Writing Beginner

What Is Reflective Writing? (Explained W/ 20+ Examples)

I’ll admit, reflecting on my experiences used to seem pointless—now, I can’t imagine my routine without it.

What is reflective writing?

Reflective writing is a personal exploration of experiences, analyzing thoughts, feelings, and learnings to gain insights. It involves critical thinking, deep analysis, and focuses on personal growth through structured reflection on past events.

In this guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about reflective writing — with lots of examples.

What Is Reflective Writing (Long Description)?

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Table of Contents

Reflective writing is a method used to examine and understand personal experiences more deeply.

This kind of writing goes beyond mere description of events or tasks.

Instead, it involves looking back on these experiences, analyzing them, and learning from them.

It’s a process that encourages you to think critically about your actions, decisions, emotions, and responses.

By reflecting on your experiences, you can identify areas for improvement, make connections between theory and practice, and enhance your personal and professional development. Reflective writing is introspective, but it should also be analytical and critical.

It’s not just about what happened.

It’s about why it happened, how it affected you, and what you can learn from it.

This type of writing is commonly used in education, professional development, and personal growth, offering a way for individuals to gain insights into their personal experiences and behaviors.

Types of Reflective Writing

Reflective writing can take many forms, each serving different purposes and providing various insights into the writer’s experiences.

Here are ten types of reflective writing, each with a unique focus and approach.

Journaling – The Daily Reflection

Journaling is a type of reflective writing that involves keeping a daily or regular record of experiences, thoughts, and feelings.

It’s a private space where you can freely express yourself and reflect on your day-to-day life.

Example: Today, I realized that the more I try to control outcomes, the less control I feel. Letting go isn’t about giving up; it’s about understanding that some things are beyond my grasp.

Example: Reflecting on the quiet moments of the morning, I realized how much I value stillness before the day begins. It’s a reminder to carve out space for peace in my routine.

Learning Logs – The Educational Tracker

Learning logs are used to reflect on educational experiences, track learning progress, and identify areas for improvement.

They often focus on specific learning objectives or outcomes.

Example: This week, I struggled with understanding the concept of reflective writing. However, after reviewing examples and actively engaging in the process, I’m beginning to see how it can deepen my learning.

Example: After studying the impact of historical events on modern society, I see the importance of understanding history to navigate the present. It’s a lesson in the power of context.

Critical Incident Journals – The Turning Point

Critical incident journals focus on a significant event or “critical incident” that had a profound impact on the writer’s understanding or perspective.

These incidents are analyzed in depth to extract learning and insights.

Example: Encountering a homeless person on my way home forced me to confront my biases and assumptions about homelessness. It was a moment of realization that has since altered my perspective on social issues.

Example: Missing a crucial deadline taught me about the consequences of procrastination and the value of time management. It was a wake-up call to prioritize and organize better.

Project Diaries – The Project Chronicle

Project diaries are reflective writings that document the progress, challenges, and learnings of a project over time.

They provide insights into decision-making processes and project management strategies.

Example: Launching the community garden project was more challenging than anticipated. It taught me the importance of community engagement and the value of patience and persistence.

Example: Overcoming unexpected technical issues during our project showed me the importance of adaptability and teamwork. Every obstacle became a stepping stone to innovation.

Portfolios – The Comprehensive Showcase

Portfolios are collections of work that also include reflective commentary.

They showcase the writer’s achievements and learning over time, reflecting on both successes and areas for development.

Example: Reviewing my portfolio, I’m proud of how much I’ve grown as a designer. Each project reflects a step in my journey, highlighting my evolving style and approach.

Example: As I added my latest project to my portfolio, I reflected on the journey of my skills evolving. Each piece is a chapter in my story of growth and learning.

Peer Reviews – The Collaborative Insight

Peer reviews involve writing reflectively about the work of others, offering constructive feedback while also considering one’s own learning and development.

Example: Reviewing Maria’s project, I admired her innovative approach, which inspired me to think more creatively about my own work. It’s a reminder of the value of diverse perspectives.

Example: Seeing the innovative approach my peer took on a similar project inspired me to rethink my own methods. It’s a testament to the power of sharing knowledge and perspectives.

Personal Development Plans – The Future Blueprint

Personal development plans are reflective writings that outline goals, strategies, and actions for personal or professional growth.

They include reflections on strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

Example: My goal to become a more effective communicator will require me to step out of my comfort zone and seek opportunities to speak publicly. It’s daunting but necessary for my growth.

Example: Identifying my fear of public speaking in my plan pushed me to take a course on it. Acknowledging weaknesses is the first step to turning them into strengths.

Reflective Essays – The Structured Analysis

Reflective essays are more formal pieces of writing that analyze personal experiences in depth.

They require a structured approach to reflection, often including theories or models to frame the reflection.

Example: Reflecting on my leadership role during the group project, I applied Tuckman’s stages of group development to understand the dynamics at play. It helped me appreciate the natural progression of team development.

Example: In my essay, reflecting on a failed project helped me understand the role of resilience in success. Failure isn’t the opposite of success; it’s part of its process.

Reflective Letters – The Personal Correspondence

Reflective letters involve writing to someone (real or imagined) about personal experiences and learnings.

It’s a way to articulate thoughts and feelings in a structured yet personal format.

Example: Dear Future Self, Today, I learned the importance of resilience. Faced with failure, I found the strength to persevere a nd try again. This lesson, I hope, will stay with me as I navigate the challenges ahead.

Example: Writing a letter to my past self, I shared insights on overcoming challenges with patience and persistence. It’s a reminder of how far I’ve come and the hurdles I’ve overcome.

Blogs – The Public Journal

Blogs are a form of reflective writing that allows writers to share their experiences, insights, and learnings with a wider audience.

They often combine personal narrative with broader observations about life, work, or society.

Example: In my latest blog post, I explored the journey of embracing vulnerability. Sharing my own experiences of failure and doubt not only helped me process these feelings but also connected me with readers going through similar struggles. It’s a powerful reminder of the strength found in sharing our stories.

Example: In a blog post about starting a new career path, I shared the fears and excitement of stepping into the unknown. It’s a journey of self-discovery and embracing new challenges.

What Are the Key Features of Reflective Writing?

Reflective writing is characterized by several key features that distinguish it from other types of writing.

These features include personal insight, critical analysis, descriptive narrative, and a focus on personal growth.

  • Personal Insight: Reflective writing is deeply personal, focusing on the writer’s internal thoughts, feelings, and reactions. It requires introspection and a willingness to explore one’s own experiences in depth.
  • Critical Analysis: Beyond simply describing events, reflective writing involves analyzing these experiences. This means looking at the why and how, not just the what. It involves questioning, evaluating, and interpreting your experiences in relation to yourself, others, and the world.
  • Descriptive Narrative: While reflective writing is analytical, it also includes descriptive elements. Vivid descriptions of experiences, thoughts, and feelings help to convey the depth of the reflection.
  • Focus on Growth: A central aim of reflective writing is to foster personal or professional growth. It involves identifying lessons learned, recognizing patterns, and considering how to apply insights gained to future situations.

These features combine to make reflective writing a powerful tool for learning and development.

It’s a practice that encourages writers to engage deeply with their experiences, challenge their assumptions, and grow from their reflections.

What Is the Structure of Reflective Writing?

The structure of reflective writing can vary depending on the context and purpose, but it typically follows a general pattern that facilitates deep reflection.

A common structure includes an introduction, a body that outlines the experience and the reflection on it, and a conclusion.

  • Introduction: The introduction sets the stage for the reflective piece. It briefly introduces the topic or experience being reflected upon and may include a thesis statement that outlines the main insight or theme of the reflection.
  • Body: The body is where the bulk of the reflection takes place. It often follows a chronological order, detailing the experience before moving into the reflection. This section should explore the writer’s thoughts, feelings, reactions, and insights related to the experience. It’s also where critical analysis comes into play, examining causes, effects, and underlying principles.
  • Conclusion: The conclusion wraps up the reflection, summarizing the key insights gained and considering how these learnings might apply to future situations. It’s an opportunity to reflect on personal growth and the broader implications of the experience.

This structure is flexible and can be adapted to suit different types of reflective writing.

However, the focus should always be on creating a coherent narrative that allows for deep personal insight and learning.

How Do You Start Reflective Writing?

Starting reflective writing can be challenging, as it requires diving into personal experiences and emotions.

Here are some tips to help initiate the reflective writing process:

  • Choose a Focus: Start by selecting an experience or topic to reflect upon. It could be a specific event, a general period in your life, a project you worked on, or even a book that made a significant impact on you.
  • Reflect on Your Feelings: Think about how the experience made you feel at the time and how you feel about it now. Understanding your emotional response is a crucial part of reflective writing.
  • Ask Yourself Questions: Begin by asking yourself questions related to the experience. What did you learn from it? How did it challenge your assumptions? How has it influenced your thinking or behavior?
  • Write a Strong Opening: Your first few sentences should grab the reader’s attention and clearly indicate what you will be reflecting on. You can start with a striking fact, a question, a quote, or a vivid description of a moment from the experience.
  • Keep It Personal: Remember that reflective writing is personal. Use “I” statements to express your thoughts, feelings, and insights. This helps to maintain the focus on your personal experience and learning journey.

Here is a video about reflective writing that I think you’ll like:

Reflective Writing Toolkit

Finding the right tools and resources has been key to deepening my reflections and enhancing my self-awareness.

Here’s a curated toolkit that has empowered my own reflective practice:

  • Journaling Apps: Apps like Day One or Reflectly provide structured formats for daily reflections, helping to capture thoughts and feelings on the go.
  • Digital Notebooks: Tools like Evernote or Microsoft OneNote allow for organized, searchable reflections that can include text, images, and links.
  • Writing Prompts: Websites like WritingPrompts.com offer endless ideas to spark reflective writing, making it easier to start when you’re feeling stuck.
  • Mind Mapping Software: Platforms like MindMeister help organize thoughts visually, which can be especially helpful for reflective planning or brainstorming.
  • Blogging Platforms: Sites like WordPress or Medium offer a space to share reflective writings publicly, fostering community and feedback. You’ll need a hosting platform. I recommend Bluehost or Hostarmada for beginners.
  • Guided Meditation Apps: Apps such as Headspace or Calm can support reflective writing by clearing the mind and fostering a reflective state before writing.
  • Audio Recording Apps: Tools like Otter.ai not only allow for verbal reflection but also transcribe conversations, which can then be reflected upon in writing.
  • Time Management Apps: Resources like Forest or Pomodoro Technique apps help set dedicated time for reflection, making it a regular part of your routine.
  • Creative Writing Software: Platforms like Scrivener cater to more in-depth reflective projects, providing extensive organizing and formatting options.
  • Research Databases: Access to journals and articles through databases like Google Scholar can enrich reflective writing with theoretical frameworks and insights.

Final Thoughts: What Is Reflective Writing?

Reflective writing, at its core, is a deeply personal practice.

Yet, it also holds the potential to bridge cultural divides. By sharing reflective writings that explore personal experiences through the lens of different cultural backgrounds, we can foster a deeper understanding and appreciation of diverse worldviews.

Read This Next:

  • What Is a Prompt in Writing? (Ultimate Guide + 200 Examples)
  • What Is A Personal Account In Writing? (47 Examples)
  • Why Does Academic Writing Require Strict Formatting?
  • What Is A Lens In Writing? (The Ultimate Guide)

University of York Library

  • Subject Guides

Academic writing: a practical guide

Reflective writing.

  • Academic writing
  • The writing process
  • Academic writing style
  • Structure & cohesion
  • Criticality in academic writing
  • Working with evidence
  • Referencing
  • Assessment & feedback
  • Dissertations
  • Examination writing
  • Academic posters
  • Feedback on Structure and Organisation
  • Feedback on Argument, Analysis, and Critical Thinking
  • Feedback on Writing Style and Clarity
  • Feedback on Referencing and Research
  • Feedback on Presentation and Proofreading

Writing reflectively is essential to many academic programmes and also to completing applications for employment. This page considers what reflective writing is and how to do it. 

What is reflection?

Reflection is something that we do everyday as part of being human. We plan and undertake actions, then think about whether each was successful or not, and how we might improve next time. We can also feel reflection as emotions, such as satisfaction and regret, or as a need to talk over happenings with friends. See below for an introduction to reflection as a concept. 

