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A complete guide to writing a reflective essay

What Can You Write About in a Reflective Essay?

❶Going to the beach, mountain, or other place in nature.

What Is a Reflective Essay?

How to Write a Reflective Essay


A reflection paper is somewhat personal in that it includes your subjective feelings and opinions. Instead of revealing everything about yourself, carefully ask yourself if something is appropriate before including it in your paper.

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.

Maintain a professional or academic tone. A reflection paper is personal and objective, but you should still keep your thoughts organized and sensible. 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.

Avoid slang and always use correct spelling and grammar. Do not treat it as a personal journal entry. Check and double-check your spelling and grammar after you finish your paper.

Review your reflection paper at the sentence level. A clear, well-written paper must have clear, well-written sentences. Keep your sentences focused. Avoid squeezing multiple ideas into one sentence.

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. Transitional phrases shift the argument and introduce specific details. They also allow you to illustrate how one experience or detail directly links to a conclusion or understanding.

Common transitional phrases include "for example," "for instance," "as a result," "an opposite view is," and "a different perspective is. Relate relevant classroom information to the experience or reading. You can incorporate information you learned in the classroom with information addressed by the reading, lecture, or experience.

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.

Part 3 Quiz What is an example of something you should include in your writing? The first-person point of view. How do I write a reflective essay without using the personal article "I"? You can use "one" instead.

For example, "One might say Not Helpful 17 Helpful Think of your answers to the following questions: Do you like dolphins? How have dolphins changed your life? Do dolphins help you with everyday tasks? If you were a dolphin for a day, what would you do? These are the tough questions that you need to ask in order to start writing your paper.

Not Helpful 35 Helpful It can have as many paragraphs as you see fit, but there is usually at least an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. It depends on what your instructor outlines as an expectation. Usually this will be outlined in the assignment if the answer is 'yes".

Not Helpful 28 Helpful If I have five questions to answer in a reflection paper, should I have a title in bold for each question and my reflection below them? Not Helpful 20 Helpful List all of the qualities a leader needs, and then write how each of those leadership roles applies to you.

Not Helpful 22 Helpful Once could start with a statement or question: Not Helpful 14 Helpful If you are writing it on a film and a piece of writing, compare and contrast the two. A reflection paper is your personal opinions; write about what you thought of the two - whether you liked or disliked them. Write about how they affected you in any way. Not Helpful 16 Helpful A cover sheet and title page are only required for a reflection paper if you were explicitly told to include them.

Otherwise, they are not necessary. Not Helpful 4 Helpful Unless the assignment's instructions specifically states that it does, probably not, but people are always impressed by a catchy title, so you should try to come up with something. Not Helpful 13 Helpful What are some ideas for doing a reflective paper about African studies?

Answer this question Flag as How can I write a reflection on a piece of reading I have read? How do I write a reflection paper about legends such as "How the world was made"? How do I write a reflection paper on nursing intervention in health setting? How can I write a reflection essay about growing up being black?

Include your email address to get a message when this question is answered. Already answered Not a question Bad question Other. Quick Summary 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.

Did this summary help you? Article Info Featured Article Categories: Featured Articles Essays In other languages: Thanks to all authors for creating a page that has been read 2,, times. Did this article help you?

Cookies make wikiHow better. By continuing to use our site, you agree to our cookie policy. PT Pan Tsun Jun A Anonymous May 4. SC Stella Cheboi Jul 22, It gives you clear, self-explained examples that will get you going. English is my 2nd language, so having the structure to follow is very helpful because it shows a "blueprint" that, if followed, gives you great results.

Thank you very much. This helped me get ideas going in my paper that led me to have a rough drafts by the end of reading all of the steps. This information is extremely important as I embark on my journey of reflective writing for my foundation course. EB Elizabeth Blake May 26, Yours were very helpful, thanks! When I showed this to my son, he started to write his essay, and it turned out amazing. A Anonymous Oct 25, SM Shirley Mitchell Jan 31, I had no idea where to start.

This info has helped tremendously. AO Abraham Okoiti Sep 22, I believe I'm good to go. Sarwar Sep 17, I have got a clear idea from here. JW Jackson Wayne Jul 21, O Oana Mar 8, A Anonymous Jul 9, Thanks for your sharing. It helps me much to do my assignment of MA course in Cambodia.

I am one of graduated students here are really need more documents in this our developing country. I'm so glad that my essay helped you. Keep up with your writing. The most important thing is to practice doing some writing every day! Virginia, my name is Amanda and I am 15 years old. Thank you so much for these advantageous information, and your sample essay?!

It was really amazing!!! Hi Ginny--I'm so glad to hear of your teaching to seniors, and especially the fact that you are teaching them reflective writing. I've also called it personal or memory writing when I've taught it in the past. I think for seniors this sort of writing is so valuable because it allows them to gather memories and reflect on the meaning of events in their lives. What a legacy for them to leave for the younger members of their family.

