How to Write a Reflective Paper

21 May 2023

All college students will have to write a reflective paper at some point. A reflective paper is a type of paper that allows the writer to write about their personal opinions and feelings on a topic. Unlike most papers, reflective papers don't expect the writer to discuss facts. Instead, they allow them to express their views based on their observations and personal examples. Of all the assignments you will handle during your college years, reflective papers will give you a better room to speak your mind. The best thing about them is that they can be about anything as long as they are clear and understandable to the reader. This article discusses everything you need to know about reflective writing to help you write reflective papers that stand out. 

Defining Reflective Writing

The vast majority of written material consists of works of fiction or descriptive prose. However, reflective writing can help the author gain insight and inspire additional study. It's like reflecting on a prior incident and the lessons you learned from it or the actions you might have taken to alter the outcome.

Although it often has a personal focus, you can use it in many contexts. Reflective writing in the classroom analyzes how you reacted to a new experience or piece of writing. Analytical reflection writing uses critical thought and processing to further study or investigation. Start your reflective writing with some introspection.


What Is a Reflection Paper

Writing a reflection paper, also known as an opinion paper, asks you to form an opinion on a particular topic and back it up with evidence from your own experiences and observations. There is no right or wrong way to approach this essay. Rather than presenting your reader with the opinions of other academics and writers, you will get the chance to express your own. You are responsible for ensuring that the concepts you present in your paper are clear and accessible to everybody who reads it as you give your opinion. The variety of possible discussions is limitless. Some examples include: whether or not you believe in aliens, your preferred television program, and your thoughts on World War II's outcome. Almost every topic is open for exploration and exploration.

You can take a somewhat different tone when writing any one of the three sorts of reflection papers. Initially, there is the educational reflecting paper. Your task here is to provide constructive criticism of a recently finished book, seen film, or attended seminar in an educational way to the reader. The next type of paper is the academic one. Authors typically have some background in the fields of education or psychology. One way this manifests itself is as a reflection of one's actions. Finally, there's the reflective variety, which delves into how you feel about a specific topic.

While you'll still need to write one more document (your CV), your time spent doing so will soon end. To do this, you must think back on your entire life up until that point. Visit the link on our essay service to understand the proper format for listing education on a resume.



Types of Reflective Papers

There are three types of reflective papers. They can be educational, professional, or personal. It is important to note that regardless of the kind of reflective paper you are writing, you will be talking about your own experience and opinion. You will need to adjust the tone depending on the kind of reflective paper you will be working on.

●       Educational

It is a personal version of a review of the material you are studying. This kind of reflective paper requires you to give feedback on a film, book, or lecture you attended in a way that educates the reader. It is advisable to let the professor know that you recognize the relevance of the material and that it is helpful in the course. 

●       Professional

These kinds of papers are not common. It is often a task for those who work in the education and psychology field to reflect on the behavior and the situation of the people they work with.

●       Personal

These are the most common kind of reflective papers. They focus on your story, experiences, opinions, and feelings about these experiences.

Steps of writing a Reflective Paper.

  1. Understand the topic.

Now that you already know the type of paper you are writing think about the content of the material you are reflecting on. If it's a film, watch it keenly. If it's a personal experience, try to recall the events. If it's a book or an article, read it thoroughly. After understanding the content, brainstorm ideas to write. If it's a book, for example, answer these questions


✔      What impact did the book have on you?

✔      How did it catch your attention if it did?

✔      Did it change your mind about an issue?

✔      Did it leave you with some questions?

✔      Are there major issues it didn't address?

✔      Does it relate to anything from your experience?

  1. Create a theme. 

Write a summary of what you've learned about your experience on an issue. The paper should revolve around two perspectives. The perspective of the writer and the reader. Talk about your thoughts and feelings about the issue. Also, talk about the professor's or the reader's perspective. Show how this story is helping you with the course and learning new materials.

  1. Engage the reader 

Describe the details precisely so that the reader can imagine. Describe

What happened, when it happened, how it happened, and who was there. Also, discuss your role, what you felt then, and how you reacted.

  1. Form an opinion

 Analyze the situation. Say whether you think it was a good or bad experience. Explain why you agree or disagree with it. To avoid sounding one-sided, describe both the story's positive and negative sides of the story. 

  1. Connect your experiences and observations to your opinions.

This is the area your professor is probably most interested in. They would like to know how the experience affected or even changed you. Therefore, discuss the lessons that you take from this experience. You can also let the reader know how you would approach the situation differently, given another chance. 

Key Elements of a Reflective Paper

●       Vocabulary

Even if a reflective paper allows you to express your opinion, you should keep the language formal. Also, use direct first-person statements such as I felt, I enjoyed, etc. They help the reader know that the information is the writer's opinion and not from facts. In addition, they make the reader see that you were there to witness the experience and hence are not relying on hearsay.

