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Reflection Toolkit

Structure of academic reflections

Guidance on the structure of academic reflections.

Academic reflections or reflective writing completed for assessment often require a clear structure. Contrary to some people’s belief, reflection is not just a personal diary talking about your day and your feelings.

Both the language and the structure are important for academic reflective writing. For the structure you want to mirror an academic essay closely. You want an introduction, a main body, and a conclusion.

Academic reflection will require you to both describe the context, analyse it, and make conclusions. However, there is not one set of rules for the proportion of your reflection that should be spent describing the context, and what proportion should be spent on analysing and concluding. That being said, as learning tends to happen when analysing and synthesising rather than describing, a good rule of thumb is to describe just enough such that the reader understands your context.

Example structure for academic reflections

Below is an example of how you might structure an academic reflection if you were given no other guidance and what each section might contain.  Remember this is only a suggestion and you must consider what is appropriate for the task at hand and for you yourself.


Identifies and introduces your experience or learning

When structuring your academic reflections it might make sense to start with what you have learned and then use the main body to evidence that learning, using specific experiences and events. Alternatively, start with the event and build up your argument. This is a question of personal preference – if you aren’t given explicit guidance you can ask the assessor if they have a preference, however both can work.

Highlights why it was important

You might find that it is not natural to highlight the importance of an event before you have developed your argument for what you gained from it. It can be okay not to explicitly state the importance in the introduction, but leave it to develop throughout your reflection.

Outline key themes that will appear in the reflection (optional – but particularly relevant when answering a reflective prompt or essay)

This might not make sense if you are reflecting on a particular experience, but is extremely valuable if you are answering a reflective prompt or writing an essay that includes multiple learning points. A type of prompt or question that could particularly benefit from this would be ‘Reflect on how the skills and theory within this course have helped you meet the benchmark statements of your degree’

It can be helpful to explore one theme/learning per paragraph.

Explore experiences

As reflection is centred around an individual’s personal experience, it is very important to make experiences a main component of reflection. This does not mean that the majority of the reflective piece should be on describing an event – in fact you should only describe enough such that the reader can follow your analysis.

Analyse and synthesise

Depending on the requirements of the assessment, you may need to use theoretical literature in your analysis. Theoretical literature is a part of perspective taking which is relevant for reflection, and will happen as a part of your analysis.  

Restate or state your learning

Plan for the future

Answer the question or prompt (if applicable)

Using a reflective model to structure academic reflections

You might recognise that most reflective models mirror this structure; that is why a lot of the reflective models can be really useful to structure reflective assignments. Models are naturally structured to focus on a single experience – if the assignment requires you to focus on multiple experiences, it can be helpful to simply repeat each step of a model for each experience.

One difference between the structure of reflective writing and the structure of models is that sometimes you may choose to present your learning in the introduction of a piece of writing, whereas models (given that they support working through the reflective process) will have learning appearing at later stages.

However, generally structuring a piece of academic writing around a reflective model will ensure that it involves the correct components, reads coherently and logically, as well as having an appropriate structure.

Reflective journals/diaries/blogs and other pieces of assessed reflection

The example structure above works particularly well for formal assignments such as reflective essays and reports.  Reflective journal/blogs and other pieces of assessed reflections tend to be less formal both in language and structure, however you can easily adapt the structure for journals and other reflective assignments if you find that helpful.

That is, if you are asked to produce a reflective journal with multiple entries it will most often (always check with the person who issued the assignment) be a successful journal if each entry mirrors the structure above and the language highlighted in the section on academic language. However, often you can be less concerned with form when producing reflective journals/diaries.

When producing reflective journals, it is often okay to include your original reflection as long as you are comfortable with sharing the content with others, and that the information included is not too personal for an assessor to read.

Developed from:

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 a good reflective commentary thumb

Writing a good reflective commentary

I recently a ran an online workshop on what a good RC might include, so for those of students who were unable to attend (and for those who did attend, but would like a refresher), here’s a summary of my suggestions.

First of all, I think it’s helpful to remember the differences between notebooks, your writing diary and a Reflective Commentary:

Notebooks are where you start writing creatively, whether in the form of ideas and notes or sketches and early drafts. Notebook writing can form the basis of the projects and creative writing assignments that you will send to your tutor. You may find yourself starting numerous notebooks for different areas of interest.

No one will read your notebooks except you. Privacy is important because the thought of anyone reading your writing may inhibit you. Notebooks can be paper or electronic (many people use their phones for jotting down ideas), or a combination of both – it’s totally up to you.

Writing Diary:

Your writing diary is where you record your thoughts on your writing and your developing writing skills. You can discuss and reflect on concepts related to the writing craft here and reflect on what you feel your own strengths and weaknesses are. What are you good at? What do you need to work on? How can you improve these skills? Which writers can you learn from? What have you been reading?

When you are generating new writing material, you’ll be partly learning on an intuitive level. A writing diary will help you to be more conscious of your learning process and more aware of the different skills you’re developing. If you add to your diary regularly, it will form a record of your writing journey. 