My mom just passed away this week and she was not a writer, but my cousin and I got together with her a couple of months ago and they talked together while I wrote down what they said. That sort of memory writing is a wonderful legacy for grandchildren. Please remind your seniors that even though children and grandchildren may not be interested in hearing about memories, there will be a time in their lives when they need that strength and the lessons from the family past.

I have taught writing in elementary school for at least 18 years and now that I am retired I have been asked to teach a group of seniors about writing. The reflective writing is one I have done but never called it that. Thanks for all the clear cut ideas to help me be successful teaching it to this new group. I feel sure they will have so much to say! Thanks for taking the time to let me know that my work is helping homeschoolers. I have many friends who homeschool and they are often concerned about teaching writing correctly.

That is one of the reasons I've posted my personal instructions for my own college students. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. I am a home school mum and this will really help my son with writing a reflective essay.

Thank you so very much! Deliberately well explanation of the term "Reflective Essay" with many good points to be induced in the writing, like feelings, observations etc. I will try to write a reflective essay and for sure, try my best to adopt your instructions. I love teaching Reflective Essays because it helps my students to understand that writing can be personally meaningful. Many of my students are at turning points in their lives and thinking about lots of important decisions.

I teach them that writing down their thoughts and feelings often helps them to clarify what they are thinking. Virginia, congrats on HOTD! I never heard of reflective essays before. This is so interesting and useful for those to explore your own emotions in expressive writing on your ideas, hopes and dreams.

Awesome hub dealing with the many salient features, uses and importance of reflective essays in day-to-day life of so many fields of people. It is very useful and informative. Thanks for sharing this valuable information and congrats on the HOTD award.

This is very useful and valuable to teachers and students. I only wish I had this guide when I was in high school. Some great advice here for writing a reflective essay. This will really help my daughter with her essay writing skills. Voted up and useful. Grand Old Lady-you are so write that teaching can be very tough in the trenches. A lot of it depends on the students you are teaching and the attitude of the administration. I am very fortunate to teach at a wonderful Christian University with many inspiring students.

You gave some very helpful tips and prompts on reflective writing. I also loved the video. It reminded me of my own teaching days and helped me to re-connect with the idea that teaching is a noble profession.

It's oh, so true but when you get into the daily battle of it, it can be so easily be forgotten. Other product and company names shown may be trademarks of their respective owners. HubPages and Hubbers authors may earn revenue on this page based on affiliate relationships and advertisements with partners including Amazon, Google, and others. To provide a better website experience, owlcation. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: What Is a Reflective Essay? The most common subjects covered in a reflective essay include the following. A real experience Something you imagined A place or a special object Something you've read, watched, seen, touched, tasted, smelled, or heard.

Topic Ideas for a Reflective Essay The above subjects might have already sparked an idea of what you would like to write about. Places You've Been The beach, mountains, countryside, or desert A special hideaway or special room The house you grew up in A relative's home Life-Altering Events A special date Failing or succeeding at something A time you learned something new A new experience A time you overcame one of your fears An important memory A significant conversation Recurring or Significant Thoughts A dream or daydream A conversation you wish you had or something you wish you had done A story you've told about yourself An embarrassing moment The person you'd like to be A strong emotion Impactful Experiences A book, movie, T.

Introductory Paragraph Your first paragraph should be an introduction in which you identify the subject and give the reader a general overview of the impression it made on you. Your introductory paragraph should also included a thesis statement that will serve as the focal point of your paper. I realized it was because the beach had always been a place of rest to me. Then, write about why. This is a reflective essay, which means you can speculate.

There are no right or wrong answers in this type of essay. In the second body paragraph, write about the second reason your subject made the impression on you that it did. In the third body paragraph, write about the third reason your subject made the impression on you that it did. Conclusion Recap your thesis statement and the reasons you provided in the body of your essay.

Sum up your article with some final thoughts on your subject, and some closing reflective thoughts. Now, I want to find a way to help Rhonda have a day off of her own, and I'm hoping someday we can take a trip to the beach together. Choose a Topic Idea If you haven't been assigned a topic and don't have a topic in mind, check the list of topics above for inspiration. Study Your Subject Depending on your topic, you may need to close your eyes and remember, read, watch, listen, or imagine.

Brainstorm Write down everything you can think about your subject. Pick Reflection Questions Read through the list of reflection questions below and select at least three you want to answer.

How did I feel about this? Why did it make me feel this way? How was my experience of this unique to me? How did others who were there experience it differently?

How has this changed me? What might I have done differently? What is the meaning of this event in my life? How is this similar to something else that I've experienced? How can I use this to help someone else?

How does this event relate to the rest of my life? How is this typical in my life? Was this a good or a bad thing for me? How did this experience foretell things that would happen later?

Was my experience the same as someone else's or different? What skills did I learn? How can I apply what I learned to my life? How can I apply this experience to my studies? How can this help me in my career? What about this experience challenged me socially?

