How to Write a Reflection Step by Step

How to Write a Reflection Step by Step

Today, the goals, strategies, tasks, and content of students’ professional training are undergoing significant changes: the formation of thinking focused on the design of non-standard forms and models of real professional activity comes to the fore. From this point of view, the following skills become important for the future specialist: focus on design and mobility, independence in solving professional problems – thus, we are talking about acquiring competence.

Modern requirements call for a revision of the usual teaching strategy. The transition to teaching aids that encourages students to develop internal motives for cognition to increase the theoretical comprehension of their practical activities begins to occur. The importance of fundamental knowledge increases, the course for individualization is enhanced, the volume of students’ independent work increases, the transition from educational activities under the guidance of a teacher to independent studies becomes important.

The main types of independent work include the study of theoretical material; execution of calculation work on the topic of practical training; fulfillment of individual tasks on the subject of laboratory work; execution of an individual complex task; implementation of the course project/work; writing of an essay, term paper, reflection, etc.

The reflection paper is an important type of independent student work. Below we will talk in more detail about how to write a reflection step by step.

Reflection Paper Definition

An important step in understanding the essence of how to write a reflection is knowing the definition of this type of paper. Therefore, we will first consider what is reflection paper, what its features are, and then move on to how to write it.

So, a reflection paper is a type of student’s work in which a critical reflection and own thoughts and perceptions of a certain subject are presented. In other words, this is a reflection of your thoughts and ideas regarding a specific book, article, film, speech, etc. For example, in a reflection paper about a book or article, it is imperative to reflect the area of ​​interest. Also, the study to which the work is devoted, its distinctive features from existing similar publications, the positive aspects and disadvantages, the author’s contribution to the development of the problems under study and the breadth of their coverage, the originality of ideas, approaches, presentation style.

The time spent on writing a reflection depends on the complexity of the material, the student’s individual characteristics and is usually determined by the teacher.

Major Differences Between Reflection and Academic Papers

Anyone who wants to learn how to create a good reflection from scratch needs to realize the main differences between writing a reflection and an academic paper. Read about it in this section.

Academic writing is a traditional type of competence, relevant in the rapid development of information processes, international exchanges, academic contacts, and widespread in the world educational and scientific communities. Academic writing is by far the core language competence of successful university studies, allowing you to read, understand, structure, and format your own scientific texts.

All academic genres can be conditionally divided into two types: primary and secondary. The primary genres include an article, monograph, review, dissertation, and secondary academic genres, including an abstract, an encyclopedic article, a scientific discussion, and a scientific project description. These genres, different in content, compositional characteristics, and linguistic features, have a certain internal functional and speech specificity. They all have the main feature – the accurate and unambiguous expression of scientific thoughts.

Regarding structuring, any academic text should include the introduction, the main part, consisting of several paragraphs, and the final part. Each of these parts has a certain function. Thus, the introduction begins in general and then moves on to more specific details. It should contain your thesis statements or requirements, expressions of intent, goals, or promises to the reader that you state your main idea or intrigue him with what the reader expects to find in work. The main part is a series of paragraphs that build your arguments. Each new idea should occupy one paragraph. A paragraph usually begins with a thematic sentence that defines its main idea. It must be supported by evidence or explanation or followed by a comment or link to the next paragraph. The final part should summarize your main ideas and thesis statements. It should not contain new ideas, as this is not the place to develop further arguments. 

Non-academic texts usually include reportage, announcements, reminders, dream books, recipes, telegrams, personal documents, diary, travel notes, biography, autobiography, fiction, reflection, etc. They usually have the same structural elements as academic texts, although they may not have a strictly defined structure and are often written in the first person, while academic texts are written in the third person. This is the main difference between reflection and academic paper.

Basic Types of Reflection Writing

There are several types of reflection writing. You should definitely study them if you need to learn how quickly and easily to write a reflection.

Types of reflection papers:

  • Personal reflection illustrates the personal experience, opinions, and ideas of the author regarding the research topic;
  • Educational reflection is the most common type of reflection writing. College and university students are often asked to write such a paper. In such a work, you need to characterize any book you have read, an article studied, a movie you watched, and express your own opinion on the subject of research;
  • Professional reflection is most often used in order to describe a person’s professional experience, assess his skills and achievements;
  • Self-reflection reflects the personal achievements of the author and evaluates them;
  • Experiential reflection is most often written about where theory and practice are combined (business, nursing, etc.).

Structural Elements of Reflection Paper

As we can see, there are different types of reflection. Each type has its own characteristics. Since the most common type of reflection is educational, below, we will consider its main structural elements.

The educational reflective writing on a literary text usually comprises such components:

  • General characteristics of the literary text. Here it is important to mention the name and surname of the author, the title of the work, and its publication year. In addition, it is recommended to provide a summary of the text;
  • Reaction to the work read. This provides an overall impression of the work;
  • General analysis of the text, the individual style of the writer, the level of his writing skills, characteristics of the characters, features of the development of the plot, etc.;
  • Evaluation of the work, confirmed by weighty arguments.
  • The level of relevance of the main topic of the work.

How to Create a Good Critical Reflection?

Start brainstorming. Bring together several topics, write down important ideas, identify relationships, and define your attitude to the chosen topic.

Here is a list of questions you need to ask yourself in order to write good critical reflection:

  • How can I relate the material to my life, experience, knowledge, skills, values, ​​and beliefs?
  • Does this material confirm my own thoughts or refute them?
  • How does the presented material affect me, what kind of emotional reaction does it evoke?
  • What elements or aspects of the subject in question interest me most and attract my attention?
  • Does this material change my established attitude towards the subject?
  • Is the topic under consideration important?
  • Have I learned something important about the topic?
  • What is the relevance of the topic, and how did it attract me in general?

