How to Write a Reflection Paper
A reflective paper can be seen as probably the easiest of all writing tasks because it is essentially about your thoughts and opinions. You may research a bit and add a quote or two, but mostly the paper present what you think and feel. A paper may relate to course materials, a movie or a book, or a discussion conducted in class. So everything you need to know on the matter is already in your head, and you just need to organize your ideas properly.
However, even a reflective essay needs some previous thinking and planning. Besides, reflection is not just recounting of random thoughts. It is analyzing and correlating experiences and their application, or understanding implications of some material when taken in a specific context. Here's a tip of our writing pros: implications that you can locate are particularly important in social and cultural studies. So how one goes about organizing and presenting personal thoughts in a way that will be appreciated by an instructor? There are several stages of writing that will lead you to creating a successful reflective paper in a comparatively short time.
1) Write down everything you want to say, even if just in bullet point form.
2) Look at your thoughts and ask yourself 'so what?' It will help you go beyond the surface of events or experiences and understand how you can apply them or what they mean in general, or in relation to some specific ideas that you have learnt. This is what's called analysis.
3) Highlight main points that will constitute paragraphs. Three or four of them will be enough. Other ideas will be organized around them, because usually a diversity of ideas you have are spinoffs of these main points. Ability to locate main points and stick to them while discussing something is a valuable skill, indeed.
4) When drafting a paper, write a couple of introductory sentences summarizing the area to be discussed and a thesis (your overall idea about the topic that you will elaborate).
5) As mentioned, develop paragraphs around the highlighted points. It will keep you on the track and will not let you get lost in unrelated mumbling. In each paragraph, provide evidence that supports the topic sentence and YOUR take on it, i.e. how you interpret it. In this sense rules how to write a reflection essay are similar to general rules of writing good coherent paragraphs.
6) Provide a conclusion. It will restate what you have said and seal the stream of ideas in a nice way. Very often students make a mistake of introducing new ideas in a conclusion section. This is an improper way to write it. Personal conclusions, suggestions, implications for further research or calls for actions are to be included into a body of reflection essay. A conclusion will only take a sentence or two and will indicate that you have said everything you wanted.
7) Proofreading. Writing a reflective essay requires the same level of academic accuracy and correctness as any other piece of writing. Say no to grammar flaws, typos, incomplete sentences and other blunders that irritate instructors. Polish your paper, read it once again to see if you said what you wanted to say and then go about your business with no shadows on your mind. Good luck!