What is reflective essay?
Feeling uneasy to write your first reflective essay? Well yes, it might feel a little painful when it comes to writing especially when the first content is itself a reflective essay which demands a great deal of homework and patience. So therefore, the task becomes much easier when one knows how exactly a reflective essay looks like or how does it sound on paper. When you understand the abcd of a reflective essay, the pattern in which it should be written, and the flavor it should possess then it's a way much exciting and a learning experience for the writer as well as for the ultimate reader.
So what is exactly a reflective essay? Reflective essays are those types of essays that might look easy but are actually not at the same time. In simple words, they constitute a critical examination of one's own life experience and by the help of appropriate guidance it's not that difficult to put it together in a nice well organized structure.
Let us talk about the term 'Reflective'. Why Reflective? It is because, a writer, in a reflective essay examines his or her life experiences primarily. Through reflective writing an author gets an opportunity to not only showcase his or her life experience but also gets a chance to explore how that particular incident has made a change in his or her life and what has he learned from it. Formats may differ as far as reflective essay writing style is concerned but the most commonly known format is diary entry format or learning log format. In particular, diary entry format acts as a medium to convey how the author's ideas and thoughts have evolved and developed over a period of time.
The format of a reflective writing may differ according to the type and flavor of the audience. Like it can be of academic, magazine oriented as in general piece of writing etc. As far as the class assignments are concerned, the format of the presentation may vary but the ultimate goal of the tutor remains the same that is to inspire the students to think more critically as well deeply about a particular learningexperience or a chain of experiences.
In the conclusion of this heading it is correct to say that reflective essay writing is a prominent strategy used by the tutors to help students in analyzing their personal valuable life experiences to draw conclusions upon them that will lead to their emotional and mental growth. By the help of an essay the students are able to develop a better understanding of themselves as well as their behavioral patterns.
Common mistakes that students make in reflective essay.
Mistakes are bound to happen when writing a reflective essay especially to a newbie, so one needs to first identify and pin point the common mistakes that most of the students do which are as follows:
- Non identification of the main theme: Summarization of students experience, lesson and notes is very important in reflective essay writing. The formulated sentences must be descriptive and straightforward.
- Making notes: While doing it, you (the students) must make notes of the relevant passages, quotations and paraphrases.
- Lack of planning: Among the most common mistakes of the students is that they just write and don't think and form an outline or chart that leads to unsystematic and unorganized data that eventually becomes the cause of cutting marks.
- Therefore in order to avoid this mistake students need to form a chart or a table divided in different columns and headings that take us to the fifth point
- Not making charts: making charts and dividing it in columns and heading make it very systematic and the tutor finds it appealing from the very beginning that creates a good impression in the mind of the tutor regarding student about his good presentation. Therefore mainly it should be divide in three parts namely - The introduction, secondly The Body and lastly the conclusions.
1. Not using refreshers or guides: Many students struggle in writing just because they do not refer to some refresher or guiding journal. Well initially taking help of some source is not bad and one can easily mug up things from something that already has a rich experience to give you an extra push.
2. Over lengthy essay: the reflective essay must not be too long as it might turn out to be repetitive or boring. So the word count should be kept in mind as dictated by your tutor. Because stretching it too much might lead you to cutting your grades that I am sure you won't like to happen.
3. Habit of - Not Reading: Well it is as simple as it sounds. You write what you read. In order to become a good writer you need to be a good reader first. And the first step in writing is not to write but to read. Writing expands your mind. It boosts up your imagination power. By reading respected authors or novelists you get a flavor of their writing style and then it is easier for you to choose your writing genre as you have gone through a list of authors and now you can choose what suits you the best being more experienced than before.
4. Having less words or poor vocabulary and grammar: When you have small ocean of words your work will be limited and concise as you can't play much with words. But when you have a large vocabulary and good command on grammar then it is joy ride for you. You can play with words and express your heart out leaving a long lasting impression on the reader's mind.
5. No explanation in the conclusion and the summary: The conclusion must elaborate briefly the body paragraphs of your content. The summary must describe the lesson, its understanding and concrete specific as well as general details.
6. Not reading again: Most of the students don't read their content again which leads to cutting marks. Read it loud so that you can double check the grammatical or spelling mistakes before your final submission. Sometimes when we read we come across some mistakes that we cannot figure it out while writing. By reading we get a chance to listen the content and observe whether it sounds good or not also whether it sounds repetitive or choppy so that it be corrected.
7. Not reviewing the writing material: Squeezing many ideas in one sentence makes it confusing and difficult to understand. Therefore, the essay must be well written and contains clear sentences. Keep your sentences focused and review it at the same time.
How to write a perfect reflective essay?
Focus on the literature
As it is applied to student's own life experience there he is required to provide the literature summary. The format of the reflective writing essay may differ but one thing always remains the same, ie; the structure. And as like any other essay this reflective writing essay consists of three parts which are - The Introduction, The Body and lastly The Conclusion.
Deciding the content
As a reflective essay is highly personal and aimed at the reader or the target audience therefore it needs to be selected with care keeping in mind all the related factors associated with it. It is not just recounting a story but a lot more than that. You should be able to express only then you can impress elaborating the experience of your life that how that particular event impacted you and your life. How it influenced your behavior pattern and ultimately how your life changed because of that.
As a starting point
When you are just starting you always think of some past experiences of your life that really moved you be it positive, negative or both. Common topics of reflection are - a real life experience, an imagined experience, a special influential person who has a strong impact on you, a special place or object or simply something you have read or watched. If it is a part of your academic exercise there are chances that you will be asked by your tutor focus on a particular event or episode like think of a critical time when you had to make an important decision and reflect about the outcomes that had occurred. An important point is this that the after effects of that experience counts the most as it is the main punch of your content. Things like what you lesson have you learned, what amount of knowledge you have gathered, what conclusions have you drawn and how it impacted you overall are the main ingredients of a perfect reflective essay writing, ignoring it may simply leads to storytelling.
May sound a bit obvious but the fact is that the process of reflection forms the core of reflective essay writing. Put some pressure on your mind and try to extract the valuably information that is kept somewhere deep-down inside your memory tank by doing some mind mapping.
Once you have chosen your topic, study it and spend plenty of time trying to think about it in every possible way you can. Use adjectives to describe your experience. Write down all possible information you can describing it clearly and completely. And lastly once you have emptied the tank of your memory, then you need to start reflecting. An interesting way to do this is to pick-up some important reflection questions which will enable you to think deeper about the impacts and influences of your past experience and its lasting effects. Some useful questions be like:
1. As a result of the experience, what have you learned about yourself?
2. Did it prove helpful in your development? If yes, then how?
3. What positive or negative impacts it has caused in your life?
4. Looking back, what would you like to change if get a chance?
5. Could you do it differently?
6. What do you thing about that incident in general? What skills or perspectives have you garnished from that incident?
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