Students analyze and reflect on hundreds of academic articles throughout their studies. This makes reflective writing a vital part of every college writing experience.
What is a reflection paper:
Reflection papers are where students share their learning experience regarding class-related material. In other words, you must tell your professor how a particular academic article or experience has helped you understand the subject better.
A good reflection essay shows that the student has fully understood the material - to the extent that they’re willing to offer personal feedback or criticism.
Writing a reflection paper can be easy because they are purely subjective. In the end, it’s your feedback that counts! However, technical and structural aspects will still come into play.
We hope that after reading this guide, you will be able to write a reflection paper with relative ease. Stick around until the end to get some useful writing tips from EssayPro writing team!
- Analyze Your Article
- Reflection Paper Format
- Writing an Outline
- Writing Tips
- Free Examples
Analyze Your Article and Write Down Your Thoughts
The first thing to do when working on a reflection essay is to read your article thoroughly and take notes. Whether you are reflecting on an activity, book/newspaper, or academic essay, you want to highlight key ideas and concepts.
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 (if it does)?
Has the article changed your mind about something? If so, explain how.
Has the article left you with any questions?
Were there any critical issues unaddressed 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?
Another good way to organize your ideas is to write them down in a 3-column chart or table.
After some simple brainstorming and organizing, you should be able to write a reflection paper quickly!
Reflection Paper Format
Academic essays usually stick to the 5-paragraph format. It is the most accessible and most understandable essay format that helps you hold to the point. It consists of an introduction, three body paragraphs, and the conclusion.
Each body paragraph focuses on one point, or objective, of your reflection paper. If you have more than three points you wish to include, you may rightfully expand your essay beyond the 5-paragraph format.
All of this usually depends on the criteria of your assignment.
College reflection papers are typically around 400 - 800 words. Professors usually don’t go into other formatting details, other than specifying whether your paper must contain MLA style citations.
If you are not familiar with the 5-paragraph essay structure - be sure to check out our guide before writing your reflection paper!
Writing an Outline
Your introduction should specify which work you have studied. Make sure that your thesis informs your reader whether or not the article was useful for you in your studies.
State what you are reflecting upon: a passage, a lecture, an academic article, etc...)
Briefly summarize the work.
Write a thesis stating how the article has affected you in one sentence.
One way to start your thesis is to write:
Example: “After reading/experiencing (your chosen topic), I gained the knowledge of…”
The body paragraphs should describe what you have learned from the article you have read. Each body paragraph must have:
A topic sentence.
A reference to the section of the article you’re discussing.
A concluding statement offering your opinion on the matter.
If you are writing about academic articles, your reflection may include quotes and passages. They give your reader a point of reference to fully understand your feedback.
If you are writing about an activity, a seminar/lesson, or some event:
Compare your experience to previous events you may have attended (which bear relevance to your topic).
Example: “We set up our charity cake fare in the hall. I stole the idea from attending a cake fare of an international school in our neighborhood.”
Describe what you saw, what you heard, and how you felt.
Example: “I saw many people participating in our charity cake fare. The hall was very noisy. I felt amazed by the turnover of our event.”
As with any conclusion, you must summarize what you’ve learned from the article. Tell the reader how your newfound knowledge has affected your understanding of the subject in general.
There are a few good ways to conclude a reflection paper:
Give a summary: go over each topic sentence of your body paragraphs and tie them all together.
Restate your thesis to make the paper come full circle.
Make your opinion clear as day; allow the reader to infer whether this article will be useful for them.
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 final impression on your reader!
Writing a reflection paper should be easy by now but hold on! Don’t pick up the pen just yet!
Here are some tips to help you write better, and maintain clarity in your writing.
Avoid vagueness in your writing; it will look not very academic.
Remember: You are not writing a full-on essay about your topic. You are writing about how the work you have read has affected you.
Think about your sentence structure. Avoid writing multiple ideas into one sentence.
Don’t use modern internet slang words. E.g., “OMG,” “LOL,” “BRB.” Even if they’re in the Oxford dictionary.
It is perfectly okay to use the word ‘I’ in your reflection. It is one of the few academic papers you can use first person language.
As you are writing an academic, personal journal, it is always a good idea to think about what information you reveal about yourself.
Make sure the information about yourself, or an opinion about your chosen topic, is relevant and appropriate for your reflection.
If you have a personal opinion that opposes your conclusion, do not include it.
To make any necessary corrections on your reflection, it is always a good idea to proofread it. Proofreading is vital before submitting any assignments to your professor.