Reflective Essay Guide

Writing Reflective Essay

Last updated on: Feb 9, 2023

A Step by Step Guide to Writing a Reflective Essay

By: John K.

Reviewed By: Jacklyn H.

Published on: May 11, 2021

Reflective Essay

If you have been assigned the task of writing a reflective essay, it will be an excellent opportunity to polish your creativity and writing skills.

A reflective essay is slightly different from other essays as it requires a personal point of view of a chosen subject. Thus, you need to analyze a particular subject with your personal experience, understanding, and knowledge.

The only key to write a reflective paper is that you need to be more expressive. The more expressive you are, the merrier it will be for your essay. Feel free to talk about life experiences that are valid to your topic. Writing your reflections can actually be a strength in this kind of essay.

If this sounds like something that interests or concerns you, then keep reading! This blog contains every detail necessary to produce an impressive reflective essay.

Reflective Essay

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What Is a Reflective Essay?

A reflective essay describes an experience or event and analyzes the meaning of that particular experience and the lessons it delivers. One thing that makes it a reflective essay is that the writer analyzes an event of the past from the present.

When writing a reflective essay, you are required to open up about your emotions and thoughts to paint a clear picture of your personality, history, and individual traits.

It is required that you include a description and a vivid summary of the experience; it will make the reader feel that he has experienced it as well. Moreover, you need to explain your reactions, thoughts, feelings, and emotions.

A good reflective paper should be creative, insightful, and authentic. It needs to express your opinions on a specific topic interestingly so that the reader wants to follow what you're saying without getting bored or leaving it before reading.

Reflective Essay Format


How to Start a Reflective Essay?

Writing a great reflective essay is a chance to polish your skills of writing and enhance your creativity. However, sometimes, it gets difficult and confusing to write it. There are many high schools as well as college students who get confused thinking where to start.

So, we have compiled some steps that will help you to write a perfect essay.

Let’s discuss them in detail.

1. Choose Your Topic Carefully

If you are given the freedom to choose a topic and don’t have any idea regarding it, the best way is to brainstorm and research some trending and good topic ideas. Unfortunately, a common mistake when writing a reflective essay is to choose a topic that is too broad or too narrow.

2. Research About Your Subject

Make sure you do thorough research on your topic first. Close your eyes and start imagining or remembering. Then, watch, listen, and read the information regarding your topic.

3. Brainstorm

Before you even start writing, brainstorm your ideas first. It is always a wise step to take before writing anything.

4. Choose Reflection Questions

Take a look at the questions below to get a better idea:

  • What did I notice?
  • What do I feel about it?
  • Why am I feeling this way?

5. Answer the Questions You Have Chosen

After selecting your questions, you need to give their answers. Start from one essay question; make sure you answer it properly. After that, head on to the next one.

6. Recognize Your Experience Meaning

Before you even start writing, you need to choose the most significant lesson you have learned from your experience. This “most significant lesson or thing” is going to be the thesis of your essay.

7. Follow the Structure

Like all the other essays, the reflective essay also has the same format, which comprises the introduction, body, and conclusion paragraph.

Therefore, follow these steps and makes your essay writing process easy.

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How to Write a Reflective Essay?

Here are some steps that you should follow when you start writing your reflective paper.

1. Write the Introduction

To understand and know how to start a reflective essay introduction, you must first understand that an introduction is a piece of brief information about the main topic and its background.

In the reflective essay introduction, you will recognize the subject and provide the reader with an overview of the impression you have taken from it. Therefore, the introductory paragraph of your reflective essay needs to include a thesis statement that will act as a focal point of your paper.

2. Body Paragraphs

The first body paragraph should mention the impactful impression your subject has made on you. Then, provide relevant facts to support your thesis statement.

Moreover, the body of your essay will also describe most of the ideas you touched on in your introduction.

3. Write a Conclusion

Restate your thesis statement and summarize all the reasons you have mentioned in the essay’s body paragraphs. After that, sum up your essay with your final thoughts on the subject; close your essay with some reflective thoughts.

4. Proofread and Edit

Never submit your essay without editing or proofreading. Even though you have spent hours of effort and put a lot of hard work in doing your essay, your essay will have no worth if you haven’t proofread and edited it.

Here is the reflective essay outline sample for your ease.

Reflective Essay Outline


Reflective Essay Examples

We have compiled some perfect reflective essay examples below to help you get started on your paper.

Personal Reflective Essay Examples



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Reflective Essay Topics

Check out these reflective essay ideas on the most common subjects you can write about:

  • Something from your imagination
  • Something you have experienced in real
  • A special object
  • Something you have seen, heard, read, watched, touched, or smelled.

We are sure these subjects must have sparked your imagination, but here are a few essay topics that will help you get the bigger picture. In addition, these topics will help you understand the kind of topics teachers like to assign.

  • The desert, mountains, countryside, or beach
  • A special room or hideaway
  • The house you grew up
  • Home of some relative
  • A person that taught me how to improve reflective writing skills
  • New Experiences
  • When your piece of writing published
  • Important conversation
  • The older man line of thought
  • The time you overcame your fears

A list of topics will help you get a picture of what good ideas are like and how to come up with one of your own. is the best essay writing service online with exceptional quality work and insanely affordable rates. In addition, our round-the-clock customer support is ready to help you out with your academic growth.

Your essays are assigned to highly qualified essay writers who have years of experience and education. They make sure to provide you with mind-blowing, error-free, and on-time essays. They don’t just cater to the reflective essay but help with all types of essays.

So, contact us now and get the best write my essay for me? service at affordable rates.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long is a reflective essay.

The reflective essay should be between 300 and 500 words. However, it will vary according to the chosen topic.

What is the purpose of a reflective essay?

A reflective essay is a great opportunity for the author to explore what has happened in their life and show how this specific event may have changed them.

John K.

PhD Essay, Literature

John K. is a professional writer and author with many publications to his name. He has a Ph.D. in the field of management sciences, making him an expert on the subject matter. John is highly sought after for his insights and knowledge, and he regularly delivers keynote speeches and conducts workshops on various topics related to writing and publishing. He is also a regular contributor to various online publications.

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A Simple Guide to Reflective Writing

A Simple Guide to Reflective Writing

  • 5-minute read
  • 23rd May 2023

Reflective writing is the process of describing something you’ve experienced, evaluating its meaning, figuring out if you’ve learned anything from the experience, and then working out how the process can be beneficial.

Many people don’t know how to write reflectively or what’s required in the process.

This post will explain what reflective writing is. We will then show you how to organize and structure your own reflective writing in a simple and straightforward manner.

What Is Reflective Writing?

It’s a common belief that we can break down thinking into two processes: reflective and critical . The former can be part of the latter, but it’s more personal.

Reflective thinking, or a reflection, is a learning process that involves your own personal analyses of and responses to new situations, experiences, data, or events. There is no right or wrong way to think reflectively – it’s more about exploring different ideas and questions.

Reflective writing is a way to reach a deeper level of understanding on a given topic. Writing something down can help you analyze it.

Here are some common elements of reflective writing:

●  Analytical

●  Subjective (thoughts/opinions)

●  Free-flowing

●  Written in the first person

And here are some examples:

●  A personal response to something new

●  Field notes, journals, logbooks, peer reviews , blogs, etc.

What Is Nonreflective Writing?

While the goal of reflective writing is to come to a deeper level of understanding about a given topic, the goal of other forms of writing is often to explain, argue, or describe something in detail.

These are some elements of nonreflective  writing:

●  Descriptive

●  Objective (instructions/arguments)

●  Structured formally

●  Written in the third person

Here are some examples:

●  An explanation or argument

●  Research papers, statistical reports, persuasive essays , formal reviews, news articles, etc.

How to Write Reflectively

Because reflective writing is subjective, its structure is usually less formal. While being logical is important, you can also be creative, hypothetical, and opinionated.

A few different formats can help show you how to organize your reflective writing, but we’ll focus on a popular four-step approach that we often refer to as the DIEP strategy :

1. Describe

You begin by simply describing everything that happened. This includes what you did, saw, heard, etc.

This description should be the shortest portion of your writing, but it should include all the details you think are relevant.

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2. Interpret

The next step is to consider what the experience meant to you. Here, you can explore how and why something happened.

Some useful questions to ask yourself during the interpretation stage are:

●  How do I feel?

●  Have I acquired any new insights?

●  How does this experience connect with what I already know/believe?

●  What hypotheses or conclusions can I form?

3. Evaluate

This is where you analyze how valuable the experience was and consider why it happened. You should make judgments that are connected to the observations you’ve previously described and interpreted.

Here are some important things to examine at this stage:

●  Focus on the most important things you’ve observed or learned.

●  Identify the significance of any hypotheses or conclusions you’ve formed.

●  Examine whether you’ve developed any new skills that you can apply in the future.

Finally, you need to figure out what you’ll do with what you’ve learned and how you’ll do it. Come up with a plan to make any newly discovered information useful to yourself.

A few good questions to answer are:

●  Will my future behavior change based on what I’ve learned or experienced?

●  Why will this change occur, or why won’t there be any change?

●  What will I do next?

●  Do I need to acquire or develop any new skills to enact my plan?

Although beginning a piece of reflective writing can seem daunting, if you follow the four steps we’ve outlined above, it shouldn’t be too difficult. Just remember that it’s all about your observations and what you have (or haven’t) learned from a given experience.

The format for reflective writing can often be less strict, but you still want your writing to be readable. Here are a few things you should make sure to do:

●  Write from your own perspective.

●  Clearly outline the context of what you’re reflecting on.

●  Make sure your writing is structured well, with a beginning, a middle, and an end.

●  Use an appropriate writing style and ensure correct grammar and punctuation.

What Can I Do If I Need Help?

If you’re not confident in your overall writing ability, don’t worry. A professional proofreader can check your grammar, spelling, and punctuation. They can identify and correct errors and provide you with valuable feedback to help you improve.

Great proofreaders are not hard to find. A simple way to do so is to visit Proofed’s online platform . You’ll get any document you submit to us returned within 24 hours.

We’ll even proofread your first document for free!

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Reflective essays

Reflective essays are academic essays; what makes an essay "good" will work for a reflective essay. What is different about a reflective essay is that the essay is about you and your thinking. However, you will need evidence from your course to back up your reflections.

You should structure a reflective essay as an essay, that is write to persuade your reader of your key reflections (or argument). The diagram above, details how to stucture your reflections through the essay. To find out more see the section on essay writing .

Business example

The following example comes from business. Thanks to Dr Colleen Hayes for the three samples.

Students were asked to write a reflective essay on their learning in the course by responding to the following question:

What key thing have you learned about corporate social responsibility in the course?

