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Why You Should Use a Free Online Notepad for Journaling and Reflection

In today’s fast-paced world, it can be challenging to find the time to sit down and reflect on your thoughts. Journaling is an excellent way to express yourself, organize your ideas, and track your personal growth. However, traditional pen and paper journaling can be inconvenient at times. This is where free online notepads come in handy.

Convenience of a Free Online Notepad

A free online notepad allows you to journal whenever and wherever you want. You don’t need to carry around a bulky notebook or worry about losing it. With just an internet connection, you can access your notes from any device. Plus, you won’t have to worry about running out of pages or ink.

Security of Your Thoughts

Keeping a physical journal can also raise concerns about privacy. If someone were to find your notebook, they could read your personal thoughts and feelings without your consent. A free online notepad provides a level of security that traditional journals cannot offer. Most online notepads have password protection features that allow only you to access your notes.

Organization of Your Notes

Online notepads also offer organizational benefits that physical journals lack. With the ability to create different folders or tags for each note, it’s easy to keep track of specific topics or themes within your journal entries. Plus, many online notepads offer search functions that allow you to quickly locate specific entries based on keywords.

Additional Features for Journaling

Many free online notepads come with additional features that make journaling even more enjoyable and effective. For example, some platforms offer templates with prompts that encourage self-reflection or gratitude exercises. Others may have options for adding photos or voice recordings into your notes.

In conclusion, using a free online notepad for journaling and reflection offers numerous benefits, including convenience, security, organization, and additional features. Whether you’re a seasoned journaler or just starting out, consider giving an online notepad a try. Who knows? It may become your new favorite way to reflect and express yourself.

This text was generated using a large language model, and select text has been reviewed and moderated for purposes such as readability.


reflection paper keywords


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Reflective practice toolkit, introduction.

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reflection paper keywords

Many people worry that they will be unable to write reflectively but chances are that you do it more than you think!  It's a common task during both work and study from appraisal and planning documents to recording observations at the end of a module. The following pages will guide you through some simple techniques for reflective writing as well as how to avoid some of the most common pitfalls.

What is reflective writing?

Writing reflectively involves critically analysing an experience, recording how it has impacted you and what you plan to do with your new knowledge. It can help you to reflect on a deeper level as the act of getting something down on paper often helps people to think an experience through.

The key to reflective writing is to be analytical rather than descriptive. Always ask why rather than just describing what happened during an experience. 


Reflective writing is...

  • Written in the first person
  • Free flowing
  • A tool to challenge assumptions
  • A time investment

Reflective writing isn't...

  • Written in the third person
  • Descriptive
  • What you think you should write
  • A tool to ignore assumptions
  • A waste of time

Adapted from The Reflective Practice Guide: an Interdisciplinary Approach / Barbara Bassot.

You can learn more about reflective writing in this handy video from Hull University:

Created by SkillsTeamHullUni

  • Hull reflective writing video transcript (Word)
  • Hull reflective writing video transcript (PDF)

Where might you use reflective writing?

You can use reflective writing in many aspects of your work, study and even everyday life. The activities below all contain some aspect of reflective writing and are common to many people:

1. Job applications

Both preparing for and writing job applications contain elements of reflective writing. You need to think about the experience that makes you suitable for a role and this means reflection on the skills you have developed and how they might relate to the specification. When writing your application you need to expand on what you have done and explain what you have learnt and why this matters - key elements of reflective writing.

2. Appraisals

In a similar way, undertaking an appraisal is a good time to reflect back on a certain period of time in post. You might be asked to record what went well and why as well as identifying areas for improvement.

3. Written feedback

If you have made a purchase recently you are likely to have received a request for feedback. When you leave a review of a product or service online then you need to think about the pros and cons. You may also have gone into detail about why the product was so good or the service was so bad so other people know how to judge it in the future.

4. Blogging

Blogs are a place to offer your own opinion and can be a really good place to do some reflective writing. Blogger often take a view on something and use their site as a way to share it with the world. They will often talk about the reasons why they like/dislike something - classic reflective writing.

5. During the research process

When researchers are working on a project they will often think about they way they are working and how it could be improved as well as considering different approaches to achieve their research goal. They will often record this in some way such as in a lab book and this questioning approach is a form of reflective writing.