When creating a critical reflection, you need to remember that you need to present your main ideas and arguments in this paper. You have to give a critical assessment of the subject, analyze individual details and theses, present your counter-arguments and reasons for why something in work aroused your interest, or vice versa.

Peculiarities of Composing an Outline

Preliminary acquaintance with the topic is a basis for drawing up a good outline of the work. Creating an outline is one of the most significant stages of preparation of a reflection paper because it forms a general idea of ​​the quality of work, implemented areas of study on the selected topic, the logical relationship between its individual components, and the problem statement of individual issues. The outline shows how well the student understood the chosen topic, how he understood the problem as a whole and was able to identify significant, main areas of research. The final result of the work done – the level of achievement of the set goal – largely depends on the correctly made outline.

The outline consists of a list of basic questions related to the internal logic of the topic. The wording of the headings of sections and subsections must meet the following requirements: specificity, brevity, lack of ambiguity. When drawing up an outline, the basic questions should be placed in such a sequence that is the most logical and acceptable for this study scheme of presentation of the material.

The student makes the outline independently and agrees on it with the teacher. In the future, it can be clarified, leaving the main task of the work unchanged.

Maintaining the Correct Paper Format

Text formatting is an important part of any written work. The text of a reflection work is printed on a standard A4 sheet of paper. Margins are left on all four sides of the printed sheet; the approximate number of characters per page is 1800-2000.

Reflection may contain generally accepted contractions. In addition, there may be abbreviations created by the author of the work. These can be concepts from different fields of science. At the first introduction of an abbreviation into the text, it’s decoding, that is, an explanation is required. It is indicated after the abbreviation in parentheses. If you reuse the abbreviation in the text, no decoding is required.

Tables, figures, and graphs should be placed immediately after the text. They are mentioned for the first time or on the next page. All tables, figures, and diagrams should have headings and ordinal numbering.

We have listed above only the basic requirements for formatting reflection papers. But in general, the design may differ for different reflection papers. It depends on the type of paper and the formatting and citation style (MLA, APA, Chicago, Harvard, etc.). It is important to pay attention to this when creating a work.

Reflection Paper Writing Process

A clear answer to the question “How to write a reflection paper?” you will find it in this section. Take enough time to study it.

Start writing a reflection by dividing your work into structural parts. This may include an introduction, main parts, and conclusion or have some non-standard structure. Below we will consider the features of writing a reflection paper, which has a standard structure.

Thus, the content is usually presented at the beginning of the paper. It should be designed as a detailed outline. The outline contains the heading and numbering of all sections and subsections. The harmonious combination of structural parts of the work significantly affects its effectiveness. Based on this, the main sections of the reflection paper should be organically interconnected.


The introduction substantiates the relevance of the chosen topic, reveals its significance, provides an overview of the degree of development of this problem without a clear argumentation of individual positions, emphasizes the need to address specific issues, indicates the purpose and objectives of the work. The purpose should be formulated succinctly but convincingly. 

Main Part

The basic goal of the main part of the work is to provide a characteristic and give your own assessment of the subject, to reveal its shortcomings and advantages. This certainly requires the author to reflect on certain skills. It is important to ensure the objectivity of reflection, to give a fair assessment of the subject. This does not mean at all that the author has no right to express his own opinion on the subject, but quite the contrary, he must do it, only he needs to avoid one-sidedness, the bias in the assessment. The general style of writing a reflection also has its own characteristics. You should not use rude comparisons, bring sharp criticism, express excessive emotionality, etc. It is important to provide objective evidence and clearly justify your attitude towards the subject. For this purpose, it is recommended to use facts.


In the conclusions, it is necessary to sum up the research results to emphasize their significance and relevance.


Below we will provide an example of a reflection in which the author expresses his opinion on the article:

“The article presents an analysis of the efficiency of nature management in the region. The analysis was performed by means of ecological, natural resource, demographic and economic potential. I can’t find any about the relevance of the article, since at the present stage, nature management, carried out in the region, cannot be called effective. The region must begin to organize more efficient, rational, and full use of the natural resources available. The author of the article has done a tremendous amount of work to determine the efficiency of the use of natural resources in the region under consideration. As a result of the studies, it became known that the efficiency of nature management is insufficient, and the need for complete use of agro-climatic, soil, recreational, and labor resources in the region is clearly expressed. The scientific article fully meets the requirements for this kind of scientific work. It is recommended for use in scientific work.”

Tips for Making Effective Reflection Paper

Writing tips for students:

  • The reflection paper should consider and analyze the main subject (originality and amusingness of the plot, the relevance of the choice of the main characters, etc.);
  • It is important to adhere to a uniform tone of presentation of the author’s speech (it can be funny, informative, explanatory, edifying, etc.);
  • The author should identify and focus on the identified spelling errors;
  • Findings and achievements should be noted;
  • The paper should be detailed and well-grounded;
  • It is forbidden to use profanity in the text;

Typical mistakes in writing:

  • The retelling of books, articles, etc. instead of interpretation and critical analysis;
  • Lack of argumentation;
  • Unclear position;
  • Overload of the reflection with additional details (in particular, biographical information about the author, historical dates that do not form the basis for the analysis and writing of the reflection);
  • Incorrect use of terms or any scientific concepts.

Thus, the best reflection usually presents a critical and analytical attitude towards the subject; talks about relatively uninteresting topics in an interesting and memorable manner; is well-written and informative. Get started writing now and create a stellar paper. If you need quick support, do not waste time but immediately contact professional writers. We will gladly help you!

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