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How to Write a Reflective Essay With Sample Essays

What Is a Reflective Essay?

❶Some final notes to remember To recap, the key to writing a reflective essay is demonstrating what lessons you have taken away from your experiences, and why and how you have been shaped by these lessons.

What Can You Write About in a Reflective Essay?




In that regard, a reflective essay is much like any other essay out there. In this guide, we explore in detail how to write a great reflective essay , including what makes a good structure and some advice on the writing process. The purpose of writing a reflective essay is to provide a platform for the author to not only recount a particular life experience, but to also explore how he or she has changed or learned from those experiences. The format of a reflective essay may change depending on the target audience.

Reflective essays can be academic, or may feature more broadly as a part of a general piece of writing for a magazine, for instance. For class assignments, while the presentation format can vary, the purpose generally remains the same: Here are some typical examples of reflective essay formats that you may have to write:.

A focus on personal growth: A type of reflective essay often used by tutors as a strategy for helping students to learn how to analyse their personal life experiences to promote emotional growth and development. The essay gives the student a better understanding of both themselves and their behaviours. A focus on the literature: While the format of a reflective piece of writing may change, there is one element that will mostly remain the same, and that is the structure.

You may be relieved to know that, much like any essay, a reflective essay is typically comprised of an introduction, body and conclusion. As you go about deciding on the content of your essay, you need to keep in mind that a reflective essay is highly personal and aimed at engaging the reader or target audience. You need to be able to reflect more on this later on your experience by showing how it influenced your subsequent behaviours and how your life has been particularly changed as a result.

As a starting point, you might want to think about some important experiences in your life that have really impacted you, either positively, negatively, or both. Some typical reflection essay topics include: If you are writing a reflective essay as part of an academic exercise, chances are your tutor will ask you to focus on a particular episode — such as a time when you had to make an important decision — and reflect on what the outcomes were.

Note also, that the aftermath of the experience is especially important in a reflective essay; miss this out and you will simply be storytelling. You need to really think about how the personal experience you have chosen to focus on impacted or changed you. Use your memories and feelings of the experience to determine the implications for you on a personal level. Write down everything you can remember about it, describing it as clearly and fully as you can.

Keep your five senses in mind as you do this, and be sure to use adjectives to describe your experience. A great way to do this is to pick out some reflection questions which will help you think deeper about the impact and lasting effects of your experience.

Here are some useful questions that you can consider:. Do you think these were the right choices? Was it a useful learning experience? What specific skills or perspectives did you acquire as a result? These signpost questions should help kick-start your reflective process. Remember, asking yourself lots of questions is key to ensuring that you think deeply and critically about your experiences — a skill that is at the heart of writing a great reflective essay.

Consider using models of reflection before, during, and after the learning process to ensure that you maintain a high standard of analysis. For example, before you really get stuck into the process, consider questions such as: Are there any possible challenges to keep in mind? What knowledge is needed to be best prepared to approach the experience? Is the process working out as expected? Am I dealing with the accompanying challenges successfully? Is there anything that needs to be done additionally to ensure that the learning process is successful?

What am I learning from this? Your writing will be so much more coherent, your ideas conveyed with structure and clarity, and your essay will likely achieve higher marks. An outline allows you to establish the basic details that you plan to incorporate into your paper — this is great for helping you pick out any superfluous information, which can be removed entirely to make your essay succinct and to the point. Think of the outline as a map — you plan in advance the points you wish to navigate through and discuss in your writing.

Your work will more likely have a clear through line of thought, making it easier for the reader to understand. It can be considerably different from other typical essay outlines, mostly because of the varying subjects. But what remains the same, is that you need to start your outline by drafting the introduction, body and conclusion.

More on this below. Introduction As is the case with all essays, your reflective essay must begin within an introduction that contains both a hook and a thesis statement. Refer back to the opening quote of this article — did it grab your attention and encourage you to read more?

The thesis statement is a brief summary of the focus of the essay, which in this case is a particular experience that influenced you significantly.

Body Next up is planning the body of your essay. They key here is to put plenty of time and effort into planning the body, and you can draw on the following tips to help you do this well:. Try adopting a chronological approach. This means working through everything you want to touch upon as it happened in time.

This kind of approach will ensure that your work is systematic and coherent. Lay out the important elements of your experience in a timeline — this will then help you clearly see how to piece your narrative together. Ensure the body of your reflective essay is well focused, and contains appropriate critique and reflection. The body should not only summarise your experience, it should explore the impact that the experience has had on your life, as well as the lessons that you have learned as a result.

The emphasis should generally be on reflection as opposed to summation. Conclusion In the conclusion of your reflective essay, you should focus on bringing your piece together by providing a summary of both the points made throughout, and what you have learned as a result. Try to include a few points on why and how your attitudes and behaviours have been changed. Consider also how your character and skills have been affected, for example: What can be concluded about your approach to specific situations?