6. In academic writing

Many students will be asked to include some form of reflection in an academic assignment, for example when relating a topic to their real life circumstances. They are also often asked to think about their opinion on or reactions to texts and other research and write about this in their own work.

Think about ... When you reflect

Think about all of the activities you do on a daily basis. Do any of these contain elements of reflective writing? Make a list of all the times you have written something reflective over the last month - it will be longer than you think!

Reflective terminology

A common mistake people make when writing reflectively is to focus too much on describing their experience. Think about some of the phrases below and try to use them when writing reflectively to help you avoid this problem:

  • The most important thing was...
  • At the time I felt...
  • This was likely due to...
  • After thinking about it...
  • I learned that...
  • I need to know more about...
  • Later I realised...
  • This was because...
  • This was like...
  • I wonder what would happen if...
  • I'm still unsure about...
  • My next steps are...

Always try and write in the first person when writing reflectively. This will help you to focus on your thoughts/feelings/experiences rather than just a description of the experience.

Using reflective writing in your academic work

Man writing in a notebook at a desk with laptop

Many courses will also expect you to reflect on your own learning as you progress through a particular programme. You may be asked to keep some type of reflective journal or diary. Depending on the needs of your course this may or may not be assessed but if you are using one it's important to write reflectively. This can help you to look back and see how your thinking has evolved over time - something useful for job applications in the future. Students at all levels may also be asked to reflect on the work of others, either as part of a group project or through peer review of their work. This requires a slightly different approach to reflection as you are not focused on your own work but again this is a useful skill to develop for the workplace.

You can see some useful examples of reflective writing in academia from Monash University ,  UNSW (the University of New South Wales) and Sage . Several of these examples also include feedback from tutors which you can use to inform your own work.

Laptop/computer/broswer/research by StockSnap via Pixabay licenced under CC0.

Now that you have a better idea of what reflective writing is and how it can be used it's time to practice some techniques.

This page has given you an understanding of what reflective writing is and where it can be used in both work and study. Now that you have a better idea of how reflective writing works the next two pages will guide you through some activities you can use to get started.

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  • Last Updated: Jun 21, 2023 3:24 PM
  • URL: https://libguides.cam.ac.uk/reflectivepracticetoolkit

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Reflection Toolkit

Language of academic reflections

Guidance on the language of academic reflections.

Private reflections only have to make sense to you and therefore the language and structure can take any form you like. In contrast, academic reflections have certain characteristics; knowing these will help you write good academic reflections. While this page is specifically focused on academic reflective writing, a lot of the advice is true for private reflections as well.

General language points

  • Use ‘I’ and other personal pronouns (reflections are centred around you)
  • Use subject-specific language and terminology (use the same language as you would in an essay, just centred around your own experiences)
  • Use succinct and formal language

Language points for specific aspects of reflective writing

A summary of key points to remember at different stages of reflection:

  • When describing
  • When writing about thoughts and feelings
  • When analysing/interpreting/evaluating
  • When concluding and planning

Language points when describing

  • Use clear and precise language. For example, use ‘working on a group project on […] with three other students’ rather than ‘working on a group project with some other students’
  • Be as objective as possible. For example ‘The younger children were hanging out at the corner’ rather than ‘the younger children were barricading the corner’ – It may have felt that way but was that actually their intent? If it felt that way, the feelings should be expressed explicitly.
  • Be concise.
  • Almost always use the past tense.
  • Use temporal indicators and transitional language. For example: yesterday, last week, then, subsequently, lastly, etc.

Helpful phrases are ‘I saw…’, ‘I noticed…’, ‘I/they said…’, ‘I had…’, ‘I/they did…’, ‘I heard…’

Language points when writing about thoughts and feelings

  • Use thinking and sensing verbs. For example, ‘I believe…’, ‘I think…’, ‘My opinion is…’, ‘I feel…’, ‘I understand…’, ‘I was happy/angry/…’ etc.
  • Be cautious not to use ‘feel’ to hide judgement or opinion. For instance ‘I felt they were wrong’, or ‘my feeling was that it was a good choice’.  Both of these sentences use feelings as a way to pass judgement. The latter of the examples can be rewritten as ‘I felt confident while making the choice, because…’
  • Be aware of tense. Sometimes you are remembering feelings you had at the time of the event, which should be written in past tense.  Sometimes you are talking about current and persistent feelings. Use present tense for feelings you have at the time of writing.
  • Feelings should be processed. For academic reflection you should not write in the heat of the moment. The feelings should be presented to aid the understanding of the situation and help you to make connections – this is not a place to rant.