Example 1: Retelling

This writing is (1) descriptive/listing of content, not reflective and (2) not properly referenced (the definition of stakeholders is directly copied from Freeman in the lecture slides.

Example 2: Relating

This writing involves relating to personal experience and has some integration of course concepts (stakeholders).

Example 3: Reflecting

More reflective (forward-looking), better citation and integration of multiple course concepts, and reflection that links with personal experience.

An anthropology marking rubric

For this assessment, students were required to write a 1500-1800 word essay building on the themes of the course to address the question "We are all pirates". Attached under reference documents is the rubric used to mark the essay (thanks to Dr Caroline Schuster). Notice that it requires both the reflection (reflect, relate and retell) as well as the poor traditional requirements of an essay (Writing and organisation, Supporting claims with scholarly sources).

Reflective writing

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Reference Documents

  • Sample rubric from Anthropology (PDF, 243.24 KB)

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Reflective Writing Guide

A great deal of your time at university will be spent thinking; thinking about what people have said, what you have read, what you yourself are thinking and how your thinking has changed. It is generally believed that the thinking process involves two aspects: reflective thinking and critical thinking. They are not separate processes; rather, they are closely connected (Brookfield 1987).

instructions for writing a reflective essay

Figure 1: The Thinking Process (adapted from Mezirow 1990, Schon 1987, Brookfield 1987)

Reflective thinking

Reflection is: 

  • a form of personal response to experiences, situations, events or new information.
  • a 'processing' phase where thinking and learning take place.

There is neither a right nor a wrong way of reflective thinking, there are just questions to explore.

Figure 1 shows that the reflective thinking process starts with you. Before you can begin to assess the words and ideas of others, you need to pause and identify and examine your own thoughts.

Doing this involves revisiting your prior experience and knowledge of the topic you are exploring. It also involves considering how and why you think the way you do. The examination of your beliefs, values, attitudes and assumptions forms the foundation of your understanding. 

Reflective thinking demands that you recognise that you bring valuable knowledge to every experience. It helps you therefore to recognise and clarify the important connections between what you already know and what you are learning. It is a way of helping you to become an active, aware and critical learner.

What is reflective writing?

Reflective writing is:.

  • documenting your response to experiences, opinions, events or new information
  • communicating your response to thoughts and feelings
  • a way of exploring your learning
  • an opportunity to gain self-knowledge
  • a way to achieve clarity and better understanding of what you are learning
  • a chance to develop and reinforce writing skills
  • a way of making meaning out of what you study

Reflective writing is not:

  • just conveying information, instruction or argument
  • pure description, though there may be descriptive elements
  • straightforward decision or judgement, e.g. about whether something is right or wrong, good or bad
  • simple problem-solving
  • a summary of course notes
  • a standard university essay.

See next: How do I write reflectively?

Essay and assignment writing guide.

  • Essay writing basics
  • Essay and assignment planning
  • Answering assignment questions
  • Editing checklist
  • Writing a critical review
  • Annotated bibliography
  • How do I write reflectively?
  • Examples of reflective writing
  • ^ More support

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Good Reflective Essay Topics For Your Paper

Thought and reflection are a major part of our inner lives. Whenever we engage with art and literature or experience anything novel, we tend to reflect on it later.

What if we write our reflections down in a structured way? That is a reflective essay. 

Among various types of essays , reflective essays stand out for being the most personal form of writing. Reflective writing lets you explore your thoughts and experiences about something and gain profound insights into yourself and the world around you.

So how can you write a great reflective essay? Read on to understand reflective essays better with examples and get useful tips.

Arrow Down

  • 1. What is a Reflective Essay?
  • 2. How to Write a Reflective Essay?
  • 3. Reflective Essay Structure 
  • 4. Reflective Essay Examples
  • 5. Tips for Writing Better Reflective Essays
  • 6. Reflective Essay Topics

What is a Reflective Essay?

A reflective essay is a type of writing where a writer explores their thoughts, feelings, and observations about a personal experience. These essays are deeply subjective, personal, and introspective.

At its core, a reflective essay prompts you to answer the question: "How did a particular experience impact me?" Unlike narrative or descriptive writing, reflective essays are not just about recounting events. The goal is to analyze and interpret the event with your unique perspective and insights. 

In addition, reflective essays do not require you to provide external evidence or validation, nor do you have to argue or prove something. However, it's important to follow a structured approach that allows you to organize your thoughts and engage your readers. 

So what is that structured approach to writing a reflective essay? Read below.

How to Write a Reflective Essay?

Writing a reflective essay can become a lot easier if you follow a structured writing process. It allows you to effectively communicate your insights to your audience. 

Here is a step-by-step process to start a reflective essay:

Step 1: Brainstorm and Choose a Topic

Begin by brainstorming a specific event, experience, or topic to reflect upon. It could be a personal experience, a book you've read, a class you've taken, or a significant life event.

Here are some helpful tips for choosing a topic:

  • Think about your personal experiences and select a topic that resonates with you and offers room for reflection. 
  • Consider which one is most relevant to the purpose of your reflective essay. 
  • Choose a topic that holds personal significance and allows you to explore and convey meaningful insights.

Step 2: Reflect Deeply & Gather Your Thoughts

Unlike other types of academic essays, reflection papers do not demand research or gathering sources. The source material for the essay can be found in your own thoughts. 

You can write down your thoughts in the form of a bulleted list, mind mapping, or other forms of note-taking. Take time to immerse yourself in the experience and consider its various aspects, including:

  • Specific details, emotions, and observations from the event or experience.
  • Your initial reactions and thoughts at the time. Recall how the experience affected you and what you learned.

You don’t have to write down complete sentences yet, you can simply note down keywords and phrases.

 Step 3: Organize Your Thoughts

To ensure a coherent and logical essay, organize the points you’ve gathered in an outline. The outline should clarify these aspects:

  • A clear thesis statement that indicates the main idea of the essay.
  • Body paragraphs that explore different aspects of your reflection, organized in a logical sequence.
  • Key points, experiences, and insights you want to include in each paragraph.

This is the last step of your pre-writing preparation. With an organized outline for your essay, you have everything you need to start writing. 

Learn more about crafting efficient outlines in our reflective essay outline guide

Step 4: Write Your First Draft

With your outline in hand, start writing your first draft. Follow your organizational structure and express your thoughts and experiences clearly and concisely. As you write:

  • Maintain a reflective and personal tone, as this is a chance to express your thoughts and emotions.
  • Use specific examples, anecdotes, and details to illustrate your points.
  • Ensure that each paragraph flows logically to the next, creating a smooth reading experience.

Don't worry too much about perfection at this stage; the first draft is about getting your thoughts on paper.

Step 5: Proofread and Revise

After completing your first draft, take a break before revising. Returning to your essay with fresh eyes will help you identify areas for improvement. During the revision process:

  • Check for grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors.
  • Ensure clarity and coherence in your writing.
  • Review the flow of your essay to ensure that it logically progresses from introduction to conclusion. Paragraphs should be connected to each other through transition phrases.
  • Trim unnecessary or repetitive content and add details or insights where needed.

By following these five steps, you'll be well on your way to crafting a well-organized and impactful reflective essay.

Reflective Essay Structure 

A reflective essay typically follows a standard structure that includes an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. 

Let’s delve into each of these parts here.

Reflective Essay Introduction

The introduction aims to draw the reader in by catching their interest and providing some context to the topic. A good introduction clearly indicates the subject and type of essay and tells the readers what to expect ahead.

Follow the tips below to craft an engaging introduction.

  • Start with a hook or an intriguing opening sentence to pique the reader's interest. For example, you might begin with a thought-provoking quote, a relevant anecdote, or a rhetorical question.
  • Provide context by briefly introducing the topic or the experience you will reflect upon. Mention any necessary background information to help the reader understand the context.
  • End your introduction with a thesis statement . The thesis statement for a reflective essay can be flexible and can be more than one sentence long. It states the main point you want to convey, such as what you learned, gained, or how were you changed by the experience.

Reflective Essay Body Paragraphs

The body paragraphs of your essay are the heart of your reflection, where you dive deep into the experience and explore it from multiple angles. It's essential to organize your body paragraphs logically to maintain a coherent flow.

Here is how body paragraphs are organized in this type of paper:

First Body Paragraph

Provide a clear and detailed description of the experience or event you are reflecting upon. Set the stage by answering the basic questions: What, when, where, and who?

Share the most significant aspects of the experience. Consider the sensory details, the environment, the people involved, and other aspects. This will help your readers immerse themselves in the situation. 

Second Body Paragraph

Once you’ve described the structure of your experience in detail, now is the time to move on to your thoughts, experiences, and observations. 

Reflect on your immediate feelings and initial thoughts. Were you excited, anxious, or confused? 

What did you notice about the people or surroundings? This section allows the reader to connect with your emotional journey, helping them understand the initial impact of the experience.

Third & Fourth Body Paragraphs 

In the subsequent paragraphs, delve into in-depth reflection and analysis of your experience. 

This is where you critically examine the experience, asking yourself why it was significant and how it impacted you. Consider the implications and connections to your personal growth, beliefs, or values and analyze the experience in the context of your life, education, or career.

You should also engage in critical reflection. For instance, 

  • What did you learn from the experience? 
  • How did it challenge or reinforce your existing beliefs? 
  • Did it change your perspective on certain issues?

Feel free to use multiple paragraphs for this reflection if needed. Each paragraph can explore different facets of your experience and offer a more comprehensive analysis.

Reflective Essay Conclusion

The conclusion of your reflective essay brings your reflection to a meaningful closure. It ties together the entire essay and aims to leave the reader with a lasting impression.

Here are some tips for writing a good conclusion:

  • Summarize the key points you discussed in the body paragraphs without introducing new information. Reinforce the main message of your essay.
  • Present the significance of the experience and its impact on your personal growth, beliefs, or understanding.
  • Consider ending with a thought-provoking statement or a powerful insight to make it more impactful for the reader.

Reflective Essay Examples

Although you now know how to write a reflective essay, you should read some examples before you start writing. Reading the reflective essay samples below will help you get a feel of this type of writing. 

Reflective Essay Sample - Reflections on Reading a Book

Reflective Essay Example - A Visit to a Historical Place

Tips for Writing Better Reflective Essays

Only following the writing steps can help you write a good essay. But to make it even better, you should do something extra. Here are some writing tips that can help you polish your reflective writing.