Also, use words, phrases, and sentences that bring out the emotions of the experiences you are describing. Such as 'it was difficult for me to do' or 'It was shocking to learn that'. Then show what these emotions and experiences brought to you, such as 'It made me realize, 'it taught me' ' it reminded me, etc. Reflect on your present opinion into the future. Mention how you would react by using phrases like 'if it were to happen again,' 'I hope to, etc.




●       Outline

Although reflective papers don't need the same level of research and preparation as other essays, they need an introduction, body, and conclusion like most other assignments.



When these sections are written well, the paper is organized, and ideas flow logically, engaging the reader.



-          Introduction

The introduction paragraph should inform the reader what you are reflecting on. It could be a lecture, an article, a seminar, etc. Also, write a summary of the work to let the readers know what to expect in the coming paragraphs. End the paragraph with a thesis that will communicate your opinion of the topic or how the topic has affected you. For example, you can begin your thesis like this:

"After watching the Black Panther movie, I learned that........"

-          Body

The body paragraphs expand on the thesis. Preferably use three paragraphs to express the ideas and the experiences you want to share about your topic. In the first paragraph, talk about the experience and its impact on you. Describe what you saw, heard, felt, and even how you reacted. In the second one, compare what others experience with what you experienced. Lastly, use the third paragraph to explain the insights you gained.

-          Conclusion

Similar to other conclusion sections, you should summarize the lessons you've learned. Wrap up by highlighting the major points. Inform the reader how your new knowledge has changed your understanding of the topic. 

●       Format

Reflection papers use similar formats to other academic papers. College papers often have a word count of 400 to 800. They use the common citation styles like APA, Chicago and MLA depending with the lecturer's instructions.


●       Format them as follows:

●       Double space the whole text


Text spacing?



Font size?



●       Indent the first word of every paragraph

●       Use readable fonts such as times new Roman, Calibri, Helvetica, etc.

●       Use a font size of 12.

●       Create an inch margin on all sides of the document






 Here are some examples of Reflective papers to inspire your writing.

I found Sonia Bodi's piece to be both fascinating and enlightening. Many of her remarks struck a chord with me, but there were a few things I'd want to counter. First, I'd like to address the issue brought by this article's title: How can we help kids apply what they learn in the classroom? That void can only be filled with mutual effort from both camps. Students should challenge themselves to learn more and grow in their curiosity, critical thinking, and self-reflection. But teachers should push and challenge their students to improve their critical thinking and apply what they've learned. When both students and teachers are working from the same set of assumptions, it's much simpler to collaborate on research for a paper.


I believe that the stress of having to write a research essay makes it harder for kids to focus. In research, "choosing a topic and its concentration is likely the most challenging task." The truth of this remark cannot be disputed. Having to write an essay on a topic given to you by your professor might be frustrating, but choosing a topic for your own essay can be even more so. Even though I am conducting independent research on a topic that interests me, I might sometimes feel overwhelmed and stressed out by the sheer volume of ideas that need to be written down. Bodi writes that this is when students "feel uncertainly and bewilderment." This phrase was inspired by studies about the research habits of high school pupils. While reading the rest of the essay, I mulled about this claim and came to my own conclusion on its veracity. Even though I know how to do it now, I wish I had been taught the appropriate approach to write a research paper in high school. For example, I never had a problem if I forgot to include a bibliography in a research essay because my teachers were quite kind. Possible rebuttal to Sonia Bodi's claims regarding the standard of writing produced by first-year college students: some of these students may just have never received enough instruction.


Aside from the topic itself, I have seen that students often struggle with how to go about gathering data for their research papers. Although I do consider the Internet to be a vital source of information, I now realize that libraries are much more important. Because of the stress and anxiety that digesting so much information may generate, I can see why students shy away from libraries. So, we have yet additional issue to contend with before we even begin our investigation. One of my favorite quotes is by William Blake: "You never know what is enough unless you know what is more than enough." Questions like, "How much information should I incorporate in my paper?" appear to add to the difficulty of producing a research paper. Who decides which ideas get covered and which ones don't?

I didn't agree with all that was said. My ability to refute statements like "students search in a haphazard, unplanned fashion, eager to find whatever" and "lack of patience" was facilitated by my own experience in these areas. I was taught how to create a research paper outline but never how to complete a whole research report. In addition, while it's true that there's a lot of information out there that could be useful for my work, I don't go looking for it in a random, unorganized fashion. Even after making an outline, there is a large quantity of material I could investigate for my article. I don't have the luxury of time or money to sift through all that information after a deadline has passed, unlike most academics. In my opinion, contrasting students with academics is unfair since it gives the impression that diligent students lack proper training. For academics, conducting research is how they make a living; for students, it's how they get a good score on an assignment. When researching a paper, I feel like I give it my all, but unfortunately, I just don't have the time to sift through as much material as academics do. It's challenging to zero in on a single area of study from among so many potential options. Personally, I think this is the biggest obstacle for a lot of college students.


