Meant to illustrate your understanding of the material studied over the course of a class, a reflection paper shows how those readings affected your current ideas and possible future philosophies. Writing a reflection paper is more about you than it is the pieces studied or discussions that took place over the course. A simple plan can make the writing of a reflection paper an enjoyable and interesting adventure.

Definition of a Reflection Paper

A reflection paper is the identification of the main themes of the readings assimilated during the classroom experience. It further discusses how those main themes have affected your thinking and how they may have been put into practice in your personal life or study. Your thoughts and the analysis as to what you've read and experienced in the pieces are also a major part of the reflection paper.

Gather your Reflections

Begin by taking a wide view of what you've read in class. Ask yourself some restorative questions and write down your findings. What's the first reading that comes to mind or truly stands out to you? Why does it have a significant hold on you? How have you or your actions been affected by what was read or discussed in class? How did the course experience make you feel? Consider how the readings related to your previous knowledge and experience and how that may have changed over the course of the class. Once you've gathered this information, you can begin to build the case for your reflection. Include as many references as are suitable to support your recollections of the class experience from your point of view.

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Steps for Building a Solid Reflection

Once you've gathered all your thoughts, put them in a cohesive order. If your reflections have a time theme, such as how you came to change your mind on a subject due to the class readings and discussions, create an outline based on the evolution of your changed philosophy. If the information you gathered in the brainstorming process had a more personal direction, discuss the arc of how the class changed your philosophy from the beginning of the term to the end. It's fine to use the first person singular throughout the reflection paper. The reflection paper is structured with a strong opening paragraph that sets the tone for the rest of the piece. That's followed by the main body and a well-crafted, but brief, conclusion paragraph.

About the Author

Kimberley McGee is an award-winning journalist with 20+ years of experience writing for The New York Times, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Today’s Parent and other publications. Her full bio and clips can be seen at www.vegaswriter.com.