Like your notebooks, your writing diary is for you alone and you can keep it in whatever format you prefer.

You can use your writing diary to help you write your Reflective Commentaries, but they aren’t the same thing. 

Reflective Commentaries:

A Reflective Commentary is either a short piece of reflective writing (500 words for Levels 1, 2 and 3; or 350 words at Foundation Level) considering the particular assignment it accompanies, or it’s a longer piece of reflective writing which you submit at the end of the unit in which you reflect on your learning over the unit as a whole, with reference to particular assignments (especially the final assignment).

A few dos and don’ts:

Don’t discuss how you came up with your idea.

Don’t discuss pieces you started and discarded.

Don’t summarise the story, poem, script etc. – your tutor has just read it..

Do focus on the creative work you’ve just submitted to your tutor.

Do focus on a few writing techniques you’ve used in the work. You can’t cover everything, so choose those that are particularly pertinent.

Do say what writing techniques you used and why they were effective.

So, don’t say: “I wrote my story in first person” and leave it at that. Instead say: “I wrote my story in first person because I wanted the feeling of intimacy of the narrator talking directly to the reader about the events. This was important for my story because….”

Discussing Writing Techniques:  

The term ‘writing techniques’ may seem rather abstract, but all it means is those techniques you used to write your creative piece. Here’s a selection of writing techniques you could consider:

Techniques in fiction: 

Descriptive writing, metaphors and similes, setting, character, use of dialogue, structure, narrative pacing, point of view, tense (usually past or present), use of flashback (or, occasionally, flashforward), voice, word choice, register (formal or casual), information reveal (what do you tell the reader and when), psychic distance, use of free indirect discourse, sentence structure (e.g. a short sentence at the end of a paragraph for impact). 

Techniques in poetry: 

Use of stanzas, use of punctuation, imagery, word choice, tone, structure, point of view, use of sound (e.g. rhyme, or assonance, alliteration), rhythm.

These are just a few of the techniques you could discuss – there may be others that are more relevant to your particular piece of creative work.

The tone of the RC:

The reflective commentary is not an academic essay, so you don’t need to use academic jargon. Use first person, because it’s a personal reflection on your work.

However, don’t be too colloquial and chatty either – your tone needs to be moderate and considered. Don’t say “I tried to do X but it was rubbish”. Instead, say you thought it wasn’t successful as a technique and explain why.

Similarly, when discussing your reading, don’t just say “I loved this book” or “It was fab”. Instead, explain what you thought was good about it and why. Give your opinion, but support it with careful analysis.

Reflecting on your reading: 

In the assessment criteria, a proportion of marks are allocated for Contextual Knowledge. Your final RC is your opportunity to demonstrate that you’ve read other writers and engaged with them seriously, not just as a reader, but as another writer. 

In your final RC you should refer to both primary materials (e.g. novels, poems, stories, plays, films, memoirs, poetry performances, etc – depending on what form you’re writing in) and secondary materials (e.g. books, articles, blogs, videos, etc. about the craft of writing). 

Get into good habits early on by referring to some primary and some secondary materials in your short RCs submitted with each assignment.

Think about what you’ve learnt from your reading in terms of craft – this is much more impressive than just saying you were inspired to write about the same subject. 

So don’t say, “I enjoyed Vicki Feaver’s poem ‘Ironing’ and decided to write a poem about ironing of my own.” This might be true and you can put this in your writing diary, but in your RC try to think about what you learnt about the craft of writing poetry from your reading. 

Include short quotations from your reading to demonstrate your points, but a short phrase or single sentence usually suffices (remember you’ve only 500 words for the short RCs).

The Final RC:

The Final RC is longer and in it you should consider what you’ve learnt from the unit as whole, as well as referring to particular assignments. You will now be close to preparing your work for assessment, so you should discuss your redrafting process – what you’ve changed and why – and also demonstrate your engagement with your tutor’s feedback.

Reflecting on redrafting:

Be precise. Don’t just say “I cut extraneous words” or “I rewrote Assignment 4 a lot”. Give examples of what you changed and why .

Use quotations from your own work when discussing what you’ve changed, but be brief: just a pertinent sentence or phrase.

Don’t just give a quotation from your assignment that shows it before redrafting, and then one after. Discuss the changes made and say why you think it is an improvement.

Reflecting on tutor feedback:

You don’t need to agree with every suggestion or comment from your tutor, but you do need to show you’ve thought about your tutor’s feedback. 

Similarly, don’t say you changed something just because your tutor told you to – only change it if you think it’s the right change to make, and say why you think so.

A quirk of the system is that at Level 1 you are likely to write this final reflective commentary before receiving feedback on Assignment Five. You’ll need to redraft your final RC and add comments about your tutor feedback’s on Assignment Five and your redrafting process, before you submit this final RC for assessment.

Submit both your tutor-annotated final RC and a redrafted version at assessment.


Include a bibliography/reference list at end of all sources referred to in your RC (but don’t include anything you’ve not directly referred to), and use the Harvard Referencing Style.

The Bibliography does not form part of your word count.