Reflection in everyday life [Google Slides]

Google Doc

What is reflective writing?

Reflective writing should be thought of as recording reflective thinking. This can be done in an everyday diary entry, or instruction in a recipe book to change a cooking method next time. In academic courses, reflective is more complex and focussed. This section considers the main features of reflective writing. 

Reflective writing for employability

When applying for jobs, or further academic study, students are required to think through what they have done in their degrees and translate it into evaluative writing that fulfils the criteria of job descriptions and person specifications. This is a different style of writing, the resource below will enable you to think about how to begin this transition. 

There are also lots of resources available through the university's careers service and elsewhere on the Skills Guides. The links below are to pages that can offer further support and guidance. 

what do reflective essay mean

  • Careers and Placements Service resources Lots of resources that relate to all aspects of job applications, including tailored writing styles and techniques.

The language of reflective writing

Reflective academic writing is: 

  • almost always written in the first person.
  • evaluative - you are judging something.
  • partly personal, partly based on criteria.
  • analytical - you are usually categorising actions and events.
  • formal - it is for an academic audience.
  • carefully constructed. 

Look at the sections below to see specific vocabulary types and sentence constructions that can be useful when writing reflectively. 

Language for exploring outcomes

A key element of writing reflectively is being able to explain to the reader what the results of your actions were. This requires careful grading of language to ensure that what you write reflects the evidence of what happened and to convey clearly what you achieved or did not achieve. 

Below are some ideas and prompts of how you can write reflectively about outcomes, using clarity and graded language. 

Expressing uncertainty when writing about outcomes:

  • It is not yet clear that…
  • I do not yet (fully) understand...
  • It is unclear...
  • It is not yet fully clear...
  • It is not yet (fully?) known… 
  • It appears to be the case that…
  • It is too soon to tell....

Often, in academic learning, the uncertainty in the outcomes is a key part of the learning and development that you undertake. It is vital therefore that you explain this clearly to the reader using careful choices in your language. 

Writing about how the outcome relates to you:

  • I gained (xxxx) skills… 
  • I developed… 
  • The experience/task/process taught me… 
  • I achieved…
  • I learned that…
  • I found that… 

In each case you can add in words like, ‘significantly’, ‘greatly’, ‘less importantly’ etc. The use of evaluative adjectives enables you to express to the reader the importance and significance of your learning in terms of the outcomes achieved. 

Describing how you reached your outcomes:

  • Having read....
  • Having completed (xxxx)...
  • I analysed…
  • I applied… 
  • I learned…
  • I experienced… 
  • Having reflected…

This gives the reader an idea of the nature of the reflection they are reading. How and why you reach the conclusions and learning that you express in your reflective writing is important so the reader can assess the validity and strength of your reflections. 

Projecting your outcomes into the future:

  • If I completed a similar task in the future I would…
  • Having learned through this process I would… 
  • Next time I will…
  • I will need to develop…. (in light of the outcomes)
  • Next time my responses would be different....

When showing the reader how you will use your learning in the future, it is important to be specific and again, to use accurate graded language to show how and why what you choose to highlight matters. Check carefully against task instructions to see what you are expected to reflect into the future about. 

When reflecting in academic writing on outcomes, this can mean either the results of the task you have completed, for example, the accuracy of a titration in a Chemistry lab session, or what you have learned/developed within the task, for example, ensuring that an interview question is written clearly enough to produce a response that reflects what you wished to find out. 

Language choices are important in ensuring the reader can see what you think in relation to the reflection you have done. 

Language for interpretation

When you interpret something you are telling the reader how important it is, or what meaning is attached to it. 

You may wish to indicate the value of something:

  • superfluous
  • non-essential

E.g. 'the accuracy of the transcription was essential to the accuracy of the eventual coding and analysis of the interviews undertaken. The training I undertook was critical to enabling me to transcribe quickly and accurately' 

You may wish to show how ideas, actions or some other aspect developed over time:

  • Initially 
  • subsequently
  • in sequence 

E.g. 'Before we could produce the final version of the presentation, we had to complete both the research and produce a plan. This was achieved later than expected, leading to subsequent rushing of creating slides, and this contributed to a lower grade'. 

You may wish to show your viewpoint or that of others:

  • did not think
  • articulated
  • did/did not do something

Each of these could be preceded by 'we' or 'I'.

E.g. 'I noticed that the model of the bridge was sagging. I expressed this to the group, and as I did so I noticed that two members did not seem to grasp how serious the problem was. I proposed a break and a meeting, during which I intervened to show the results of inaction.'

There is a huge range of language that can be used for interpretation, the most important thing is to remember your reader and be clear with them about what your interpretation is, so they can see your thinking and agree or disagree with you. 

Language for analysis

When reflecting, it is important to show the reader that you have analysed the tasks, outcomes, learning and all other aspects that you are writing about. In most cases, you are using categories to provide structure to your reflection. Some suggestions of language to use when analysing in reflective writing are below:

Signposting that you are breaking down a task or learning into categories:

  • An aspect of…
  • An element of…
  • An example of…
  • A key feature of the task was... (e.g. teamwork)
  • The task was multifaceted… (then go on to list or describe the facets)
  • There were several experiences…
  • ‘X’ is related to ‘y’

There may be specific categories that you should consider in your reflection. In teamwork, it could be individual and team performance, in lab work it could be accuracy and the reliability of results. It is important that the reader can see the categories you have used for your analysis. 

Analysis by chronology:

  • Subsequently
  • Consequently
  • Stage 1 (or other)

In many tasks the order in which they were completed matters. This can be a key part of your reflection, as it is possible that you may learn to do things in a different order next time or that the chronology influenced the outcomes. 

Analysis by perspective:

  • I considered

These language choices show that you are analysing purely by your own personal perspective. You may provide evidence to support your thinking, but it is your viewpoint that matters. 

  • What I expected from the reading did not happen…
  • The Theory did not appear in our results…
  • The predictions made were not fulfilled…
  • The outcome was surprising because… (and link to what was expected)

These language choices show that you are analysing by making reference to academic learning (from an academic perspective). This means you have read or otherwise learned something and used it to form expectations, ideas and/or predictions. You can then reflect on what you found vs what you expected. The reader needs to know what has informed our reflections. 

  • Organisation X should therefore…
  • A key recommendation is… 
  • I now know that organisation x is… 
  • Theory A can be applied to organisation X

These language choices show that analysis is being completed from a systems perspective. You are telling the reader how your learning links into the bigger picture of systems, for example, what an organisation or entity might do in response to what you have learned. 

Analysing is a key element of being reflective. You must think through the task, ideas, or learning you are reflecting on and use categories to provide structure to your thought. This then translates into structure and language choices in your writing, so your reader can see clearly how you have used analysis to provide sense and structure to your reflections. 

Language for evaluation

Reflecting is fundamentally an evaluative activity. Writing about reflection is therefore replete with evaluative language. A skillful reflective writer is able to grade their language to match the thinking it is expressing to the reader. 

Language to show how significant something is:

  • Most importantly
  • Significantly 
  • The principal lesson was… 
  • Consequential
  • Fundamental
  • Insignificant
  • In each case the language is quantifying the significance of the element you are describing, telling the reader the product of your evaluative thought. 

For example, ‘when team working I initially thought that we would succeed by setting out a plan and then working independently, but in fact, constant communication and collaboration were crucial to success. This was the most significant thing I learned.’ 

Language to show the strength of relationships:

  • X is strongly associated with Y
  • A is a consequence of B
  • There is a probable relationship between… 
  • C does not cause D
  • A may influence B
  • I learn most strongly when doing A

In each case the language used can show how significant and strong the relationship between two factors are. 

For example, ‘I learned, as part of my research methods module, that the accuracy of the data gained through surveys is directly related to the quality of the questions. Quality can be improved by reading widely and looking at surveys in existing academic papers to inform making your own questions’

Language to evaluate your viewpoint:

  • I was convinced...
  • I have developed significantly…
  • I learned that...
  • The most significant thing that I learned was…
  • Next time, I would definitely…
  • I am unclear about… 
  • I was uncertain about… 

These language choices show that you are attaching a level of significance to your reflection. This enables the reader to see what you think about the learning you achieved and the level of significance you attach to each reflection. 

For example, ‘when using systematic sampling of a mixed woodland, I was convinced that method A would be most effective, but in reality, it was clear that method B produced the most accurate results. I learned that assumptions based on reading previous research can lead to inaccurate predictions. This is very important for me as I will be planning a similar sampling activity as part of my fourth year project’ 

Evaluating is the main element of reflecting. You need to evaluate the outcomes of the activities you have done, your part in them, the learning you achieved and the process/methods you used in your learning, among many other things. It is important that you carefully use language to show the evaluative thinking you have completed to the reader.

Varieties of reflective writing in academic studies

There are a huge variety of reflective writing tasks, which differ between programmes and modules. Some are required by the nature of the subject, like in Education, where reflection is a required standard in teaching.

Some are required by the industry area graduates are training for, such as 'Human Resources Management', where the industry accreditation body require evidence of reflective capabilities in graduates.

In some cases, reflection is about the 'learning to learn' element of degree studies, to help you to become a more effective learner. Below, some of the main reflective writing tasks found in University of York degrees are explored. In each case the advice, guidance and materials do not substitute for those provided within your modules. 

Reflective essay writing

Reflective essay tasks vary greatly in what they require of you. The most important thing to do is to read the assessment brief carefully, attend any sessions and read any materials provided as guidance and to allocate time to ensure you can do the task well.

Google Slides

Reflective learning statements

Reflective learning statements are often attached to dissertations and projects, as well as practical activities. They are an opportunity to think about and tell the reader what you have learned, how you will use the learning, what you can do better next time and to link to other areas, such as your intended career. 

Making a judgement about academic performance

Think of this type of writing as producing your own feedback. How did you do? Why? What could you improve next time? These activities may be a part of modules, they could be attached to a bigger piece of work like a dissertation or essay, or could be just a part of your module learning. 

The four main questions to ask yourself when reflecting on your academic performance. 

  • Why exactly did you achieve the grade you have been awarded? Look at your feedback, the instructions, the marking scheme and talk to your tutors to find out if you don't know. 
  • How did your learning behaviours affect your academic performance? This covers aspects such as attendance, reading for lectures/seminars, asking questions, working with peers... the list goes on. 
  • How did your performance compare to others? Can you identify when others did better or worse? Can you talk to your peers to find out if they are doing something you are not or being more/less effective?
  • What can you do differently to improve your performance? In each case, how will you ensure you can do it? Do you need training? Do you need a guide book or resources? 

When writing about each of the above, you need to keep in mind the context of how you are being asked to judge your performance and ensure the reader gains the detail they need (and as this is usually a marker, this means they can give you a high grade!). 

Writing a learning diary/blog/record

A learning diary or blog has become a very common method of assessing and supporting learning in many degree programmes. The aim is to help you to think through your day-to-day learning and identify what you have and have not learned, why that is and what you can improve as you go along. You are also encouraged to link your learning to bigger thinking, like future careers or your overall degree. 

Other support for reflective writing

Online resources.

The general writing pages of this site offer guidance that can be applied to all types of writing, including reflective writing. Also check your department's guidance and VLE sites for tailored resources.

Other useful resources for reflective writing:

what do reflective essay mean

Appointments and workshops 

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How to Write a Reflective Essay

3-minute read

  • 29th August 2018

If you think that a “reflective essay” is a college paper written on a mirror, this post is for you. That’s because we’re here to explain exactly what a reflective essay is and how to write one. And we can tell you from the outset that no mirrors are required to follow our advice.

what do reflective essay mean

What Is Reflective Writing?

The kind of “reflection” we’re talking about here is personal. It involves considering your own situation and analyzing it so you can learn from your experiences. To do this, you need to describe what happened, how you felt about it, and what you might be able to learn from it for the future.

This makes reflective writing a useful part of courses that involve work-based learning . 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 to reflective learning, but one of the most popular is Gibb’s Reflective Cycle . This was developed by Professor Graham Gibbs and can be applied to a huge range of situations. In all cases, though, it involves the following steps:

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  • Description – You will need to describe your experiences in detail. This includes what happened, where and when it happened, who else was involved, and what you did.
  • Feelings – How you felt before, during, and after the experience you describe.
  • Evaluation and Analysis – Think about what went well and what could be improved upon based on your experience. Try to refer to ideas you’ve learned in class while thinking about this.
  • Conclusions – Final thoughts on what you’ve learned from the experience.
  • Action – How you will put what you’ve learned into practice.

