For your third and final Researching Rhetorically post, you are asked to write a reflection. We will write a few reflections this semester so it’s important to stop and consider why. This activity should help you do better on your reflection.
Read these two short texts:
For each of the above texts, write 150 words, summarizing the main things you learned from this source. In other words, what did this source teach you about why we write reflections or how you should write reflections?
Tips for Writing a Reflection Paper
The information below is meant to provide you with a step-by-step process for planning your reflection. It is not intended as an outline for the reflection itself.
1. Answer the key questions
To write a reflection paper, you’ll need to reflect on what you think or what you’ve learned, before you start writing. Write down some answers to key questions. If your instructor provided some questions, use those. If not, you can use these:
- What have you learned?
- What issues or questions has the [whatever you are analyzing] failed to address?
- What new or remaining questions do you have?
- Does this remind you of any personal experiences?
- Has the [material/experience] changed your mind in some way?
2. Identify a theme
After you’ve written down your answers to the questions (above or provided by the instructor), look over your answers. What is your main takeaway? If you could summarize your thoughts in one sentence, what would you say? Think about what you’ve learned and how it’s affected you.
Once you’ve identified a theme, that idea is essentially your thesis, which should be clearly stated in the first paragraph and supported throughout the whole reflection. If you identify more than one theme, what ties them together?
Your reflection is not supposed to be a free flow of ideas and thoughts. It should have structure (paragraphs) and an overall point you want to make.
3. Summarize the right things
Your reflection should not be a simple summary of the material or the course, or what you did, but instead summarize/recap only the things that are necessary to support your theme. In other words, your reflection an opportunity to explore your experiences and how they build on the theme you’ve identified.
Analyze your feelings, thoughts, and ideas on the topic. Analyze what you have learned or how you’ve grown. Analyze your own work for strengths and weaknesses. What would you do different? Why did you do things the way you did? This is an opportunity to look at yourself and your work and your thoughts more carefully. Ultimately, you’re deciding what you believe to be true and how what you’ve done or what you’ve learned supports those beliefs.
5. Make connections
Try to zoom out and think about the big picture. Can you make connection between these ideas in your reflection and other parts of the course or other courses? Can you make connections between what you’ve said and the “real world”? Can you point out a bigger, more universal theme?
6. Name the “so what?”/”now what?”
You’ll need to know the “so what?”/”now what?” before you can write and conclude your reflection.
For the “so what?”, try to get to a deeper understanding of why this (whatever you are talking about) is important or relevant. You may consider these perspectives:
- Academic: How did the experience enhance your understanding of a concept/theory/skill? Did the experience confirm your understanding or challenge it? Did you identify strengths or gaps in your knowledge?
- Personal: Why does the experience matter? What are the consequences? Were your previous expectations/assumptions confirmed or refuted? What surprised you and why?
- Systems: What were the sources of power and who benefited/who was harmed? What changes would you suggest? How does this experience help you understand the organization or system?
For the “now what?”, you can explore how this experience will shape your behavior or thinking. Use the following questions to guide your thinking and writing:
- What are you going to do as a result of your experiences?
- What will you do differently?
- How will you apply what you learned?
7. Get ready to write
Make an outline for your reflection. Your writing must be organized. Introduce your topic and the point you plan to make about your experience and learning. Develop your point through body paragraph(s), and conclude your paper by exploring the meaning you derive from your reflection. You should maintain a formal tone, but it is acceptable to write in the first person and to use personal pronouns.