  • Be Genuine and Authentic: Reflective essays thrive on authenticity. Share your true thoughts and feelings without embellishment or pretense. Readers appreciate sincerity and honesty in your reflections.
  • Show, Don't Just Tell: Instead of merely stating your emotions or thoughts, demonstrate them through concrete examples and anecdotes. Let readers experience your reflection alongside you.
  • Be Concise and Focused: Avoid unnecessary tangents or excessive details that may distract from your main reflection. Keep your essay focused on the central experience and its significance.
  • Engage the Reader's Emotions: Touch on universal emotions and experiences that resonate with readers. Connecting on an emotional level can make your reflective essay more relatable and memorable.
  • Seek Feedback: Don't hesitate to share your reflective essay with peers, mentors, or writing tutors. Their feedback can offer valuable insights and help you refine your writing.
  • Reflect on Your Reflection: After completing your reflective essay, take a moment to reflect on your own reflection process. Consider what you've learned about yourself and your writing style. Use this insight to improve future reflective essays.

Reflective Essay Topics

Reflective essays can be written on a variety of topics. Here are some ideas you can write about: 

  • Engaging with Art: Reflect on your experience of reading a book, watching a documentary etc. 
  • A Life-Changing Journey: Reflect lessons learned from a trip or adventure.
  • Mentorship and Learning: Reflect on the influence of a particular teacher, mentor, or role model on your life. 
  • Overcoming a Challenge: Write about a challenging experience or obstacle you've faced 
  • Life Milestones: Write about a major life event, such as graduating from school, getting married, or becoming a parent, etc.
  • Career Transitions: Share your reflections on transitioning between careers or jobs. 
  • A Turning Point: Reflect on a specific moment or decision in your life that marked a turning point. 
  • Relationships: Explore the dynamics of a significant friendship or relationship.
  • Ethical Dilemmas: Discuss a moral or ethical dilemma you faced and how you navigated it. 
  • Volunteer or Community Service: Share your experiences with community service. 

These are just a few general ideas. With the help of these topics, you can ignite your creativity and choose the most meaningful topic for yourself.

Need more ideas to find a great topic for your reflective paper? Here are 100+ engaging reflective essay topics for your help!

Reflective essays serve as powerful instruments for self-discovery. It allows you to delve into your thoughts and experiences and share them with others in a meaningful way. 

By following the steps, tips, and, examples above, you can explore the richness of your own experiences and engage others along the way. Trying to write a reflective essay can even become another one of your amazing experiences! So, embrace authenticity, engage your readers, and inspire those who read your words.

Need help writing a reflective essay? Don’t worry!

We understand the significance of these reflective journeys, and we've expert writers to assist you. At our reflective essay writing service , our team of writing professionals is dedicated to helping you craft insightful and impactful essays that meet your custom requirements.

So contact our essay writing service now!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you say i in a reflective essay.

FAQ Icon

Yes! First-person pronouns are a great way to give the reader insight into your life and thoughts. I, me, we - these words all have personal meaning. So, they should be used in a reflective essay.

What person is a reflective essay?

A reflective essay is a type of academic writing that can take on many different forms. You might be asked to write it in the first person or third person, and there's no one correct way to do so!

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How to Write Reflective Essays

Reflective essays offer a unique opportunity for individuals to explore their thoughts, experiences, and personal growth in a structured manner. Whether you are a student, professional, or someone engaging in personal development, understanding how to write a reflective essay can be a powerful tool for self-discovery and communication. In this guide, we will explore the key components and steps to master the art of reflective writing.

Understand the Reflective Essay Genre

Reflective essays are a form of writing that encourages individuals to reflect on their experiences, emotions, and insights. Unlike other academic essays, reflective essays are more personal and subjective, allowing writers to express their thoughts and reactions.

Select a Thought-Provoking Topic

Choose a topic that sparks reflection. It could be a personal experience, a challenging situation, a moment of realisation, or a significant event. The chosen topic should have had an impact on your thoughts and actions.

Introduction with a Hook

Begin your reflective essay with a compelling introduction that captures the reader's attention. Use a hook—such as a vivid anecdote, a quote, or a rhetorical question—to set the tone and create interest.

Articulate a Clear Thesis

Develop a clear thesis statement that outlines the main theme or purpose of your reflective essay. This statement should encapsulate the essence of your reflection and guide the reader on what to expect.

Describe the Experience

Provide a detailed description of the experience or situation you are reflecting upon. Use sensory details and vivid language to paint a clear picture for the reader. Ensure that your narration is chronological and easy to follow.

Express Your Thoughts and Feelings

Reflective essays thrive on personal expression. Share your thoughts and emotions related to the experience. Be honest and authentic in expressing how the event impacted you, whether positively or negatively.

Analyse and Evaluate

Move beyond a mere description and delve into analysis. Evaluate the significance of the experience, exploring how it shaped your perspectives, values, or understanding. Consider what you learned from the situation.

Connect with Theoretical Concepts

If applicable, connect your reflections with relevant theoretical concepts, readings, or course materials. This demonstrates a deeper level of critical thinking and an ability to integrate personal experiences with academic knowledge.

Identify Lessons Learned

Reflect on the lessons you gained from the experience. This could involve personal growth, the development of new skills, or a shift in your mindset. Clearly articulate the insights you derived from the reflection.

Consider Alternative Perspectives

Acknowledge and explore alternative perspectives or interpretations of the experience. Reflective essays benefit from a nuanced understanding that considers various viewpoints.

Use Reflective Language

Employ reflective language throughout your essay. This includes words such as "I feel", "I believe", "I learned", and "In retrospect". Such language helps convey your personal engagement with the reflection.

Organise Coherently

Organise your reflective essay coherently with a clear introduction, body paragraphs that explore different aspects of the experience, and a thoughtful conclusion. Maintain a logical flow to guide the reader through your reflection.

Provide Concrete Examples

Support your reflections with concrete examples and specific details. This adds credibility to your writing and allows readers to connect more deeply with your experiences.

Conclude with a Thoughtful Reflection

Summarise your key insights in the conclusion. Reflect on how the experience has influenced you and whether it has prompted any actions or changes in your life. End with a thoughtful reflection that leaves a lasting impression on the reader.

Revise and Edit

After completing your initial draft, take time to revise and edit. Check for clarity, coherence, and grammar. Consider seeking feedback from peers or mentors to gain additional perspectives on your reflective essay.

Writing a reflective essay is a transformative process that not only enhances your writing skills but also fosters self-awareness and personal growth. By following the steps outlined in this comprehensive guide, you can master the art of reflective writing and effectively convey your thoughts, emotions, and insights to your audience. Whether for academic assignments, professional development, or personal exploration, reflective essays provide a powerful means of communication and self-expression.

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instructions for writing a reflective essay

Guide on How to Write a Reflection Paper with Free Tips and Example

instructions for writing a reflective essay

A reflection paper is a very common type of paper among college students. Almost any subject you enroll in requires you to express your opinion on certain matters. In this article, we will explain how to write a reflection paper and provide examples and useful tips to make the essay writing process easier.

Reflection papers should have an academic tone yet be personal and subjective. In this paper, you should analyze and reflect upon how an experience, academic task, article, or lecture shaped your perception and thoughts on a subject.

Here is what you need to know about writing an effective critical reflection paper. Stick around until the end of our guide to get some useful writing tips from the writing team at EssayPro — a research paper writing service

What Is a Reflection Paper

A reflection paper is a type of paper that requires you to write your opinion on a topic, supporting it with your observations and personal experiences. As opposed to presenting your reader with the views of other academics and writers, in this essay, you get an opportunity to write your point of view—and the best part is that there is no wrong answer. It is YOUR opinion, and it is your job to express your thoughts in a manner that will be understandable and clear for all readers that will read your paper. The topic range is endless. Here are some examples: whether or not you think aliens exist, your favorite TV show, or your opinion on the outcome of WWII. You can write about pretty much anything.

There are three types of reflection paper; depending on which one you end up with, the tone you write with can be slightly different. The first type is the educational reflective paper. Here your job is to write feedback about a book, movie, or seminar you attended—in a manner that teaches the reader about it. The second is the professional paper. Usually, it is written by people who study or work in education or psychology. For example, it can be a reflection of someone’s behavior. And the last is the personal type, which explores your thoughts and feelings about an individual subject.

However, reflection paper writing will stop eventually with one very important final paper to write - your resume. This is where you will need to reflect on your entire life leading up to that moment. To learn how to list education on resume perfectly, follow the link on our dissertation writing services .

Unlock the potential of your thoughts with EssayPro . Order a reflection paper and explore a range of other academic services tailored to your needs. Dive deep into your experiences, analyze them with expert guidance, and turn your insights into an impactful reflection paper.

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Free Reflection Paper Example

Now that we went over all of the essentials about a reflection paper and how to approach it, we would like to show you some examples that will definitely help you with getting started on your paper.

Reflection Paper Format

Reflection papers typically do not follow any specific format. Since it is your opinion, professors usually let you handle them in any comfortable way. It is best to write your thoughts freely, without guideline constraints. If a personal reflection paper was assigned to you, the format of your paper might depend on the criteria set by your professor. College reflection papers (also known as reflection essays) can typically range from about 400-800 words in length.

Here’s how we can suggest you format your reflection paper:

common reflection paper format

How to Start a Reflection Paper

The first thing to do when beginning to work on a reflection essay is to read your article thoroughly while taking notes. Whether you are reflecting on, for example, an activity, book/newspaper, or academic essay, you want to highlight key ideas and concepts.

You can start writing your reflection paper by summarizing the main concept of your notes to see if your essay includes all the information needed for your readers. It is helpful to add charts, diagrams, and lists to deliver your ideas to the audience in a better fashion.

After you have finished reading your article, it’s time to brainstorm. We’ve got a simple brainstorming technique for writing reflection papers. Just answer some of the basic questions below:

  • How did the article affect you?
  • How does this article catch the reader’s attention (or does it all)?
  • Has the article changed your mind about something? If so, explain how.
  • Has the article left you with any questions?
  • Were there any unaddressed critical issues that didn’t appear in the article?
  • Does the article relate to anything from your past reading experiences?
  • Does the article agree with any of your past reading experiences?

Here are some reflection paper topic examples for you to keep in mind before preparing to write your own:

  • How my views on rap music have changed over time
  • My reflection and interpretation of Moby Dick by Herman Melville
  • Why my theory about the size of the universe has changed over time
  • How my observations for clinical psychological studies have developed in the last year

The result of your brainstorming should be a written outline of the contents of your future paper. Do not skip this step, as it will ensure that your essay will have a proper flow and appropriate organization.

Another good way to organize your ideas is to write them down in a 3-column chart or table.

how to write a reflection paper

Do you want your task look awesome?