If your reflective essay addresses the steps above, you are on the right track!

Structuring a Reflective Essay

While reflective essays vary depending upon topic and subject area, most share a basic overall structure. Unless you are told otherwise, then, your essay should include the following:

  • Introduction – A brief outline of what your essay is about.
  • Main Body – The main part of your essay will be a description of what happened and how it made you feel . This is also where you will evaluate and analyze your experiences, either as part of the description or as a separate section in the essay.
  • Conclusion – The conclusion of your essay should sum up what you have learned from reflecting on your experiences and what you would do differently in the future.
  • Reference List – If you have cited any sources in your essay, make sure to list them with full bibliographic information at the end of the document.

Finally, once you’ve written your essay, don’t forget to get it checked for spelling and grammar errors!

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what do reflective essay mean

Reflective Writing

“Reflection is a mode of inquiry: a deliberate way of systematically recalling writing experiences to reframe the current writing situation. It allows writers to recognize what they are doing in that particular moment (cognition), as well as to consider why they made the rhetorical choices they did (metacognition). The combination of cognition and metacognition, accessed through reflection, helps writers begin assessing themselves as writers, recognizing and building on their prior knowledge about writing.” —Kara Taczak, “Reflection is Critical for Writers’ Development” (78) Naming What We Know: Threshold Concepts of Writing Studies

Reflective writing assignments are common across the university. You may be asked to reflect on your learning, your writing, your personal experiences in relation to a theory or text, or your personal experiences in an internship or other type of experience in relation to course readings. These are assignments, as Kara Taczak notes, that offer opportunities to solidify knowledge about our experiences and how they might relate to others’ experiences and existing research. Moreso, reflection can lead to more informed understandings of our own experiences and course content in ways that may make that knowledge more useful in future classes and practice. However, often  reflective writing  is not taught as an explicit writing skill and can be problematically treated as a less rigorous form of writing. Below are some broad writing tips that can help not only your reflective writing to be stronger, but also the reflective inquiry to be more meaningful.

Collect relevant evidence before you start writing.

Yes–we recommend using  evidence  in reflective writing! When connecting personal experiences to the readings, that means selecting quotes from the readings and then coming up with specific moments in your life that relate to those quotes. When reflecting on learning or growth, that might mean locating evidence (quotes) from your previous papers that showcase growth.

Be specific.

It’s really easy to see reflective writing as more informal or casual, and thus, as requiring less attention to details; however, strong reflective writing is very precise and specific. Some examples of statements that are too vague and meaningless include, “I learned a lot about writing this semester.” Or, “I feel like my experiences are exactly as Author B says in this quote.” Neither of these statements tells us much–they are a bit devoid of content. Instead, try to name exactly what you learned about writing or exactly how your experiences are related to the quote. For example, you might reflect, “At the beginning of the semester, unsure of how to summarize a text well, I was just describing the main the idea of the text. However, after learning about Harris’ concept of capturing a writer’s “project,” I believe I have become better at really explaining a text as a whole. Specifically, in my last essay, I was able to provide a fully developed explanation of Author A’s argument and purpose for the essay as well as their materials and methods (that is, how they made the argument). For example, in this quote from my last essay,...”

Focus on a small moment from your experiences.

It’s hard to not want to recap our entire childhood or the full summer before something happened for context when sharing a personal story. However, it’s usually more effective to select a very specific moment in time and try to accurately describe what happened, who was involved, and how it made you feel and react. When writing about a moment, try to place readers there with you–help readers to understand what happened, who was involved, where it happened, why it happened, and what the results were. If this is a more creative assignment, you might even include some sensory descriptions to make the moment more of an experience for readers.

Fully explain the quote or focus of each point.

In reflective writing, you are usually asked to share your experiences in relation to something–a perspective in a text, learning about writing, the first-year experience, a summer internship, etc. When introducing this focal point, make sure you fully explain it. That is, explain what you think the quote means and provide a little summary for context. Or, if you’re reflecting on writing skills learned, before you jump to your learning and growth, stop to explain how you understand the writing skill itself–”what is analysis?,” for example. Usually, you want to fully explain the focus, explain your personal experiences with it, and then return to the significance of your experiences.

Use “I” when appropriate.

Often, in high schools, students are taught to abandon the first-person subject altogether in order to avoid over-use. However, reflective writing requires some use of “I.” You can’t talk about your experiences without using “I”! That being said, we’ve saved this advice for the bottom of the list because, as we hope the above tips suggest, there are a lot of important things that likely need explaining in addition to your personal experiences. That means you want to use “I” when appropriate, balancing your use of “I” with your explanation of the theory, quote, or situation you were in, for example.

Reflection conclusions can look forward to the future.

In the conclusion, you may want to ask and answer questions like:

  • What is the significance of my experiences with X?
  • What did I learn from reflecting on my experiences with Y?
  • How might this reflective work inform future decisions?
  • What specific tools or strategies did this activity use that might be employed in the future? When and why?

Write the reflection introduction last.

We always recommend writing introductions after you’ve drafted your entire essay–this allows you to actually introduce the specific essay you’ve already written (it’s easier to do and more likely to be strong). Reflective introductions have a little bit more flexibility. You do want to introduce the focus of your essay right away–and you might do that by naming it, by sharing a related anecdote, by naming a previously held idea/belief that has changed through learning happening during this course, or by explaining a reading or class discussion that make you curious about the focus you selected.

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Ultimate guide to writing a reflective essay, carla johnson.

  • June 14, 2023
  • Essay Topics and Ideas , How to Guides

Writing about yourself is a powerful way to learn and grow as a person. It is a type of writing that makes you think about your thoughts, feelings, and experiences and how they have affected your personal and professional growth. A reflective essay is a type of writing that lets you talk about your own experiences, thoughts, and insights. In this article , we’ll tell you everything you need to know about writing a reflective essay, from how to define it and figure out what it’s for to how to do it well.

What You'll Learn

Definition of a Reflective Essay

A reflective essay is a type of writing in which you write about your own thoughts, feelings, and experiences. It is a type of personal writing that lets you talk about your own thoughts and experiences and share them with other people. Students are often asked to write reflective essays for school, but they can also be used for personal or professional growth.

Purpose of a Reflective Essay

The goal of a reflective essay is to get you to think about your life and how it has affected your personal and professional growth. Reflective essays can help you learn more about yourself and your experiences, as well as find places where you can grow and improve. They can also help you get better at writing and better at getting your ideas across.

Importance of Reflective Writing

Writing about yourself and your work is an important way to grow personally and professionally. It can help you learn more about yourself, figure out where you need to grow and change, and learn more about how you think and feel. Writing about yourself can also help you get better at critical thinking and analysis , and it can help you get your ideas across better. It is a useful tool for anyone who wants to grow personally and professionally, and it can be used in many different situations, from academic writing to keeping a personal journal.

Writing about yourself and your work is a powerful way to grow personally and professionally. Reflective essays give you a chance to think about your own life and how it has affected your personal and professional growth. By writing about your thoughts and feelings, you can learn more about them, find ways to grow and improve, and improve your writing and communication skills . In the next parts of this article, we’ll show you how to write a good reflective essay step by step, from choosing a topic and organizing your thoughts to writing and revising your essay.

Elements of a Reflective Essay

A reflective essay is a type of writing that allows you to reflect on your personal experiences, thoughts, and feelings. There are several essential elements that should be included in a reflective essay to ensure that it is effective in conveying your personal reflections and experiences.

Personal Reflection

The first essential element of a reflective essay is personal reflection. This involves exploring your own thoughts and feelings about the experience you are reflecting on. It is important to be honest and open about your thoughts and feelings, as this will make your essay more authentic and meaningful.

Description of the Experience

The second element of a reflective essay is a description of the experience that you are reflecting on. This includes providing details about the experience, such as where it took place, who was involved, and what happened. The description should be clear and concise, and should provide enough detail for the reader to understand the context of your reflection.

Analysis of the Experience

The third element of a reflective essay is analysis of the experience. This involves exploring the experience in more depth, and examining your thoughts and feelings about it. You should consider what you learned from the experience, and how it impacted your personal and professional growth .

Evaluation of the Experience

The fourth element of a reflective essay is evaluation of the experience. This involves examining the experience from different perspectives, and considering its strengths and weaknesses. You should reflect on what you would do differently if you were in the same situation again, and how you could improve your response or approach.

Identification of Key Learning

The fifth element of a reflective essay is identifying the key learning that you gained from the experience. This involves reflecting on the insights and lessons that you learned from the experience, and how these have impacted your personal and professional growth. This can include new skills, knowledge, or perspectives that you gained from the experience.

Planning for Future Action

The final element of a reflective essay is planning for future action. This involves considering how you can apply the lessons and insights gained from the experience to improve your future actions. You should reflect on how you can use what you learned to approach similar situations differently in the future.

How to Write a Reflective Essay

Writing a reflective essay can be a challenging task, but by following a few simple steps, you can write an effective and meaningful essay .

Steps for Writing a Reflective Essay:

1. Brainstorming and Selecting a Topic

Begin by brainstorming and selecting a topic for your reflective essay. Think about a personal experience or event that had a significant impact on your personal or professional growth.

2. Creating an Outline

Create an outline for your essay . This should include an introduction, body, and conclusion, as well as sections for each of the essential elements described above.

3. Writing the Introduction

Write the introduction for your essay . This should include a brief overview of the experience that you will be reflecting on, as well as the purpose and focus of your essay.

4. Writing the Body

Write the body of your essay, which should include the personal reflection, description of the experience, analysis of the experience, evaluation of the experience, identification of key learning, and planning for future action . Make sure to use specific examples and details to support your reflection.

5. Writing the Conclusion

Write the conclusion for your essay , which should summarize the key points of your reflection and provide closure for the reader. You can also include a final reflection on the experience and what it means to you.

6. Revising and Editing

Pay close attention to grammar, spelling, and sentence structure as you reread and edit your essay . Make sure your essay is easy to read and flows well. You might also want someone else to look over your essay and give you feedback and ideas.

If you follow these steps, you should be able to write a good reflective essay. Remember to be honest and open about your thoughts and feelings, and to support your reflection with specific examples and details. You can become a good reflective writer with practice , and you can use this skill to help your personal and professional growth.

Reflective Essay Topics

Reflective essays can be written on a wide range of topics, as they are based on personal experiences and reflections. Here are some common categories of reflective essay topics:

Personal Experiences

– A time when you overcame a personal challenge

– A difficult decision you had to make

– A significant event in your life that changed you

– A moment when you learned an important lesson

– A relationship that had a significant impact on you

Professional Experiences

– A challenging project or assignment at work

– A significant accomplishment or success in your career

– A time when you had to deal with a difficult colleague or boss

– A failure or setback in your career and what you learned from it

– A career change or transition that had a significant impact on you

Academic Experiences

– A challenging course or assignment in school

– A significant accomplishment or success in your academic career

– A time when you struggled with a particular subject or topic and how you overcame it

– A research project or paper that had a significant impact on you

– A teacher or mentor who had a significant impact on your academic career

Cultural Experiences

– A significant trip or travel experience

– A significant cultural event or celebration you participated in

– A time when you experienced culture shock

– A significant interaction with someone from a different culture

– A time when you learned something new about a different culture and how it impacted you

Social Issues

– A personal experience with discrimination or prejudice

– A time when you volunteered or worked for a social cause or organization

– A significant event or moment related to a social issue (e.g. protest, rally, community event)

– A time when you had to confront your own biases or privilege

– A social issue that you are passionate about and how it has impacted you personally

Reflective Essay Examples

Example 1: Reflecting on a Personal Challenge

In this reflective essay, the writer reflects on a personal challenge they faced and how they overcame it. They explore their thoughts, feelings, and actions during this time, and reflect on the lessons they learned from the experience.

Example 2: Reflecting on a Professional Experience

In this reflective essay, the writer reflects on a challenging project they worked on at work and how they overcame obstacles to successfully complete it. They explore their thoughts and feelings about the experience and reflect on the skills and knowledge they gained from it.

Example 3: Reflecting on an Academic Assignment

In this reflective essay, the writer reflects on a challenging academic assignment they completed and how they overcame difficulties to successfully complete it. They explore their thoughts and feelings about the experience and reflect on the skills and knowledge they gained from it.

