How to Write a Reflection Paper
Knowing how to write a reflection paper enables you to organize thoughts methodically so that you can gain more from your practical experience. A reflection paper is a paper that gives you an opportunity to add your analysis and thoughts to what you experience or read. It enables you to tell the reader how your comprehension of a class-related material is shaped by a specific lesson, article, experience or lecture. A reflection paper is usually subjective and personal. However, it contains a tone that is somewhat academic and it has to be cohesively organized and thorough. While writing a reflection paper, you should integrate the main themes of the work with classroom experience then indicate how they affect your thinking and practice.
Importance of knowing how to write a reflection paper
Sometimes, you attend lectures but at the end of it you do not get comprehensive experience until when you sit down to analyze what was taught. A reflection paper can have a significant impact in your learning process because writing it entails evaluating your experience analytically. While writing a reflection paper, you must deconstruct and analyze. This enables you to dig deeper into the work that you are reflecting on and discuss its specific aspects. For instance, you may be required to reflect and explain how a task that you performed during a class session will assist you later in life. Although the reflections that you express in a reflection paper are based on your opinion, that opinion is built on personal experience from a lecture or coursework at the university, college or school.
How to write a reflection paper in two major steps
Step 1: Brainstorm
- Select the major themes
Start by listing down your reflections or experiences from your notes, readings or even lessons. You can do this using a few descriptive but straight sentences.
- Highlight the major materials
Some materials will stand out once you list down your main themes. Come up with another list of these materials explaining what makes them stand out. For readings or lectures, highlight specific quotations or passages. For experiences, note down the specific sections of the experience. You can even come up with a story or a summary of the event that happened, sounds or images that came out in a clearer way.
- Organize your ideas
You can come up with a table or chart that will enable you to organize your ideas. For instance, you can do this by creating three columns. Include the key experiences or main points in your first column. The points may be anything that the speaker or the author highlighted as important or the specific details that are important. You can include each point in a separate row. In a second column, indicate your response to what you listed in your first column. Explain how your response is influenced by your experiences, subjective values as well as beliefs. In the final column, describe the amount of personal response that you will share with readers through a reflection paper.
- Present a guided response
Pinpointing responses or gauging personal feelings can be a challenge while writing a reflection paper. In that case, you can ask questions that will help in guiding your response. For instance, you can ask yourself these questions:
- Are you challenged culturally, socially, theologically or emotionally by a lecture, experience or reading? If so, how and in what way? Why does it capture your attention or why are you bothered?
- Does the experience, lecture or reading raise questions in you? Did you have these questions before the experience, lecture or reading or did you develop them after?
- How was your thinking changed by the experience, lecture or reading? Is it in conflict with your previously held beliefs and is there evidence that made you change your perception of the topic?
- Did the speaker, author or the involved parties leave any critical issue unaddressed? Was the conclusion or impact of the experience, lecture or reading changed dramatically by a certain idea or fact?
- Do the ideas or issues raised by the experience, lecture or reading mesh with your past readings or experiences? Do they support or contradict each other?
Step 2: Organize and write the paper
This is a very important step in a guide on how to write a reflection paper. The length of reflection papers ranges from 300 to 700 words. Therefore, you must organize your reflection paper properly so that it can lie within this range. Generally, a reflection paper should be organized like any other paper with an introduction, the body and the conclusion.
- Keep your paper short
Start by verifying whether the instructor specified the word count instead of trying to fit your paper within the range. If there is a specific word count set out by the instructor, organize your paper in a way that enables it to include all relevant information without exceeding or falling below the specified word count.
- Write the introduction
In the introduction, tell readers what your expectations were before the experience, lesson or reading. While writing a reflection paper on a lecture or reading, indicate your expectations on the basis of the abstract, introduction or title. If the reflection paper is about an experience, tell readers what your expectations were on the basis of your prior knowledge from the information acquired from other sources or similar experiences.
- Create a thesis statement
Your introduction should end with a single sentence via which you explain transition from the expectations that you had to the final conclusion. A thesis statement should be a simple explanation of whether the expectations that you had were met or not. It should also provide cohesion and focus for your paper.
