What Are Reflective Essays?

Reflective Essay

Reflective essays are a type of written text used to explore, observe, examine, and document the progression of the essay writer’s own experience(s). Although a reflective essay primarily analyzes and explains how writer’s experience develops, they look at future objectives as well. Essays of this type have an association with academic work, and are particularly associated with portfolios of academic writing. In this sense, a reflective essay is used to provide a critical analysis of student’s development. They should discuss the skills and strengths the student has developed and also their weaknesses. In fact, when reflecting on their weaknesses, the writer might focus their essay’s discussion on what they can do or intend to do to improve these as they move forward. A descriptive style of language is important in reflective essays. This approach will show readers you understand the topic or subject you are writing about and how you used critical thinking to reflect on your own development. Since a reflective essay can be based on personal experiences, this leads to the expectation that the writer will write about themselves, their personal opinions, and their ideas. Consequently, it is permissible to write from the first person perspective using such personal pronouns as “me” and/or “I.” Because reflective essays are developed around one’s own experience, you are free to write as creatively as you think necessary. However, you should not allow the need or desire to be creative to overshadow the crucial task of showing readers how you have grown and developed over the course of your studies.

Take a look through these free reflective essay samples to have an idea of how to write one on your own:

Steps Involved in Writing a Reflective Essay

  • Select a topic or idea to write about.
  • You will need to pick a topic if one has not already been assigned to you.
  • Your chosen subject will need to be studied.
  • While much depends on the chosen topic, it may be necessary for you to read, listen, observe, imagine, and recollect, possibly with your eyes closed. Think or try to experience your subject vividly for a short time.
  • Do some brainstorming.
  • Thinking about your topic or subject, make a note of everything that comes to mind. Your aim is to describe your subject in the most vivid terms possible. Therefore, you should think about the sights, sounds, tastes, and smells you associate with it. Look for descriptive adjectives to convey your sensory reflections or experiences. Write these down in phrases or full sentences. Simply try to jot down as much as possible. You will later develop these notes into paragraphs.

Reflective Essays Come in Different Types

It is common for teachers to give students reflective essays to make them think or reflect on what is being taught to them and to explore a particular experience in detail. The following are examples of reflective essay assignments:

  • Reflective essays of an educational nature: At times, students will be asked to give their response to a class, lecture, or other educational assignment to demonstrate their understanding of it. Writing an essay on what you have learned is also a way of helping you interact with and share ideas or knowledge with an instructor and fellow students.
  • Reflective essays on literature: In these types of essays, you are required to sum-up and respond or react to a literary work with a view to better understanding it and relating it to your personal experiences and your life.
  • Reflective essays on one’s own personal development and growth: Essays of this type can help students analyze and better understand personal experiences. They can additionally help with emotional growth as the writer starts understanding themselves better.
  • Reflective essays of a professional nature: These essays are often used in the training of professionals e.g. doctors, social workers, and teachers. They allow the writer to analyze how they respond to others in order to understand how best to undertake the jobs assigned to them.

The Structural Aspects of a Reflective Essay

Reflective essays are structured in a similar way to most types of academic texts. They do not need a thesis statement unless the writer is attempting to build an argument around a perspective, position, or point. They can adhere to any formatting style such as APA, Chicago, or MLA. The following is the usual structure for a reflective essay:

Introduction

In a reflective essay, there is no need for the introduction to be more than a paragraph long. This paragraph should set out your essay’s purpose while not revealing a great deal about the paper’s body. In the opening paragraph, it also helps to let readers know if you have met your academic goals. The body of the essay can be used to elaborate on how you met your goals. Consider this paragraph as a short preview to the remainder of your reflective essay.

Main Body Paragraphs

Use your essay’s body to develop a detailed discussion about how you developed while studying. If, for example, you are reflecting on a particular class at a certain point in your studies, how have you grown so far in this class? What is it you have learned? Can your learning be applied in future studies or anywhere in your life? How were particular goals met or not met? This differs slightly to what should be discussed in the introductory paragraph. Instead of merely telling readers whether you met goals or not, show them how you did this by using relevant illustrations and/or referring to related experiences. Can any of your skills be improved upon and how can you do this as you move forward?

The Concluding Section

The concluding paragraph should be used to remind readers of your development and how this was achieved. You may think this is unnecessary since this was covered already in the body of your essay. However, do not forget that the concluding section is the last part that will be read. Therefore, readers should be left in no doubt that you have demonstrated your growth and development clearly.

If a tutor or teacher says they want you to write an essay that demonstrates your attitude or feelings about some particular person, object, or event, this means writing a reflective piece. The main aim of such a task is to allow you to convey your true feelings, whether these are good or bad, by reflecting on the given subject and saying what you have learned or understood about that subject. Put another way, reflective writing assumes the writer will give their personal assessment or view of the subject. In turn, this means demonstrating they have acquired some appropriate experience of the given topic. Do not worry, though, if you do not know how to go about the task. Since we offer a professional academic writing service, Place-4-Papers.com can help by supplying you with a flawlessly written essay.

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