Example 4: Reflecting on a Cultural Experience

In this reflective essay, the writer reflects on a significant cultural experience they had, such as traveling to a new country or participating in a cultural event. Theyexplore their thoughts and feelings about the experience, reflect on what they learned about the culture, and how it impacted them personally.

Example 5: Reflecting on a Social Issue

In this reflective essay, the writer reflects on their personal experiences with discrimination or prejudice and how it impacted them. They explore their thoughts and feelings about the experience, reflect on what they learned about themselves and the issue, and how they can take action to address it.

These examples demonstrate how reflective essays can be used to explore a wide range of personal experiences and reflections. By exploring your own thoughts and feelings about an experience, you can gain insights into your personal and professional growth and identify areas for further development . Reflective writing is a powerful tool for self-reflection and personal growth, and it can be used in many different contexts to help you gain a deeper understanding of yourself and the world around you.

Reflective Essay Outline

A reflective essay should follow a basic outline that includes an introduction, body, and conclusion. Here is a breakdown of each section:

Introduction: The introduction should provide an overview of the experience you will be reflecting on and a preview of the key points you will be discussing in your essay .

Body: The body of the essay should include several paragraphs that explore your personal reflection, description of the experience, analysis of the experience, evaluation of the experience, identification of key learning, and planning for future action.

Conclusion: The conclusion should summarize the key points of your reflection and provide closure for the reader.

Reflective Essay Thesis

A reflective essay thesis is a statement that summarizes the main points of your essay and provides a clear focus for your writing. A strong thesis statement is essential for a successful reflective essay, as it helps to guide your writing and ensure that your essay is focused and coherent.

Importance of a Strong Thesis Statement

A strong thesis statement is important for several reasons. First, it provides a clear focus for your writing, which helps to ensure that your essay is coherent and well-organized. Second, it helps to guide your writing and ensure that you stay on topic throughout your essay . Finally, it helps to engage your reader and provide them with a clear understanding of what your essay is about.

Tips for Writing a Thesis Statement

To write a strong thesis statement for your reflective essay, follow these tips:

– Be clear and concise: Yourthesis statement should clearly state the main focus and purpose of your essay in a concise manner.

– Use specific language: Use specific language to describe the experience you will be reflecting on and the key points you will be discussing in your essay .

– Make it arguable: A strong thesis statement should be arguable and provide some insight or perspective on the experience you are reflecting on.

– Reflect on the significance: Reflect on the significance of the experience you are reflecting on and why it is important to you.

Reflective Essay Structure

The structure of a reflective essay is important for ensuring that your essay is well-organized and easy to read. A clear structure helps to guide the reader through your thoughts and reflections, and it makes it easier for them to understand your main points.

The Importance of a Clear Structure

A clear structure is important for several reasons. First, it helps to ensure that your essay is well-organized and easy to read. Second, it helps to guide your writing and ensure that you stay on topic throughout your essay. Finally, it helps to engage your reader and provide them with a clear understanding of the key points you are making.

Tips for Structuring a Reflective Essay

To structure your reflective essay effectively, follow these tips:

– Start with an introduction that provides an overview of the experience you are reflecting on and a preview of the key points you will be discussing in your essay .

– Use body paragraphs to explore your personal reflection, description of the experience, analysisof the experience, evaluation of the experience, identification of key learning, and planning for future action. Ensure that each paragraph has a clear focus and supports your thesis statement .

– Use transition words and phrases to connect your paragraphs and make your essay flow smoothly.

– End your essay with a conclusion that summarizes the key points of your reflection and provides closure for the reader.

– Consider using subheadings to organize your essay and make it more structured and easy to read.

By following these tips, you can create a clear and well-structured reflective essay that effectively communicates your personal experiences and reflections. Remember to use specific examples and details to support your reflection, and to keep your focus on the main topic and thesis statement of your essay .

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. what is a reflective essay.

A reflective essay is a type of writing that allows you to reflect on your personal experiences, thoughts, and feelings. It involves exploring your own thoughts and feelings about an experience, and reflecting on what you learned from it.

2. What are the elements of a reflective essay?

The essential elements of a reflective essay include personal reflection, description of the experience, analysis of the experience, evaluation of the experience, identification of key learning, and planning for future action.

3. How do I choose a topic for a reflective essay?

To choose a topic for a reflective essay, think about a personal experience or event that had a significant impact on your personal or professional growth. You may also consider professional experiences, academic experiences, cultural experiences, or social issues that have impacted you personally.

Reflective writing is a powerful tool for personal and professional development. By exploring your own thoughts and feelings about an experience, you can gain insights into your personal and professional growth and identify areas for further development. To write an effective reflective essay, it is important to follow a clear structure, use specific examples and details to support your reflection, and stay focused on the main topic and thesis statement of your essay . By following these tips and guidelines, you can become a skilled reflective writer and use this tool to improve your personal and professional growth.

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How to Write a Reflective Essay?

07 August, 2020

17 minutes read

Author:  Elizabeth Brown

A reflective essay is a personal perspective on an issue or topic. This article will look at how to write an excellent reflexive account of your experience, provide you with reflexive essay framework to help you plan and organize your essay and give you a good grounding of what good reflective writing looks like.

Reflective Essay

What is a Reflective Essay?

A reflective essay requires the writer to examine his experiences and explore how these experiences have helped him develop and shaped him as a person.  It is essentially an analysis of your own experience focusing on what you’ve learned.

Don’t confuse reflexive analysis with the rhetorical one. If you need assistance figuring out how to write a rhetorical analysis , give our guide a read!

Based on the reflective essay definition, this paper will follow a logical and thought-through plan . It will be a discussion that centers around a topic or issue. The essay should strive to achieve a balance between description and personal feelings.

It requires a clear line of thought, evidence, and examples to help you discuss your reflections. Moreover, a proper paper requires an analytical approach . There are three main types of a reflective essay: theory-based, a case study or an essay based on one’s personal experience.

How to choose reflective essay topics

Unlike most academic forms of writing, this writing is based on personal experiences and thoughts. As such, first-person writing position where the writer can refer to his own thoughts and feelings is essential. If the writer talks about psychology or medicine, it is best to use the first-person reference as little as possible to keep the tone objective and science-backed.

To write this paper, you need to recollect and share personal experience . However, there is still a chance that you’ll be asked to talk about a more complex topic.

By the way, if you are looking for good ideas on how to choose a good argumentative essay topic , check out our latest guide to help you out!

The Criteria for a Good Reflective Essay

The convention of an academic reflective essay writing will vary slightly depending on your area of study. A good reflective essay will be written geared towards its intended audience. These are the general criteria that form the core of a well-written piece:

  • A developed perspective and line of reasoning on the subject.
  • A well-informed discussion that is based on literature and sources relevant to your reflection.
  • An understanding of the complex nuance of situations and the tributary effects that prevent them from being simple and clear-cut.
  • Ability to stand back and analyze your own decision-making process to see if there is a better solution to the problem.
  • A clear understanding of h ow the experience has influenced you.
  • A good understanding of the principles and theories of your subject area.
  • Ability to frame a problem before implementing a solution.

These seven criteria form the principles of writing an excellent reflective essay.

Still need help with your essay? Handmade Writing is here to assist you!

What is the Purpose of Writing a Reflective Essay?

The purpose of a reflective essay is for a writer to reflect upon experience and learn from it . Reflection is a useful process that helps you make sense of things and gain valuable lessons from your experience. Reflective essay writing allows you to demonstrate that you can think critically about your own skills or practice strategies implementations to learn and improve without outside guidance.

Another purpose is to analyze the event or topic you are describing and emphasize how you’ll apply what you’ve learned.

How to Create a Reflective Essay Outline

  • Analyze the task you’ve received
  • Read through and understand the marking criteria
  • Keep a reflective journal during the experience
  • Use a reflective framework (Schon, Driscoll, Gibbs, and Kolb) to help you analyze the experience
  • Create a referencing system to keep institutions and people anonymous to avoid breaking their confidentiality
  • 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
  • Reflect on how these issues changed your position regarding the issue
  • Compare and contrast theory with practice
  • Identify and discuss your learning needs both professionally and personally

Don’t forget to adjust the formatting of your essay. There are four main format styles of any academic piece. Discover all of them from our essay format guide!

Related Posts: Essay outline | Essay format Guide

Using Reflective Frameworks

Reflective writing frameworks

A good way to develop a reflective essay plan is by using a framework that exists. A framework will let help you break the experience down logical and make the answer easier to organize. Popular frameworks include: Schon’s (1983) Reflection in action and reflection on action .

Schon wrote ‘The Reflective Practitioner’ in 1983 in which he describes reflection-in-action and reflection-on-action as tools for learning how to meet challenges that do not conform to formulas learned in school through improvisation.  He mentioned two types of reflection : one during and one after. By being aware of these processes while on a work-experience trail or clinical assignment you have to write a reflective account for, you get to understand the process better. So good questions to ask in a reflective journal could be:

<td “200”>Reflection-pre-action <td “200”>Reflection-in-action <td “200”>Reflection-on-Action<td “200”>What might happen? <td “200”>What is happening in the situation? <td “200”>What were your insights after?<td “200”>What possible challenges will you face? <td “200”>Is it working out as you expected? <td “200”>How did it go in retrospect?<td “200”>How will you prepare for the situation? <td “200”>What are the challenges you are dealing with? <td “200”>What did you value and why?<td “200”>  <td “200”>What can you do to make the experience a successful one? <td “200”>What would you do differently before or during a similar situation?<td “200”>  <td “200”>What are you learning? <td “200”>What have you learned?

This will give you a good frame for your paper and help you analyze your experience.

Kolb’s (1984) Learning Cycle

Kolb’s reflective framework works in four stages:

  • Concrete experience. This is an event or experience
  • Reflective observation. This is reflecting upon the experience. What you did and why.
  • Abstract conceptualization. This is the process of drawing conclusions from the experience. Did it confirm a theory or falsify something? And if so, what can you conclude from that?
  • Active experimentation. Planning and trying out the thing you have learned from this interaction.

Gibb’s (1988) Reflection Cycle

Gibbs model is an extension of Kolb’s. Gibb’s reflection cycle is a popular model used in reflective writing. There are six stages in the cycle.

  • Description. What happened? Describe the experience you are reflecting on and who is involved.
  • Feelings. What were you thinking and feeling at the time? What were your thoughts and feelings afterward?
  • Evaluation. What was good and bad about the experience? How did you react to the situation? How did other people react? Was the situation resolved? Why and how was it resolved or why wasn’t it resolved? Could the resolution have been better?
  • Analysis. What sense can you make of the situation? What helped or hindered during the event? How does this compare to the literature on the subject?
  • Conclusion. What else could you have done? What have you learned from the experience? Could you have responded differently? How would improve or repeat success? How can you avoid failure?
  • Action plan. If it arose again what would you do? How can you better prepare yourself for next time?

Driscoll’s Method (1994) and Rolfe et al (2001) Reflexive Learning

The Driscoll Method break the process down into three questions. What (Description), So What (Analysis) and Now What (Proposed action). Rolf et al 2001 extended the model further by giving more in-depth and reflexive questions.

  • What is the problem/ difficulty/reason for being stuck/reason for feeling bad?
  • What was my role in the situation?
  • What was I trying to achieve?
  • What actions did I take?
  • What was the response of others?
  • What were the consequences for the patient / for myself / for others?
  • What feeling did it evoke in the patient / in myself / in others?
  • What was good and bad about the experience?
  • So, what were your feelings at the time?
  • So, what are your feelings now? Are there any differences? Why?
  • So, what were the effects of what you did or did not do?
  • So, what good emerged from the situation for yourself and others? Does anything trouble you about the experience or event?
  • So, what were your experiences like in comparison to colleagues, patients, visitors, and others?
  • So, what are the main reasons for feeling differently from your colleagues?
  • Now, what are the implications for you, your colleagues and the patients?
  • Now, what needs to happen to alter the situation?
  • Now, what are you going to do about the situation?
  • Now, what happens if you decide not to alter anything?
  • Now, what will you do differently if faced with a similar situation?
  • Now, what information would you need to deal with the situation again?
  • Now, what methods would you use to go about getting that information?

This model is mostly used for clinical experiences in degrees related to medicine such as nursing or genetic counseling. It helps to get students comfortable thinking over each experience and adapting to situations.