What might you do differently in similar situations in the future? What steps have you taken to consolidate everything that you have learned from your experience? Do you have copyright stuff? Please let me know. Hi Virginia am glad your samples have been a pivotal to my essay writing. Thank you so much. I am a writer and this is the first day I read your sharing and I am so glad for that, thank you dear Puthy Ken, I used to teach students from Cambodia and I know that you work very hard.

I'm glad you are continuing your studies and I wish you the best! Thanks for your sharing. It helps me much to do my assignment of MA course in Cambodia. I am one of graduated students here are really need more documents in this our developing country. I'm so glad that my essay helped you. Keep up with your writing. The most important thing is to practice doing some writing every day! Virginia, my name is Amanda and I am 15 years old.

Thank you so much for these advantageous information, and your sample essay?! It was really amazing!!! Hi Ginny--I'm so glad to hear of your teaching to seniors, and especially the fact that you are teaching them reflective writing.

I've also called it personal or memory writing when I've taught it in the past. I think for seniors this sort of writing is so valuable because it allows them to gather memories and reflect on the meaning of events in their lives. What a legacy for them to leave for the younger members of their family. My mom just passed away this week and she was not a writer, but my cousin and I got together with her a couple of months ago and they talked together while I wrote down what they said.

That sort of memory writing is a wonderful legacy for grandchildren. Please remind your seniors that even though children and grandchildren may not be interested in hearing about memories, there will be a time in their lives when they need that strength and the lessons from the family past.

I have taught writing in elementary school for at least 18 years and now that I am retired I have been asked to teach a group of seniors about writing. The reflective writing is one I have done but never called it that. Thanks for all the clear cut ideas to help me be successful teaching it to this new group. I feel sure they will have so much to say! Thanks for taking the time to let me know that my work is helping homeschoolers. I have many friends who homeschool and they are often concerned about teaching writing correctly.

That is one of the reasons I've posted my personal instructions for my own college students. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. I am a home school mum and this will really help my son with writing a reflective essay. Thank you so very much! Deliberately well explanation of the term "Reflective Essay" with many good points to be induced in the writing, like feelings, observations etc.

I will try to write a reflective essay and for sure, try my best to adopt your instructions. I love teaching Reflective Essays because it helps my students to understand that writing can be personally meaningful. Many of my students are at turning points in their lives and thinking about lots of important decisions. I teach them that writing down their thoughts and feelings often helps them to clarify what they are thinking.

Virginia, congrats on HOTD! I never heard of reflective essays before. This is so interesting and useful for those to explore your own emotions in expressive writing on your ideas, hopes and dreams. Awesome hub dealing with the many salient features, uses and importance of reflective essays in day-to-day life of so many fields of people. It is very useful and informative.

Thanks for sharing this valuable information and congrats on the HOTD award. This is very useful and valuable to teachers and students. I only wish I had this guide when I was in high school. Some great advice here for writing a reflective essay. This will really help my daughter with her essay writing skills. Voted up and useful. Grand Old Lady-you are so write that teaching can be very tough in the trenches. A lot of it depends on the students you are teaching and the attitude of the administration.

I am very fortunate to teach at a wonderful Christian University with many inspiring students. You gave some very helpful tips and prompts on reflective writing.

I also loved the video. It reminded me of my own teaching days and helped me to re-connect with the idea that teaching is a noble profession.

It's oh, so true but when you get into the daily battle of it, it can be so easily be forgotten. Other product and company names shown may be trademarks of their respective owners.

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The most common subjects covered in a reflective essay include the following. A real experience Something you imagined A place or a special object Something you've read, watched, seen, touched, tasted, smelled, or heard. Topic Ideas for a Reflective Essay The above subjects might have already sparked an idea of what you would like to write about.

Places You've Been The beach, mountains, countryside, or desert A special hideaway or special room The house you grew up in A relative's home Life-Altering Events A special date Failing or succeeding at something A time you learned something new A new experience A time you overcame one of your fears An important memory A significant conversation Recurring or Significant Thoughts A dream or daydream A conversation you wish you had or something you wish you had done A story you've told about yourself An embarrassing moment The person you'd like to be A strong emotion Impactful Experiences A book, movie, T.

Introductory Paragraph Your first paragraph should be an introduction in which you identify the subject and give the reader a general overview of the impression it made on you. Your introductory paragraph should also included a thesis statement that will serve as the focal point of your paper.

I realized it was because the beach had always been a place of rest to me. Then, write about why. This is a reflective essay, which means you can speculate. There are no right or wrong answers in this type of essay. In the second body paragraph, write about the second reason your subject made the impression on you that it did. In the third body paragraph, write about the third reason your subject made the impression on you that it did.

Conclusion Recap your thesis statement and the reasons you provided in the body of your essay. Sum up your article with some final thoughts on your subject, and some closing reflective thoughts. Now, I want to find a way to help Rhonda have a day off of her own, and I'm hoping someday we can take a trip to the beach together.

Choose a Topic Idea If you haven't been assigned a topic and don't have a topic in mind, check the list of topics above for inspiration. Study Your Subject Depending on your topic, you may need to close your eyes and remember, read, watch, listen, or imagine. Brainstorm Write down everything you can think about your subject. Pick Reflection Questions Read through the list of reflection questions below and select at least three you want to answer. How did I feel about this?