- Write the body
In the body of your reflection paper, include paragraphs that explain your understandings and conclusions that you made after the lesson, experience or reading. Explain the conclusions by giving concrete and logical details of how you reached them. Focus your paper on not just summarizing the text that you read but also drawing specific, concrete details from the experience or text so that you can provide conclusions from the context. Each idea or conclusion should be presented separately in one paragraph. Provide a topic sentence for each paragraph which identifies the main points, understandings and conclusions.
- Write the conclusion
Conclude your reflection paper with a conclusion that succinctly describes your overall understanding, feeling or lesion that you got after the experience or reading. The overall conclusion should be supported by the understandings and conclusions that you explained in the body paragraphs. You may have some conflicting understandings and conclusions but most of them should support the final conclusion.
Additional tips on how to write a reflection paper
- Maintain an academic or a professional tone
Although reflection papers are objective and personal, you should keep thoughts sensible and organized. Therefore, avoid being carried away by the use of the personal pronoun ‘I’.
- Use a theoretical concept to analyze experience
Illustrate how the experience that you got diverged from the expectations of a theory or how it conforms to the expectations of a theory. Discuss your reasons for feeling that your experiences where not described or they were described by a theory.
- Be careful while choosing the information to reveal
A reflection paper includes subjective opinions and feelings. Therefore, before you reveal any information, determine whether it is appropriate. If there is an issue that you cannot avoid yet you are uncomfortable sharing it, use general terms to write about it.
- Maintain an academic mix
Ensure that your reflection paper relates your reading or experience with relevant classroom details or information. Incorporate the information that the experience, lecture or reading addressed with what you have learned in classroom.
- Use transitions
Transitions introduce details while shifting arguments in a paper. Use them to show how one detail or experience links to your understanding or conclusion directly. In a reflection paper, you can use transitions like, “for instance,” “an opposing view is,” “a differing perspective is” and “for example” among others.
- Edit your paper
Before you submit your reflection paper, edit it. Revise your paper at the sentence level. Make sure that your paper is consistent with the stated thesis statement. Also ensure that your reflection paper is free of stylistic and grammatical errors.
- Use sample reflection papers
To know how to write a reflection paper with ease, read reflection paper samples for more hints. Click here to read a sample reflection paper.
Get online help with your reflection paper
If you encounter difficulties while writing your reflection paper on a given reading, lecture, or experience, contact us any time for immediate assistance. You can also visit our homepage for more information about our writing services as well as to find out how we may help you. Alternatively, continue reading for more guidelines on how to write a reflection paper and sample papers on our blog.
How to Write a Reflection Paper on a Movie
A reflection paper is less formal as compared to the traditional academic paper. When your tutor asks you to do a reflection paper on a movie, you have to delve into personal observations. Here, you do not build an argument using supporting evidence and credible sources. Instead, you bring out your feelings and thoughts about the movie under analysis. Your greatest task is structuring the paper from personal experience and reasoning, especially after watching the film. This is no easy task. Deep knowledge on how to write a reflection paper on a movie will help you overcome most of these challenges.
See what this handout contains:
- Reflection paper writing tips
- Movie reflection papers
- Examples of movie reflection papers
While this guide contains well-researched strategies from authentic sources, it is a tool to make your writing assignment simpler and not stringent rules to follow. Be flexible and make adjustments any time to meet your homework needs. Are you ready? Let us goo…
Getting Started: How to write a reflection paper on a movie
Always remember that a reflection paper is about you. It gives you a chance to express your thoughts over a book, movie, speech or a debate you attended. In this section, you will find everything you need to know to overcome the challenges of writing a flawless movie reflection paper.
Unless you get instructions from your tutor, always write your reflection paper in the first person. Besides, include concrete examples and cite experts where possible to support your opinion.
To write a good reflection paper on a movie, you need to understand the film. This allows you to give a balanced and informed opinion. As such, take your time to watch the movie several times until you master the theme of the producer.
The following guidelines should help you master how to write a reflection paper on a movie.
Hints to remember when writing a reflection paper on a movie
Do not repeat the story. A response paper is far away from narrating the story to your audience. Do not try this. In fact, do not even bother writing a synopsis of the movie because you do not need it. Your focus should be on the major themes in the film.
Retelling a movie to your audience makes it hard for them to understand what the film is all about even though they may get a clue of what transpired. The secret of a good movie is never in the action but in the message.
In the first paragraph of your reflection paper, introduce the reader to your topic. Say what you are discussing as revealed in the movie.