If you would like your reflection paper to look professional, feel free to check out one of our articles on how to format MLA, APA or Chicago style

Writing a Reflection Paper Outline

Reflection paper should contain few key elements:


Your introduction should specify what you’re reflecting upon. Make sure that your thesis informs your reader about your general position, or opinion, toward your subject.

  • State what you are analyzing: a passage, a lecture, an academic article, an experience, etc...)
  • Briefly summarize the work.
  • Write a thesis statement stating how your subject has affected you.

One way you can start your thesis is to write:

Example: “After reading/experiencing (your chosen topic), I gained the knowledge of…”

Body Paragraphs

The body paragraphs should examine your ideas and experiences in context to your topic. Make sure each new body paragraph starts with a topic sentence.

Your reflection may include quotes and passages if you are writing about a book or an academic paper. They give your reader a point of reference to fully understand your feedback. Feel free to describe what you saw, what you heard, and how you felt.

Example: “I saw many people participating in our weight experiment. The atmosphere felt nervous yet inspiring. I was amazed by the excitement of the event.”

As with any conclusion, you should summarize what you’ve learned from the experience. Next, tell the reader how your newfound knowledge has affected your understanding of the subject in general. Finally, describe the feeling and overall lesson you had from the reading or experience.

There are a few good ways to conclude a reflection paper:

  • Tie all the ideas from your body paragraphs together, and generalize the major insights you’ve experienced.
  • Restate your thesis and summarize the content of your paper.

We have a separate blog post dedicated to writing a great conclusion. Be sure to check it out for an in-depth look at how to make a good final impression on your reader.

Need a hand? Get help from our writers. Edit, proofread or buy essay .

How to Write a Reflection Paper: Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1: create a main theme.

After you choose your topic, write a short summary about what you have learned about your experience with that topic. Then, let readers know how you feel about your case — and be honest. Chances are that your readers will likely be able to relate to your opinion or at least the way you form your perspective, which will help them better understand your reflection.

For example: After watching a TEDx episode on Wim Hof, I was able to reevaluate my preconceived notions about the negative effects of cold exposure.

Step 2: Brainstorm Ideas and Experiences You’ve Had Related to Your Topic

You can write down specific quotes, predispositions you have, things that influenced you, or anything memorable. Be personal and explain, in simple words, how you felt.

For example: • A lot of people think that even a small amount of carbohydrates will make people gain weight • A specific moment when I struggled with an excess weight where I avoided carbohydrates entirely • The consequences of my actions that gave rise to my research • The evidence and studies of nutritional science that claim carbohydrates alone are to blame for making people obese • My new experience with having a healthy diet with a well-balanced intake of nutrients • The influence of other people’s perceptions on the harm of carbohydrates, and the role their influence has had on me • New ideas I’ve created as a result of my shift in perspective

Step 3: Analyze How and Why These Ideas and Experiences Have Affected Your Interpretation of Your Theme

Pick an idea or experience you had from the last step, and analyze it further. Then, write your reasoning for agreeing or disagreeing with it.

For example, Idea: I was raised to think that carbohydrates make people gain weight.

Analysis: Most people think that if they eat any carbohydrates, such as bread, cereal, and sugar, they will gain weight. I believe in this misconception to such a great extent that I avoided carbohydrates entirely. As a result, my blood glucose levels were very low. I needed to do a lot of research to overcome my beliefs finally. Afterward, I adopted the philosophy of “everything in moderation” as a key to a healthy lifestyle.

For example: Idea: I was brought up to think that carbohydrates make people gain weight. Analysis: Most people think that if they eat any carbohydrates, such as bread, cereal, and sugar, they will gain weight. I believe in this misconception to such a great extent that I avoided carbohydrates entirely. As a result, my blood glucose levels were very low. I needed to do a lot of my own research to finally overcome my beliefs. After, I adopted the philosophy of “everything in moderation” as a key for having a healthy lifestyle.

Step 4: Make Connections Between Your Observations, Experiences, and Opinions

Try to connect your ideas and insights to form a cohesive picture for your theme. You can also try to recognize and break down your assumptions, which you may challenge in the future.

There are some subjects for reflection papers that are most commonly written about. They include:

  • Book – Start by writing some information about the author’s biography and summarize the plot—without revealing the ending to keep your readers interested. Make sure to include the names of the characters, the main themes, and any issues mentioned in the book. Finally, express your thoughts and reflect on the book itself.
  • Course – Including the course name and description is a good place to start. Then, you can write about the course flow, explain why you took this course, and tell readers what you learned from it. Since it is a reflection paper, express your opinion, supporting it with examples from the course.
  • Project – The structure for a reflection paper about a project has identical guidelines to that of a course. One of the things you might want to add would be the pros and cons of the course. Also, mention some changes you might want to see, and evaluate how relevant the skills you acquired are to real life.
  • Interview – First, introduce the person and briefly mention the discussion. Touch on the main points, controversies, and your opinion of that person.

Writing Tips

Everyone has their style of writing a reflective essay – and that's the beauty of it; you have plenty of leeway with this type of paper – but there are still a few tips everyone should incorporate.

Before you start your piece, read some examples of other papers; they will likely help you better understand what they are and how to approach yours. When picking your subject, try to write about something unusual and memorable — it is more likely to capture your readers' attention. Never write the whole essay at once. Space out the time slots when you work on your reflection paper to at least a day apart. This will allow your brain to generate new thoughts and reflections.

  • Short and Sweet – Most reflection papers are between 250 and 750 words. Don't go off on tangents. Only include relevant information.
  • Clear and Concise – Make your paper as clear and concise as possible. Use a strong thesis statement so your essay can follow it with the same strength.
  • Maintain the Right Tone – Use a professional and academic tone—even though the writing is personal.
  • Cite Your Sources – Try to cite authoritative sources and experts to back up your personal opinions.
  • Proofreading – Not only should you proofread for spelling and grammatical errors, but you should proofread to focus on your organization as well. Answer the question presented in the introduction.

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8 Tips For Writing A Great Reflective Essay (With Examples)

Author: Rafal Reyzer

Memories, hopes, disappointments, and curiosity run through your life.

By writing a reflective essay, you can capture some of these ephemeral emotions and make sense of who you are. Below, I share eight tips (and a few examples) that will help you do it in a better way. You may have to write a reflective essay as a part of an academic assignment or a college paper. Or perhaps you want to create it for yourself and never show it to anyone. Regardless of the reason, after reading this article, you will hopefully become better at it. They helped a lot of students over the years, so you may check them out.

Here’s how to write a great reflective essay:

1. first, what is a reflective essay.

A reflective essay is a piece of writing in which you analyze your personal experience, reflect on how it changed your life, and what conclusions for the future can you draw from what you’ve learned. It’s a “know thyself” type of essay. The goal here is getting self-knowledge, by stopping to think about your memories, your values, and where you want to go from the present moment onward. By writing your thoughts down, you pursue some kind of deeper truth, about yourself and the world.

a book laying on the bed

2. The power of writing introspectively

Many great men and women (like Charles Darwin or Frida Kahlo ) had a habit of keeping a journal. This seems to be forgotten these days as we record everything through our mobile devices. But the habit of introspective writing and journaling helps you get in touch with your inner self and even improves your mental health. The reflective essay serves a similar purpose. It lets you search for meaning in your life and lets you discover the underlying causes of your actions.

“Life can only be understood backward, but it must be lived forwards.” – Søren Kierkegaard

3. How do you start your essay?

You may start with an introduction of experience, an event, or a memory on which you’ll reflect. If your topic is “a life-changing incident you had when you were a child,” you could start with: I used to live on a sunny farm with my parents and grandparents when I was young. A few days after I turned six, something happened that would alter the course of my life forever. I’m fifty-two as I’m writing this…

This beginning has certain elements that make it effective:

  • Introducing the setting and putting the experience in context.
  • Hooking the reader by building curiosity and a story.

Here’s another way to start (this excerpt is taken from Didion’s “ On self-respect ”): Once, in a dry season, I wrote in large letters across two pages of a notebook that innocence ends when one has stripped of the delusion that one likes oneself. In reflective writing, you don’t have to follow any strict guidelines or rules. Follow your heart, put some emotion into it, and you’ll create something of value for yourself and others. Start at the beginning, in the middle, or at the end – as long as it’s coherent, you’ll be fine.

“When I discover who I am, I’ll be free.” – Ralph Ellison

a personal book on a table with coffee

4. Learn how to structure your essay

In terms of length, it all depends on your assignment, but usually, the reflective essay has between 300 and 700 words . It has a rather informal structure and the use of language. After all, you’re drilling into your personal experiences, and often, this requires a poetic turn of the phrase. You’re more than welcome to use a wide range of advanced vocabulary .


In this part, you set the tone for your reflection. You implicitly or explicitly say what will you reflect on, and what prompted you to do that. If you’re writing an academic paper , you’ll have to be more direct and for example, say: “What follows, are my reflections on what I’ve learned about life during the first year of college”.

In this part, you talk about your actual experiences, memories, and important events in your life. But the purpose is not just to say what happened – that’s a descriptive essay’s job. The true goal here is to ponder the significance of your experiences and think about how they changed you and what you’ve learned from them. Here you can share concrete examples of changes that took place in your life.

Here, you sum up your essay and leave your audience with a final thought. Look ahead into the future and write about how your experiences are going to affect your life from now on. What’s the direction you’re going to take? What is there to look ahead to? You may also look backward and see how different you were in the past, compared to now. “I think it’s good for a person to spend time alone. It allows them to discover who they are and to figure out why they are always alone.” – Amy Sedaris

5. Create an outline for your essay

As with most writing assignments , the work begins with ideation and then creating some sort of outline . Here’s a simple process you can use to get everything ready before you start writing: a) Scan your mind in search of powerful experiences, meaningful memories, and thoughts about your past. This will serve as a raw material from which you’ll sculpt a piece of prose. b) Consider the attractiveness of your topic from the reader’s point of view. You certainly don’t want to bore anyone, so pick something interesting, but important. c) Organize your essay and divide it into a couple of paragraphs. Each paragraph should contain one important idea. d) Decide in which sequence you would like to share your ideas. Put some logic and chronology behind it. e) Jot down any side notes included in the essay. It’s always better to have an overabundance of material.

“Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” – C.G. Jung

6. The essay-writing process

The best piece of advice on that is to avoid cliches. It might be hard to do this at first, but decide to speak your truth. Talk about things and feelings unique to you and your life. It’s easy to regurgitate what someone else had said before because it’s a safe territory. Your goal is to open doors to which only you have the keys.