In general, this article was a pleasure to read. This experience provided me with valuable insight into how college students approach research projects. Sonia Bodi made a lot of excellent points that will direct my attention when I conduct research for papers in the future.




How to Start a Reflection Paper

The first step in writing a reflection essay is to read the assigned article multiple times while making notes. Whether you're writing a reflection on an experience, a book/newspaper, or an academic paper, it's important to zero down on the most significant ideas and concepts.

To ensure that your reflection paper has all your readers need, you should begin by summarizing the major idea of your notes. Including visual aids like charts, graphs, and lists will help you communicate your message more effectively.

Following the completion of the article, the next step is to develop ideas. We offer a straightforward method of generating ideas for those penning reflective essays. Kindly respond to the simple questions listed below.

  1.  How did you feel after reading the article?
  2.  Is there anything you've read in the essay that rings true to your experience?
  3. Do you have anything left to ask after reading this article?
  4. Were there any major concerns that weren't covered that you felt should have been?
  5. Does anything you've read before resonate with what you're reading now?
  6. What aspect(s) of this piece draws the reader in (if anything)?
  7. Is there an idea you previously held that this article has altered? If so, please elaborate.


Reflection essay topics

Consider the following reflection essay topics when contemplating what to write about for your reflection essay.

● My evolving perspective on rap music

● Here's how I saw Moby Dick by Herman Melville and what he meant to say

● Developing thoughts about the scale of the universe and why they've evolved over time

● What I've learned about observation in clinical psychology over the past year

● An outline of your final paper should be what emerges from your brainstorming session. If you want your essay to make sense and be well-organized, this is a crucial phase that you shouldn't skip

● A three-column chart or table can also help you arrange your thoughts.

● To think reflectively, one must consider one's actions. Consider the situation from various angles and come to your conclusion. Make use of conceptual frameworks, introspective examples, and your intuition. Your self and other reflections should inform your decision-making in the future.

● Reflect on what transpired and your thoughts on what worked and didn't.

● Assess what you would change and why you would change it in the future.


Where Could You Possibly Apply Reflective Writing?

Reflective writing has numerous professional, academic, and personal applications. Many people engage in the following pursuits, all of which include opportunities for reflective papers:


Appraisals provide a chance to reflect on one's work experience over a defined period of time. You may be required to keep track of successes and explain their significance, highlighting areas for growth.

Cover letters

Applications for jobs require thoughtful preparation and writing. It's important to consider how your prior work history and other life events relate to the position requirements you're applying for. Key aspects of reflective writing include expanding on what you've done, explaining what you've learned, and explaining why these matters.



Personal reflection and expression can flourish in the open forum of a blog. Bloggers frequently have an opinion on a topic and use their site to spread that opinion. A common theme in their work is explaining why they like or loathe something.

Letters of Recommendation

You probably received a request for your opinion after your most recent purchase. You should weigh the good and the bad before publishing an internet review. You may have also included specific examples of the product's strengths and weaknesses, allowing future consumers to make more informed decisions.


Academic Reflection

As part of an academic assignment, you might be required to provide some reflection, such as discussing how the material applies to your personal experiences. Students are also frequently encouraged to reflect on and document their reactions to and interpretations of readings and other research.

While doing the study

When conducting research, scientists frequently question their current methods and brainstorm new ways to reach their final destination. A sort of reflective writing, this questioning method is generally recorded in some form, like a lab book.



Editing a reflective paper

Here are some questions you should ask yourself when editing your reflective paper.


·         Asking if I've given this issue enough serious thought.

·         Have I taken a particular event, action, thought, or example as the basis for my introspection?

·         How specific are my current plans? How about I get a little more specific?

·         Have I made any substantial theoretical connections? Could I provide more detail to show how this theory is applicable and how I interpret it?


The Bottom Line

 A reflective writing is one in which the author expresses his or her own thoughts and feelings regarding a certain topic. Reflective papers are unique in that they do not require the writer to present evidence or arguments. Instead, they provide people a platform to share opinions gleaned through experience. When compared to other types of writing projects you'll face in college, reflective papers provide you the most freedom to express yourself.  Are you stuck on how to navigate your reflective writing; you can speak to our experts. is an essay writing service that will help solve your reflective paper writing needs. Sign up and place your order now!


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