This is just a selection of basic models of this type of writing. And there are more in-depth models out there if you’re writing a very advanced reflective essay. These models are good for beginner level essays. Each model has its strengths and weaknesses. So, it is best to use one that allows you to answer the set question fully.

This written piece can follow many different structures depending on the subject area . So, check your assignment to make sure you don’t have a specifically assigned structural breakdown. For example, an essay that follows Gibbs plan directly with six labeled paragraphs is typical in nursing assignments. A more typical piece will follow a standard structure of an introduction, main body, and conclusion. Now, let’s look into details on how to craft each of these essay parts.

How to Write an Introduction?

There are several good ways to start a reflective essay . Remember that an introduction to a reflective essay differs depending on upon what kind of reflection is involved. A science-based introduction should be brief and direct introducing the issue you plan on discussing and its context.

Related post: How to write an Essay Introduction

For example, a nursing student might want to discuss the overreliance on medical journals in the industry and why peer-reviewed journals led to mistaken information. In this case, one good way how to start a reflective essay introduction is by introducing a thesis statement. Help the reader see the real value of your work.

Do you need help with your thesis statement? Take a look at our recent guide explaining what is a thesis statement .

Let’s look at some reflective essay examples.

‘During my first month working at Hospital X, I became aware just how many doctors treated peer-views journal articles as a gospel act. This is a dangerous practice that because of (a), (b) and (c) could impact patients negatively.’

The reflective essay on English class would begin differently. In fact, it should be more personal and sound less bookish .

How to Write the Main Body Paragraphs?

The main body of the essay should focus on specific examples of the issue in question. A short description should be used for the opener. Each paragraph of this piece should begin with an argument supporting the thesis statement.

The most part of each paragraph should be a reflexive analysis of the situation and evaluation . Each paragraph should end with a concluding sentence that caps the argument. In a science-based essay, it is important to use theories, other studies from journals and source-based material to argue and support your position in an objective manner.

How to Write the Conclusion?

A conclusion should provide a summary of the issues explored, remind the reader of the purpose of the essay and suggest an appropriate course of action in relation to the needs identified in the body of the essay.

This is mostly an action plan for the future. However, if appropriate a writer can call readers to action or ask questions. Make sure that the conclusion is powerful enough for readers to remember it. In most cases, an introduction and a conclusion is the only thing your audience will remember.

Reflective Essay Topics

Here are some good topics for a reflective essay. We’ve decided to categorize them to help you find good titles for reflective essays that fit your requirement.

Medicine-related topics:

  • Write a reflective essay on leadership in nursing
  • How did a disease of your loved ones (or your own) change you?
  • Write a reflection essay on infection control
  • How dealing with peer-reviewed journals interrupts medical procedures?
  • Write a reflection essay about community service
  • Write a reflective essay on leadership and management in nursing

Topics on teamwork:

  • Write a reflective essay on the group presentation
  • What makes you a good team player and what stays in the way of improvement?
  • Write a reflective essay on the presentation
  • Write about the last lesson you learned from working in a team
  • A reflective essay on career development: How teamwork can help you succeed in your career?

Topics on personal experiences:

  • Write a reflective essay on the pursuit of happiness: what it means to you and how you’re pursuing it?
  • Write a reflective essay on human sexuality: it is overrated today? And are you a victim of stereotypes in this area?
  • Write a reflective essay on growing up
  • Reflective essay on death: How did losing a loved one change your world?
  • Write a reflective essay about a choice you regret
  • Write a reflective essay on the counseling session

Academic topics:

  • A reflective essay on the writing process: How does writing help you process your emotions and learn from experiences?
  • Write a reflective essay on language learning: How learning a new language changes your worldview
  • A reflective essay about a choice I regret
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Reflective Essay Example

Tips on writing a good reflective essay.

Some good general tips include the following:

Do's and don'ts of reflective essay writing

As long as you use tips by HandMade Writing, you’ll end up having a great piece. Just stick to our recommendations. And should you need the help of a pro essay writer service, remember that we’re here to help!

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Study Skills

Reflective practice toolkit, introduction.

  • What is reflective practice?
  • Everyday reflection
  • Models of reflection
  • Barriers to reflection
  • Free writing
  • Reflective writing exercise
  • Bibliography

what do reflective essay mean

Many people worry that they will be unable to write reflectively but chances are that you do it more than you think!  It's a common task during both work and study from appraisal and planning documents to recording observations at the end of a module. The following pages will guide you through some simple techniques for reflective writing as well as how to avoid some of the most common pitfalls.

What is reflective writing?

Writing reflectively involves critically analysing an experience, recording how it has impacted you and what you plan to do with your new knowledge. It can help you to reflect on a deeper level as the act of getting something down on paper often helps people to think an experience through.

The key to reflective writing is to be analytical rather than descriptive. Always ask why rather than just describing what happened during an experience. 


Reflective writing is...

  • Written in the first person
  • Free flowing
  • A tool to challenge assumptions
  • A time investment

Reflective writing isn't...

  • Written in the third person
  • Descriptive
  • What you think you should write
  • A tool to ignore assumptions
  • A waste of time

Adapted from The Reflective Practice Guide: an Interdisciplinary Approach / Barbara Bassot.

You can learn more about reflective writing in this handy video from Hull University:

Created by SkillsTeamHullUni

  • Hull reflective writing video transcript (Word)
  • Hull reflective writing video transcript (PDF)

Where might you use reflective writing?

You can use reflective writing in many aspects of your work, study and even everyday life. The activities below all contain some aspect of reflective writing and are common to many people:

1. Job applications

Both preparing for and writing job applications contain elements of reflective writing. You need to think about the experience that makes you suitable for a role and this means reflection on the skills you have developed and how they might relate to the specification. When writing your application you need to expand on what you have done and explain what you have learnt and why this matters - key elements of reflective writing.

2. Appraisals

In a similar way, undertaking an appraisal is a good time to reflect back on a certain period of time in post. You might be asked to record what went well and why as well as identifying areas for improvement.

3. Written feedback

If you have made a purchase recently you are likely to have received a request for feedback. When you leave a review of a product or service online then you need to think about the pros and cons. You may also have gone into detail about why the product was so good or the service was so bad so other people know how to judge it in the future.

4. Blogging

Blogs are a place to offer your own opinion and can be a really good place to do some reflective writing. Blogger often take a view on something and use their site as a way to share it with the world. They will often talk about the reasons why they like/dislike something - classic reflective writing.

5. During the research process

When researchers are working on a project they will often think about they way they are working and how it could be improved as well as considering different approaches to achieve their research goal. They will often record this in some way such as in a lab book and this questioning approach is a form of reflective writing.

6. In academic writing

Many students will be asked to include some form of reflection in an academic assignment, for example when relating a topic to their real life circumstances. They are also often asked to think about their opinion on or reactions to texts and other research and write about this in their own work.

Think about ... When you reflect

Think about all of the activities you do on a daily basis. Do any of these contain elements of reflective writing? Make a list of all the times you have written something reflective over the last month - it will be longer than you think!

Reflective terminology

A common mistake people make when writing reflectively is to focus too much on describing their experience. Think about some of the phrases below and try to use them when writing reflectively to help you avoid this problem:

  • The most important thing was...
  • At the time I felt...
  • This was likely due to...
  • After thinking about it...
  • I learned that...
  • I need to know more about...
  • Later I realised...
  • This was because...
  • This was like...
  • I wonder what would happen if...
  • I'm still unsure about...
  • My next steps are...

Always try and write in the first person when writing reflectively. This will help you to focus on your thoughts/feelings/experiences rather than just a description of the experience.

Using reflective writing in your academic work

Man writing in a notebook at a desk with laptop

Many courses will also expect you to reflect on your own learning as you progress through a particular programme. You may be asked to keep some type of reflective journal or diary. Depending on the needs of your course this may or may not be assessed but if you are using one it's important to write reflectively. This can help you to look back and see how your thinking has evolved over time - something useful for job applications in the future. Students at all levels may also be asked to reflect on the work of others, either as part of a group project or through peer review of their work. This requires a slightly different approach to reflection as you are not focused on your own work but again this is a useful skill to develop for the workplace.

You can see some useful examples of reflective writing in academia from Monash University ,  UNSW (the University of New South Wales) and Sage . Several of these examples also include feedback from tutors which you can use to inform your own work.

Laptop/computer/broswer/research by StockSnap via Pixabay licenced under CC0.

Now that you have a better idea of what reflective writing is and how it can be used it's time to practice some techniques.

This page has given you an understanding of what reflective writing is and where it can be used in both work and study. Now that you have a better idea of how reflective writing works the next two pages will guide you through some activities you can use to get started.

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  • Last Updated: Jun 21, 2023 3:24 PM
  • URL: https://libguides.cam.ac.uk/reflectivepracticetoolkit

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Reflective Essay

Barbara P

Reflective Essay - Writing Steps with Examples, Tips, and Topics

Published on: Sep 21, 2020

Last updated on: Jan 29, 2024

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A reflective essay is a form of writing where the writer reflects on a personal experience. Have you been assigned one but don’t know how to write? 

Don’t fret! 

Read on to learn in simple steps and follow the useful tips and examples given below. By the end of the blog, you will know everything you need to write an excellent reflective essay.

So let’s dive in!

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What is a Reflective Essay?

A reflective essay is a type of essay where the writer describes a personal experience or event that they observed or examined. Reflective writing involves thinking or pondering about a specific topic and writing your thoughts.

The content of a reflective essay is subjective. This means, the writer discusses the topic from their own personal point of view.  

The writer presents their thoughts and reflections in a structured and coherent manner. It combines elements of storytelling, analysis, and introspection to create a narrative that engages the reader and offers valuable insights.

What is the Purpose of Reflective Writing? 

Self-reflective essays are often used as an opportunity to explore your thoughts and feelings more deeply. The main goals of reflective writing are to;

  • Make a connection between yourself and the text 
  • Analyze what you have heard, read, or seen
  • Write subjectively and help identify your interests
  • Think about what you have learned.
  • Develop your critical and narrative skills

Here is a video that reflective writing in simple terms:

How to Write a Reflective Essay? 

Reflective essays can be very difficult to write. However, following the steps below can make your writing process easier and more effective.

  • Select a Meaningful Topic

The first step in writing a great reflective essay is to choose a good topic. You need to do a lot of brainstorming, mind mapping , and a bit of research to come up with a good topic. 

Choose a topic that holds personal significance for you. It could be a specific event, a challenging situation, a memorable encounter, or a period of personal growth. Select a topic that allows for deep introspection and provides ample material for reflection.

  • Reflect and Introspect

Ponder on your chosen topic and explore your thoughts, feelings, and reactions associated with it. 

Ask yourself probing questions, such as " How did this experience impact me? " or " What did I learn from this situation? " This introspective phase forms the foundation of your essay, allowing you to dig deep and extract valuable insights.  

  • Develop a Clear Thesis Statement

Craft a concise and focused thesis statement that encapsulates the main point or lesson learned from your reflection. 

This statement will serve as a guiding principle for your essay, ensuring that your writing remains coherent and purposeful. 

  • Chart an Outline

Create an outline that organizes your thoughts and provides a logical structure for your essay. 

Divide your essay into sections including the introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. Outline the main ideas, experiences, and reflections you plan to include in each section.

Want to learn more about how to create an outline? Here is our comprehensive reflective essay outline guide for you.

  • Write a Catchy Introduction

Start your essay with an attention-grabbing opening that sets the tone and introduces the topic to the reader. 

Engage your audience by sharing a captivating anecdote, posing a thought-provoking question, or presenting a compelling quote. Clearly state your thesis to provide a roadmap for your reflective journey.

  • Write Main Body Paragraphs

In the body paragraphs, vividly describe the experiences or events that shaped your reflection. Use sensory details and specific examples to paint a clear picture for your readers.

After describing the experience, delve into the reflection and analysis phase. Explore the significance of the experience and its impact on your personal growth, beliefs, or worldview. 

Analyze the reasons behind your thoughts, emotions, and reactions. 

  • Provide a Thoughtful Conclusion

Wrap up your essay by summarizing your main points and reinforcing the significance of your reflection. Share the insights and lessons you gained from the reflection process. 

For instance, what did you learn about yourself? How did this experience contribute to your personal development? 

