Learning How To Write A Reflection Paper
With the focus on metacognition - thinking about thinking, instructors are assigning reflection papers at the end of major units of study. The reflection papers allow students to look at what they did, how they did it, and what they learned. Instructors do not always give thorough instructions on what to write and how to write this type of paper. Fortunately, once you have written one reflective paper, you will see how easy they are to write.
Similarities to a Narrative Essay
A reflective paper has some similarities to narrative essays, because you are writing about an experience and what you learned from it. While you do not write dialogue, you do write about your personal experience in the project, which is one similarity to a narrative essay. The tone in a reflective piece is more academic than in a narrative essay, which can have any tone from playful or serious to lighthearted or tired. While the narrative essay usually follows a chronological order, the reflective paper should be written in order of importance.
Apply Your New Knowledge
Once you have discussed what you learned and how went about learning, you will need to apply your new-found knowledge. The odds are good that you will have to do more writing or create more projects, so in your reflective piece, you will need share what you will do differently now that you have completed your reflection. It is also important to share the mistakes and how you learned from them, so you will write about what you will not do in your next project.
Important Structural Features
The reflective paper should be written in the first person so you can truly show your thoughts. The paper will seem unnatural if it is written in any other voice. It is also necessary to use a traditional essay format with an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. In your honest voice, you introduce the situation that brought about the reflection. As you move into the body paragraphs, you provide the details that tell the story of the project and what you learned. The body paragraphs will fit the particulars of the assignment that has inspired the reflective essay; so if you wrote a lengthy research paper, then your reflective essay should include what you learned in the research portion of the project. The conclusion should present the details you want your reader to remember, so your reader will remember the most important events.
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