Once you have the idea, you can follow a simple process:

  • Write the first draft as quickly as you can (no editing or looking back here)
  • Reorganize the first draft if necessary
  • Edit for clarity (throw out everything unnecessary)
  • Accept that it will not be perfect, and publish it (or keep it to yourself)

leather bound journal in the street

7. How to pick the right topic for your essay

If you’re writing an assignment, you’ll probably receive the prompt from your professor. If that’s the case, follow it diligently. This may be something like: a) Reflect on what you learned during your first year of high school. b) Think about your favorite book and how it changed your life . c) How did your writing skills change over the years? And why? Or it might be something really specific like Write a two-page reflection paper on the Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain. Here, it’s not only about your personal experience, but about your interaction with a specific text, event, play, or movie and the effect it had on you. But what if you want to write an essay on your own? Which topic would you choose then? First, pick something meaningful to you. Second, pick something that you know well. Third, pick something that you want to explore and get deep into.

Here’s some more inspiration in the area of topics:

Personal reflection:.

  • What was the hardest thing you’ve ever done and how did it change you?
  • How has your relationship with your parents changed over the years?
  • What did you use to do a lot in the past, but aren’t doing now?
  • What was the most creative act you’ve ever done?
  • What was your favorite game or toy when you were a child?
  • What did you want to become when you were small?
  • How did you overcome your limits?
  • What was your biggest failure and how did you come back on your feet?
  • What are the things from the past that are still haunting you?
  • What gives you the biggest sense of joy in life?
  • What is your passion and how has it shaped your life?

Reflection on life and meaning:

  • What is the meaning of friendship?
  • What is to be done with the time you have in your life?
  • What are the values that make up a good life?
  • Is it possible to find the ultimate truth about anything?
  • Can you know thyself?
  • What should every human do during their lifetime?

Reflection on events:

  • What was your most exciting trip and why?
  • Have you ever had a mystical or psychedelic experience?
  • How did World War 2 change the collective psyche of humanity?
  • What was your favorite musical concert and why?
  • Was there any rite of passage you went through? What was the meaning of it?

You may also consider other great essay topics submitted by the users of Quora.

“Reflect upon your present blessings — of which every man has many — not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.” – Charles Dickens

person writing with a magnyfing glass

8. Learn from the masters

Montaigne was the father of the essay as a literary form. He was the first writer to use informal tone, colloquial language, and rather prosaic themes to get to the deeper truth about human nature.

I recommend you check his essays for inspiration, along with other masterworks:

  • The Essays – by Montaigne
  • Shooting an Elephant – by George Orwell
  • On Self Respect – by Joan Didion
  • Meditations – by Marcus Aurelius (it’s a philosophical work, rather than an essay, but the quality of “Meditations” is too high to be overlooked).
  • Once more to the lake – EB White

And here are a few books filled with great reflective essays:

  • A room of one’s own – Virginia Woolf
  • Walden – Henry David Thoreau
  • A collection of essays – George Orwell
  • Arguably – Christopher Hitchens
  • Consider the Lobster and Other Essays  – David Foster Wallace

And here you may find a huge list of 450+ essay books on Goodreads.

“Once we accept our limits, we go beyond them.” – Albert Einstein

personal reflections in a notebook

Example #1 of a reflective essay:

The misgivings about the high school football.

Football (soccer) was on the pedestal during my high school years in Poland. You were not judged by the color of your skin (because everyone was roughly the same color) nor by the contents of your character. The worth of a human being is measured by the ability to score goals. Each player had to find their niche in the dominant hierarchy of the pitch. It all started with the selection of players. The gym master would choose two captains at the beginning of the match, and they would choose their teammates. One by one, the best players got picked, and as we went down the line, we were left with the wretched souls, the worst, the smallest guys, or the fat ones, whose self-esteem was shattered from the beginning, simply because they were picked last. But there was a ladder within a ladder. Some players, perhaps in the lower echelons would be defenders, some would be proud midfielders, pushing the ball forward and creating “situations”. Some were the goalkeepers who were chosen for the job because they couldn’t play ball, or because they were specialists, sporting keeper gloves, and getting admired for their technical skills. But the true apex of the hierarchy was occupied by the attackers. The guys who could push through others and ram the ball through the goalkeeper were the true heroes of the field. This self-generated order of youthful self-worth and self-concept was brutal, as it was instructive. Each football match was a psychology class and a lesson in the ways of the world that outweighed math, history, or geography by orders of magnitude. We could witness the natural constellation of humanity based on their genetic makeup and their willingness to face their fears.

Here’s a second, shorter sample of a reflective essay:

The sources of love for instrumental music..

There’s a question I can’t quite answer. Why do I love instrumental music so much? And why, and I’m especially enamored with the music of the East? The Persian, the Indian, the Afghan, the Japanese, the Turkish, the Kurdish, the Arabic? Since I first discovered these musical notes, my life was never been the same. Recently I watched a great documentary about Quincy Jones where he said he touched his first piano at twelve, and these first few taps of fingers defined the rest of his life. Isn’t that strange, that in reality, we don’t choose things? The things choose us. Where do these natural inclinations come from? It must be our environment, our personality, our natural talent. But the other part seems mysterious, like some sort of cosmic accident. I first heard about the Oud when reading “My Name is Red” by Orhan Pamuk. I instantly went online to hear this instrument and from there on, I discovered dozens of beautiful instruments such as tar, setar, sitar, buzuq, sarod, tabla, rebab, shakuhachi, quin, biwa, to the goddamn gamelan drums. Hearing the esraj in a tower of the ancient Indian fort in Jodhpur melted my heart. It was as if this melody was constructed just for me like I’d heard it before. Perhaps in another life.

Looking backward, moving forward

There are certain milestones in your life: finishing high school, falling in love for the first time, your first journey abroad, the first kiss, the first psychedelic trip, graduating from the university, getting your first job, getting married, having children… Each of these brings something new and unexpected and makes you grow as an individual. But you can run through life and never reflect on how it all changed , how silly and incompetent you were just a few years ago. And how you’ll think the same thing about the present in a few years. Perhaps you should compose a reflective essay and think about all of this, and about what’s coming. Next up, you may want to explore a list of the best essays of all time .

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Mastering the Art of Writing Reflection Notes: A Comprehensive Guide

instructions for writing a reflective essay

Learning how to write reflection notes is an essential skill for students, professionals, and lifelong learners alike. Reflection notes provide an opportunity to critically analyze experiences, thoughts, and feelings, fostering personal growth and development. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the concept of reflection notes, their structure, and step-by-step instructions on how to write them effectively.

Understanding the Concept of Reflection Notes

A reflection essay or reflection paper is a type of written assignment that allows individuals to critically analyze their experiences, thoughts, and feelings. The reflection paper definition encompasses a wide range of writing tasks, including reflection tasks and reflection statement definitions . These assignments are designed to encourage introspection, self-awareness, and personal growth.

Definition of reflection tasks and reflection notes

Reflection tasks involve the process of examining one's own thoughts, feelings, and actions in response to a particular experience or event. The definition of reflection tasks includes various forms of writing, such as journal entries, essays, and reports, which require individuals to critically assess their experiences and learn from them.

The importance of reflective writing in academic and professional settings

Reflective writing plays a crucial role in both academic reflective writing and professional reflection . In academic settings, reflective writing assignments help students develop critical thinking skills, enhance their understanding of course material, and foster personal growth. In professional contexts, reflective writing enables individuals to evaluate their performance, identify areas for improvement, and develop strategies for personal and professional development.

Reflection in-action vs reflection on-action: A comparative analysis

There are two primary types of reflection: reflection in-action and reflection on-action . Reflection in-action refers to the process of reflecting on one's thoughts, feelings, and actions while an experience is occurring. This type of reflection allows individuals to adapt and modify their behavior in real-time, leading to more effective decision-making and problem-solving.

On the other hand, reflection on-action involves analyzing one's experiences after they have occurred. This type of reflection enables individuals to evaluate their performance, identify areas for improvement, and develop strategies for personal and professional growth. Both reflection in-action and reflection on-action are essential components of reflective writing and contribute to the development of critical thinking and self-awareness skills.

The Structure of Academic Reflections

Understanding the structure of academic reflections is crucial for producing effective and well-organized reflective writing. This section will provide an overview of the basic structure of academic reflections, discuss the elements of reflective writing, and offer tips for maintaining an academic tone in your reflection notes.

The basic structure of academic reflections

The reflective writing structure typically consists of three main parts: introduction, body, and conclusion. In the introduction, you should briefly describe the experience or event you will be reflecting on and provide a thesis statement that outlines the main points you will discuss. The body of your reflection should be organized into paragraphs, each focusing on a specific aspect of your experience or event. Finally, the conclusion should summarize your main points and provide a closing statement that highlights the significance of your reflection.

Elements of reflective writing: What makes a reflection note effective

There are several key elements of reflective writing that contribute to the effectiveness of a reflective note . These elements include:

  • Description: Provide a clear and concise account of the experience or event, including relevant details and context.
  • Analysis: Examine your thoughts, feelings, and actions during the experience, and identify patterns, connections, or contradictions.
  • Evaluation: Assess the significance of the experience, its impact on your personal or professional development, and any lessons learned.
  • Integration: Connect your reflection to relevant theories, concepts, or course material, demonstrating a deeper understanding of the subject matter.

To write a reflective note effectively , it is essential to strike a balance between these elements, ensuring that your reflection is both descriptive and analytical.

Language of academic reflections: How to maintain an academic tone

The language of academic reflections should be clear, concise, and objective, while maintaining an academic tone . To achieve this, consider the following tips:

  • Use formal language and avoid colloquial expressions or slang.
  • Write in the first person, using "I" statements to describe your thoughts, feelings, and actions.
  • Be specific and precise in your descriptions, avoiding vague or general statements.
  • Use evidence and examples to support your analysis and evaluation.
  • Be critical and reflective, questioning your assumptions and considering alternative perspectives.

By adhering to these guidelines, you can ensure that your academic reflections are well-structured, effective, and maintain an appropriate tone for an academic setting.

How to Write a Reflection Note: Step-by-Step Guide

Writing a reflection paper can be a challenging task, but with the right approach and guidance, you can create a well-structured and insightful reflection note. This section will provide a step-by-step guide on how to write a reflection paper, including tips for starting your reflection, enhancing your writing process, and incorporating critical evaluation and thinking.