Be honest and authentic in your reflections, demonstrating vulnerability and self-awareness. Don't present new information here, but summarize everything that happened in the essay.

  • Revise and Edit

Once you have completed your first draft, revise and edit your essay for clarity, coherence, and grammar. Pay attention to the flow of your ideas, sentence structure, and word choice. 

Seek feedback from peers or mentors to gain different perspectives and refine your essay further. This way, your final draft will turn out to be an interesting and valuable piece of work.

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Reflective Essay Structure

The structure of the reflective essay is the same as other types of essays. It contains an introduction, several body paragraphs, and a conclusion. 

Here is the basic reflective essay format that you can use:

Let’s learn about the components of a reflective essay in depth:

Reflective Essay Introduction 

A reflective essay also starts with an introduction, like all other essays. An essay introduction should be brief but relevant to the topic. In this part, you can give a general overview of the topic to the reader.

Start your essay with a strong hook statement . The hook statement is the first thing that the reader reads in the introduction part.

In the introduction part, state the thesis statement but don’t give too much information in this statement.  

Remember that in this part, only give a brief overview and don’t write in-depth information.

Reflective Essay Body Paragraphs

Writing the body paragraphs is the hardest part of the reflective essay. Some writers spend a lot of time writing body paragraphs. If the outline is not created well, then writing the body paragraphs is a time-consuming process.

It is the most important part of the essay and follows the proper chronological order. Describe the main issues in order related to the described event.

The body paragraphs are well-focused, and it is not a summary of your experience. Each body paragraph end with a concluding sentence.     

Reflective Essay Conclusion  

The conclusion is the last part of the essay. In this part, you should provide a summary of the entire essay. Moreover, do not repeat the same point again and again.   

Make sure the conclusion of the essay is powerful and encourages the readers to do further research. In this concluding part, restate the thesis statement, and no need to add new ideas. 

Tips for Writing a Reflective Essay

Here are some writing tips that can make your reflective essay even better, so try following these in your essay:

  • Choose the right topic for the essay, make sure that you have enough information
  • Use an engaging and narrative tone throughout the essay with an overall emotion or theme in mind.
  • Try to make the essay credible and informative
  • Reflect critically on the significance of the experiences and analyze the reasons behind your thoughts, emotions, and reactions.
  • Incorporate relevant theories, concepts, or academic frameworks to deepen your analysis.
  • Be authentic and honest in sharing your insights and lessons learned from the reflection process.
  • Connect your personal experiences to broader contexts or universal themes to create a relatable and impactful essay.
  • Support your thesis statement with strong examples and arguments.

Ref lective Essay For mat

Two commonly used formatting styles for academic writing are the APA and the MLA styles. Each style has its unique guidelines for formatting, including structure, citations, and references. 

APA Style Reflective Essay Format

Formatting your essay in APA requires the following:

  • Times New Roman 
  • Double line-spacing
  • 1" margins 
  • Page number on the top-right 
  • Include the Title Page, Main Body, and References.

MLA Style Reflective Essay Format 

The MLA style recommends the following formatting guidelines:

  • 1” margins
  • Last name and page number in the top-right
  • “Works Cited” section on the last page

Reflective Essay Examples

Check out some reflective essay samples that can give you a better understanding of the reflective essay.    

Reflective Essay Example for High School

Personal Reflective Essay Example

Reflective Essay Outline

Example of Reflective Essay on Learning Experience

Reflective Essay Example About Life Experience

Reflective Essay Topics - H2

In a reflective essay, you write about your personal experience, thoughts, and significant moments of your life. Choosing the right topic for the essay sometimes becomes a challenging task, but here are some ideas that can help you out.  

  • A surprise that you prepared for someone
  • The first thing you think of in the morning
  • When someone’s words made you cry
  • When you laughed uncontrollably with someone
  • Swimming in a mountain lake
  • The experience of an earthquake or natural disasters
  • A vacation place that you liked in particular
  • Crossing a bridge and looking out over the water.
  • Your favorite persuasive essay topic
  • Place where you feel safe

Need more topics to get your thoughts running? Here are more reflective essay topics to help you out!

Writing a reflective essay can be a transformative experience as you discover your own thoughts and feelings along the way. By following the writing steps and tips, you can enhance this experience by writing an essay that is interesting, informative, and engaging. 

So don’t hesitate to start writing a reflective paper today! You’ve got everything you need.

Still, if you are in a race against time or can’t write your essay for other reasons, don’t despair. The auto essay writer at CollegeEssay.org is here to help you out!

We also have a team of expert writers ready to assist you 24/7. Whether you need help with refining your ideas, structuring your essay, or polishing the final draft, we can lend our expertise.

So hire our custom writing service  to receive customized and professional reflective essays within the deadline!

Frequently Asked Questions

How many paragraphs are in a reflective essay.

In a reflective essay, you should follow a 5-paragraph format. However, you can add more paragraphs, and it depends on your chosen topic.

What is the goal of a reflective essay?

Writing a reflective essay aims to explore how they have changed and learned from their experiences.

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Barbara is a highly educated and qualified author with a Ph.D. in public health from an Ivy League university. She has spent a significant amount of time working in the medical field, conducting a thorough study on a variety of health issues. Her work has been published in several major publications.

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Ai, ethics & human agency, collaboration, information literacy, writing process, reflection essay.

  • CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 by Kristen Gay

At first glance, academic and reflection can sound like contradictory concepts. Writing an academic reflection essay often involves striking a balance between a traditional, academic paper and a reflective essay. In order to find this balance, consider the terms that encompass the title of the assignment

The term “academic” suggests that the writer will be expected to observe conventions for academic writing, such as using a professional tone and crafting a thesis statement. On the other hand, the term “reflection” implies that the writer should critically reflect on their work, project, or writing process, depending on the assignment, and draw conclusions based on these observations.

In general, an academic reflection essay is a combination of these two ideas: writers should observe conventions for academic writing while critically reflecting on their experience or project. Note that the term “critically” suggests that the writing should not merely tell the reader what happened, what you did, or what you learned. Critical reflection takes the writing one step further and entails making an evaluative claim about the experience or project under discussion. Beyond telling readers what happened, critical reflection tends to discuss why it matters and how it contributed to the effectiveness of the project.

Striking the proper balance between critical reflection and academic essay is always determined by the demands of the particular writing situation, so writers should first consider their purpose for writing, their audience, and the project guidelines. While the subject matter of academic reflections is not always “academic,” the writer will usually still be expected to adapt their arguments and points to academic conventions for thesis statements, evidence, organization, style, and formatting.

Several strategies for crafting an academic reflection essay are outlined below based on three important areas: focus, evidence, and organization.

A thesis statement for an academic reflection essay is often an evaluative claim about your experiences with a process or assignment. Several strategies to consider for a thesis statement in an academic reflection essay include:

  • Being Critical: It is important to ensure that the evaluative claim does not simply state the obvious, such as that you completed the assignment, or that you did or did not like it. Instead, make a critical claim about whether or not the project was effective in fulfilling its purpose, or whether the project raised new questions for you to consider and somehow changed your perspective on your topic.
  • Placement: For some academic reflection essays, the thesis may not come in the introduction but at the end of the paper, once the writer has fully explained their experiences with the project. Think about where the placement of your thesis will be most effective based on your ideas and how your claim relates to them.

Consider the following example of a thesis statement in an academic reflection essay:

By changing my medium from a picture to a pop song, my message that domestic violence disproportionately affects women was more effectively communicated to an audience of my classmates because they found the message to be more memorable when it was accompanied by music.

This thesis makes a critical evaluative claim (that the change of medium was effective) about the project, and is thus a strong thesis for an academic reflection paper.

Evidence for academic reflection essays may include outside sources, but writers are also asked to support their claims by including observations from their own experience. Writers might effectively support their claims by considering the following strategies:

  • Incorporating examples: What examples might help support the claims that you make? How might you expand on your points using these examples, and how might you develop this evidence in relation to your thesis?
  • Personal anecdotes or observations: How might you choose relevant personal anecdotes/observations to illustrate your points and support your thesis?
  • Logical explanations: How might you explain the logic behind a specific point you are making in order to make it more credible to readers?

Consider the following example for incorporating evidence in an academic reflection essay:

Claim: Changing the medium for my project from a picture to a pop song appealed to my audience of fellow classmates.

Evidence: When I performed my pop song remediation for my classmates, they paid attention to me and said that the message, once transformed into song lyrics, was very catchy and memorable. By the end of the presentation, some of them were even singing along.

In this example, the claim (that the change of medium was effective in appealing to the new audience of fellow classmates) is supported because the writer reveals their observation of the audience’s reaction. (For more about using examples and anecdotes as examples, see “Nontraditional Types of Evidence.”)


For academic reflection essays, the organizational structure may differ from traditional academic or narrative essays because you are reflecting on your own experiences or observations. Consider the following organizational structures for academic reflection essays:

  • Chronological Progression: The progression of points will reflect the order of events/insights as they occurred temporally in the project.

Sample Chronological Organization for a Remediation Reflection:

Paragraph 1: Beginning of the project

Paragraph 2: Progression of the remediation process

Paragraph 3: Progression of the remediation process

Paragraph 4: Progression of the remediation process

Paragraph 5: Progression of the remediation process

Paragraph 6: Conclusion—Was the project effective. How and why? How did the process end?

  • By Main Idea/Theme: The progression of points will centralize on main ideas or themes of the project.

Sample Organization By Main Idea/Theme for a Remediation Reflection:

Paragraph 1: Introduction

Paragraph 2: Discuss the message being translated

Paragraph 3: Discuss the change of medium

Paragraph 4: Discuss the change of audience

Paragraph 5: Was the change effective? Explain.

Paragraph 6: Conclusion

Remember that while these strategies are intended to help you approach an academic reflection paper with confidence, they are not meant to be prescriptive. Academic reflection essays are often unique to the writer because they ask the writer to consider their observations or reactions to an experience or project. You have distinctive ideas and observations to discuss, so it is likely that your paper will reflect this distinctiveness. With this in mind, consider how to most effectively compose your paper based on your specific project guidelines, instructor suggestions, and your experiences with the project.

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Critical Reflection

A Critical Reflection (also called a reflective essay) is a process of identifying, questioning, and assessing our deeply-held assumptions – about our knowledge, the way we perceive events and issues, our beliefs, feelings, and actions. When you reflect critically, you use course material (lectures, readings, discussions, etc.) to examine our biases, compare theories with current actions, search for causes and triggers, and identify problems at their core.   Critical reflection is   not   a reading assignment, a summary of an activity, or an emotional outlet.   Rather,   the goal is   to change your thinking about a subject, and thus change your behaviour.

Tip: Critical reflections are common in coursework across all disciplines, but they can take very different forms. Your instructor may ask you to develop a formal essay, produce weekly blog entries, or provide short paragraph answers to a set of questions. Read the assignment guidelines before you begin.

How to Critically Reflect

Writing a critical reflection happens in two phases.

  • Analyze:   In the first phase, analyze the issue and your role by asking critical questions. Use free writing as a way to develop good ideas. Don’t worry about organized paragraphs or good grammar at this stage.
  • Articulate:   In the second phase, use your analysis to develop a clear argument about what you learned. Organize your ideas so they are clear for your reader.

First phase: Analyze

A popular method for analyzing is the three stage model: What? So What? Now what?

In the  What?  stage, describe the issue, including your role, observations, and reactions. The   what?   stage helps you make initial observations about what you feel and think. At this point, there’s no need to look at your course notes or readings.

Use the questions below to guide your writing during this stage.

  • What happened?
  • What did you do?
  • What did you expect?
  • What was different?
  • What was your reaction?
  • What did you learn?

In the second  So What?   stage, try to understand on a deeper level why the issue is significant or relevant. Use information from your first stage, your course materials (readings, lectures, discussions) -- as well as previous experience and knowledge to help you think through the issue from a variety of perspectives.

Tip:  Since you’ll be using more course resources in this step, review your readings and course notes before you begin writing.

Below are three perspectives you can consider:

  • Academic perspective: How did the experience enhance your understanding of a concept/theory/skill? Did the experience confirm your understanding or challenge it? Did you identify strengths or gaps in your knowledge?
  • Personal perspective:   Why does the experience matter? What are the consequences? Were your previous expectations/assumptions confirmed or refuted? What surprised you and why?
  • Systems perspective:   What were the sources of power and who benefited/who was harmed? What changes would you suggest? How does this experience help you understand the organization or system?