Language points when analysing/interpreting/evaluating

  • Use comparative/contrasting language. For instance, ‘similarly’, ‘unlike’, ‘just as’, ‘in contrast to’.
  • Use causal language to show connects and conclusion. For instance, ‘as a result of’, ‘due to’, ‘therefore’, ‘because’.

Below is a downloadable flow diagram of useful language for creating the analysing, interpreting, and evaluating part of your academic reflections . It is important to note that just because you use the diagrams, you will not automatically produce good reflections and get a good mark. The diagrams can serve as inspiration and support.

reflection paper keywords

Language points when concluding and planning

  • Sum up/highlight the most crucial learning outcomes.
  • Use future-tense verbs to indicate future actions or practice. For instance: ‘intend to’, ‘will’, ‘may’, ‘should’, etc.

Below is a downloadable flow diagram of useful language for creating the conclusion and planning aspect of your academic reflections . It is important to note that just because you use the diagrams, you will not automatically produce good reflections and get a good mark. The diagrams can serve as inspiration and support.


Ryan, M., 2011. Improving reflective writing in higher education: a social semiotic perspective. Teaching in Higher Education, 16(1), 99-111.

University of Portsmouth, Department for Curriculum and Quality Enhancement (date unavailable). Reflective Writing: a basic introduction [online].  Portsmouth: University of Portsmouth.

Queen Margaret University, Effective Learning Service (date unavailable).  Reflection. [online].  Edinburgh: Queen Margaret University.

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Writing an academic reflection

Reflective writing requires you to think deeply and write about an experience, event or course content.

This involves writing about:

  • What happened ( positive or negative ) and what you personally learned from the experience.
  • What it means, and how it changes the way you think or understand something.
  • What you can change or how you can apply the new learning in the future.

Reflective writing records the development of your insights and ideas. It focuses on a specific new understanding and its application to future practice.

The following diagram illustrates the reflective process of DIEP.

DIEP diagram - Describe Interpret Evaluate Plan

Insight to transfer: top to bottom.

Describe: What happened? What did you learn?

Interpret: What does the experience mean? Why?

Evaluate: How valuable was the learning experience?

Plan: How will you apply your learning?

In this tutorial

  • How to use DIEP (Describe Interpret Evaluate Plan)
  • Sample reflection
  • Academic reflection activities

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How To Write A Reflection Statement – A Step-By-Step Guide

Do you know how to write a reflection statement? In this post, we give you a clear process for writing reflection statements.

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Do you know how to write a reflection statement? Reflection statements are tasks that will increasingly be part of your assessments. In the past, reflection statements were only set for Extension 2. Now they will be commonplace in Advanced English for both Year 11 and Year 12.

In this post, we will demystify reflection statements and give you a step-by-step guide to producing statements that will impress your teachers!

What is a Reflection Statement?

A reflection statement is a complementary task that will accompany other assessment types. A reflection statement requires students to discuss the process of producing the associated assessment task.

In a reflection statement, students need to explain why they made the decisions they did. The reflection statement also offers the student an opportunity to say what they think they did well, or did poorly. Students can reflect on what they would change if they could do it over.

If you want to learn more about why self-reflection is such an important skill for students, you should read this excellent article by Cathy Costello at Virtual library .

Why can’t you give a specific definition of what reflection tasks involve?

The exact nature of the reflection task will depend on the assessment task you’ve been asked to reflect on. To give you an idea of this, we’ll look at some examples of the tasks that reflection statements might accompany and what the reflection statements need to address.

As you can see, there are a wide variety of tasks where you could be asked to provide an accompanying reflection task.

How long is a reflection statement?

This will vary.

English Extension 2 reflection statements need to be 1500 words. If you’re not doing English Extension 2, it is unlikely that you will be required to produce something that long.