Starting your reflection paper: Tips and strategies

To start a reflection paper , it is essential to first understand the purpose of the assignment and the specific requirements provided by your instructor or institution. Once you have a clear understanding of the task, consider the following tips to start writing :

  • Choose a meaningful experience or event to reflect on, ensuring that it is relevant to the assignment's objectives.
  • Brainstorm your thoughts, feelings, and reactions to the experience, noting any significant insights or lessons learned.
  • Identify the main points you want to discuss in your reflection, and create a thesis statement that outlines these points.
  • Begin your introduction with a hook or engaging statement that captures the reader's attention and sets the tone for your reflection.

By following these strategies, you can effectively start your reflection paper and lay the foundation for a well-organized and insightful reflection note.

How to write reflectively: Enhancing your writing process

To write reflectively and create a compelling reflection paper, consider the following tips to enhance your writing process :

  • Create a reflection paper outline that organizes your main points and supporting evidence, ensuring a logical flow of ideas throughout your reflection.
  • Use descriptive language to provide a clear and vivid account of your experience, including relevant details and context.
  • Incorporate analysis and evaluation of your thoughts, feelings, and actions, identifying patterns, connections, or contradictions.
  • Connect your reflection to relevant theories, concepts, or course material, demonstrating a deeper understanding of the subject matter.
  • Revise and edit your reflection paper, ensuring that it is well-structured, coherent, and free of grammatical errors.

By implementing these tips, you can write a good reflection paper that effectively communicates your insights and demonstrates your critical thinking skills.

Critical evaluation in reflective writing: Analysing events for deeper insight

Critical evaluation and critical thinking play a crucial role in reflective writing, as they allow you to analyze events and experiences for deeper insight and understanding. To incorporate critical evaluation in your reflection, consider the following strategies:

  • Analyse the event by examining its causes, consequences, and underlying factors, as well as any patterns or connections that may emerge.
  • Engage in critical reflection by questioning your assumptions, beliefs, and values, and considering alternative perspectives or interpretations.
  • Assess the significance of the experience, its impact on your personal or professional development, and any lessons learned.
  • Use evidence and examples to support your analysis and evaluation, ensuring that your reflection is grounded in fact and reason.

By incorporating critical evaluation and thinking in your reflective writing, you can create a more insightful and meaningful reflection note that demonstrates your ability to learn from your experiences and grow as an individual.

Different Types of Reflection Papers and Their Formats

In this section, we will explore various types of reflection papers and their formats, including reflective essay formats. Understanding the different formats will help you tailor your reflection paper to the specific requirements of your assignment and ensure a well-structured and coherent reflection.

Understanding the format of a reflection paper

A reflection paper outline is crucial for organizing your thoughts and ensuring a logical flow of ideas throughout your paper. The basic outline of a reflection paper typically includes an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Here's a brief overview of each section:

  • Introduction: Introduce the topic, provide context, and present your thesis statement.
  • Body paragraphs: Discuss your main points, including your thoughts, feelings, and reactions to the experience, as well as any insights or lessons learned. Support your points with evidence and examples, and connect them to relevant theories, concepts, or course material.
  • Conclusion: Summarize your main points, restate your thesis, and provide a closing statement that highlights the significance of your reflection.

While this is a general outline, the specific format of your reflection paper may vary depending on the type of reflection paper you are writing.

Course reflection paper vs personal reflection paper: A comparative study

A course reflection paper focuses on your learning experiences within a specific course, including your understanding of the course material, your personal growth, and the development of your critical thinking skills. In contrast, a personal reflection paper is more focused on your individual experiences, thoughts, and feelings, often exploring a specific event or situation that has had a significant impact on your life.

Course Reflection Paper Personal Reflection Paper Focuses on learning experiences within a specific course Focuses on individual experiences, thoughts, and feelings Connects reflection to course material, theories, and concepts Explores a specific event or situation that has impacted your life Emphasizes personal growth and development of critical thinking skills Highlights personal insights, emotions, and reactions to the experience

Both types of reflection papers require a thoughtful and introspective approach, but the focus and content will differ based on the specific objectives of each paper.

Experiential reflection paper and critical reflection paper: What's the difference?

An experiential reflection paper is centered around a specific experience or event, often involving hands-on learning or practical application of skills. This type of reflection paper emphasizes the lessons learned from the experience and the impact it has had on your personal or professional development.

On the other hand, a critical reflection paper involves a more in-depth analysis of an experience, event, or concept, examining its underlying assumptions, beliefs, and values. This type of reflection paper encourages you to engage in critical thinking and evaluation, questioning your own perspectives and considering alternative viewpoints.

Experiential Reflection Paper Critical Reflection Paper Focuses on a specific experience or event Examines underlying assumptions, beliefs, and values Emphasizes lessons learned and personal or professional development Encourages critical thinking and evaluation Often involves hands-on learning or practical application of skills Questions own perspectives and considers alternative viewpoints

Understanding the differences between these types of reflection papers will help you choose the appropriate format and approach for your specific assignment, ensuring a well-crafted and insightful reflection.

Improving Your Reflective Writing Skills

Enhancing your reflective writing skills is essential for producing high-quality reflective writing assignments. In this section, we will discuss various strategies for improving reflective writing, the importance of practice through reflective assignments, and tips for confident writing reflection.

Strategies for improving reflective writing

There are several reflective writing strategies that can help you improve your reflective writing skills. Some of these strategies include:

  • Active reading: Engage with the course material by taking notes, highlighting key points, and asking questions. This will help you better understand the concepts and make connections to your own experiences.
  • Peer review: Share your reflective writing assignments with classmates or friends for feedback. This will help you identify areas for improvement and gain new perspectives on your writing.
  • Revision: Reflect on your writing and revise it multiple times to ensure clarity, coherence, and depth of reflection. This will help you develop your critical thinking skills and improve the overall quality of your reflective writing.

Reflective writing assignments: Practice makes perfect

One of the most effective ways to improve your reflective writing skills is through consistent practice with reflective assignments . These assignments provide an opportunity to apply the reflective writing strategies discussed above and develop your ability to analyze and evaluate your experiences. Some examples of reflective assignments include:

  • Reflective essays on course material or personal experiences
  • Reflection journals or learning logs
  • Group projects with a reflective component
  • Case study analyses

By regularly completing reflective assignments, you will become more comfortable with the reflective writing process and develop the skills necessary for confident writing reflection.

Confident writing reflection: Overcoming common challenges

Many students face challenges when it comes to reflective writing. Here are some writing tips to help you overcome these common challenges and become more confident in your writing reflection:

  • Be honest and authentic: Reflective writing is a personal process, so it's essential to be genuine in your thoughts and feelings. Don't be afraid to express your emotions and share your unique perspective.
  • Use specific examples: Support your reflections with concrete examples from your experiences. This will help you provide context and make your writing more engaging and relatable.
  • Organize your thoughts: Before you start writing, take some time to brainstorm and outline your main points. This will help you create a clear and coherent structure for your reflective writing.
  • Proofread and edit: Carefully review your writing for grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors. This will help you present a polished and professional reflection.

By implementing these tips and strategies, you will be well on your way to improving your reflective writing skills and producing high-quality reflective writing assignments.

Examples and Models of Reflective Writing

In this section, we will explore various examples of reflective writing and discuss different reflective models that can guide your reflective process. By examining sample reflection essays and understanding the reflective process, you can enhance your reflective writing skills and produce high-quality reflection notes.

Examples of reflective writing: Learning from the best

Studying examples of reflective writing can provide valuable insights into the structure, language, and tone of effective reflection notes. By analyzing these examples, you can identify the key elements that contribute to successful reflective writing and apply them to your own work. Some sources for finding reflective writing examples include:

  • Academic journals and publications
  • Online essay databases
  • Course materials and textbooks
  • Writing centers and tutoring services

When reviewing these examples, pay close attention to the organization, depth of reflection, and use of evidence to support the writer's insights.

Reflective models: Guiding your reflective process

Various reflective models have been developed to guide the reflective process and help you structure your reflective writing. These models provide a framework for analyzing and evaluating your experiences, allowing you to gain deeper insights and enhance your learning. Some popular reflective models include:

  • Gibbs' Reflective Cycle: This model consists of six stages - description, feelings, evaluation, analysis, conclusion, and action plan - that guide you through the reflective process.
  • Kolb's Experiential Learning Cycle: This model emphasizes the importance of learning from experience and includes four stages - concrete experience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualization, and active experimentation.
  • Schön's Reflection-in-Action and Reflection-on-Action: This model distinguishes between reflecting during an experience (reflection-in-action) and reflecting after an experience (reflection-on-action), encouraging you to engage in both types of reflection for optimal learning.

By applying these reflective models to your reflective writing, you can ensure a structured and comprehensive analysis of your experiences, leading to deeper insights and more effective learning.

Sample reflection essay: A closer look

Let's examine a sample reflection essay to better understand the elements of effective reflective writing. In this example, a student reflects on their experience in a group project:

During our group project, I was assigned the role of team leader. Initially, I felt confident in my ability to manage the team and ensure a successful outcome. However, as the project progressed, I encountered several challenges, such as coordinating schedules and resolving conflicts among team members. Upon reflection, I realized that my initial confidence may have led me to underestimate the complexity of the task. I failed to establish clear communication channels and did not provide sufficient guidance to my team members. This resulted in confusion and delays in completing the project. Through this experience, I learned the importance of effective communication and leadership in group projects. In the future, I will take a more proactive approach to managing team dynamics and ensuring that all team members are on the same page. I will also seek feedback from my peers to continuously improve my leadership skills.

In this reflective essay , the writer effectively describes their experience, analyzes the challenges they faced, and identifies the lessons learned. By following this example and incorporating the reflective models discussed earlier, you can enhance your reflective writing skills and produce high-quality reflection notes.

The Role of Reflection Notes in Skill Development and Learning

Reflection on project tasks and learning experiences play a crucial role in skill development and personal growth. By engaging in reflection tasks, individuals can gain valuable insights into their strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement. This process not only enhances learning but also fosters personal insight and self-awareness, ultimately leading to better decision-making and problem-solving abilities.

Reflection notes and skill development: A symbiotic relationship

Reflection notes serve as a powerful tool for skill development by providing a platform for individuals to analyze their experiences, identify patterns, and draw meaningful conclusions. This process of self-assessment and introspection allows individuals to gain a deeper understanding of their abilities, leading to personal insight and growth. Furthermore, reflection notes can help individuals identify areas where they need to improve, set goals, and develop strategies to achieve those goals, ultimately enhancing their overall skill set.

Learning experiences and their reflection in personal life experiences

Engaging in learning experiences not only contributes to academic and professional growth but also has a significant impact on personal life experiences. By reflecting on these learning experiences, individuals can gain valuable insights into their personal values, beliefs, and attitudes, which in turn shape their behavior and decision-making in various aspects of life. This process of self-discovery and personal growth can lead to improved relationships, increased self-confidence, and a greater sense of fulfillment and well-being.

