How to do a reflective essay assignment

How to do a reflective essay assignment

How hard can it be to reflect and write about your own experiences? It may seem easy until you sit down to write your reflective essay assignment. First, you need to understand what is a reflective essay and what is its purpose? 

A reflective essay is a piece of writing about events or personal experiences. Reflective writing requires you to analyze an experience, its meaning, and the lessons learned. You should openly write about your thoughts and emotions to reveal your mindset, personality, character traits, and background.

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What is a self-reflective essay assignment?

The purpose of a reflective essay assignment is to reveal as many details as possible about your identity. Instructors will give you this type of essay to learn more about your personality.

It is also a way to improve your writing and analytical skills. When you master how to write a self-reflection assignment, you are able to

  • Analyze a text you have read, what you have heard or seen, and make a conclusion
  • Make connections between what you have read and yourself or the world
  • Identify lessons learned and how you can use these lessons in the real world
  • Write from your personal viewpoint and identify your interests

In summary, a reflective essay assignment pushes you to think deeply and learn from your experiences. This type of writing allows you to examine your most impactful life experiences and analyze them by describing your thoughts and feelings.

How to write a reflective essay assignment

Writing a self-reflection paper may seem difficult at the beginning, but as you progress, it becomes easier. You need to start by understanding what is a self-reflective essay and different reflective essays like internship reflection essay.

The next step is to prepare well, organize your thoughts and work so that the writing process can be smooth and quick. Here are steps that will guide you in writing a reflective paper.

1.   Reflective essay topics

When writing your reflection essay assignment, you need to think about all your life experiences. Think through memorable experiences that were most impactful and life-changing. For example, it can be

  • An interaction you had with someone you admire
  • A movie personality that inspires you
  • An exciting book that changed your perspective about something

Keep brainstorming until you find an experience that can be a good reflective essay topic. The topic you pick should help you reflect on your growth as a person.  

Create a table and track your topic ideas. Divide the table into three sections. Write your experiences from the most important to the least important as you continue brainstorming.

Write your main points in the first section. List your responses in the second section and what you want to share in the third section.

This table will help you to keep track of your ideas and choose the best one. Here are some reflective essay ideas

  • An experience that transformed your life
  • How you overcame your fears
  • The happiest moment of your life
  • The most frightening day of your life

2.   Create your mind map

Make sure you have an organized approach to your reflective essay assignment by developing a mind map. Ask yourself relevant questions about the topic you have selected.

Reflective questions will help you to quiz yourself and develop a perspective for your reflective essay. Here are examples of reflective questions.

  • What are the lessons you learned from the experience?
  • Is there anything you would want to change if you were to go through the experience again?
  • If yes, what would you change, and why would you change it?
  • What feelings did the experience bring out of you?
  • What challenges did you face?
  • What things did you do differently after the experience?

Answering these reflective questions will help you to know how your essay will be formed. You will be able to think deeply and discover the meaning of your experiences. This way, you are able to write a successful reflection essay assignment.

How to start a reflective essay

Reflective essay assignment

After deciding on your topic and creating a mind map, the next step is to start writing your essay. Start writing your essay on a plain document.

Write freely. Do not overthink what you are writing or stop editing your work at this stage.

Let the thoughts flow uninterrupted as you write them down. This is a starting point for your essay.

3.   Reflective essay outline

An outline enables you to present your writing in a logical way. Organize your thoughts and ideas and give them a proper structure. Your reflection essay assignment should have an introduction, body paragraph, and a final concluding paragraph.

This is the typical five-paragraph essay structure. The following is how you present your work in these five sections

4.   Reflective essay titles section

Write an attention-grabbing title for your reflective essay assignment. An interesting and engaging title will attract the attention of your audience even before they get to the introduction of your essay. Your readers will look forward to reading your paper when your title is captivating.

5.   Reflective essay assignment introduction section

Capture your readers’ attention with an interesting fact, an anecdote, startling statistic, or a famous quote. These are some of the hooks that will make your essay begin in an exciting way.

Your audience will want to continue reading your paper. Give them some background information about your topic and conclude your introduction paragraph with a thesis statement.

Thesis statement for reflective essay

The reflective essay thesis statement will introduce the most impactful experience that you will be discussing. This is the main idea of your paper, and it will set the theme for the rest of your essay. Everything that you discuss will be linked to the thesis, and it will guide your writing process.

6.   Body Paragraphs

In the body section of your reflective essay assignment, they exhaustively narrate your experience and events. Write about the significance of the experience and the impact it had on your life and analyze all the events.

Give a detailed description of your feelings, emotions, and thoughts as you went through the experience. For example, if you are writing about your favorite place, describe what you saw, the smell, the feeling, and emotions that came with it.