Provide proper bibliographical information – As you figure out how to write a reflection paper on a movie, be sure to acknowledge every source you use to develop your reflection paper. Format your bibliography using standard styles like APA, MLA, and Chicago and ASA format. For reviews, do not include full copies instead capture the bibliographical reference. For web reviews, make sure you provide correct URLs. Also, adhere to standard referencing rules as you do in text citation of your paper.
Organize your paper in paragraphs. A good reflection paper should have paragraphs, without which your ideas will be disorganized. It would be meaningless to have a perfect storyline yet your ideas are jumbled up. You can also use headlines to demarcate different sections of your paper.
Bring out the movie’s central theme: – Though you have the freedom to talk about a range of issues as you articulate your opinion on the movie, do not forget the main theme of the film.
Present a flawless paper – Endeavour to write a perfect paper without common grammar and punctuation errors. Achieve this by proofreading your assignment. You can also give your final friend to a friend to read it and help you make final touches.
Do not do film critic. Remember that a reflection paper of a film is not a critique of the work. Forget about editing, lighting and other filmmaking processes. The issues, which the producer is passing across, are what matter. If you follow these tips on how to write a reflection paper on a movie, you score high in your coming assignments.
For better understanding of the tips above, let us examine the following example.
Example #1: Reflection Paper on a Movie ‘The Crash’
This movie helped me understand the issues of racial tension and animosity in our society today…It also allowed me to stop for a moment and reflect on my thinking and perception towards people of other races and how I would treat them in case we met…
Among the characters who caught my attention as I watched, the movie was Officer Ryan (Matt Dillon). He portrays a practical example of the effects of our actions to other people’s lives…
The locksmith guy also amazes me in the movie. It is interesting to imagine how he tolerated the crap from the Persian guy and Sandra Bullock…
Adapted from: web.pdx.edu
This is a good example of a reflection paper on a movie. The writer sticks to his opinions and thoughts about the film, as it captures issues of racial discrimination and animosity. To develop his reflection, the writer analyzes different characters in relation to racial segregation. He focuses on those who perpetrate the vice and those you overcome the arising challenges. Note that the writer sticks to the first person pronoun as we earlier discussed.
Hoping that this example has helped you gain more insights on how to write a reflection paper on a movie, let us look at a stepwise approach of handling this kind of assignment.
4 steps of writing a reflection paper on a movie
Movie reflection assignments should be the simplest and enjoyable. Imagine working on a paper that requires you to sit, watch movies and give your views. That sounds interesting.
Movies are a good teaching aid as they offer a different perspective on different issues in life. A reaction paper helps you understand specific materials and appreciate its relationship within your course. Here are some of the steps to help you achieve your objective:
Step 1: Treat the movie as a literature piece. As you watch the movie and piece together your reflection paper, see the film as other works of literature you have studied. Bring out the themes and motifs in the movie. Focus on the characters and state how they affected your perception. In addition, bring out the role of these characters in developing the theme.
Step 2: Select a good focus for your paper. If you are in a history class, your reflection paper may seek to establish the accuracy of the events plus where the movie takes artistic license. For example, explain your connection with the characters in the movie and if this would change if it were a book. Talk about the effectiveness of different characters. For example, who is the most sympathetic person in the movie? Capture scenes or events in the movie, which put you off as you watched.
Step 3: Select the elements to include. As you work out on how to write a reflection paper on a movie, always have in mind the production elements, which stand out in the film. How are the events of the story harmonizing to bring out the main theme?
Step 4: Review your paper. Always take time to go through your completed paper to confirm if you have captured everything according to the tutor’s instructions. Also, check grammar, punctuation, consistency, spelling and language clarity.
Examine the following examples as you reflect on this section:
Example # 2: Reflection papers on a movie
How I Met Your Mother Series is another example of a reflection paper. The writer discusses the movie from a personal point of view, giving opinions and thoughts. An excerpt from the series reads:
After watching how I met your mother, I got a deeper understanding of issues of relationships in our society. I was thrilled by how relationships affect everyone in life regardless of their age or gender. I also find the movie captivating and informing in addressing some of the causes of divorce and separation in the American society today.
You can read the whole essay here and get more wisdom on how to write a reflection paper on a movie.
With this handout, you have all it takes to perfect your reflection writing skills. Read and reread these tops and apply. You’ll do great!
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