The role of reflection tasks in learning journals

A learning journal is a valuable tool for documenting and reflecting on learning experiences, both in academic and professional settings. Incorporating reflection tasks into learning journals allows individuals to systematically analyze their experiences, identify patterns, and draw meaningful conclusions. This process not only enhances learning but also fosters personal insight and self-awareness, ultimately leading to better decision-making and problem-solving abilities.

Some benefits of incorporating reflection tasks in learning journals include:

  • Improved understanding of personal learning styles and preferences
  • Enhanced critical thinking and analytical skills
  • Increased self-awareness and personal insight
  • Greater ability to set and achieve personal and professional goals
  • Improved communication and interpersonal skills

In this comprehensive guide, we have explored the concept, structure, and process of writing reflection notes. We have delved into the importance of reflective writing in academic and professional settings, as well as the differences between reflection in-action and reflection on-action. We have also discussed the basic structure of academic reflections, the elements that make a reflection note effective, and how to maintain an academic tone.

Furthermore, we have provided a step-by-step guide on how to write a reflection note, including tips and strategies for starting your reflection paper, enhancing your writing process, and conducting critical evaluation. We have also compared different types of reflection papers and their formats, such as course reflection papers, personal reflection papers, experiential reflection papers, and critical reflection papers.

To improve your reflective writing skills, we have shared strategies for improvement, the importance of practice, and how to overcome common challenges. We have also provided examples and models of reflective writing, as well as a sample reflection essay for reference. Lastly, we have highlighted the role of reflection notes in skill development and learning, emphasizing the symbiotic relationship between reflection tasks and skill development, the impact of learning experiences on personal life experiences, and the role of reflection tasks in learning journals.

By mastering the art of writing reflection notes, you can enhance your learning experiences, foster personal insight and self-awareness, and achieve personal and professional growth.

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ELA Common Core Lesson Plans

instructions for writing a reflective essay

  • Create Characters Lesson Plan
  • Creative Writing Lesson Plan: Using Details
  • How to Write a Cause and Effect Essay
  • How to Write a Conclusion for an Essay Lesson Plan
  • How to Write a Persuasive Essay

How to Write a Reflective Essay

  • How to Write an Article Critique and Review
  • How to Write an Introduction to an Essay
  • How to Write a Problem Solution Essay
  • Lesson Plan: Effective Sentence Structure
  • Lesson Plan: Improve Writing Style with Improved Sentence Structure
  • Logical Fallacies Lesson Plan with Summary & Examples
  • Teaching Active and Passive Voice
  • Teaching How to Revise a Rough Draft
  • Teaching Instructional Articles: How to Write Instructions
  • Teaching Word Choice: Using Strong Verbs
  • Using Imagery Lesson Plan
  • Writing for Audience and Purpose
  • Writing Transitions Lesson
  • Analyzing Humor in Literature Lesson Plan
  • Analyzing Shakespeare Strategies
  • Fun Reading Lesson Plan
  • How to Write a Literary Analysis.
  • How to Annotate and Analyze a Poem
  • Lesson Plan for Teaching Annotation
  • Literary Terms Lesson Plan
  • Literature Exemplars – Grades-9-10
  • Teaching Short Story Elements
  • Using Short Stories to Teach Elements of Literature
  • Bill of Rights Lesson Plan
  • Fun Ideas for Teaching Language
  • Comma Rules: How to Use Commas
  • Difference between Denotation and Connotation
  • Effective Word Choice Lesson Plan
  • Fun Grammar Review Game or Vocabulary & Language Arts
  • Lesson Plans for Substitute Teachers and Busy English Teachers
  • Lesson Plan: Creating the Perfect Title
  • 4.08 – Lesson Plan: Using Semicolons Correctly
  • Pronoun-Antecedent Agreement Lesson Plan
  • Sentence Combining Made Easy Lesson Plan
  • Strategies for Teaching Vocabulary
  • Using Tone Effectively Lesson Plan
  • 4.12 – Word Choice Lesson Plan: Eliminate and Replace “To Be” Verbs
  • Using Voice in Writing Effectively Lesson Plan
  • Speaking & Listening
  • Teacher Guide Central

Teaching the Common Core Standards in Writing

Knowing how to write a reflective essay means understanding narrative essay guidelines and applying them to a personal experience.

Get five writing lesson plans with common core objectives, notes and instructions in a downloadable/printable pdf document. You can simply print it out, stick it in your lesson plan book and wait for administrative accolades.

Lessons include:

  • “How to Write a Narrative/Reflexive Essay”
  • “How to Write an Article Critique”
  • “How to Write an Informational Article”
  • “How to Write a Literary Analysis”
  • “How to Write a Tall Tale.”
  • “How to Write a Descriptive Essay”

The Problem

After reading the 37th essay on Disneyland, the 26th essay on summer vacation, and the 345th essay disguised as an incoherent rant, I decided to teach how to write a reflective essay. All you need to do to teach this is take the guidelines for a narrative essay and change a word or two. Guidelines for a narrative essay include the following:

Introduction : A narrative essay doesn’t necessarily have the same type of introduction as an expository or persuasive essay. The same principles, however, apply. A reflective essay should introduce the incident about which you are writing, including principal characters and setting.

Body : The body is the actual narrative part of the reflective essay. It recreates the incident with specific details. It must make the significance of the event clear.

Conclusion : The conclusion should reflect on the outcome of the incident and present the writer’s feelings.

ELA Common Core Standards

Teaching how to write a narrative or reflective essay satisfies the following common core standards.  This will impress your administrator, but bore your students.  I recommend simplifying the language when you write the objective(s) on the board.

Common Core Writing Standard 1 . Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence. Common Core Writing Standard 2. Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content. W.9-10.3 Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences. W.9-10.4  Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in W.9-10.1-3.) W.9-10.5   Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on addressing what is most significant for a specific purpose and audience. (Editing for conventions should demonstrate command of L.9-10.1-3.)

Standards for a Good Reflective Essay

A reflective essay should…

  • focus on a clearly defined and well-developed incident. The incident may consist of a series of closely related incidents.
  • provide background information.
  • include the elements of a narrative: plot, characters, setting, conflict.
  • organize events clearly . Chronological order works best. Skilled writers may want to incorporate flashbacks.
  • use dialogue, if appropriate.
  • include appropriate word choice .
  • explain the significance of the incident.
  • maintain a consistent point of view.

Choosing the Incident

The first step is choosing the incident. It can be something you experienced personally or something you witnessed but did not participate in. For ideas, brainstorm significant people, places, and things or writing “I remember when…” on the top of your paper and finishing it with as many things you can think of. Once you have chosen an incident, do the following:

Test the topic. Make sure you remember the incident well enough to write about it, understand the significance of it, your willingness to share it, and your ability to express the incident’s impact.

Consider your audience and purpose . Tailor the subject matter and the writing level to those who are most likely to read it.

List key events. This will help you establish a foundation for the narrative. Don’t get hung up on facts. In most cases, inventing or changing characters, words, or setting is acceptable.

Drafting and Revising

Theoretically, you have chosen a memory that has personal significance. If you find yourself losing interest as you write, you probably chose the wring memory. Remember the following as you draft:

  • Use the elements of a story and include necessary background information.
  • Include dialogue.
  • Use sensory details.

When revising make sure the following is clear:

  • The significance of the event
  • What actually happened

Types of Essays

Step-by-step instructions for writing different types of essays can be accessed by the following links.

  • Problem-Solution Essay
  • Persuasive Essay
  • Narrative Essay
  • Instructional Article
  • Literary Analysis
  • How to Write a Tall-Tale
  • How to Write an Article Critique
  • Cause and Effect Essay

Last Updated on October 20, 2017 by Trenton Lorcher

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instructions for writing a reflective essay

Teaching Connections

Advancing discussions about teaching, who’s afraid of academic writing a reflective essay on dispelling anxiety and fear in an academic writing course.

WONG Jock Onn Centre for English Language Communication (CELC)

Jock Onn considers how educators can apply an ethics of care in their teaching, as he takes us through survey findings on students’ perspectives towards academic writing, particularly the emotions they associate with this activity and the challenges they face.

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash.

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

I had previously spent many semesters in my teaching practice developing methods that I thought would help students excel in academic writing. It did not matter to me at the time that student feedback told me that my coursework was demanding; I took it to mean that I was on the right track (Wong, 2023a). It was only in recent years that I realised the need to show more care in my teaching (Wong, 2023b). Last year, amazingly, for the first time, the word ‘care’ appeared in my student feedback. A student wrote, “Dr Wong displays care for his students…” Realising the importance of care, I decided to find out why students need care and conducted a simple Google survey (entitled “Attitudes Towards Academic Writing”) last semester with my three classes. I asked them to make known the emotions they associate with academic writing, write qualitative comments on their answers, and tell me what challenges they face. I received 41 responses, and the survey yielded some tentative but interesting findings.

The survey asked, “Which of the following emotions do you associate with academic writing?” As shown in Table 1, over 50% of the students associated academic writing with fear and anxiety. Slightly over a quarter associated it with a rather positive feeling (26.8%) and only a very small percentage (4.9%) associated it with something very positive. The fact that over half of the respondents associated academic writing with fear (53.7%) and anxiety (63.4%) was a surprise to me. Fortunately, less than 10% hated academic writing.


Students also gave qualitative comments on why they experienced fear and anxiety in academic writing. Some indicated that they had insufficient linguistic knowledge, including the vocabulary and skills to write academically. A few even claimed that they did not know what academic writing entails. Other respondents indicated a lack of confidence. For example, a student wrote that knowing that their work is being graded caused anxiety. Several students attributed their anxiety to uncertainty and a lack of confidence in academic writing. In some cases, fear or anxiety was a result of bad experiences in junior college (JC). A student recounted their JC experience, when they had to produce an essay in three hours, causing their brain and hand to hurt.

The survey further asked respondents to tick the problems they face in academic writing from a list. Table 2 shows that the top three problems students face in academic writing have to do with not knowing what constitutes academic writing, not having enough ideas, and sentence cohesion . More than half of the students said that they did not know how to write academically (58.5%) and did not have enough ideas for writing (51.2%). Also, over 30% of respondents had problems with the introduction (‘don’t know how to start’) (36.6%), and grammar (34.1%).

