Put your reflection into words

Certain students think that reflection papers are their license to write an informal, if not sloppy paper. Contrary to this popular opinion, the reflection paper is still an academic paper. It is more personal than, say, a research paper, but it is not exempted from academic writing standards.

Reflection papers can be about most anything. Professors often assign reflection papers to their students to give them an opportunity to look back into their experiences, to process their thoughts, and then to speak their minds. Indeed, the reflection paper is more relaxed than an argumentative essay as one does not need to persuade the reader, only to tell them what you experienced and what you think. Thus, the only goal when writing a reflection paper is to be honest and clear. We know this because writers at CustomEssayMeister have worked on countless reflection essays, not to mention speeches and personal profiles.

What is a reflection paper?

What is a reflection paper?

A reflection paper is a personal essay. Its goal is to let the students take on a personal approach on certain topics and to express their thoughts and feelings toward it. It is a reflection—the student is expected to think about the topic, whether it is a film, a book, an experience, or a topic from class. This is where students are expected to think about the major ideas of the material and what they think about it. You should also know that, while you are primarily writing about your own thoughts and feelings, your reflection paper also reveals your perception of the material and/or the world. 

These are the things that you need to keep in mind while writing your reflection paper. The goal is to be clear and direct about what you want to say. 

Questions to ask yourself while reflecting

Reflecting on an experience

  • What about the experience struck you the most? In other words, what about the experience do you remember the most?
  • Was your experience good or bad? 
  • What are your thoughts or your opinion about it? (e.g. Were you offended? Does it have a good message?)
  • How does this experience relate to your discussions in class?

Reflecting on a book or film

  • What is the book about? What are the major themes?
  • Who is the author, and what is his stance on the themes of the book?
  • What is your reaction to the book as a whole? (e.g. do you like it?)
  • If you are focusing on the main character, who is this main character and what draws you towards them?
  • If focusing on something else, describe this and explain their significance to the book.
  • What is your reaction towards this aspect of the book?
  • How does the aspect you discussed relate to class discussions?
  • What is the significance of the book or the aspect you discussed to your life or to the world in general?

Reflecting on a project

  • How would you describe your experience working on this project? 
    • OR: Give a brief summary of your experience working on the project.
  • What are the pros and cons of this project?
  • Was it helpful in deepening your understanding of the class’ subject matter?
  • Is it relevant to the real world?

Reflecting on a course

  • What were the classes like?
  • What did you look forward to in class?
  • What did you learn in class (i.e. theories, concepts)?
  • What, in your opinion, is the most important lesson you learned from this class?
  • Is this course, the things you learned from this class, relevant? How?

Tips on writing a reflection paper

With the questions above in mind, you should already have an idea on what a reflection paper looks like. Regardless of the topic of your reflection, these tips will help you put your reflections into words.

Decide on your topic or focus. In the rare instances where the professor assigns topic options, this is the time to think and decide on the topic that you are most passionate about. If, however, the topic is definite, like a film or book, take this time to consider what part of the material you want to focus on. This can be a scene, a metaphor, a theme, or even a feeling evoked by this material.

Take down notes. If you know that you will write a reflection paper prior to the event or to your access to the material, it is always better to take down notes as you go. If you were not able to do this, you can still think about the experience in retrospect and write down your thoughts.

Word maps. Word maps are friendlier versions of an outline. This is a great preliminary step for organizing your thoughts and ideas into an outline.

Stick to your outline. Since reflection papers tend to be personal it is very easy to digress. To avoid this, make a foolproof outline and follow it. 

Start with the body. Like any essay, the introduction to your reflection paper should give an overview of what you will say in the entirety of the essay. So, it is best to write the body before the introduction to avoid being stumped. 

Do not get too personal. Even in a reflection paper, there is an unspoken limit as to how much you should write about your feelings. The goal of a reflection paper is to arrive at a logical opinion or stance on the topic. Thus, your feelings, while equally important, should only be a starting point for your analysis of the experience.

Write in first person. The reflection paper is a little less formal than a research paper, so you are allowed to use the first person when talking about your own thoughts and experiences. But…

Do not use informal language. You will still submit your reflection paper to your professor, so make sure that your language is suitable for the academe. Follow format specifications, too, if there are any.

What counts as informal language?

Give an overview or summary. Before you start writing your reflections, always introduce what you are talking about. This gives your reader context, especially where you (your ideas) are coming from.

Relate to your class. This is a must. Everything that your professor asks you to do boils down to whatever you discussed in class. Even if he/she does not explicitly ask you to relate the experience or book to your discussions, doing so will demonstrate your understanding of the class.

Essay writing service for students

Ask for help. This is our final tip: whether it is a friend or a professional writer, there is nothing wrong with asking or a little help in writing a reflection paper. A fresh set of eyes can help you proofread your paper, while a professional writer from CustomEssayMeister can help you improve your ideas and strengthen their connections with your class discussions. More than writing your reflection paper, our writers specialize in various forms of writing and written projects, which includes custom essays, custom term papers, and custom research papers, and even other forms of academic help. Never hesitate to ask for help—even the best of us need the respite!