Reflective Essay -Meaning, importance and structure of a reflection paper

Reflective Essay -Meaning, importance and structure of a reflection paper

What is a reflection?

A reflective essay, often regarded as a ‘reflection paper’ can be regarded as a form of writing whereby an author provides past research, interaction or events as well as imaginary scenes or happenings and shares personal and emotional evaluation or thoughts along with it.

Similarly, a reflection paper can also be defined as a long piece of writing which mainly centres on the personal thoughts of the author. These thoughts may be related to a past experience, a current happening or a particular topic.

Why is a reflective essay/paper important?

A reflective essay/paper is an important aspect of academic writing and learning as a whole. This is so because reflective writing requires critical thinking and deeper insights regarding a particular experience or subject matter. Hence, reflective papers enable students to examine experiences and topics from a more practical and in-depth angle.

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In addition to that, this form of writing can be adopted and used as a form of an assignment to students in literary all fields of study. In this regard, some examples of reflective papers include; case studies, reflective journals, reflective reports and so on.

What writing style is adopted in a reflective paper?

It was fore mentioned in this article that a reflective paper is simply the provision of theories and/or personal experiences relating to a subject matter and the provision of personal thoughts or convictions relating to the topic provided afterwards.

In this regard, the writing style which is adopted during the course of a reflective essay is largely informal or personal, formal and it also involves the provision of theories or some sort of evidence to back up the convictions or theories of the writer.

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For instance, if one is writing a reflective essay relating to the impact of peer pressure on Nigerian teenagers and young adults, he/she is expected to begin by providing theories and past research of others relating to the subject matter. While doing so, the writer can also decide to share a personal thought or firsthand experience relating to the subject matter as well.

Hence, a reflective paper is mainly issued to students to ascertain the level of critical understanding they may have regarding a particular subject matter in a particular field.

What is the structure of a reflective essay?

Just like any long piece of academic writing, a reflective paper has three basic structures namely;

  • An introduction.
  • A body and,
  • A conclusion.

How to write the introductory part of a reflective essay

The introduction is the first part of a reflective paper, it can be composed in the following simple steps;

  • The writer ought to commence by sharing personal thoughts relating to the subject matter of the paper.
  • Alternatively, the writer ought to provide the thesis statement as well as the vitality or impact which such statement may have had over the years.
  • Thirdly, the writer will briefly inform the reader(s) on what to expect during the course of the paper, as well as how such expectations will be carried out.

Like all forms of academic writing, it is important for the introductory part of the paper to be informative, concise, catchy and mostly original.

How to write the body of the reflective essay

The body of the reflective paper is basically the core of the paper, this is so because it consists of both the thoughts of the writer as well as the theories or findings which may be associated with the research.

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Hence, it is important for the writer to pay close attention when constructing this section. This will help to eliminate or minimize all forms of errors. The body of a reflective paper can be constructed with the aid of the following easy steps.

  • The writer ought to state one point relating to the subject matter per paragraph. This point can also be associated with a similar point or a point which will be related to that which was first provided in the paragraph.
  • All paragraphs ought to commence with a topic sentence. This will be followed by other theories or assertions which other scholars may have provided regarding that particular subject matter.
  • After providing these theories and assertions, the next thing which the writer ought to do is to share his/her own personal thoughts relating to that particular subject matter.

When constructing the body of the paper, it is important for the writer to be as in-depth as possible. Similarly, it is important for the writer to have as much research information relating to the subject matter as possible.

Relying on the past works of other scholars to draw conclusions or assertions will indirectly tell the readers, examiners or lecturers that you are well-informed about the subject matter of the research and that you are not just jumping to conclusions.

How to conclude a reflective essay

The conclusion of a reflective essay is the last part of the academic piece. It can be constructed in the following simple steps;

  • The writer ought to provide a brief summary of all the findings and assertions provided during the course of the research.
  • This summary must also include the personal reflections or assertions of the writer.
  • During the course of this conclusion, the writer should not provide any form of external information or theory. Hence, the conclusion ought to contain only the points which were identified in the body of the reflective paper.
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Important points to note when writing a reflective paper.

In order to compose a well-written reflective paper, it is important to take note of the following points;

  • Always conduct proper research before commencing the paper.
  • While conducting research, also jot down the valuable points found and try to make an outline out of it. It will be easier to know what to place in a paragraph with the aid of an outline.
  • Always cite every assertion made during the course of the research, provided that it is not yours and, it is not general knowledge.
  • Always figure out the referencing style which ought to be used in your field of study, master it and use it properly during the course of the paper.
  • Always end a reflective paper with a bibliography or a list of references. This is simply the alphabetical compilation of all the sources cited during the course of the research.


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