In the third   Now what?   stage, explore how the experience will shape your future thinking and behaviour.

Use the following questions to guide your thinking and writing:

  • What are you going to do as a result of your experiences?
  • What will you do differently?
  • How will you apply what you learned?

Second phase: Articulate

After completing the analysis stage, you probably have a lot of writing, but it is not yet organized into a coherent story. You need to build an organized and clear argument about what you learned and how you changed. To do so,   develop a thesis statement , make an   outline ,   write , and   revise.

Develop a thesis statement

Develop a clear argument to help your reader understand what you learned. This argument should pull together different themes from your analysis into a main idea. You can see an example of a thesis statement in the sample reflection essay at the end of this resource.

Tip: For more help on developing thesis statements, see our   Thesis statements  resource

Make an outline

Once you have a clear thesis statement for your essay, build an outline. Below is a straightforward method to organize your essay.

  • Background/Context of reflection
  • Thesis statement
  • Introduce theme A
  • Writer's past position/thinking
  • Moment of learning/change
  • Writer's current/new position
  • Introduce theme B
  • Introduce theme C
  • Summarize learning
  • Discuss significance of learning for self and others
  • Discuss future actions/behaviour

Write and revise

Time to get writing! Work from your outline and give yourself enough time for a first draft and revisions.

Even though you are writing about your personal experience and learning, your audience may still be an academic one. Consult the assignment guidelines or ask your instructor to find out whether your writing should be formal or informal.

Sample Critical Reflection

Below are sample annotated paragraphs from one student’s critical reflection for a course on society and privilege.


Background/context of reflection : I became aware of privileged positions in society only in recent years. I was lucky enough, privileged enough, to be ignorant of such phenomena, but for some, privilege is a daily lesson of how they do not fit into mainstream culture. In the past, I defined oppression as only that which is obvious and intentional. I never realized the part I played. However, during a class field study to investigate privileged positions in everyday environments, I learned otherwise.   Thesis:   Without meaning to, I caused harm by participating in a system where I gained from others’ subtle oppression. In one of these spaces, the local mall, everything from advertisements to food to products, to the locations of doorways, bathrooms and other public necessities, made clear my privilege as a white, heterosexual male.

Body paragraph

Topic sentence : Peggy McIntosh describes privilege as an invisible knapsack of tools and advantages. This description crystalized for me when I shopped for a greeting card at the stationary store. There, as a white, heterosexual male, I felt comfortable and empowered to roam about the store as I pleased. I freely asked the clerk about a mother’s day card.   Writer’s past position:   Previously, I never considered that a store did anything but sell products. However, when I asked the sales clerk for same sex greeting cards, she paused for a few seconds and gave me a look that made me feel instantly uncomfortable. Some customers stopped to look at me. I felt a heat move over my face. I felt, for a moment, wrong for being in that store.  I quickly clarified that I was only doing a report for school, implying that I was not in fact homosexual.   Writer’s current position:   The clerk’s demeanor changed. I was free to check, she said.  It was the only time during the field study that I had felt the need to explain what I was doing to anyone. I could get out of the situation with a simple clarification. But what if I really was a member of the homosexual community? The looks and the silence taught me that I should be feared.  I realized that, along with its products, the store was selling an image of normal. But my “normality” was another person’s “abnormality.”  After I walked out of the store I felt guilty for having denied being homosexual.

Summary of learning:   At the mall I realized how much we indirectly shame nonprivileged groups, even in seemingly welcoming spaces. That shame is supported every time I or any other privileged individual fails to question our advantage. And it leads to a different kind of shame carried by privileged individuals, too.   Value for self and others:   All of this, as Brown (2003) documents, is exacerbated by silence. Thus, the next step for me is to not only question privilege internally, but to publicly question covert bias and oppression. If I do, I may very well be shamed for speaking out. But my actions might just encourage other people to speak up as well.

Sample paragraphs adapted from James C. Olsen's Teaching Portfolio from Georgetown University .

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3.8: Process of Reflective Writing

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Learning Objectives

  • Recognize possible structures for reflective writing
  • Recognize component skills of reflective writing

Reflective writing is a balancing act with many factors at play: description, analysis, interpretation, evaluation, and future application. Reflective writers must weave their personal perspectives with evidence of deep, critical thought as they make connections between theory, practice, and learning. The steps below should help you find the appropriate balance among all these factors.

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1st Step: Review the assignment

As with any writing situation, the first step in writing a reflective piece is to clarify the task. Reflective assignments can take many forms, so you need to understand exactly what your instructor is asking you to do. Some reflective assignments are short, just a paragraph or two of unpolished writing. Usually the purpose of these reflective pieces is to capture your immediate impressions or perceptions. For example, your instructor might ask you at the end of a class to write quickly about a concept from that day’s lesson. That type of reflection helps you and your instructor gauge your understanding of the concept.

Other reflections are academic essays that can range in length from several paragraphs to several pages. The purpose of these essays is to critically reflect on and support an original claim(s) about a larger experience, such as an event you attended, a project you worked on, or your writing development. These essays require polished writing that conforms to academic conventions, such as articulation of a thesis and substantive revision. They might address a larger audience than you and your instructor, including, for example, your classmates, your family, a scholarship committee, etc.

It’s important, before you begin writing, that you can identify the assignment’s purpose, audience, intended message or content, and requirements. If you can’t, ask your instructor for clarification.

2nd Step: Generate ideas for content

Refer to the Borton, DIEL, and DIEP models as you generate ideas for your writing. To meet the tasks identified in those models you might consider things like:

  • Recollections of an experience, assignment, or course
  • Ideas or observations made during that event
  • Questions, challenges, or areas of doubt
  • Strategies employed to solve problems
  • A-ha moments linking theory to practice or learning something new
  • Connections between this learning and prior learning
  • New questions that arise as a result of the learning or experience
  • New actions taken as a result of the learning or experience

3rd Step: Organize content

The Borton, DEAL, and DIEP frameworks can help you consider how to organize your content.  Remember that your reflection will generally include descriptive writing, followed by analysis and interpretation, followed by consideration of significance for future action. That pattern might be developed once throughout a short piece or repeated several times in an academic reflective essay.

When writing an academic reflection essay (as opposed to a short reflection), you’ll need to devise and support a thesis. That thesis should be an interpretive or evaluative claim, or series of claims, that moves beyond obvious statements (such as, “I really enjoyed this project”) and demonstrates you have come to a deeper understanding of what you have learned and how you will use that learning. For example, the thesis below appeared in an end-of-semester reflection essay, written in response to an assignment asking students to consider their writing progress. Notice that the student makes a focused, interpretive claim that can be supported throughout her essay with evidence from her own writing.

Throughout this class, I’ve learned that a skilled writer writes with a central focus in mind. Writing with a central focus results in a greater emphasis on the writer’s message and brings about specificity and clarity within the writing piece.

A word about thesis placement: Because a reflection essay combines personal perception with academic convention, the thesis does not necessarily appear in the introduction. Many writers build to the thesis in the conclusion of their essays. You should place the thesis where it is most effective based on the essay’s structure.

And speaking of structure, there is no one-size-fits-all organization pattern for an academic reflection essay. Some writers introduce the subject, follow the introduction with a series of reflections, and then move to an interpretive close. Others establish a chronology of events, weaving the implications of those events throughout. Still others articulate a series of major points, supporting those points with evidence. You should craft an organizational structure that best fits your distinctive ideas and observations.

However you choose to organize an academic reflection essay, you’ll need to support your claims with evidence. Evidence is defined broadly in an academic reflection, so it might include such things as anecdotes, examples, relevant material from a course or outside sources, explanations of logic or decision-making, definitions, speculations, details, and other forms of non-traditional evidence. In the example below, notice how the writer uses her decision to limit the scope of a project as evidence to support her claim.

Keeping a central focus in mind applies to multimodal compositions as well as written essays. A prime example of this was in my remix. When storyboarding for the video, I wanted to appeal to all college students in general. Within my compressed time limit of three minutes, I had planned to showcase numerous large points. It was too much. I decided to limit the scope of the topic to emphasize how digitally “addicted” Ole Miss college students are and that really changed the project in significant ways.

4th Step: Draft, Revise, Edit, Repeat

A single, unpolished draft may suffice for short, in-the-moment reflections. Longer academic reflection essays will require significant drafting, revising, and editing. Whatever the length of the assignment, keep this reflective cycle in mind:

  • briefly describe the event or action;
  • analyze and interpret events and actions, using evidence for support;
  • demonstrate relevance in the present and the future.
  • Process of Reflective Writing. Authored by : Karen Forgette. Provided by : University of Mississippi. License : CC BY-SA: Attribution-ShareAlike
  • Meme: Ask not what balance can do for you. License : All Rights Reserved . License Terms : Fair Use

what do reflective essay mean

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

what do reflective essay mean

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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Reflective writing: What is reflection? Why do it?

What is reflection why do it.

  • What does reflection involve?
  • Reflective questioning
  • Reflective writing for academic assessment
  • Types of reflective assignments
  • Differences between discursive and reflective writing
  • Sources of evidence for reflective writing assignments
  • Linking theory to experience
  • Reflective essays
  • Portfolios and learning journals, logs and diaries
  • Examples of reflective writing
  • Video summary
  • Bibliography

On this page:

“Whether we focus on problematic experiences or positive ones, reflecting on them will provide us with opportunities for growth and development.” Bassot,  The reflective journal

To build on the definition of reflection from the previous page, it is useful to consider its purpose while you are at university. The following points are the core reasons why you may be asked to reflect (or why you may want to reflect yourself):

1) Consider the process of our own learning

Think about how you learn with the aim of improving this process. This is particularly useful for revision.

2) Critically review something

Think about a particular event or personal aspect. This could be your own behaviour, that of others or the product of behaviour.

3) Build theory from observations

Think about your experiences and observations to construct your own theories. Often we use the theories of other authors and this provides you with an opportunity to construct your own.

4) Engage in personal or self-development

Reflection is focused on producing useful outcomes from the future. It can help you becoming more self-aware and can make you a better learner, researcher, practitioner or employee.

5) Make decisions or resolve uncertainty

Thinking about previous experiences can help you make decisions about new ones

Note: While all of these reasons for reflection are valid, different disciplines place emphasis on different areas. You do not necessarily need to cover all of the above in every reflective assignment. Think about why you are being asked to reflect and make sure you focus on the most appropriate area.

Having an experience in itself is not a guarantee that learning will take place. All the major theories of reflective practice suggest that reflection on an experience provides the context for learning. It is this reflection that leads to the formulation of new concepts and ways of thinking - not the act of having an experience.  Gibbs (1988 ), for example, maintains that:  

‘It is not sufficient simply to have an experience in order to learn. Without reflecting upon this experience it may quickly be forgotten, or its learning potential lost. It is from the feelings and thoughts emerging from this reflection that generalisations or concepts can be generated. And it is generalisations that allow new situations to be tackled effectively.’

Gibbs (1988 ) in Learning by doing: a guide to teaching and learning methods

Why reflect?

A positive by-product of engaging in the reflective process is that it can help you grow in self-confidence. Some of the other areas of self-change could include:

  • gaining control over your own thoughts and emotions, especially when confronted by others and new situations
  • developing deeper insights
  • make more informed judgements
  • monitoring your own performance
  • gauging not only your progress, but also your speed of change
  • tapping into your true motivations for doing something (e.g. examining your commitment to others)
  • establishing your learning preferences and thinking styles
  • developing a realistic image of yourself.

Therefore, whether you are examining yourself or your academic work, you need the ability to stand back and see the broader picture.

Self confident

Reflection is an important part of learning through experience. By reflecting on our experiences, we maximise the potential of any new learning. This is particularly important when considering positives. They are often harder to recall than the bad elements of any experience.

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Reflective Essay怎么写?写作技巧是什么?


