Reflection Paper Assignments

Reflection papers are some of the most common assignments in college.

They are used to test respective reflection skills in different disciplines, including social sciences, business, and health sciences.

Due to their diversity, common assignments may include social work reflective paper, management reflective paper, history reflective essay, and nursing reflective essay.

It is important to keep in mind the objective of a reflection paper.

Such an objective entail:

Giving the learner the opportunity to consider how their personal experiences and observations shape their thinking and their appreciation of new ideas.

When executing these assignments, you have to demonstrate excellent skills on how to write a reflection paper.

Such skills include a good understanding steps to essay writing and researching for an essay.

To begin with however, you must have a good understanding of a reflection paper.

You therefore have to start by asking yourself, “What is a reflection paper?”

What is a Reflection Paper?

Ensuring a clear understanding of the assignment’s expectations is considered the most critical step when it comes to how to write a reflection paper.

In simple terms, a reflection paper can be defined as:

A type of paper in which you are required to express your opinion on a topic by supporting it using your observations and examples from personal experience.


Written work that identifies key themes from course readings coupled with classroom experience and how the two impact an individual’s thinking and practice.

Based on the second definition, a reflection paper requires you to:

1. Include your thoughts together with your analysis into what has been read and experienced

2. Show an understanding of the entailed material and its effect on individual’s ideas and future practice

In general, a reflection paper is usually a personal writing focusing on an experience.

A good reflection paper could be distinguished by its tone and structure.

This is as explained below.

Tone and Structure

Tone and voice of a reflection paper should be personal. This requires you to use the first-person point of view.

On the other hand, the structure my typically refer to the reflection paper outline.

Note that provided it incorporates the reflective writing approaches, this structure could assume the format of an essay as provided by an essay outline or even adopt the general outline of a term paper.

Types of Reflective Writing

You cannot effectively navigate through how to write a reflection paper without a good understanding of the various forms of reflective writing.

That noted, reflective writing is usually in two key forms that include:

1. Experiential reflection and

2. Reading reflection

Experiential Reflection

This is usually common in professional programs such as social work, nursing, business, education, and forensics.

Under this form, skills on how to write a reflective paper demands that you make clear connections between theory and practice.

Accordingly, a reflection on an experience in a placement requires you to describe and evaluate the experience based on ideas gained from class.

Reflection under this form should consider:

1. Assessing a theory or an approach based on practice and observations made

2. Evaluating own skills and knowledge within the specific professional field

3. Using specific frameworks like work placement objectives or course themes to deliberate on personal actions, choices, successes, and failures

4. Using personal experiences to turn abstract concepts into concrete and real ones

5. Using reflection on personal experiences to develop plans for improvement

In line with good approaches on how to write a reflection paper, experiential reflection should seek to answer questions that serve specific purposes.

Such purposes and questions include:

1. Contextualizing your reflection

This should be realized by asking the questions

1. What the organization’s objectives?

2. What are your learning goals?

3. How does the goals or objectives fit within the course concepts and themes?

2. Providing important information

This entails providing details about the reflection.

It should ask questions such as:

1. What is the host organization’s name?

2. What is its mission?

3. Who do the organization serve?

4. What role did you play?

5. What did you do?

3. Analytical reflection

This entails a critical analysis of the experience.

Important questions include:

1. What was learned from the experience?

2. What did you learn about yourself?

3. What did you learn about working in the field?

4. What did you learn about the society?

4. Lesson from the reflection

This looks at the contextual lessons acquired.

Questions to be asked may include:

1. Was experience fit with the organization’s goals or course concepts?

2. What future lessons can be learned?

3. What succeeded and why?

4. What should be done differently and why?

5. How should you prepare for a similar future experience in the field?

Reading Reflection

This form is also quite common when it comes to how to write a reflection paper.

It is standard in many interdisciplinary courses and its objective is to inspire balanced and thoughtful assessment of readings.

The purpose of this form of reflection is to stimulate informed opinions about ideas in the reading text and how they impact on your interpretation.

In reading reflection you should:

1. Identify your assumptions

2. Examine how your assumptions are challenged by the text

3. Examine how your assumptions have been broken up by the text

Skills on how to write a reflection paper using this approach demands thoughtful and persistent inquiry.

Primary questions to ask are:

1. What is the thesis of the text?

2. What is the evidence provided in the text?

Note that although the above questions are critical, actual reflection questions seek to cover some key areas that include:

1. Text assessment

This seeks to identify the text’s purpose, impact, or theoretical framework.