The tasks you will be set for English Advanced will range between 300 and 800 words. Most reflection tasks will be on the shorter side of things at around the 400-word mark.

Need help perfecting your reflections for Module C?

Learn how to write insightful and constructive reflections with our structured online video lessons, quality resources, and forums to ask your Matrix teachers questions and feedback! Learn more about Matrix+ Online Courses now. 

reflection paper keywords

Where will I encounter reflection statements?

You will be set reflective statements throughout Years 11 and 12. They can be attached to any assessment task for any Module.

However, due to the nature of the Common Module: Reading to Write it is likely you will be set one to accompany the main writing task for that Module.

Similarly, in Year 12, Common Module: Texts and Human Experience and Module C: The Craft of Writing are the most likely Modules where you will be asked to reflect on your process of composing.

Remember, there is no limit on how many reflections you will need to produce as they supplement a larger assessment task. You may need to write as many as two in both Year 11 and Year 12.

In the HSC English Advanced Paper 2 (from 2019) and HSC English Extension 1 Paper, you may be asked to write a composition and a reflection statement.

If you study English Extension 2, this is a mandatory accompaniment for your major work. (Please note, while the process discussed in this post is similar to the one for producing an Extension 2 reflection statement, it does not discuss the research and referencing components that you need to complete for an Extension 2 work).

Clearly, it is important to be confident writing reflection statements. Matrix students learn how to produce reflection statements and get help refining them.

The secret to producing killer reflection statements is to follow a process when writing them.

What we’ll do now is look at the process for how to produce ace your reflection statement.

How to write a Reflection Statement – a step-by-step guide

Like everything in English, there is a process you can follow to produce a reflection statement. Even though the specific task may vary. The process for writing the reflection will largely remain the same.

The process for writing reflection statements looks like this:

How to Write A Reflection Statement Step-by-Step

Step 1: Produce the main piece of work for the assessment

Reflection statements are never tasks in and of themselves, they supplement the main task. You will not be able to produce your reflection statement until you have completed and edited your main task.

If you are stuck on your main task and need help, you should read our Beginner’s Guide to Acing HSC English  for detailed advice on all aspects of Year 11 and 12 English.

This can be useful. You may well discover that your reflection statement makes you reconsider some of your choices in your main task. In the process of writing your reflection statement, you may decide you need to redraft your main work.

This is one of the key purposes of writing a reflection statement. It forces you to consider what you have produced and the process of producing it. This is a key part of editing and improving your work.

Step 2: Read the assessment notification

Once you’ve produced your main piece of work, you need to revisit your assessment notification. A task that involves a reflection statement will come in two sections:

  • Section 1 will be the instructions for the main task;
  • Section 2 will be the instructions for the supplementary reflection task.

Rereading the notification is important as it will help you check that you have completed the main task correctly. It will also tell you exactly what you need to do for the second part of the task.

Step 3: Read the marking criteria

For every assessment task that you are given, you MUST be given accompanying marking criteria. Marking criteria are very important. They tell you explicitly what you need to do to get full marks for a specific task.

Reading through the marking criteria at this point serves two purposes:

  • You can double check that you have addressed all the criteria for a Band 6 result for your main task.
  • You can see what you need to do to achieve a Band 6 result for your reflection statement.

Your reflection statement may have very different requirements for a Band 6 mark than your main task. It is important that you are aware of the differences.

Step 4: Unpack what the reflection statement needs you to discuss for a Band 6 result

Now you’re familiar with the notification and marking criteria for the assessment task, you need to get these understandings down in writing.

To do this, you need to take a few steps:

  • Read through the instructions for the task and highlight or underline the keywords (these will usually be the verbs and nouns in the instructions).
  • Now you want to write these words down and define them. If you are unsure of a what a word means, that’s okay. Look it up. This is how you expand your vocabulary.
  • Next, do the same for the marking criteria. Underline what you feel are the keywords and terms. Again, write them down and define them.
  • Now you need to write down what you need to do for a Band 6 result. To do this, write down the instructions in your own words. Include what you need to do for a Band 6 mark in this instruction. Be sure to make note of whether this is meant to be written informally or formally, in the first or third person. You must follow the instruction regarding form for these tasks.

