this painting shows me that this is possible, even if I am still not entirely familiar with American culture. I can still dream big because I can achieve all of the things that I want to in this country as long as I have the confidence in myself that I will be able to make it happen. Pacita Abad has shown me that despite all the differences that I possess from other members of American society, I can still be successful in the future without giving up all of my historical cultural values, as I still respect and value my history. When I first came here, all I could focus on were the differences that I could see between myself and other members of society. It has taken some time, but I have realized that these differences are not going to prevent me from succeeding because many different people from different cultures succeed here all the time. It will be my work ethic that will decide whether I succeed or fail, and I believe in myself enough to know that I will always work hard enough to succeed.
My first experience in America could have been the one that made me give up for good. I was visiting the country for the first time and knew very little about what the country was actually like. My English was still developing and no one else who was traveling with me could speak English at all. Trying to communicate with people at airports, in taxis, at hotels, and at restaurants was very traumatic because despite my best efforts, I did not have the vocabulary to express myself effectively. Added to this problem was the fact that most Americans are not very accommodating towards those who do not speak proper English. I was looked up as being less intelligent as everyone else, simply because I spoke a different language than them. I was treated very rudely in a variety of different places and this hurt me greatly because I have always prided myself on being a good person because you will usually be treated well by people if you are nice to them. This did not happen on my first visit to America and it caused me a lot of hardship. I was stuck focusing on the differences that I saw, as was everyone else around me. All they could see was that I spoke differently than them, and they judged me based on this. When I decided to make America my permanent home, I was terrified. My English had improved significantly, but I was still left with the memory of how I had been treated in the past. I still saw so many differences between myself and Americans and I know that they saw these same differences and were judging me because of them. Even today, I can sometimes see these differences and I wonder if I can say that I truly belong here, but when I look at that painting by Pacita Abad, I realize that I can succeed despite these differences and without having to give up my own culture to become completely assimilated into American culture. I do value American culture, but I also wish to keep some of my own and Pacita Abad has shown me that this is possible.
My life in the United States is much different from many Americans, but also very similar to that of many immigrants, as it is believed that “that this country can transform people of every color and background into ‘one America'” (Booth). The differences between cultures will always be present, but this does not mean that immigrants will not be able to succeed. Coming from another country, especially when coming with an open mind, can create a great situation for an immigrant. I am proof that once we get by the differences that we may have from others, that we can all achieve our goals in life and be successful.
Booth, William. “One Nation, Indivisible?”. The Washington Post. 22 Feb. 1998. Viewed 1 August 2006. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/national/longterm/meltingpot/melt0222.htm
Millet, Joyce. “Understanding American Culture: From Melting Pot to Salad Bowl”. Cultural Savvy. 2000. Viewed 1 August 2006. http://www.culturalsavvy.com/understanding_american_culture_2.htm
“Pacita Abad”. About Pacita. viewed 1 August 2006. http://www.pacitaabad.com/aboutf.asp
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