Questions to ask include:

1. What is the text’s main point?

2. How is the main point developed?

3. What ideas stood out and why?

4. Were the ideas novel or in contradiction with existing knowledge?

2. Development of ideas

This encompasses self-evaluation within the context of the text.

Important questions to ask are:

1. What about the topic do I know?

2. What is the source of my existing knowledge?

3. What experiences and observations shaped my understandings?

4. Do I agree with the argument or not and why?

3. Development of connections

This is aimed at connecting the text with personal knowledge and assumptions.

Key questions to ask include;

1. How does the text challenge existing personal assumptions and ideas?

2. How does the text reinforce existing personal assumptions and ideas?

3. Does the text enhance personal understanding of the topic or exploration of the discipline?

Elements of a Good Reflection Paper

Skills on how to write a reflection paper requires that you incorporate some features that make your work outstanding.

These features include elements such as:

1. Concise work

This is a very important feature and requires you to keep your sentences and arguments short and precise.

Good tips on how to write a reflection paragraph also demands that you include content only relevant to the idea being advanced.

2. Proper organization

This feature focuses on the articulation of ideas in the paper. Such organization is realized through proper construction of sentences and paragraphs.

Further, good practices on how to write reflection paragraph requires you to stick to one idea in each paragraph.

3. Professional tone

This is another critical element to consider when it comes to how to write a reflective paper.

It requires you to retain a professional tone while ensuring that the reflection paper remains personal in its approach.

In this, you need to adopt a formal tone or approach when expressing personal opinions, feelings, and experiences.

4. Emphasis on feelings and thoughts

This is a critical feature in any good reflection paper and requires you to appeal to personal feelings and thought during the writing process.

A reflection paper seeks to explore personal thoughts and the effect of new ideas, and should therefore intertwine available evidence with personal views and opinions.

Outline of a Reflection Paper

Just like in the case of a term paper outline, an essay outline, or a research paper outline, the outline of a reflection paper entails the different sections of a paper.

The outline works as a reflection paper template that gives the writer a direction on the information to include in the different sections.

A typical reflection paper outline would be as illustrated below.

I. Introduction

A. Identification and explanation of the subject

B. A statement of your reaction or opinion on the entailed subject

1. If you agree or disagree

2. Whether you changed your mind

3. Whether the subject met your expectations

4. What you learned

C. Thesis Statement

II. 1StBody Paragraph

A. Topic Sentence

1. 1st Supporting evidence

2. 2nd Supporting evidence

3. 3rd Supporting evidence

III. 2ndBody Paragraph

B. Topic Sentence

1. 1st Supporting evidence

2. 2nd Supporting evidence

3. 3rd Supporting evidence

IV. 3rdBody Paragraph

C. Topic Sentence

1. 1st Supporting evidence

2. 2nd Supporting evidence

3. 3rd Supporting evidence

V. Conclusion

D. Recap of the thesis statement

E. 1st paragraph recap

F. 2nd paragraph recap

G. 3rd paragraph recap

H. Concluding statement

Reflection Paper Format

Note that there is no one specific recommended reflection paper format.

You should not be worried about the format, instead, you should make sure that you follow the provided instructions to the latter.

Besides following the provided instructions, it is advisable to adhere to a conventional reflection paper outline.

The paper should usually assume the sections of an essay.

For the reflection paper format, you could adopt common formatting styles like APA, MLA, or Harvard.

Reflection Paper Guidelines

There are numerous rules to adhere to when writing a reflection paper. These rules also come in handy when developing the outline of a reflection paper.

Such rules may include:

1. You should not summarize the work

This is one of the fundamental reflection paper guidelines. It requires you to avoid using your space and time to narrate what is in the entailed work, whether an article, a book, or a collection of materials.

Instead, you should go straight to advancing your arguments, critiquing the work, and analyzing the material.

2. Ask questions about the entailed work

As another of the key reflection paper guidelines, asking questions helps the writer in becoming more analytical when crafting the reflection paper.

Proper skills on how to write a reflection paper demands that you ask numerous questions to help keep you in track.

Some of the areas these questions should focus on include:

1. Why the author wrote the work

2. What the author was arguing about

3. Why the author was arguing that way

4. Whether you agree with the author

5. How the author could possibly respond to your opinion and why

6. What the common issues or themes in the work are

7. How you would respond to these issues and themes

8. How the work is related to class work or discussions

3. Do not use the second person narrative

This is another of the critical reflection paper guidelines. It requires you to avoid the use of the second person pronouns and determiners like:

1. We

2. Us

3. Our

4. You

This is because a reflection paper should be personalized, which makes it impossible to express the opinion of another person.

