If you have been assigned a reflective or reflection essay, your professor expects you to write about your growth and development as it relates to material that has been covered in your class or a field experience you may have had. While it is possible to write a reflection essay for just about any class, these assignments are more often given in classes such as Art, Music, Education, or Literature.
In art and music classes, reflection papers are often accompanied by the development of a portfolio; in education, a student may be asked to write a reflection essay after having taught a lesson to a group of school children. Even those these kinds of essays are personal and subjective, there is still a lot to consider when it comes to format, content, and style. Fortunately, students who follow the suggestions below are likely to have good results when writing their reflection papers.
1. Keep Your Introduction Simple
All you need for your introduction is one paragraph that outlines the parameters of your reflection essay. In other words, briefly detail what you read, created, listened to, participated in, or accomplished during your experience. You can then use the body paragraphs of your essay to go into deeper detail. If you put too much information in your introduction, the rest of your paper will be out of balance.
2. More Insight and Detail Leads to a Better Essay
Try putting some real thought into how you have been impacted by materials covered or experiences shared. Avoid using simple statements such as, “the book that we read was interesting,” or “I learned a lot about Renaissance art.” Sentences like these don’t represent any emotional, intellectual, or artistic growth or change. Here are two examples of sentences that might be better than what was written above:
1. I found myself so compelled by the horror story that we read in class, that I have added several of the author’s other books to my Good Reads list.
2. The unit on Renaissance art forced me to rethink my stereotypical thinking about art from this era. I am now working on a painting that takes influences from this period.
3. You Don’t Need to be Positive, but You Should be Diplomatic
You are not under any obligation to claim that you enjoyed something when you did not. However, you should phrase your negative remarks in a constructive and productive way. For example, don’t claim that a piece of music you explored in class was bad or boring. Instead, explain that you had a negative reaction, and why (specifically). Finally, be diplomatic when offering criticism. Remember that the topic of your essay is your personal experience. It isn’t your instructor’s teaching methods or choice in materials. After all, you can still learn and grow in a class without being fond of the materials that were covered. Besides, it does no good to offend the person who will be grading your essay.
4. Don’t be too Informal
When you are talking about your personal feelings and experiences, it can be very easy to slip into a conversational tone that is better suited communicating with your friends or peers. Always remember that you are completing a formal writing assignment, and that your tone and phrasing should reflect that. Avoid the use of contractions or slang at all costs. The one exception is that it is always okay to write from the first person point of view. With most other essays, this should be avoided.
5. Don’t Forget to Include Practical Accomplishments that You have Achieved
Your reflective paper doesn’t have to focus solely on your emotional or intellectual development. It is perfectly okay to include practical skills that you have learned. In fact, if you wanted to, you could focus solely on practical skills. Just keep in mind that you need to include how mastering these new skills has impacted you.
For example, if you have mastered a new brush stroke technique in a painting class, provide some detail on how that knowledge has improved the speed at which you can paint, or has improved the quality of the work that you are producing. If you taught a lesson during a student teaching assignment, and student feedback was positive, then of course you should comment on this success.
6. Don’t Forget Where You Started
The point of a reflection paper is to demonstrate your personal and academic development during an academic course, during a unit within that course or during an experience related to that course. In order to understand how you have changed or developed, your readers must understand where you were before you began the specific study or experience. As you write your essay, you should try to make certain that you are answering at least one or two of the following questions:
1. Did I have any prior experience with the subject matter?
2. Were my prior experiences positive or negative?
3. What were my preconceived notions about the subject?
7. Be Descriptive
You will want your essay to be interesting to read. Remember that interesting essays contain a lot of descriptive language. For example, when describing an interesting work of art, use words that allow the reader to visualize it. Describe the colors and textures. Don’t simply say that it was beautiful. Then, since this is a reflection paper, describe how you were affected by the artwork using terms that evoke at least two of the five senses. When describing an experience, insert your emotional responses as you moved through it.
Write a reflection essay gives you the opportunity to demonstrate your own growth and development as student. There is a very good chance that the essay you write will be viewed by many people, especially if the essay is for a class related to your major, or if it will become part of your portfolio. Your performance on this essay can impact your standing in your department, or your entrance into a graduate program. If you want to be certain that your essay is the best it can be, visitTrustEssays.com. They have a great website that is full of writing information, and professional writers who are always happy to help you. Trustessays.com has been helping college students obtain academic success for many years, and they have one of the highest rates of customer satisfaction in the industry.
Dianna Labriean – professional academic writer. You can find more of her articles here.