Do you want to know how to craft a reflection paper? Writing a reflection paper is often mistaken as an act of summarizing one’s thoughts or points on a topic. However, in fact, it is much more than that. This assignment tests a student’s critical skills and analyzes how well they express their opinion.
The task usually requires the students to reflect on a documentary, a movie, a text, their own experience, or anything else. The list is endless, and they can be assigned anything. Please remember that the tone of reflection papers should be academic yet they must also be personal and subjective.
You are required to analyze and reflect on how an experience, academic task, article, or lecture affected your thoughts on a subject in this type of writing. This article will explain how to write a reflection paper and guide you through the process step by step.
What is a reflection paper?
A reflection paper is one of the types of academic writing where students must offer their opinions/perspectives on a topic or subject. They must back those opinions with observations and personal anecdotes.
Students are encouraged to apply theoretical knowledge gained in class along with their personal experiences to compose a reflection paper. Furthermore, working on this assignment pushes you to examine your sentiments and attitudes concerning the subject. It teaches you how to put theory into practice.
Overall, this essay gives you the opportunity to express yourself. It is YOUR show all the way. Thus, it is your responsibility to present it in an understandable and straightforward way to any and all readers who will read your paper.
To conclude, reflection is the outcome of your learning experience. It results in intense thinking that demonstrates your capacity to observe, question, assess, and apply personal experiences to subject interpretation.
Are you still confused about reflective writing? Well, we hope to clear your doubts with the help of the small table given below:
A comparison to understand what reflection writing entails
Reflective writing is:
- An occasion (opportunity) to show off your critical thinking abilities.
- An examination of your feelings, thoughts, ideas, and attitudes.
- A chance to dig deeper into the subject/topic.
Reflective writing is not:
- A summary of your knowledge or expertise or description of facts.
- Arguments and judgments on a topic.
Types of Reflection paper
There are three types of reflection papers that you can work on. They are educational, professional, and personal. Each of these types varies slightly and has a different tone.
Educational reflective paper:
It is usually an opinion or feedback on some film, book, documentary, seminar, or lecture studied in class.
Professional reflective paper:
It is typically authored by those who study or work in education or psychology. For example, the essay can be a reflection of someone’s actions.
Personal reflective paper:
This type of reflection paper explores the writer’s thoughts and feelings on a personal subject.
Reflection paper format
There is no standard format for reflection papers. Professors usually let you treat them any way you want because it is your view. It is essential to write your thoughts openly, without any guidelines.
If your professor assigned you a reflection paper, the format of your work might be determined by the criteria specified by your professor. College reflection papers (also known as reflection essays) often range in length from 400 to 800 words.
However, you can follow the below basic format to write your essay.
- Use a standard A4 paper
- Keep a 1-inch margin on both sides
- Use a 12-point font size
- Indent the first word in every paragraph
- Select Arial, Times New Roma, Calibri, Helvetica, etc., as your font style
- Maintain double spaces between the lines.
- Follow the citation guidelines issued by your teacher (APA, Chicago style, etc.
- Let the word count be between 250 and 750
How to start a reflection paper?
Any type of writing starts with reading and brainstorming. To begin a reflection paper, start with the topic itself. You must introduce the issue and explain what the paper or reflection is about.
Writing a reflection paper is no different from other writing assignments. Whether you are reflecting on a movie, book, newspaper, documentary, seminar, or anything else, go through it thoroughly to form your ideas.
Consider you are given an article to reflect upon. Here’s how you can start your paper:
- Read the article thoroughly
- Brainstorm to form credible ideas (more on this in the below section)
- Make notes while reading it
- Highlight all essential ideas and key points
- Draft an outline
- Start writing your paper by summarizing the main points of your notes
- Add figures/diagrams, charts, and lists where it is necessary
To help you further, here’s a simple brainstorming technique that you can employ for reflective writing. Simply answer the questions below to get some great ideas:
- How did you feel about the article?
- How does this article pique the reader’s interest (or does it at all)?
- Has the article influenced your decision in any way? If so, please explain how.
- Do you have any queries about the article?
- Were there any significant concerns that went neglected in the article?
- Does the article remind you of anything you’ve read before?
- Is the article consistent with your previous reading experiences?
How to write a reflection paper outline?
To write an outline for your reflection paper, you need to understand the structure of the paper. That’s because it helps organize the thoughts and ideas in a structured way so that no crucial point is missed.
A reflection paper has a very simple structure – introduction, main body, and conclusion. Each of these parts is used to arrange your ideas in a logical order that helps your reader understand your opinion.
This is the first and foremost section of your paper where you introduce what you are reflecting upon. You must include a thesis statement that encapsulates your main idea here.
- Describe what your analysis is about (a passage, a lecture, an academic piece, an experience, etc…)
- Summarize the work briefly
- Create a thesis statement that describes how the subject has affected you
- Your writing should have an academic tone
- Always put forward your ideas without sounding overly sentimental
- Provide insight to the readers on what to expect in the paper
- Sum up the main argument/idea in one strong sentence
- Keep your introduction brief, catchy, and informative
- You may include a reflective question
For example, you can start your introduction as given below:
“After reading Hamlet (name of your chosen subject), I gained immense knowledge….”
