Reflective writing offers the writer an opportunity to show how personal experiences and observations shape his thinking and acceptance of new ideas. These assignments are meant to assist the student in exploring his ideas about a text, express an opinion instead of summarising the opinions of others. It helps the writer to improve his analytical skills because it requires one to express his thoughts and the reasons behind those thoughts. The available examples of reflective essays help a student in better writing.
Moreover, reflective essays enable the writer to acknowledge how his thoughts are shaped by the assumptions and preconceived ideas. By so doing, one can notice other people’s ideas and see how their preconceived ideas and assumptions have shaped their thought. Perhaps it also helps in recognising how your ideas support or oppose what you read.
Reflective essays are so easy to write yet so challenging. They constitute a critical evaluation of life experiences, and if you have the right skills and guidance, they are not as hard as they seem. They are almost like diaries, only that someone will read them, so they need to be coherent and well structured.
Reflective essay format
From its naming, the ‘reflective’ aspects refer to the examination of the experiences. The author gets the opportunity to reflect one specific life experience and explore how he has changed and the lesson he obtained from experience. It can be presented in different formats, but mostly, it can take a diary entry or learning log format. The target audience for your reflective essays can influence the format that you are going to use.
These essays can be academic or can feature as a general piece of writing for a publication. In class assignments, the general purpose remains the same, but the presentation format can change. Instructors want the student to think deeply about the experiences they have encountered.
Typical examples of reflective essay formats
- A focus on personal grouth
The student is required to analyse their personal life experiences to enhance their emotional growth and development. The student gets a better understanding of who they are as well as their behaviours. More so, examples of reflective essays know how to write.
- A focus on literature
The student is supposed to summarise a piece of literature and then apply it to his personal life experiences.
As earlier stated, the format of reflective essays might change, but the structure remains constant. Just like any other typical essay, the reflective essay takes the format of the introduction, the body, and the conclusion.
This is the foundation of the writing process, and as such, you must get it right from the start. You have to ponder how the personal experience you have selected has affected or changed you. The memories and feelings of the experience will be essential in determining the implications on a personal level.
Once you decide on the topic you are going to write about, take your time to think about it vividly. Write down anything you can remember about it and describe it using adjectives. Some examples of reflective essays can be very helpful. You can make short phrase notes and ensure that you record your responses, perceptions and what you experienced from the event.
After you are through writing your memory contents, pick up some reflection questions to assist you in thinking deeply about the impact and the lasting effects of the experience. Consider these questions for your reflective essays:
- What did you discover about yourself from experience?
- Is there a personal development as a result? If yes, how?
- How did it affect your life?
- Reflectively, what would you have done otherwise?
- What do you think about the experience in general?
- What are the skills you acquired?
- Was the experience meaningful learning?
The above questions can give you a starting point to your reflective essays. You have to ask yourself many questions to help you think deeply and critically about the experience. This is a key ingredient in writing an effective reflective essay.
You also have to consider reflection models before, during, and after the learning process. This enables you to maintain a high analysis standard. Consider questions like:
- What can happen to corner the experience?
- What are the possible challenges to bear in mind?
- What do kind of knowledge is essential in preparing to approach the experience?
As such, you will be monitoring the reflective process that is the foundation of your essay.
Even though you might be well prepared, do not start writing if you have no outline. It will enable you to write coherently as well as structuring your ideas. When writing reflective essays, you can be lost or disorganised as you progress in recounting your experience. A good outline ensures that you remain within the confines of your topic. The benefits of having an outline are as follows:
- It allows you to establish fundamental details essential for your paper. You can pick any superfluous information to make your essay straightforward.
- It maps out in advance, the points that you are going to use in your essay. It enhances your line of thought by making it clear and easy to understand. You avert any chance of omitting important information and having to go back to try to fit it in the essay.
- An outline saves time because it is the skeleton that you will use to flesh your reflective essays. You become familiar with what to want to say, and the writing process will take less time. You will get ample time to edit and go through your paper to maintain its high quality.
Having understood the significance of an outline this is how you construct one:
The introduction of your reflective essays must capture the reader’s attention as well as introduce your thesis statement. The exciting aspects of your story must be highlighted. With your thesis statement, you provide to the reader a summary of the essay’s focus. This refers to the experience that had a serious impact on you. As you give a quick overview of the experience, refrain from revealing too much.
You have to plan your body well and approach a chronological approach when presenting your ideas. You have to work on everything you want to touch on as it happened. This approach makes your work coherent and systematic. Reflective essays are not necessarily linear, but chronology prevents you from writing a haphazard recounting of your experience. Important elements of your experience must be laid out on the timeline to show you how you will piece the story together.
Your body paragraphs should examine how the experience affected your life and the lessons you learnt. Focus on reflection because it will provide the audience with insight into your experience. It will demonstrate your ability to adapt to specific situations as well as your personality.
You should provide a summary of the points you have made throughout the essay and the lessons you have learnt. Include several points that indicate how and why your attitudes and behaviours have been changed. Consider how your character and skills have been affected. For instance, what can people learn from your problem-solving skills and your approach to specific situations? Remember that your instructor will be looking for reflective evidence. Use examples of reflective essays and see what other previous writers have done.
Write your paper
You now have the know-how of writing reflective essays. If you have invested inadequate time preparation, the process will be smooth. To ease the writing process, consider the following points:
- Understand the format that you are going to use in your writing. You can read other reflective pieces in publications.
- Do not think too much, on how you are going to write the first sentence of your introduction, just start writing because you will edit. The first draft is not necessarily the best work or the final copy. Ensure that you stick to the outline.
- Every point should be supported by evidence of how the experience affected you.
- Make the tone of your reflective essays very personal
- You can start your introduction with an anecdote or a quote to hook the reader’s attention.
- Be honest about your feelings and opinions
- Use other sources to show your understanding of the experience. It shows a level of analysis.