Now you’ve unpacked the question. This means you are now equipped to answer the question you’ve been set.

Next, you need to revisit your main task so you can see what you’ve done and evaluate how you’ve put it together.

Step 5: Reread what you have produced for your main task

Your reflection statement will require you to explain the choices you’ve made in your main composition.

You may not have thought too much about these things when you produced the work. And this is fine. It just doesn’t help you with the reflections statement.

If this is you, you need to read your work with an eye on how you have conveyed information. You must unpack how you have presented your ideas. Essentially, you need to reverse engineer your writing through textual analysis.

Some useful questions to ask yourself when doing this are:

  • How does my work address the assessment instructions and marking criteria?
  • What am I trying to convey here?
  • How does this part of my work address the marking criteria?
  • What technique have I used to convey meaning?
  • Why have I used that technique?
  • Could I have conveyed this idea differently? Would this have been more effective? Why?

Make notes while you do this. You want to be able to refer back to your findings in detail when you write the reflection statement.

Once you’ve finished this, you’re ready to start planning. By now you should have:

  • A detailed breakdown of what your task requires you to discuss in your reflection statement and how to discuss it.
  • A detailed set of notes about the piece you have produced for the main task.

Step 6: Plan your reflection statement

As with any task, you want to plan things before you get stuck in. Planning your work forces you to consider what information you must include and how you will structure that information in your response. This is an important part of the critical thinking process.

Reflection statements need to have structure, too.

You need to ensure that you introduce your ideas clearly, then expand on them, and, finally, summarise and conclude your statement. Even if you only need to produce a 250-word paragraph, you still need to ensure that it follows the conventions of composition structure. You will lose marks for presenting idea soup.

To plan your response, you’ll need to get your notes on the task and your notes on your response together. Then:

  • Read through your notes on the question. Remind yourself what you need to discuss in your reflection statement.
  • Write down what you will discuss in your reflection statement.
  • Now you need to think about what parts of your main task you will discuss. To do this, refer to your notes about your main task. Ask yourself, “which parts of my task are most relevant to what the task is asking me to discuss?”
  • Note down what you think will be the order for presenting your reflection. For example, you may want to start with your structural decisions before discussing your use of techniques or you may want to discuss your influences before discussing your ideas.

Once you’ve got your plan together, you’re ready to write. Matrix students get advice on their assessment tasks from their Matrix Tutors and Teachers. It might be helpful to ask a peer or parent for their thoughts if your school teacher can’t provide advice.

Step 7: Write your introductory statement

The length of your introduction will be contingent on the specifics of your task:

  • If your reflection statement is less than 400 words, you will need to produce one or two sentences.
  • If you are writing a longer reflection statement of more than 400 words, you will need to write a short introduction.
  • If you are producing an Extension 2 reflection statement, this will need to be a longer and more detailed introductory paragraph.

When writing your introduction, you must:

  • Introduce the topic you will discuss;
  • Explain how this reflects on the work that you are discussing;
  • Make reference to the Module you are studying.

Once you have produced your introduction, you are now ready to develop your discussion and discuss the specifics of your main piece of work.

Step 8: Write the body of your argument

Now you’ve introduced your subject matter you need to start presenting an argument. Even though you are reflecting on your own work, you still need to use examples to demonstrate how you’ve set about responding to the main task.

You will need to present several examples to support your argument, but the number of examples will vary depending on the length of the task you’ve been set.

For a shorter reflection, try to present two or three examples and discuss them in detail. If you need to produce several paragraphs, you should be aiming at around four per paragraph.

To do this:

  • Introduce the idea you were trying to convey (this might be an influence on your work, a technique you’ve tried to use, or a theme you’ve tried to explore).
  • Present an example of this idea.
  • Explain how you have attempted to use or explore this idea.
  • Explain how this addresses the instructions and marking criteria for the task.
  • Explain how this is relevant to the Module you are studying.
  • Comment on other choices you could have made and why you didn’t use the other option.
  • Repeat this for each example that you need to support your point.

Once you’ve done this, you need to conclude your reflection.

