A reflective essay is one that collects your thoughts on a subject — writing the essay is just a way of thinking back on what you learned.
This should be a very personal piece of writing: it is more about you and what you learned. It should highlight the problems you faced, how you feel you improved, and factors that went into the choices you made in your essays.
With this reflective essay, you will account for and evaluate the choices made in your essays by
- considering your own composing and design strategies given the purpose, context, medium, and audience.
- explaining how writing your essay positions you as the writer in relation to other people, their ideas, and their writing.
Writing your reflective essay will help you pull together what you’ve learned so it isn’t just a jumble of unrelated techniques or facts. You know more than you think you do, and a little bit of critical thinking about it all will help you realize how much you do know. This essay of your reflections should draw on what we have covered in class, but it should be centered primarily on how you have seen yourself change (or not change) throughout the semester. While your essay should discuss specific skills, concepts, and changes in thinking related to your own writing and writing process, you need not limit yourself to a consideration of your growth as a writer.
Given the number of possible items you could address, it’s important to have a clear controlling purpose in your reflective essay so that your writing does not sound like a long list of points in paragraph form.
A successful reflective essay includes:
- a title
- a thesis paragraph, at the very least a thesis sentence
- discussion of what you have learned as a result of your work in our writing course
- discussion of what you would like to learn more about
Consider these questions when writing your reflective essay:
- What was your writing like when you began the course?
- Is it better now?
- Are you more confident?
- Do you know where to look stuff up?
- What do you consider the single most important insight this course has given you – the idea that had the strongest impact, or will stay with you for a long time?
- Do you have any ideas for improving this course?
Be specific. What specific strategies, techniques or skills have you learned? It never hurts to be specific.
You can and should discuss things like:
- important revisions you made in the process of writing
- decisions you made in building your essay, and rationale for these decisions
- challenges with specific parts of the assignments
- what you learned from the authors you read
- how you look at writing differently than when the semester began
- how your writing has changed
- how your writing process has changed
You should avoid comments like:
- “I learned a lot this semester.”
- “My teacher was so great” or “My teacher was horrible because…”
- “Thank heavens this class is over”
- “I hope you were impressed with my essays. I worked so hard on them.”
- “Clearly, I am ready for English 211/213.”
Final note: This is an essay about you and your writing. Do not interpret or EXTENSIVELY summarize other authors in your reflective essay. Some summary is OK, but just for the purpose of getting to your reflective point.
Criteria for grading will be: How well organized is your essay? Does it flow smoothly and logically from one point to the next? Do you back up your points with specific examples? Do you identify your sources (no sources are required, but if you use one you must cite it)? Do you understand the concepts I’m asking about? How thoughtful is your essay? How creative is it?
LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW IF YOU USED THIS PROMPT IN YOUR CLASS. HOW DID IT GO? WOULD YOU DO IT AGAIN? DID YOU MAKE ANY MODIFICATIONS?
This essay explains to students that reflective writing involves their thinking about their own thinking. They may be asked to reflect about their audience and purpose for a piece of writing. They may write about their invention, drafting, revision, and editing processes. They may self-assess or evaluate their writing, learning, and development as writers. These activities help cement learning. They also help writers gain more insight into and control over composing and revising processes by helping them gain critical distance and by providing a mechanism for them to do the re-thinking and re-seeing that effective revision requires. The article gives examples of student reflective writing, explains how they function in a student’s learning, and gives scholarly support for why these kinds of activities are effective.
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