Keep your writing as engaging as possible for readers to desire to read more. Strengthen your narrative with relevant examples so that readers can relate better to your story and identify connections in your narrative.

7.   Conclusion

Finalize your paper with a summary of your reflections. Highlight the lessons you learned from the experience and how it has transformed your life.

Mention how you plan to move forward and apply the lessons in the real world. Write a concluding sentence that will connect with your topic and wrap up your entire discussion. Make sure your final words impact the minds of your readers. Make it memorable.

Proofread your work

Read through your work and make corrections before submitting it to your instructor. Submitting work that has errors can make you lose marks and get a lower grade.

1.   Check your grammar

Reread your work and correct all grammar, punctuation, and spelling mistakes. Make sure your sentences are correctly constructed.

Read your essay out loud and check if there are any awkward or misplaced sentences. Correct these sentences accordingly. Make your proofreading process smooth by using spell-checking software to correct spelling and grammar errors.

2.   Take a break

A fresh mind will help you to easily discover mistakes in your text. Take a break for a few hours or a day or two before you can look at your essay writing again. A break will help you clear your mind and easily spot errors you could not see before.

3.   Ask a friend or classmate to proofread

Sometimes writers are not able to realize mistakes in their own writing. Ask a friend, classmate, or family member to read through your work and give suggestions.

A fresh pair of eyes can see something that needs adjustment in your work. Go through the suggestions provided and incorporate the ones you feel are helpful.

Reflective essay format

The format of your reflection essay assignment is similar to the standard five-paragraph essay. Understanding each section of the essay format will help you know how to present your essay in an effective way. Here a guide on how you organize your paper using the five-paragraph format

1.   Introduction paragraph

The first section of your paper should introduce your topic to your audience. It also provides background information that will put the topic in context.

The beginning of this paragraph is usually a hook sentence that grabs the attention of readers so that they can read the entire paper. The end of this paragraph is a thesis statement.

2.   Thesis statement

The thesis is the main idea of your paper. It summarizes your paper, guides your writing process, and gives your readers a summary of your work.

A thesis sets the theme of the entire paper. It is usually one or two sentences long at the end of the introduction paragraph.

3.   Body Paragraph

The body of your essay carries the weight of your paper. It is where you discuss your experience in detail and give reasons, impact, evidence, and reflective essay examples. This helps to make your reflective essay assignment stronger.

Topic sentence

This is the sentence that introduces the point you will discuss in the paragraph. It also offers a smooth transition from one point or event to another between paragraphs.

Concluding sentence

This is the last sentence in a paragraph. It ends a discussion about a point and connects it to the thesis statement.

4.   Conclusion

This is the final part of your reflective essay assignment, where you restate your thesis statement. Do not write your thesis word for word instead, paraphrase it.

In this section, you will also need to highlight your reflections and write your final reflective thoughts. The last sentence should be an overall conclusion for the paper, and it should be impactful and memorable.

Essential components of a reflective essay assignment

A reflection paper is a subjective piece of writing that uses the first-person narrative according to reflective essay definition. This makes it a bit different from other essays like argumentative or persuasive essays.

You need to use some specific components for a reflective essay assignment. They include

1.   Write your personal experience

A reflection paper is usually about your personal experience. Writing your self-reflection paper requires you to have a clear line of thought.

Describe your experience with a clear thought process. This will be the foundation of your paper. Make sure a reader can understand the context of your story before you begin to analyze your perspective.

2.   Describe your experience in details

A reflection essay assignment should be balanced. Find the right balance when narrating your experience so that your essay is detailed enough, but at the same time, you do not give out too much information.

Make your reflective essay descriptive and exciting. Avoid writing a generic essay that will not give you higher grades.

Show your instructors the depth of your analysis using your descriptive writing. Your description should creatively paint a vivid picture in the minds of your readers.

Make sure you personalize your essay by using the first-person narrative writing style. This style is more personal and reflects more on your personality. Ensure you are not vague instead, make your analysis deep.

3.   Write about your honest feelings

Write about your genuine feelings about a particular event or experience and be completely open and vulnerable. This will enable you to contemplate your experience or the events that happened and analyze the consequences deeply.

Do not be vague or shy of describing your feelings, emotions, and thoughts. When you are open and honest, your reflective essay assignment will be compelling. It will sound genuine and appeal to your readers.

4.   Perform analysis and evaluation of events

Analyze your experience and evaluate the situation in your story. Avoid summarizing the events or experiences.

Describe your experience and events concisely but also analyze and evaluate your thoughts, reactions, and feelings. When you are analyzing events, you are interpreting the meaning behind the events. Evaluation means you are describing the significance of the events.

