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A reflection paper is a two- to three-page essay that lets you share your thoughts on an practice, such as a reading assignment or a class, and apply what you’ve learned to your life and education. Unlike most essays, they’re relatively informal, focusing on your reactions to the practice and how you plan on applying your fresh skill. Organization, unity of ideas, and the use of clear examples are all keys to creating a successful reflection essay.

Very first Impressions: The Introduction

The individual nature of a reflection essay doesn’t give you license to just spank some thoughts on paper. Just like any academic assignment, you still need a clear introduction and thesis statement. One good treatment to an introduction is to describe your initial attitude and expectations for the reading or practice. You may have not looked forward to attending a history lecture because you assumed it would be boring, or the length of a reading assignment might have intimidated you at very first. These very first impressions provide an effective lead-in to what you actually learned and gained from the practice.

Finding the Theme: Thesis Statement

Just as works of literature stem from unifying central ideas, your reflection paper should have a core theme that’s developed in your thesis statement. If your paper is about writing your final English composition essay, your theme might be how it instructed you to overcome the challenges of research and writing. Your thesis statement, then, might read, “Writing my research paper has instructed me to search for accurate sources, to use evidence to back up my points, and to give due importance to revision.” By the time readers finish your essay, they should have a clear understanding of what specific fresh skill you’ve gained.

Building the Bod: Experiential Evidence

As you elaborate on your thesis in the bod paragraphs, don’t speak in generalities about your practice. Use specific examples to demonstrate how you’ve reached your conclusions. In a reflection paper on a reading assignment, for example, you might use direct quotes from the article or book to back up your observations. If you’re writing a reflection on a class project or essay, you might give examples from the paper itself or describe particular challenges and victories you faced. Clearly illustrating your topic with examples will help readers see the significance of the practice and what you learned.

Applying What You’ve Learned: Conclusions

Just as your introduction studies your initial impressions of the assignment or practice, your conclusion should summarize for readers how you plan to use the fresh skill you’ve gained and how it applies to your life. If you’re a chemistry major, for example, the persistence of writing numerous drafts of a research paper could be useful when it comes to the trial-and-error element of science experiments. A reading assignment about the civil rights movement might have broadened your view of the importance of gender and racial equality. Your conclusion should leave audiences with a clear statement of your practice’s value to your life.

Keys to Writing a Reflection Paper

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