Reflective Essay(反思性文章)是一种通过对个人经历、事件或现象进行深入思考和分析,来表达作者的感悟、见解和反思的文章体裁。它强调作者对自身经验的回顾、思考和评价,旨在展现作者的成长、学习过程以及对事物的新认识。

以下是一些写 Reflective Essay(反思性文章)的技巧:

1. 明确主题:确定要反思的具体事件、经历或主题。

2. 叙述经历:详细描述相关的经历或事件,让读者能够理解背景。

3. 自我分析:深入剖析自己在其中的感受、想法、反应等。

4. 思考影响:探讨该经历对自己的影响,包括认知、情感和行为上的变化。

5. 总结经验:总结从中学到的教训和经验,以及对未来的启示。

6. 结构清晰:采用合理的文章结构,如引言、主体和结论。

7. 表达真实:坦诚地表达自己的内心感受和思考,保持真实和诚恳。

你可以参考这些技巧来写 Reflective Essay,希望对你有所帮助!



Reflective essay一般是商科的同学遇到的比较多,它是一个留学入门级别的essay。通常是学完整个课程之后你要对这门课程进行一个反思,最后会作为期末结业的成绩。

Reflective essay的目的不仅仅是讨论你学到了什么,更是要传达你的个人经验和发现。

最常见的一种就是前面有个小组作业,然后你们一起去分析案例做 ppt,最后做 presentation 。经常会有老师布置一篇reflective essay,让你聊聊之前写过的某篇essay或某个project等等。

what do reflective essay mean

Reflective essay一般分为三步的结构:



what did you learn?

what happened?

what is being examined?


你要加入自己理解+分析 【so what层面】

What is the most important/useful/relevant?

How can it be explained?(比如with theory)

How is it similar to and different from others?

这部分的分数占比最大!体现critical thinking,注意句子之间层层相扣有逻辑。

结合未来学习 【now what层面】

What have I learned from this?

What does this mean for my future?

How far is this useful?

How far has this changed my understanding?

How will this be useful in the future?

what do reflective essay mean



强烈推荐用一些文献中高引的reflective模型和框架来underpin你整个essay,比如Gibbs的reflective cycle,Kolb的reflective model,driscoll的 modelofreflection,这样给分的老师可以直观清晰地感觉到我们的essay是能基于一定的反思模型的,也更容易follow我们的argument,更具系统性,也更具说服力。

Think about what was done. Analyse the event by thinkingin depth from different perspectives. Use subject theory,reflective models and personal insight. The critical evaluationyou make of your andothers' actions should be applied tofuture events


Think about what happened,what did and didn't work andwhat youthink about it.


Critically evaluate what you would do differently in thefuture andexplain why.


Reflective essay的结构大家可以直接拿去用,需要针对你的教授提出的一些要求,还有他给的brief上面的一些要求进行调整,才能够拿到高分哦

好啦,以上就是reflective essay写作方法以及注意事项,希望能对宝子们有所帮助。


写一篇反思性文章(Reflective Essay)通常需要你回顾一个经历、事件或情境,并对其进行深入的思考和分析。这种类型的文章不仅仅是对事实的描述,更重要的是展现你从这个经历中学到了什么,以及它如何影响了你的思考和行为。以下是写作反思性文章的一些技巧:

1. 确定主题:选择一个特定的事件或经历,确保它对你有足够深刻的影响,这样你才能从中进行有意义的反思。

2. 描述经历:清晰地描述你要反思的事件或经历,包括发生了什么、何时何地发生、谁参与其中等细节。这为读者提供了背景信息。

3. 感受和反应:描述在事件发生时你的感受和初步反应。这有助于建立你的故事的情感层面。

4. 分析和评估:深入探讨这个经历,包括它对你有什么影响,你从中学到了什么,以及你如何看待这些教训。这部分是文章的核心,应该详细且具有洞察力。

5. 反思和洞察:讨论这个经历如何改变了你的观点或行为。你可能需要考虑它是如何影响你的个人成长、价值观、态度或未来决策的。

6. 结论:总结你的反思,强调你的主要见解和学习成果。你也可以提出对未来的展望,或者你打算如何将这次反思应用到实践中。

7. 使用第一人称:反思性文章通常使用第一人称,因为它是关于你的个人经历和感受。

8. 语言和风格:使用清晰、准确、富有表现力的语言。可以使用比喻、象征或其他修辞手法来增强你的故事。

9. 检查和修订:完成初稿后,仔细检查文章的结构、语法和拼写错误。确保你的论点连贯,逻辑清晰。

10. 反馈:如果可能的话,让别人阅读你的文章并提供反馈。他们可能会提供有价值的见解,帮助你改进文章。



Reflective Essay是一种写作形式,要求作者反思并描述自己的经历、感受以及这些经历如何影响自己的思考和行为。以下是一些关于如何写Reflective Essay以及英文写作留学生Essay的技巧:

Reflective Essay写作技巧:

1. 选择合适的主题:选择一个对你具有深刻影响或让你有所学习的经历或事件作为主题。这可以是一个具体的学习项目、一次旅行经历、一个团队合作项目等。

2. 明确反思的目的:在写作之初,明确你想要通过反思达到什么目的。是理解自己在某个事件中的角色和表现,还是探讨某个主题对你的启发和影响?

3. 描述经历:详细描述你的经历,包括事件发生的时间、地点、人物以及具体的情境。这有助于读者更好地理解你的背景和情境。

4. 深入分析:不要仅仅停留在对事件的描述上,而是要深入分析你的感受、思考和学到的经验教训。思考这个经历如何改变了你的观点、态度或行为。

5. 保持客观:尽管Reflective Essay是关于个人经历的,但也要尽量保持客观的态度。不要过分夸大或缩小自己的感受和经验。

6. 结尾总结:在结尾部分,总结你的反思,并强调这个经历对你的重要意义。可以提出未来如何应用这些经验教训或如何进一步发展自己的思考和技能。


1. 理解题目和要求:在开始写作之前,仔细阅读题目和要求,确保你完全理解老师或导师的期望。

2. 构建清晰的论点:确定你的主题或观点,并在整篇文章中始终围绕这个论点展开。

3. 收集和研究资料:如果Essay需要引用外部资料或进行研究,确保你收集了足够的信息,并对其进行深入分析和引用。

4. 注意段落结构:每个段落应该有一个明确的主题句,并围绕这个主题句展开论述。段落之间要有逻辑联系,确保整篇文章的连贯性。

5. 使用合适的语言和风格:根据你的读者和写作目的,选择合适的语言和风格。注意语法、拼写和标点符号的使用,确保文章流畅易读。

6. 修改和润色:完成初稿后,花时间修改和润色你的文章。检查逻辑、语法和表达是否清晰准确,确保文章符合学术规范和要求。

总之,无论是写Reflective Essay还是英文留学生Essay,都需要认真准备、深入思考并仔细修改。通过不断练习和反思,你的写作水平会逐渐提高。


  1. How to Write a Reflective Essay

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  2. 50 Best Reflective Essay Examples (+Topic Samples) ᐅ TemplateLab

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  3. Reflective Essay

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  4. How to write a Reflective Essay?

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  5. 50 Best Reflective Essay Examples (+Topic Samples) ᐅ TemplateLab

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  6. How to Write a Reflection Paper: Example & Reflection Writing Guide

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  1. Steps to Write a Reflective Essay with Examples [From Introduction to Conclusion]

  2. How to write a Reflective Essay

  3. Reflective writing

  4. How To Write a First Class Reflective Essay in 5 Simple Steps

  5. What is a Reflective Essay Paper?

  6. How to Write a Reflective Essay (It's Easy!)


  1. What Is Reflective Writing? (Explained W/ 20+ Examples)

    Reflective writing is a personal exploration of experiences, analyzing thoughts, feelings, and learnings to gain insights. It involves critical thinking, deep analysis, and focuses on personal growth through structured reflection on past events. In this guide, you'll learn everything you need to know about reflective writing — with lots of ...

  2. Reflective writing

    The language of reflective writing. Reflective academic writing is: almost always written in the first person. evaluative - you are judging something. partly personal, partly based on criteria. analytical - you are usually categorising actions and events. formal - it is for an academic audience. carefully constructed.

  3. Reflective Essay

    Reflective essays are essays in which the writer looks back on, or reflects upon, his or her experiences and how they caused personal change. Reflective essays involve self-reflection. Typically ...

  4. How to Write a Reflective Essay

    Structuring a Reflective Essay. While reflective essays vary depending upon topic and subject area, most share a basic overall structure. Unless you are told otherwise, then, your essay should include the following: Introduction - A brief outline of what your essay is about. Main Body - The main part of your essay will be a description of ...

  5. Reflective Writing

    Reflective Writing. "Reflection is a mode of inquiry: a deliberate way of systematically recalling writing experiences to reframe the current writing situation. It allows writers to recognize what they are doing in that particular moment (cognition), as well as to consider why they made the rhetorical choices they did (metacognition).

  6. Ultimate Guide To Writing A Reflective Essay

    4. Writing the Body. Write the body of your essay, which should include the personal reflection, description of the experience, analysis of the experience, evaluation of the experience, identification of key learning, and planning for future action. Make sure to use specific examples and details to support your reflection. 5.

  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. 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 ...

  9. How to Write a Reflective Essay

    In a reflective essay, you may use your conclusion to give closure to the experience you're writing about. Add any insights to explain your reasons for your impression. Finally, remember that a reflection is a way to write about the past from the perspective of the present. Make a clear connection from the past to the present.

  10. 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.

  11. Reflective writing

    Blogs are a place to offer your own opinion and can be a really good place to do some reflective writing. Blogger often take a view on something and use their site as a way to share it with the world. They will often talk about the reasons why they like/dislike something - classic reflective writing. 5. During the research process

  12. 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:

  13. 4.8: Process of Reflective Writing

    1st Step: Review the assignment. As with any writing situation, the first step in writing a reflective piece is to clarify the task. Reflective assignments can take many forms, so you need to understand exactly what your instructor is asking you to do. Some reflective assignments are short, just a paragraph or two of unpolished writing.

  14. Reflective Essay

    Example 1 breakdown: The first paper kicks off with a good, informative, and compressed introduction about the writer's reflections on the course at college. As can be seen, every paragraph has a straightforward structure. An introduction comprises an opening sentence, description, and an apt thesis statement.

  15. Tips and Examples of Reflective Essay

    In a reflective essay, you open up about your thoughts and emotions to uncover your mindset, personality, traits of character, and background. It should include a description of the experience/literature piece as well as explanations of your thoughts, feelings, and reactions. In this article, our essay writer service will share our ultimate ...

  16. Reflective Essay- Definition, Writing Steps, Examples & More

    A reflective essay is a type of essay where the writer describes a personal experience or event that they observed or examined. Reflective writing involves thinking or pondering about a specific topic and writing your thoughts. The content of a reflective essay is subjective. This means, the writer discusses the topic from their own personal ...

  17. Reflection Essay

    In general, an academic reflection essay is a combination of these two ideas: writers should observe conventions for academic writing while critically reflecting on their experience or project. Note that the term "critically" suggests that the writing should not merely tell the reader what happened, what you did, or what you learned.

  18. Critical Reflection

    Critical Reflection. A Critical Reflection (also called a reflective essay) is a process of identifying, questioning, and assessing our deeply-held assumptions - about our knowledge, the way we perceive events and issues, our beliefs, feelings, and actions. When you reflect critically, you use course material (lectures, readings, discussions ...

  19. 3.8: Process of Reflective Writing

    1st Step: Review the assignment. As with any writing situation, the first step in writing a reflective piece is to clarify the task. Reflective assignments can take many forms, so you need to understand exactly what your instructor is asking you to do. Some reflective assignments are short, just a paragraph or two of unpolished writing.

  20. 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.

  21. Reflective writing: What is reflection? Why do it?

    Reflection is focused on producing useful outcomes from the future. It can help you becoming more self-aware and can make you a better learner, researcher, practitioner or employee. 5) Make decisions or resolve uncertainty. Thinking about previous experiences can help you make decisions about new ones. Note: While all of these reasons for ...

  22. Reflective Essay怎么写?写作技巧是什么?

    Reflective essay一般是商科的同学遇到的比较多,它是一个留学入门级别的essay。通常是学完整个课程之后你要对这门课程进行一个反思,最后会作为期末结业的成绩。 Reflective essay的目的不仅仅是讨论你学到了什么,更是要传达你的个人经验和发现。

  23. Section A Reflective essay Poetry Unit 2 Now that you have worked

    Now that you have worked through Unit 2 (Poetry) in the study guide, write a reflective. essay of 250 - 350 words in which you discuss how this section of the work resonated. with your own personal experiences or memories, and what insight you gained from. studying this section. In your essay, please reflect on the questions below: 1.