4. Effectively answer the questions

This is an extremely important guideline. It forms the basis of the best approaches on how to write a reflection paper.

When observed, the guideline effectively helps in limiting incidences where you could be lured into summarizing the work.

Besides the above questions on key areas, you should look for the question asked by the author and critically engage with the work by answering it.

5. Limit the scope of issues to address

The scope of your work should be considered in the outline of a reflection paper. In doing so, you should identify one or two things about the work to discuss.

You should not attempt to discuss the whole article or book. This is because a reflection paper is usually limited by length and should therefore focus on issues it can exhaustively analyze.

Determining the scope as a skill on how to write a reflection paper is usually developed over time.

To realize the appropriate scope, you should look for an interesting argument by the author in scopes like:

1. A page

2. A paragraph or

3. A sentence

6. Give the reader a direction

In one part, this guideline looks at how to start a reflection paper. It demands that you provide the reader with:

1. A precise indication on the direction the paper goes

2. A brief conclusion on a summary of what the paper says

These two are critical to the outline of a reflection paper and should help the reader acquire a better and quicker understanding of your arguments as well as intentions.

7. Start with the strong opinions

This guideline also focuses on how to start a reflection paper. It requires that the strongest opinions should appear first.

These opinions must however be backed with facts. As such, expression of personal feelings and views should be accompanied by intellectual analysis.

To do this, you should:

1. State an opinion

2. Explain why you hold the opinion

3. Contrast the opinion with that of the work under review

Tips on how to Write a Reflection Paper

You can apply several tips as a guide on how to write a reflective paper.

This pertains to the course and tone you want to assume in your reflection.

Some of such tips include:

1. Jot down what stands out in your mind

This requires you to write notes on the ideas or issues that captured your mind in the reading text or placement experience.

You should be able to determine why they stand out for you.

2. Use restorative questions

Using these questions would play an important role in helping generate key thoughts and feelings about the readings, placement experience, and course experience.

3. Consistently use the first person

This is the core of reflection paper writing. You should use “I” in your writing to relate your readings, class experience, or placement experience to prior knowledge and experience.

4. Deliberate changes in opinion

You should consider how the placement experience, read text, and learned changes have affected your practice within professional and personal contexts.

5. Review class notes and readings

This is important in proper display of skills on how to write a reflection paper.

It demands that you go through class notes and readings to ensure that all relevant information has been included and important connections made.

6. Use an appropriate structure

This requires that you employ an appropriate reflection paper format in your writing.

Such a format should have the respective reflection paper outline sections, including introduction, body, and conclusion.

Steps of Writing a Reflection Paper

Following the outline of a reflection paper as well as the guidelines above, you can now embark on the writing process.

All you have to do is use the outline as a reflection paper template. This can be done in three key steps that include:

1. Brainstorming

This step is critical when it comes to how to start a reflection paper. It demands that you do a number of things including:

1. Identifying the key themes

2. Noting down content on readings and personal experiences

3. Creating a chart on ideas

4.Developing questions on the relevancy of materials and ideas

2. Organization

Organizing as a step is critical in the development of the outline of a reflection paper. It entails determining the content to include in each section of the reflection paper template.

This step requires you to:

1. Establish the required word count

2. Come up with the expectations from the experience, lesson, or reading

3. Develop a thesis statement

4. Come up with conclusions arrived at in the body from the experience, lesson, or reading

5. Develop a summary that describes the overall feeling, lesson, or understanding

3. Writing

This step requires you to coherently put together what is in the outline of a reflection paper.  When writing, you should:

1. Carefully include general information on personal issues

2. Use an academic or professional tone

3. Ensure all sentences are clear and well written

4. Use transitions effectively particularly between arguments

5. Relate the reading or experience to classroom knowledge or lessons

How to Start a Reflection Paper

How you start is important when it comes to how to write a reflection paper.

Note that how you start may slightly vary based on whether it is an experiential reflection or a reading reflection.

Generally, you should start with a simple outlook of the numerous thoughts about the text or experience.

It is important to have a basic review of classroom lessons, activities, and experiences before you embark on writing.

This should be followed by brainstorming.

Accordingly, good approaches on how to start a reflection paper demand that you begin by identifying ideas, concepts or incidences that stand out from your reading text or placement experience.

In the case of a reading text, it is important to ensure that you have thoroughly read it.

The ideas, concepts, or incidences identified should be noted down.

You should then organize and summarize the ideas, concepts, and incidences into themes or arguments relevant to the audience.

Leave a comment