Step 9: Write your concluding statement

Your final statement needs to address the broad idea you have discussed in your response. It will need to be at least two sentences. A longer reflection will require a longer concluding statement; if you had a separate introduction you will require a separate conclusion.

To write your concluding statement:

  • Summarise the key ideas that you have discussed.
  • Make a statement about what you have taken away from your study of the Module and the process of producing this task and reflecting on it.

Now you need to revise what you’ve written.

Step 10: Proof and edit your work

It is really important that you proof and edit your work before submitting. You don’t want to throw away marks on typos and unnecessary grammatical errors. Proofing your work is something you must do after you finish any task.

To proof your reflection statement:

  • Reread your summary of the notification of the task and the marking criteria.
  • Read your reflection statement aloud.
  • Whenever you encounter a mistake or a sentence that sounds ungrammatical, correct it.
  • Pay attention to the logic of your argument. Does it make sense?
  • Ask yourself, have I addressed the instructions for the task?
  • Ask yourself, have I addressed the marking criteria for a Band 6 response.
  • Redraft your reflection statement in its entirety. Don’t submit your first draft. Your second draft will always be better.

If you would like to know more about the editing process, you should read Part 7 of our Beginner’s Guide to Acing HSC English: How to Edit Your Work .

Now you’ve finished a second draft you can submit. If you can, you should try and get some feedback. Matrix students get regular feedback from their Matrix Tutors and Teachers. Feedback on your work allows you to take somebody else’s perspective and use it to improve your marks.

reflection paper keywords

Written by Matrix English Team

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Keywords of written reflection - a comparison between reflective and descriptive datasets

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Ullmann, Thomas Daniel (2015). Keywords of written reflection - a comparison between reflective and descriptive datasets. In: Proceedings of the 5th Workshop on Awareness and Reflection in Technology Enhanced Learning (Kravcik, Milos; Mikroyannidis, Alexander; Pammer, Viktoria; Prilla, Michael and Ullmann, Thomas Daniel eds.), pp. 83–96.

URL: http://ceur-ws.org/Vol-1465/paper8.pdf

This study investigates reflection keywords by contrasting two datasets, one of reflective sentences and another of descriptive sentences. The log-likelihood statistic reveals several reflection keywords that are discussed in the context of a model for reflective writing. These keywords are seen as a useful building block for tools that can automatically analyse reflection in texts.

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  • In conjunction with the 10th European Conference on Technology Enhanced Learning: Design for Teaching and Learning in a Networked World (EC-TEL 2015)
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reflection paper keywords

Guide on How to Write a Reflection Paper with Free Tips and Example

reflection paper keywords

A reflection paper is a very common type of paper among college students. Almost any subject you enroll in requires you to express your opinion on certain matters. In this article, we will explain how to write a reflection paper and provide examples and useful tips to make the essay writing process easier.

Reflection papers should have an academic tone yet be personal and subjective. In this paper, you should analyze and reflect upon how an experience, academic task, article, or lecture shaped your perception and thoughts on a subject.

Here is what you need to know about writing an effective critical reflection paper. Stick around until the end of our guide to get some useful writing tips from the writing team at EssayPro — a research paper writing service

What Is a Reflection Paper

A reflection paper is a type of paper that requires you to write your opinion on a topic, supporting it with your observations and personal experiences. As opposed to presenting your reader with the views of other academics and writers, in this essay, you get an opportunity to write your point of view—and the best part is that there is no wrong answer. It is YOUR opinion, and it is your job to express your thoughts in a manner that will be understandable and clear for all readers that will read your paper. The topic range is endless. Here are some examples: whether or not you think aliens exist, your favorite TV show, or your opinion on the outcome of WWII. You can write about pretty much anything.

There are three types of reflection paper; depending on which one you end up with, the tone you write with can be slightly different. The first type is the educational reflective paper. Here your job is to write feedback about a book, movie, or seminar you attended—in a manner that teaches the reader about it. The second is the professional paper. Usually, it is written by people who study or work in education or psychology. For example, it can be a reflection of someone’s behavior. And the last is the personal type, which explores your thoughts and feelings about an individual subject.

However, reflection paper writing will stop eventually with one very important final paper to write - your resume. This is where you will need to reflect on your entire life leading up to that moment. To learn how to list education on resume perfectly, follow the link on our dissertation writing services .

