If this is the first time you are writing a reflection paper, you might have no or little idea about how a reflection paper should be written. Although from your research you may have known that this paper is about personal experience as well as the realization or lesson that you learnt from it, writing one is a different thing altogether.
Despite the fact that there is no linear process of writing a reflection paper or a specific format for this paper, a good reflection paper should have at least two aspects. It should have an analysis followed by a detailed personal reflection. Writing such a paper without first seeing a sample paper is not easy. With a sample paper, you can get ideas on how to format your paper and the content to include in it.
To write your own reflection paper using a sample, follow these steps:
Step 1: Read and understand the specific requirements of your reflection paper assignment
Read the assignment sheet severally while taking note of the keywords of the prompt. Understand the specific experiences that the assignment requires you to discuss. For instance, the assignment might ask you to reflect on your experience regarding college application. Understanding the specifics of your reflection paper assignment will enable you to carefully focus on what the prompt requires you to do while writing your paper. Be attentive to the length of your paper too.
Step 2: Read a good reflection paper sample
Take some minutes to read through a good reflection paper sample. Be careful while reading to note various aspects of the reflection paper. Take note of how the writer of the sample analyzes experiences before including a reflection of the same. Also notice how the author of the sample states a thesis statement, how the introduction is crafted, the body and the conclusion. Also master various aspects of the general formatting of the sample paper. After reading through the sample paper put it away before you start writing your own reflection paper.
Step 3: Come up with an event log
The first step in actual writing is to come up with an objective log that indicates the experiences that you will focus on in the paper. This implies that you start by describing the events that you will focus on without including emotional language or personal judgments. Using this log, you can note how your behavior or thought process was changed by the experience. For instance, you can write about a clash in personality with a college mate and the way you opted to communicate instead of being in conflict. Such an experience indicates that you learnt to be understanding and flexible when dealing with people whose personalities differ. Bear in mind how the author of the sample reflection paper that you read before you start writing presented their experiences while framing yours.
Step 4: Compose a thesis statement for your reflection paper
A reflection paper should have a thesis statement just like any other academic paper. This is a sentence that comes close to the end of the introductory paragraph giving readers an overview of what will be discussed in the rest of the paper. To come up with a good thesis statement for your reflection paper, preview the experiences that you listed in step 3. Analyze them and their impact on you. For instance, when writing a reflection paper on a science project, you can come up with a thesis statement that reads, “Through this experiment, I now understand scientific methods better but I should improve my ability to come up with effective hypotheses.” Note that you can revise thesis statement while writing the paper because you might get fresh ideas.
Step 5: Outline your reflection paper
An outline indicates the major sections of your paper and what they will cover. Typically, your outline should include the introduction in which you state your thesis statement, body paragraphs which include the analysis and personal reflection as well as the conclusion which sums up your paper. A good outline will enable you to structure your reflection paper.
Step 6: Write the introduction
Following the outline, present your analysis of the experiences that you listed in step 3 in your paper. Start your reflection paper with an interesting introduction that gives your readers an idea of what you are writing about. Ensure that your introduction prepares readers. Include a thesis statement that gives an overview of the entire paper.
Step 7: Write the body
In the body paragraphs, present your experiences, their analysis and reflection. Tell readers what happened, where, and how it affected you. Let readers know what exactly changed after your experience. Make sure that your body paragraphs include your reflection or realization. This should address your thoughts and it can be based on the impact of the experiences that you had. You can also tell readers what you learnt from the experiences, the benefits that you got and losses.
Step 8: Conclude your paper
Sum up your reflection paper in a single paragraph. Summarize and synthesize your experience, thoughts and realizations. Remember that a good reflection paper should end with personal thoughts because that personality aspect is what makes a reflection paper different from other academic papers.
Step 9: Revisit your sample reflection paper
After writing your own reflection paper, revisit the sample to find out if you have adhered to the guidelines followed by the writer of the sample paper. Check the notes that you took while reading through the sample against the paper that you have written. If there are areas that you forgot include them and if there are mistakes that you make, rectify them.
Step 10: Edit your paper
You can write a good reflection paper but simple errors can ruin your grade. Therefore, take time to revise and edit your paper after checking it against the sample paper to ensure that you have written it properly.
Perhaps, you are worried because you have no idea about how to write your reflection paper and now you need a sample paper to guide you. With a good sample, you get information and topic ideas for your reflection paper. You also know how to structure and format your reflection paper.
You can find an example of a reflection paper from different sources including the following:
- Text books
There are textbooks that have reflection paper samples. As such, examine the textbooks that are indicated in the reading materials or sources in your course outline.
- Online writing services
Some companies that offer writing services online offer free samples that you can use while writing your essay. You can read such a sample paper here.
- Websites of learning institutions
Some universities and colleges post samples of reflection papers on their websites to guide students when completing reflective writing assignments. You can find such samples from the California State University Channel Islands here.
- Teachers or professors
Teachers and professors keep papers written by their former students. Getting a sample paper from your teacher or professor is a good idea because the sample will most likely include their comments. These will enable you to come up with a better paper than the sample that you use.
- Classmates and friends
Some of your classmates or friends might have copies of sample papers that they use as their writing guides which they might be willing to help you with. Therefore, ask around to see if you can get a good sample from your colleagues.
- Local or school library
Visit your local or school library and ask the librarian if they have sample papers. Some libraries have sample reflection papers that they can give you and even allow you to photocopy them for future reference.
Note that you should get your sample paper from a reputable source only. Additionally, do not copy or use the sample paper as your own because this amounts to plagiarism which has dire consequences.
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