Table 2 Problems that students face (in decreasing order of importance)


Anxiety is said to be “one of the critical individual affective factors in the process of learning a second language or a foreign language” (He et al., 2021, p. 1). Presumably, the same could be said of the process of learning academic writing. Anxiety, as studies suggest, is linked to “avoidance of the feared situation and loss of motivation to perform”, which could adversely affect retention (England et al., 2017, p. 2/17). Student anxiety and fear can ultimately affect language performance (Soriano & Co, 2022, p. 450). Thus, dispelling anxiety and fear among students is a pedagogic imperative.   

To dispel anxiety and fear, one would benefit from understanding what they mean. I believe most of us do. However, two co-authors offer an interesting perspective. According to Kastrup and Mallow (2016), fear “deals with things of which there is good reason to be afraid”, whereas anxiety means “being scared of something that is not intrinsically fearful” (pp. 3-1). Although Kastrup and Mallow (2016) speak in the context of science, their definitions seem to make general sense. As educators, we recognise that while some student concerns are practical in nature (e.g., they do not know the rules), others seem to be psychological. The solution to practical concerns could be addressed in a more straightforward fashion by using sound teaching methods; however, psychological barriers may require a different approach.

My proposed way of addressing the psychological challenge is to replace the bad experiences with pleasant ones. As Cook (2021) puts it, teachers “must provide instructor presence by providing a positive education experience for students” and give them “a sense of belonging” (p. 136). The teacher can achieve this by creating a positive learning experience through an ethic of care (Noddings, 2012). The teacher can display “empathic concern” (Patel, 2023) by acknowledging student perspectives in class, using inclusive languages, encouraging open communication, and accommodating student needs (p. 64). The teacher can create “a safe learning environment” by establishing “rules of engagement” and encouraging students to “explain their answers” in class without labelling the answers as “wrong” or “incorrect” (Teo, 2023, p. 79). After all, “harsh criticisms” can impede learning (Soriano & Co, 2022, p. 452), whereas positive feedback can alleviate anxiety (He et al., 2021). A student recently gave feedback that I often asked them whether they understood what I had taught, and this suggests that checking for understanding regularly is reassuring. To this end, the teacher could use ungraded quizzes, which do not cause student anxiety (England et al., 2017). There are many other things a teacher could do in this vein to help address such psychological learning barriers (Harvard Medical School, 2017; Abigail, 2019).

To maximise student learning, the teacher plays a big role, a role much bigger than I had previously thought—the teacher has a responsibility to dispel fear and anxiety among students. I agree with Kastrup and Mallow (2016) that it is the teachers “who most affect the anxiety (or lack thereof) of the students” (pp. 3-12). I would now say that what makes an excellent teacher is not just the use of time-tested teaching methods but also a capacity to care (Wong, 2023b). Thus, for me, the obvious way forward is to ‘integrate care in higher education’ by ‘teaching with heart’ (Holles, 2023, p. 18).

Abigail, H. (2019, March 5). Tips to beat back writing anxiety . Retrieved from IUPUI University Writing Center Blog:

Cook, M. (2021). Students’ perceptions of interactions from instructor presence, cognitive presence, and social presence in online lessons. International Journal of TESOL Studies (Special Issue “ELT in the Time of the Coronavirus 2020”, Part 3), 3 (1), 134-161.

England, B. J., Brigati, J. R., & Schussler, E. E. (2017, August 3). Student anxiety in introductory biology classrooms: Perceptions about active learning and persistence in the major. PLoS One, 12 (8), e0182506.

Harvard Medical School. (2017, October 13). Write your anxieties away . Retrieved from Harvard Health Blog:

He, X., Zhou, D., & Zhang, X. (2021, July-September). An empirical study on Chinese University students’ English Language classroom anxiety with the idiodynamic approach. Sage Open, 11 (3), 1-14.

Holles, C. (2023). Faculty-student interaction and well-being: The call for care. International Journal of TESOL Studies, 5 (3), 7-20.

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Reflective My Learning Experience

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Published: Mar 19, 2024

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instructions for writing a reflective essay


  1. How to Write a Reflective Essay

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  1. A complete guide to writing a reflective essay

    Here's a recap of the contents of this article, which also serves as a way to create a mind map: 1. Identify the topic you will be writing on. 2. Note down any ideas that are related to the topic and if you want to, try drawing a diagram to link together any topics, theories, and ideas. 3.

  2. How to Write a Reflective Essay: Format, Tips and Examples

    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.

  3. The Writing Center

    The style and tone of your reflective essay should match the purpose of the overall assignment. This is a personal essay meant to showcase what you learned from the text, event, or experience that you are writing about. You can use the pronouns "I," "me," and "mine.". Describe the text, event, or experience fully, using plenty of ...

  4. How to Write a Reflective Essay: A Guide

    To summarize, writing a reflective essay is a personal and introspective journey, one that requires reflective thinking, a suitable reflective structure, and deep reflective content. As you go through this process, remember to focus on your personal growth, the lessons you've learned, and the transformative reflective impact of your narrative

  5. How to Write a Reflective Essay With Sample Essays

    Writing a reflective essay, also known as a reflective paper or reflection paper, is as easy as following the step-by-step instructions below. 1. 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. If those aren't enough, take a look at these 100 reflection ...

  6. How to Write A Reflective Essay

    1. Choose Your Topic Carefully. If you are given the freedom to choose a topic and don't have any idea regarding it, the best way is to brainstorm and research some trending and good topic ideas. Unfortunately, a common mistake when writing a reflective essay is to choose a topic that is too broad or too narrow. 2.

  7. How to Write a Reflective Essay

    Set the scene by using the five W's (What, Where, When, Who and Why) to describe it. Choose the events or the experiences you're going to reflect on. Identify the issues of the event or experience you want to focus on. Use literature and documents to help you discuss these issues in a wider context.

  8. How to Write a Reflection Paper in 5 Steps (plus Template and Sample Essay)

    Use these 5 tips to write a thoughtful and insightful reflection paper. 1. Answer key questions. To write a reflection paper, you need to be able to observe your own thoughts and reactions to the material you've been given. A good way to start is by answering a series of key questions. For example:

  9. How to Write a Reflective Essay

    For instance, a student nurse might be asked to write a reflective essay about a placement. When writing a reflective essay, moreover, you may have to forget the rule about not using pronouns like "I" or "we" in academic writing. In reflective writing, using the first person is essential! The Reflective Cycle. There are many approaches ...

  10. A Simple Guide to Reflective Writing

    Here are a few things you should make sure to do: Write from your own perspective. Clearly outline the context of what you're reflecting on. Make sure your writing is structured well, with a beginning, a middle, and an end. Use an appropriate writing style and ensure correct grammar and punctuation.

  11. Reflective essays

    Reflective essays are academic essays; what makes an essay "good" will work for a reflective essay. What is different about a reflective essay is that the essay is about you and your thinking. However, you will need evidence from your course to back up your reflections. You should structure a reflective essay as an essay, that is write to ...

  12. Reflective Writing Guide

    Reflective writing is not: just conveying information, instruction or argument; pure description, though there may be descriptive elements; straightforward decision or judgement, e.g. about whether something is right or wrong, good or bad; simple problem-solving; a summary of course notes; a standard university essay.

  13. How to Write a Reflective Essay: Definition, Steps & Example

    Step 1: Brainstorm and Choose a Topic. Begin by brainstorming a specific event, experience, or topic to reflect upon. It could be a personal experience, a book you've read, a class you've taken, or a significant life event. Here are some helpful tips for choosing a topic: Think about your personal experiences and select a topic that resonates ...

  14. PDF Reflective Writing

    Reflective writing is different from most other assignments because it is probably the only time you will be required to use "I" and "me" in an essay. You will be writing about your own personal experience and feelings, and in reflective writing it is important to tell the reader what you think and feel about things. Many

  15. How to Write Reflective Essays

    After completing your initial draft, take time to revise and edit. Check for clarity, coherence, and grammar. Consider seeking feedback from peers or mentors to gain additional perspectives on your reflective essay. Writing a reflective essay is a transformative process that not only enhances your writing skills but also fosters self-awareness ...

  16. How to Write a Reflection Paper: Guide with Examples

    Never write the whole essay at once. Space out the time slots when you work on your reflection paper to at least a day apart. This will allow your brain to generate new thoughts and reflections. Short and Sweet - Most reflection papers are between 250 and 750 words. Don't go off on tangents.

  17. Reflective Essay Sample with Writing Tips

    1. Start by making a list of possible topics. I usually start by asking students to make a list of important memories or people who have influenced them in an important way. 2. Next, look at the list and think about what that event or person meant to you. Ask yourself questions like the following:

  18. Reflective Paper & Essay Writing Guide

    Write about a topic chosen for you, also known as the essay prompt. Write about any topic you choose that is related to course content. To choose the best topic for your reflective essay, think about all you have gone over in your class. Brainstorming ideas can also help. Some methods of brainstorming include:

  19. 8 Tips For Writing A Great Reflective Essay (With Examples)

    This will serve as a raw material from which you'll sculpt a piece of prose. b) Consider the attractiveness of your topic from the reader's point of view. You certainly don't want to bore anyone, so pick something interesting, but important. c) Organize your essay and divide it into a couple of paragraphs.

  20. Mastering the Art of Writing Reflection Notes: A Comprehensive Guide

    Explore the concept, structure, and step-by-step instructions for crafting meaningful reflection notes. Pyrilia Blog. ... We have also provided examples and models of reflective writing, as well as a sample reflection essay for reference. Lastly, we have highlighted the role of reflection notes in skill development and learning, emphasizing the ...

  21. How to Write a Reflective Essay

    Standards for a Good Reflective Essay. A reflective essay should…. focus on a clearly defined and well-developed incident. The incident may consist of a series of closely related incidents. provide background information. include the elements of a narrative: plot, characters, setting, conflict. organize events clearly.

  22. PDF MLC Prerequisite Reflective (descriptive) Essay (PRE)

    for your writing style and capability. Instructions: Write a reflective (descriptive) essay on your Distributed Leader Course (DLC) IV experience. Topic: What was the most important part of DLC IV and how did it change you? (If you did not complete DLC IV, write the essay from the perspective of Structured Self Development (SSD) IV.)

  23. Who's Afraid of Academic Writing? A Reflective Essay on Dispelling

    Table 2 shows that the top three problems students face in academic writing have to do with not knowing what constitutes academic writing, not having enough ideas, and sentence cohesion. More than half of the students said that they did not know how to write academically (58.5%) and did not have enough ideas for writing (51.2%).

  24. Reflective My Learning Experience: [Essay Example], 595 words

    Body. One of the most significant aspects of my learning experience has been the emphasis on active engagement in the classroom. Rather than passively absorbing information, I have been encouraged to question assumptions, critically analyze arguments, and explore concepts from multiple angles.