The body paragraphs should investigate your ideas and experiences in relation to your topic.
- Ensure that each new body paragraph begins with a topic sentence.
- You may include quotes or passages if you are reflecting upon a book or academic article
- Explore and support your thesis statement in this section
- Use a three-paragraph format (you may expand if required)
For instance, explain your experience with the subject and its influence on you in the first paragraph. Next, compare the experience of others. Finally, please describe what you learned from it.
- You can begin by explaining why you chose the topic
- Investigate nuances to explain everything fully
- Be rational
- Include solid examples and citations
- Describe how the topic has touched you
“I saw a large number of people taking part in our experiment. The atmosphere was both tense and inspiring. The event’s excitement astounded me.”
You should offer a summary of what you learned from the subject. Tell the reader how your newfound information has influenced your overall grasp of the subject. Describe how you felt and what you learned as a result of the reading.
- Connect all of the ideas written in your body paragraphs and give a generalized explanation about the primary insights you’ve gained
- Restate your thesis and summarize your paper’s content
- Conclude the topic using a solid tone that leaves an impact
- Leave a plausible image of your experience so that people might reflect
- Emphasize the main points.
- Sound persuasive and effective
- Answer what you asked in the intro (if a question was included)
Steps on How to write a reflection paper
There are two methods for writing a reflection paper: traditional and original. The traditional method is nothing but the usual college essay format.
1) Traditional – You express the main idea in a thesis statement in this method. Next, you develop it in body paragraphs with supporting arguments and summarize data by reinforcing the thesis statement.
2) Original – In the second method, you begin a discourse about the topic and hint at a conclusion. Consider where the matter will lead, but give some room for skepticism. Provide your analysis in the body. Create a conclusion that is wholly or slightly different from what you intended at the start.
Generally, the second method is said to be a little tricky compared to the first method. However, a student is free to select any method if not specified by the instructor.
Here are some simple tips that you can follow to write a reflective paper:
Review the material:
The first to writing starts with reading or reviewing the subject. Whether it is a movie, book, or anything else, you have to go through your subject of reflection to gain a deep understanding. Furthermore, analyze the material to form an opinion on it.
Establish the central theme:
Give a brief yet clear description of your learnings from your encounter with the subject. Explain how you feel about your topic to your readers and be completely honest about it. Choosing a theme is critical since it drives your argument and tone of writing. It also aids in the organization of your paper.
You can establish a theme by identifying common points or conclusions in your analysis and jotting down arguments that sparked powerful feelings in you. Make your readers relate to your points and perspective, which will help them grasp your reflection better.
Brainstorm ideas and experiences:
Write down whatever you can relate to, especially quotes and things that influenced you the most. Remember that it is all about your personal opinion, and there are no right or wrong points. So, just explain how you felt in simple words. Examine how and why these thoughts and experiences impacted your view of the theme.
Connect your thoughts and observations to create a unified picture of your theme. You might also try to identify and dissect your preconceptions. To create and prepare the paragraph sequence of your article, you might make connections between your points.
These links may enable you to create a complete outline that connects your viewpoints to the arguments presented in the article. It can sketch out your thoughts, opinions, and queries on the topic of your reflection paper. You can use this framework to connect your ideas and better understand your arguments.
Draft an outline:
With the help of your ideas, notions, and connections, craft an outline for your paper. As mentioned before, an outline will comprise the usual 3 parts – introduction, body, and conclusion.
Add the objective and topic of your paper in your introduction paragraph. And in the body section, examine the thesis statement and include supporting arguments, references, and examples. Finally, summarize the concepts and arguments presented in your paper in your conclusion.
You can explain what you discovered as a result of your essay or experience analysis or simply restate and highlight your thesis statement.
Develop your paper and proofread it:
Write your paper using the outline. Once you are done with the paper, proofread it several times before submitting it. Make sure to correct any grammatical or factual errors. If the document contains specific guidelines, ensure that you have followed them.
These are the steps that you can follow to write an excellent reflective essay.
Reflection Paper Writing Tips
Everyone has their unique and individual style of writing a reflective essay. However, there are some guidelines that everyone should follow to write a good reflective essay:
- Never compose the entire essay all at once. Schedule your time slots for working on your reflection paper at least a day apart. This will enable your mind to produce fresh ideas and reflections.
- Keep your essay short and sweet without going overboard with your explanation. It is better to keep the words between 250 – 750. Always include only relevant information.
- Maintain a professional tone throughout your paper. Although your opinions are personal, ensure your writing is academic in nature.
- Make your paper as concise and straightforward as possible. Use a solid thesis to set the tone for the rest of your essay.
- Quote from credible sources to back up your opinions and thoughts.
- Not only should you proofread for spelling and grammatical issues, but you should also check the organization of your essay.
- Ensure that you are answering the questions posed in the intro section.
- Follow appropriate formatting and citation guidelines, whether it is APA, MLA, or Chicago.
To conclude, a reflection paper is basically about your reflection on a specific topic/subject. What matters the most is your opinion and how you present it. While some may think it is just summarizing, it is not just that in reality. You can pursue the steps and tips given in this post to compose your reflection essay effortlessly without error.