Writing Reflection Papers

Purpose: Preparing an essay that uses some object or event to create a personal reflection about the subject can be interesting for the audience and frequently demonstrates a universal theme. Your ultimate purpose is to convince your audience that the connection you have made provides a valuable insight into the human condition.

Step 1: Brainstorming

Using notes taken in class or observations made while reading your assigned text, select a topic and then scribble down a few key points about the topic you selected.

Step 2: Developing the Thesis Statement

Develop a specific question you would like to answer in your paper. The answer to this question will then become your thesis statement.
Here is a sample question: What (specific person, idea, object) caused me to understand how “Western Thought” and how the influence of Renaissance Italy became a foundation for American culture? As far back as the Romans, Italians seemed to value a democratic form of government.
Here is one thesis statement the question might engender: “When I visited Siena and saw Ambrogio Lorenzetti’s “Allegory of Good Government” fresco, I realized Americans value individuality, a free and orderly society, and the opportunity to live a financially independent life; these are the same values held by medieval Italians.”

Step 3: Developing a Rhetorical Strategy and Outline

Reflections are usually written with first person point of view. Remember to produce coherent paragraphs with 5 – 9 sentences. Always support your statements with facts.
First, introduce the specific person, idea, or object that caused your reflection.
Second, think of one or two significant events or moments in your life that made you understand about your topic (specific person, idea, or object). Here a significant event or moment refers to an experience from which you learned something you consider important. These events could have occurred at any time during your life. Though they could have occurred in formal learning situations, please do not limit your thinking to consideration of such times.
Third, describe the event or moment in your life, focusing on factual details.
Fourth, tell what you personally learned from the significant learning event or moment that you described above.
Fifth, analyze what about the event made it significant or meaningful to you and then what caused you to realize the connection to your topic (specific person. idea, or object).
Thoroughly discuss this connection.
Finally, reflect on how this new understanding of your topic might impact your life in the future.

Step 4: Reviewing Reflection–use the following “invention sequence” for developing a reflection essay:

Select a topic (specific person, idea, or object)

Explore what you know about the object
Consider what experience in your own life caused you to learn from your topic (specific person, idea, or object)
Consider connections to your own experience
Research your topic
Consider your audience
Develop your argument
Anticipate and refute objections
Reflect on your ideas

Step 5: Presenting Your Idea in Print

Type your paper in MLA format. Proofread carefully. Did you use the spell check and grammar check? Did you cite your quotations or paraphrases? Did you include a works cited page?
Let your paper sit on your desk for a day or so and then revisit it. Can you improve your paper by clarifying your ideas and sentence structure? Did you miss any relevant points? Go back to the computer and make your final changes. You are on your way to improved writing skills.

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