The goal of your essay should be to demonstrate your achievement in the experience and how it influenced your life. To achieve this, you have to analyze and evaluate your experiences.

5.   Use examples and illustrations

Emphasize your writing by Illustrating your thoughts and feelings using evidence and relevant examples. Examples will enable you to justify your points, and your readers are able to relate better to your story.

Evidence helps to validate your story. Incorporating evidence and examples in your writing remove misunderstandings. Your writing becomes clear and easy to comprehend.

6.   State your action plan

A reflection essay involves describing events, addressing your feelings, evaluating experiences, and analyzing your situation. After performing all this, you need to conclude with a plan of action.

This involves explaining in detail how the experience has transformed your life. It includes the lessons you learned from the whole experience.

Inform your readers what you would do differently if you were to go through the same experience again. The things that you would do differently are your action plan.

7.   Maintain the theme of your paper

When writing your reflective essay, make sure you do not deviate from the theme of the essay. Digressing from your theme might make you exceed the expected reflective essay assignment word count.

A reflective essay usually has a length that varies from 300 words to 700 words. Stick to your theme and verify that you have not deviated from it during editing and proofreading. When you go off-topic, you will lose marks and get a lower grade.

8.   Write your paper using imagery

Bring your writing to life using literary devices like imagery. This will make your work more appealing to your readers.

Describe your personal experience while creating a vivid image in the minds of your audience. Engage the minds and imagination of your readers as you improve your writing skills and descriptions.

9.   Write using formal language and a professional tone

A reflection essay assignment is an account of your personal experience, but it is also an academic paper. A common mistake when writing reflective essays is to use informal language or writing style.

Avoid slang, abbreviations, or contractions instead, use correct grammar and maintain a formal and professional tone. You can use the first-person narrative like “I, we, me or our.”

10. Use transitions

Transition phrases enable you to smoothly move from one point of discussion to the next. It also helps you to introduce details in your writing. Transitions make your essay paper sound and look professional.

Types of reflective writing

The two types of reflection writing are experiential and reading reflection. The following shows how the two reflections are written

1.   Experiential reflection

This type of reflective essay assignment requires you to discuss your work placement experiences. The experiential reflection is usually written in the context of organizational or personal goals.

The reflections help you gain insights and growth perspectives in your profession. The following reflective questions will help you write your experiential reflection

  • What are the lessons learned from your experience
  • What did you learn about your fieldwork?
  • What did you learn about society?

2.   Reading Reflection

A reading reflective essay involves describing your own opinions concerning ideas in a text. The purpose of a reading reflection assignment is to perform a thoughtful and balanced assessment of the text you are reading.

Your instructor will tell you what they expect from a reflective essay assignment. In a reflection reading, you need to consider how your opinions and ideas about the texts affect your interpretations.

A reading reflection is an opportunity to identify your assumptions and break them down. The text may challenge those assumptions.

A thoughtful reflection and persistent inquiry will enable you to produce a critical reflection essay. The critical reflection may include basic questions like

What is the main idea in the text? Or what are the evidences? These questions help to show your understanding of the text.

You need to question your assumptions and knowledge as well. This will help to make your analysis thorough and focused on the assessment of the text. Here are reflective questions for a reading reflection

  • What is the main point in the text?
  • How has the main point developed?
  • What ideas in the text stood out for you and why?
  • What do you know about your topic?
  • Where does your knowledge come from?
  • What observations and experiences impacted your understanding?
  • Do you agree with the argument? Why?

Make connections

These questions will help you to make a connection between the text and your ideas or beliefs

  • How has the text you have read and analyzed reinforced your existing ideas and assumptions?
  • How has the text challenged your beliefs, ideas, and assumptions?
  • How has the text helped you to understand the topic or field of study?

Reflective essay rubric

You may need to understand how your instructor assesses your reflective essay. This rubric allows you to understand what your instructor expects from your reflective essay assignment. It will help you know what the instructor is looking for or if your experience or ideas are right.

An instructor expects you to understand concepts and engage with them.

Instructors also look for the connections you make between your observations, what you have experienced, and opinions.

Instructors expect you to provide an explanation and analysis of concepts from your personal viewpoint. You should elicit original ideas and encourage an active interest in the topic. Reflective essay samples can inspire you and give you insights into what your instructor expects from you

Key takeaway

A reflective essay assignment is a personal account of your experiences and how those experiences have impacted your life. It may be challenging to start writing and reflecting on your past experiences. The first thing you need to understand is a reflection essay topic should have a narrow focus and strong analysis and evaluation.

Reflective questions help you to identify a focus and evaluate your experiences. Reflective writing has no right or wrong answers instead readers should get insight into your personality from your writing.

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