Unlock the potential of your thoughts with EssayPro . Order a reflection paper and explore a range of other academic services tailored to your needs. Dive deep into your experiences, analyze them with expert guidance, and turn your insights into an impactful reflection paper.

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Free Reflection Paper Example

Now that we went over all of the essentials about a reflection paper and how to approach it, we would like to show you some examples that will definitely help you with getting started on your paper.

Reflection Paper Format

Reflection papers typically do not follow any specific format. Since it is your opinion, professors usually let you handle them in any comfortable way. It is best to write your thoughts freely, without guideline constraints. If a personal reflection paper was assigned to you, the format of your paper might depend on the criteria set by your professor. College reflection papers (also known as reflection essays) can typically range from about 400-800 words in length.

Here’s how we can suggest you format your reflection paper:

common reflection paper format

How to Start a Reflection Paper

The first thing to do when beginning to work on a reflection essay is to read your article thoroughly while taking notes. Whether you are reflecting on, for example, an activity, book/newspaper, or academic essay, you want to highlight key ideas and concepts.

You can start writing your reflection paper by summarizing the main concept of your notes to see if your essay includes all the information needed for your readers. It is helpful to add charts, diagrams, and lists to deliver your ideas to the audience in a better fashion.

After you have finished reading your article, it’s time to brainstorm. We’ve got a simple brainstorming technique for writing reflection papers. Just answer some of the basic questions below:

  • How did the article affect you?
  • How does this article catch the reader’s attention (or does it all)?
  • Has the article changed your mind about something? If so, explain how.
  • Has the article left you with any questions?
  • Were there any unaddressed critical issues that didn’t appear in the article?
  • Does the article relate to anything from your past reading experiences?
  • Does the article agree with any of your past reading experiences?

Here are some reflection paper topic examples for you to keep in mind before preparing to write your own:

  • How my views on rap music have changed over time
  • My reflection and interpretation of Moby Dick by Herman Melville
  • Why my theory about the size of the universe has changed over time
  • How my observations for clinical psychological studies have developed in the last year

The result of your brainstorming should be a written outline of the contents of your future paper. Do not skip this step, as it will ensure that your essay will have a proper flow and appropriate organization.

Another good way to organize your ideas is to write them down in a 3-column chart or table.

how to write a reflection paper

Do you want your task look awesome?

If you would like your reflection paper to look professional, feel free to check out one of our articles on how to format MLA, APA or Chicago style

Writing a Reflection Paper Outline

Reflection paper should contain few key elements:


Your introduction should specify what you’re reflecting upon. Make sure that your thesis informs your reader about your general position, or opinion, toward your subject.

  • State what you are analyzing: a passage, a lecture, an academic article, an experience, etc...)
  • Briefly summarize the work.
  • Write a thesis statement stating how your subject has affected you.

One way you can start your thesis is to write:

Example: “After reading/experiencing (your chosen topic), I gained the knowledge of…”

Body Paragraphs

The body paragraphs should examine your ideas and experiences in context to your topic. Make sure each new body paragraph starts with a topic sentence.

Your reflection may include quotes and passages if you are writing about a book or an academic paper. They give your reader a point of reference to fully understand your feedback. Feel free to describe what you saw, what you heard, and how you felt.

Example: “I saw many people participating in our weight experiment. The atmosphere felt nervous yet inspiring. I was amazed by the excitement of the event.”

As with any conclusion, you should summarize what you’ve learned from the experience. Next, tell the reader how your newfound knowledge has affected your understanding of the subject in general. Finally, describe the feeling and overall lesson you had from the reading or experience.

There are a few good ways to conclude a reflection paper:

  • Tie all the ideas from your body paragraphs together, and generalize the major insights you’ve experienced.
  • Restate your thesis and summarize the content of your paper.

We have a separate blog post dedicated to writing a great conclusion. Be sure to check it out for an in-depth look at how to make a good final impression on your reader.

Need a hand? Get help from our writers. Edit, proofread or buy essay .

How to Write a Reflection Paper: Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1: create a main theme.