In what way did this expand my understanding of my own culture? How was this emotionally important? How did this experience relate to my understanding of theology, God or religion? What questions did this experience make me have?

How has this changed the way I think? How has this made me realize someone else was right? How was this unexpected? Or how did this fulfill my expectations? Would I want to repeat this experience? Would this experience be the same if I did it again? How did this affect me and why? Why did I have the reaction I did to this? Answer the Questions You Selected Read your questions, then answer them.

Example What did I notice? Couples walked hand in hand. Parents played in the sand with their children. I saw the holes in the sand where I knew sand crabs were scrambling to hide. I noticed the cool wind on my face and the homes right up against the sand.

I'm usually too busy helping her or spending time with relatives. This trip, however, a friend of mine named Rhonda, who is also a caregiver to her mother, told me to go to visit the beach for her. As a native Texan, Rhonda has only gotten to visit the beaches in California a few times. So today, I w ent to the beach for Rhonda.

I smelled the beach air and walked along all by myself and took an hour to not think about responsibilities to others. Then I wrote "For Rhonda" in the sand and took a picture of it. When I went through the struggles of growing up, I remember feeling soothed by the waves. They always seemed to keep on going.

That reminded me to not give up. To know that there is always something to look forward to ahead. To remember that laughter and tears are both a part of everyone's life.

To me, the waves reminded me to have faith in a God who is in control of everything and has a bigger purpose for me than I can imagine. Identify the Meaning of Your Experience Before you can begin writing your essay, you need to decide what is the most important thing you learned from this experience. Sample Essay If you'd like to see the final essay I've written using the pre-writing exercises I've done for this essay, take a look at my Reflective Essay Sample on a Visit to the Beach.

What Is the Purpose of a Reflective Essay? Literary This type of essay asks you to summarize and then respond to a piece of literature in order to understand it better and relate it to your own life and experiences. Professional Teachers, doctors, and social workers often use this type of writing in their training. Medical students write about patients they see.

They can use this essay type to carefully describe the patient and the thoughts they have as they determine the correct treatment. They can reflect on how well they interacted with the patient, and draw conclusions on what worked and what didn't so that they can better interact with patients. Doctors can use reflective essays to fine-tune their ability to provide effective health care in a caring manner that makes patients not only believe them, but also follow their advice. They can reflect on how well their body language, words, and tone of voice convinced the patient to make good lifestyle choices, or how well they helped a patient deal with difficult medical information.

Nurses and medical assistants write about their care of patients. By thinking back on different cases and their own responses to patient requests, nurses can better understand how they can help patients deal with pain, stress, and illness. This sort of writing can also help nurses deal with the stress of the emotions they must handle from both doctors and patients, and help them understand their role in helping both.

Teachers benefit from writing about experiences in teaching, and doing case studies of difficult students. By reviewing their emotions about their teaching and examining patterns of what worked and did not work, teachers can better plan their lessons and solve problems with student learning and behavior.

Social workers can use this kind of paper to help them analyze the environment and problems of their clients. They can also encourage their clients to write out their experiences in order to help them see the causes and effects of their behavior and circumstances, as well as to see ways they can change. Business people use this type of written assignment to analyze their interactions in a business setting, and to help them envision how they can better present their service or product to customers.

Educational Sometimes instructors will ask students to respond to a lecture or other school assignment so that they can show what they understand. Personal Growth This kind of writing can help you learn how to understand and analyze your own life experiences. Reflective Essay Question What experience is most meaningful for you?

Going to the beach, mountain, or other place in nature. Spending time talking with a friend. Having someone notice something you've done. You should always have a What did I learn? How did this change me?

What would I do differently? What do I regret? How has this made me the person I am today? You can use these sentence starters:


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Sample Reflective Essays Below we offer two examples of thoughtful reflective essays that effectively and substantively capture the author's growth over time at California State University Channel Islands (CI).

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Reflective essays should have a clear introduction, body and conclusion in order to share the past events and how those events created change in the writer. A few examples of reflective essays are Notes of a Native Son and Looking at Women.

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How to write a reflective essay 1. How to write a reflective essay 2. Learning outcomes1. Plan a reflective essay appropriately2. Identify an effective way of writing the introduction3. Recognise the structure of body paragraphs to support the introduction4. Produce an effective conclusion5. May 19,  · What makes an essay reflective is that the writer is analyzing a past event from the present. Reflective essays require the writer to open up about their thoughts and emotions in order to paint a true picture of Reviews:

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We suggest that you write your own essay before reading either of these models-then, having completed your first draft, read these over to consider areas in your own background that you have not yet addressed and which may be relevant to your growth as a reader, writer, or thinker. The format of a reflective essay may change depending on the target audience. Reflective essays can be academic, or may feature more broadly as a part of a general piece of writing for a magazine, for instance.