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A complete guide to writing a reflective essay

What Can You Write About in a Reflective Essay?

❶You gave some very helpful tips and prompts on reflective writing. I saw the sun covered by a cloud which reflected the light so that rays spread out in all directions.

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What Is a Reflective Essay?

In this guide, we explore in detail how to write a great reflective essay , including what makes a good structure and some advice on the writing process.

The purpose of writing a reflective essay is to provide a platform for the author to not only recount a particular life experience, but to also explore how he or she has changed or learned from those experiences. The format of a reflective essay may change depending on the target audience. Reflective essays can be academic, or may feature more broadly as a part of a general piece of writing for a magazine, for instance.

For class assignments, while the presentation format can vary, the purpose generally remains the same: Here are some typical examples of reflective essay formats that you may have to write:. A focus on personal growth: A type of reflective essay often used by tutors as a strategy for helping students to learn how to analyse their personal life experiences to promote emotional growth and development.

The essay gives the student a better understanding of both themselves and their behaviours. A focus on the literature: While the format of a reflective piece of writing may change, there is one element that will mostly remain the same, and that is the structure. You may be relieved to know that, much like any essay, a reflective essay is typically comprised of an introduction, body and conclusion. As you go about deciding on the content of your essay, you need to keep in mind that a reflective essay is highly personal and aimed at engaging the reader or target audience.

You need to be able to reflect more on this later on your experience by showing how it influenced your subsequent behaviours and how your life has been particularly changed as a result. As a starting point, you might want to think about some important experiences in your life that have really impacted you, either positively, negatively, or both. Some typical reflection essay topics include: If you are writing a reflective essay as part of an academic exercise, chances are your tutor will ask you to focus on a particular episode — such as a time when you had to make an important decision — and reflect on what the outcomes were.

Note also, that the aftermath of the experience is especially important in a reflective essay; miss this out and you will simply be storytelling.

You need to really think about how the personal experience you have chosen to focus on impacted or changed you. Use your memories and feelings of the experience to determine the implications for you on a personal level. Write down everything you can remember about it, describing it as clearly and fully as you can.

Keep your five senses in mind as you do this, and be sure to use adjectives to describe your experience. A great way to do this is to pick out some reflection questions which will help you think deeper about the impact and lasting effects of your experience. Here are some useful questions that you can consider:. Do you think these were the right choices?

Was it a useful learning experience? What specific skills or perspectives did you acquire as a result? These signpost questions should help kick-start your reflective process. Remember, asking yourself lots of questions is key to ensuring that you think deeply and critically about your experiences — a skill that is at the heart of writing a great reflective essay. Consider using models of reflection before, during, and after the learning process to ensure that you maintain a high standard of analysis.

For example, before you really get stuck into the process, consider questions such as: Are there any possible challenges to keep in mind?

What knowledge is needed to be best prepared to approach the experience? Is the process working out as expected? Am I dealing with the accompanying challenges successfully? Is there anything that needs to be done additionally to ensure that the learning process is successful? What am I learning from this? Your writing will be so much more coherent, your ideas conveyed with structure and clarity, and your essay will likely achieve higher marks. An outline allows you to establish the basic details that you plan to incorporate into your paper — this is great for helping you pick out any superfluous information, which can be removed entirely to make your essay succinct and to the point.

Think of the outline as a map — you plan in advance the points you wish to navigate through and discuss in your writing. Your work will more likely have a clear through line of thought, making it easier for the reader to understand. It can be considerably different from other typical essay outlines, mostly because of the varying subjects.

But what remains the same, is that you need to start your outline by drafting the introduction, body and conclusion. More on this below. Introduction As is the case with all essays, your reflective essay must begin within an introduction that contains both a hook and a thesis statement. Refer back to the opening quote of this article — did it grab your attention and encourage you to read more? The thesis statement is a brief summary of the focus of the essay, which in this case is a particular experience that influenced you significantly.

Body Next up is planning the body of your essay. They key here is to put plenty of time and effort into planning the body, and you can draw on the following tips to help you do this well:. Try adopting a chronological approach. This means working through everything you want to touch upon as it happened in time. This kind of approach will ensure that your work is systematic and coherent. Lay out the important elements of your experience in a timeline — this will then help you clearly see how to piece your narrative together.

Ensure the body of your reflective essay is well focused, and contains appropriate critique and reflection. The body should not only summarise your experience, it should explore the impact that the experience has had on your life, as well as the lessons that you have learned as a result. The emphasis should generally be on reflection as opposed to summation.

Conclusion In the conclusion of your reflective essay, you should focus on bringing your piece together by providing a summary of both the points made throughout, and what you have learned as a result. Try to include a few points on why and how your attitudes and behaviours have been changed.

Consider also how your character and skills have been affected, for example: What can be concluded about your approach to specific situations? What might you do differently in similar situations in the future? What steps have you taken to consolidate everything that you have learned from your experience?

Keep in mind that your tutor will be looking out for evidence of reflection at a very high standard. They hone your critical thinking skills, invite you to think and speak your own mind, and they're not judged with the stringency of research papers or expository essays.

Opinions are what they are; no professor confronted with "I like Rocky Road ice cream and can prove why" will critique with "Wrong answer, should be chocolate chip.

He has taught English at the level for more than 20 years. He has written extensively in literary criticism, student writing syllabi and numerous classroom educational paradigms. The database based on Word Net is a lexical database for the English Language. Reflective Essays University of North Carolina: How to Write a Reflective Essay. What Is a Reflection Essay? Depending on which text editor you're pasting into, you might have to add the italics to the site name.

What Makes a Good Reflective Essay? Language to Use for Writing a Reflective Essay. How to Write an Introduction to a Reflective Essay.


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May 19,  · Writing a reflective essay, also known as a reflective paper or reflection paper, is a easy as following the step-by Reviews:

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Below we offer two examples of thoughtful reflective essays that effectively and substantively capture the author's growth over time .

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Below we offer an example of a thoughtful reflective essay that effectively and substantively captures the author's growth over time at CSUCI. Reflective writing helps us to think more about ourselves, who we are, and how we have changed. Read on in order to find out more about what a.

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Reflective Essay on to give subcutaneous Injections Introduction This assignment is a reflective account on nursing skills that I was assigned while on placement in an Organic Mental Health In-Patient Ward, presented with physical conditions and . A reflective essay, akin to a diary entry, is one of those sorts of essays that seem oh so easy, and yet oh so hard to write, all at the same time.