After you choose your topic, write a short summary about what you have learned about your experience with that topic. Then, let readers know how you feel about your case — and be honest. Chances are that your readers will likely be able to relate to your opinion or at least the way you form your perspective, which will help them better understand your reflection.

For example: After watching a TEDx episode on Wim Hof, I was able to reevaluate my preconceived notions about the negative effects of cold exposure.

Step 2: Brainstorm Ideas and Experiences You’ve Had Related to Your Topic

You can write down specific quotes, predispositions you have, things that influenced you, or anything memorable. Be personal and explain, in simple words, how you felt.

For example: • A lot of people think that even a small amount of carbohydrates will make people gain weight • A specific moment when I struggled with an excess weight where I avoided carbohydrates entirely • The consequences of my actions that gave rise to my research • The evidence and studies of nutritional science that claim carbohydrates alone are to blame for making people obese • My new experience with having a healthy diet with a well-balanced intake of nutrients • The influence of other people’s perceptions on the harm of carbohydrates, and the role their influence has had on me • New ideas I’ve created as a result of my shift in perspective

Step 3: Analyze How and Why These Ideas and Experiences Have Affected Your Interpretation of Your Theme

Pick an idea or experience you had from the last step, and analyze it further. Then, write your reasoning for agreeing or disagreeing with it.

For example, Idea: I was raised to think that carbohydrates make people gain weight.

Analysis: Most people think that if they eat any carbohydrates, such as bread, cereal, and sugar, they will gain weight. I believe in this misconception to such a great extent that I avoided carbohydrates entirely. As a result, my blood glucose levels were very low. I needed to do a lot of research to overcome my beliefs finally. Afterward, I adopted the philosophy of “everything in moderation” as a key to a healthy lifestyle.

For example: Idea: I was brought up to think that carbohydrates make people gain weight. Analysis: Most people think that if they eat any carbohydrates, such as bread, cereal, and sugar, they will gain weight. I believe in this misconception to such a great extent that I avoided carbohydrates entirely. As a result, my blood glucose levels were very low. I needed to do a lot of my own research to finally overcome my beliefs. After, I adopted the philosophy of “everything in moderation” as a key for having a healthy lifestyle.

Step 4: Make Connections Between Your Observations, Experiences, and Opinions

Try to connect your ideas and insights to form a cohesive picture for your theme. You can also try to recognize and break down your assumptions, which you may challenge in the future.

There are some subjects for reflection papers that are most commonly written about. They include:

  • Book – Start by writing some information about the author’s biography and summarize the plot—without revealing the ending to keep your readers interested. Make sure to include the names of the characters, the main themes, and any issues mentioned in the book. Finally, express your thoughts and reflect on the book itself.
  • Course – Including the course name and description is a good place to start. Then, you can write about the course flow, explain why you took this course, and tell readers what you learned from it. Since it is a reflection paper, express your opinion, supporting it with examples from the course.
  • Project – The structure for a reflection paper about a project has identical guidelines to that of a course. One of the things you might want to add would be the pros and cons of the course. Also, mention some changes you might want to see, and evaluate how relevant the skills you acquired are to real life.
  • Interview – First, introduce the person and briefly mention the discussion. Touch on the main points, controversies, and your opinion of that person.

Writing Tips

Everyone has their style of writing a reflective essay – and that's the beauty of it; you have plenty of leeway with this type of paper – but there are still a few tips everyone should incorporate.

Before you start your piece, read some examples of other papers; they will likely help you better understand what they are and how to approach yours. When picking your subject, try to write about something unusual and memorable — it is more likely to capture your readers' attention. Never write the whole essay at once. Space out the time slots when you work on your reflection paper to at least a day apart. This will allow your brain to generate new thoughts and reflections.

  • Short and Sweet – Most reflection papers are between 250 and 750 words. Don't go off on tangents. Only include relevant information.
  • Clear and Concise – Make your paper as clear and concise as possible. Use a strong thesis statement so your essay can follow it with the same strength.
  • Maintain the Right Tone – Use a professional and academic tone—even though the writing is personal.
  • Cite Your Sources – Try to cite authoritative sources and experts to back up your personal opinions.
  • Proofreading – Not only should you proofread for spelling and grammatical errors, but you should proofread to focus on your organization as well. Answer the question presented in the introduction.

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