Why did it make me feel this way? How was my experience of this unique to me? How did others who were there experience it differently? How has this changed me? What might I have done differently? What is the meaning of this event in my life? How is this similar to something else that I've experienced? How can I use this to help someone else?

How does this event relate to the rest of my life? How is this typical in my life? Was this a good or a bad thing for me? How did this experience foretell things that would happen later? Was my experience the same as someone else's or different? What skills did I learn? How can I apply what I learned to my life?

How can I apply this experience to my studies? How can this help me in my career? What about this experience challenged me socially? In what way did this expand my understanding of my own culture? How was this emotionally important? How did this experience relate to my understanding of theology, God or religion? What questions did this experience make me have? How has this changed the way I think? How has this made me realize someone else was right?

How was this unexpected? Or how did this fulfill my expectations? Would I want to repeat this experience? Would this experience be the same if I did it again? How did this affect me and why? Why did I have the reaction I did to this? Answer the Questions You Selected Read your questions, then answer them. Example What did I notice? Couples walked hand in hand. Parents played in the sand with their children. I saw the holes in the sand where I knew sand crabs were scrambling to hide.

I noticed the cool wind on my face and the homes right up against the sand. I'm usually too busy helping her or spending time with relatives. This trip, however, a friend of mine named Rhonda, who is also a caregiver to her mother, told me to go to visit the beach for her. As a native Texan, Rhonda has only gotten to visit the beaches in California a few times.

So today, I w ent to the beach for Rhonda. I smelled the beach air and walked along all by myself and took an hour to not think about responsibilities to others. Then I wrote "For Rhonda" in the sand and took a picture of it.

When I went through the struggles of growing up, I remember feeling soothed by the waves. They always seemed to keep on going. That reminded me to not give up. To know that there is always something to look forward to ahead. To remember that laughter and tears are both a part of everyone's life. To me, the waves reminded me to have faith in a God who is in control of everything and has a bigger purpose for me than I can imagine. Identify the Meaning of Your Experience Before you can begin writing your essay, you need to decide what is the most important thing you learned from this experience.

Sample Essay If you'd like to see the final essay I've written using the pre-writing exercises I've done for this essay, take a look at my Reflective Essay Sample on a Visit to the Beach. What Is the Purpose of a Reflective Essay?

Literary This type of essay asks you to summarize and then respond to a piece of literature in order to understand it better and relate it to your own life and experiences. Professional Teachers, doctors, and social workers often use this type of writing in their training. Medical students write about patients they see. They can use this essay type to carefully describe the patient and the thoughts they have as they determine the correct treatment. They can reflect on how well they interacted with the patient, and draw conclusions on what worked and what didn't so that they can better interact with patients.

Doctors can use reflective essays to fine-tune their ability to provide effective health care in a caring manner that makes patients not only believe them, but also follow their advice. They can reflect on how well their body language, words, and tone of voice convinced the patient to make good lifestyle choices, or how well they helped a patient deal with difficult medical information.

Nurses and medical assistants write about their care of patients. By thinking back on different cases and their own responses to patient requests, nurses can better understand how they can help patients deal with pain, stress, and illness. This sort of writing can also help nurses deal with the stress of the emotions they must handle from both doctors and patients, and help them understand their role in helping both. Teachers benefit from writing about experiences in teaching, and doing case studies of difficult students.

By reviewing their emotions about their teaching and examining patterns of what worked and did not work, teachers can better plan their lessons and solve problems with student learning and behavior.

Social workers can use this kind of paper to help them analyze the environment and problems of their clients. They can also encourage their clients to write out their experiences in order to help them see the causes and effects of their behavior and circumstances, as well as to see ways they can change.

Business people use this type of written assignment to analyze their interactions in a business setting, and to help them envision how they can better present their service or product to customers. Educational Sometimes instructors will ask students to respond to a lecture or other school assignment so that they can show what they understand.

Personal Growth This kind of writing can help you learn how to understand and analyze your own life experiences. Reflective Essay Question What experience is most meaningful for you? Going to the beach, mountain, or other place in nature. Spending time talking with a friend. Having someone notice something you've done.


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Below we offer two examples of thoughtful reflective essays that effectively and substantively capture the author's growth over time at California State University Channel Islands (CI).

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How to write a reflective essay 2. Learning outcomes1. Plan a reflective essay appropriately2. Identify an effective way of writing the introduction3. Recognise the structure of body paragraphs to support the introduction4. Produce an effective conclusion5. Identify the style of a reflective essay.

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Reflective essays always have an introduction, where the speaker shares, either directly or indirectly, what the overall focus of the reflection will be. Many popular essay writers might be a bit. May 19,  · Step-by-step explaining how to write a reflection paper with topic ideas and a sample daramad.cfs:

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A reflective essay, akin to a diary entry, is one of those sorts of essays that seem oh so easy, and yet oh so hard to write, all at the same time. Below, I’ll show you how to create a killer reflective essay outline, and I’ll even give you a downloadable template you can use to make your own outline.