Why write RCs:

Writing the reflective commentaries is an important part of the creative writing degree and the RCs serve several purposes. They are useful for tutors as they help us to understand students’ aims in a particular piece of writing. They should demonstrate students’ critical engagement with other writers as well as with books, articles, blogs etc. about the craft of writing, which helps us make better reading suggestions and to understand where our students are on their learning journey.

But, and arguably much more importantly, they’re a crucial part of your learning process, as they require a conscious engagement with the writing craft and a reflection on your writing skills, all of which will help you to think ‘like a writer’.

5 thoughts on “ Writing a good reflective commentary ”

Thank you Vicky. The workshop helped me have a better understanding of reflective commentaries.

This is an interesting article. I am studying photography and part of the work involves writing critiques of other people’s work. The guidelines set out above are relevant to any critique, whatever the subject matter. Thank you. I will be putting these suggestions into practice in my future work.

Thanks Vicky. I like the way you start with the Don’ts before the Dos!

Great advice Vicky! It would be lovely to see another workshop covering Reflective Commentaries. For some reason I struggle to get these right when doing my own R.Cs for the Art of Poetry.

This book called called: “Creative Writing and Critical Reflective Commentary.” was the only recent book I could find. It was really helpful to me It has an example in it and what else to include like references and how to write reflecively with underpinning critical theories.

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Journal of Medical Humanities volume  43 ,  pages 493–504 ( 2022 ) Cite this article

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Medical educators recognize the value of reflection for medical students and the role creative writing can play in fostering this. However, direct creative writing tasks can be challenging for many students, particularly those with limited experience in the arts and humanities. An alternative strategy is to utilize an indirect approach, engaging students with structured tasks that obliquely encourage reflection. This paper reports one such approach. We refer to this approach as in-verse reflection , playing on both the structure of the writing and its novel approach to reflection. Students were invited to write, in verse-like structures, about their personal and clinical experiences as medical students. Thematic analysis of their creative outputs and reactions identified four principal themes: the challenges of life as a medical student, the emotional demands of the medical course, a sense of connectedness and solidarity with fellow students, and a sense of marginality within the hospital system. Students generally found the tasks highly engaging and conducive to reflection, producing texts representing significant insights into their experiences as medical students. The reported method offers a relatively simple, structured, and guided approach to reflective writing, adding to the repertoire of methods available to educators in the medical humanities.

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Reflective writing is increasingly seen as an important educational practice in medical and health professional education to help achieve desired learning outcomes such as communication, empathy, and professionalism (Moniz et al. 2015 ). Medical educators may use a variety of writing tasks and forms to engage students and foster reflection, including focused essays, journal entries, and creative writing tasks (Green et al. 2016 ; Kerr 2010 ). While the potential value of reflective writing is widely acknowledged, unstructured approaches may be hampered by student reluctance or hesitation to engage or participate meaningfully (Aronson 2011 ; Sandars 2009 ). In particular, the individual free writing approach typical of many written exercises may not align with contemporary students’ preference for group-based and creative activities (Sandars 2009 ). On the other hand, tightly structured or focused reflective writing tasks, especially those that are summatively assessed, may be viewed cynically by students, who often aim to give teachers the responses they think educators are looking for (Belling 2011 ; Birden and Usherwood 2013 ).

In our second-year medical program, we initiated an approach to guide and promote student reflection of their clinical learning experiences, the implementation of which was feasible for educators and genuinely engaging for students. To do so, we drew on short and structured creative writing exercises with the aim of guiding and prompting students to think about their professional journeys and experiences. Our approach is based primarily on the first author’s educational practice of using such activities in English classes in a secondary school setting (McLean 2020 ). This approach has been relatively under-utilized in the creative writing practices currently employed and represented in medical education (Bolton 1999 ; Cowen et al. 2016 ; Kerr 2010 ; Morris 2001 ). As many educators have pointed out, explicit creative writing tasks can form barriers for students for several reasons, including the belief that they do not have the necessary writing skills, an unease about exercises that have no single correct response, or a discomfort with emotionally laden issues (Kerr 2010 ; Sandars 2009 ; Shapiro et al. 2009 ). This arguably applies even more so to poetic writing, where the ambiguity and fluidity of language and meaning can significantly deter students unfamiliar with the genre (Wellbery 2006 ). However, as Johanna Shapiro has shown in her book The Inner World of Medical Students ( 2009 ), there are numerous medical students who are (or become) very comfortable and proficient in reflecting through poetry and verse and who derive great benefit and meaning from engaging in this format. For them—and potentially their peers—the poetic form can be liberating and enabling.

Our approach aims to draw on the power of poetic form and ideas while attempting to address the challenges it can present to medical students. We generate short, simple, and structured tasks which, while not presented as poetry as such, do produce writing with a poetry-like structure. We refer to this method as in-verse reflection , playing on both the structure of the writing and its indirect approach to reflection. In this method, the focus is (seemingly) on the structured sequence of instructions rather than the creative process/product; the reflective component occurs almost incidentally, although no less significantly, through both the activity itself and the ensuing collaborative discussion. Through such seemingly trivial writing tasks, we engage students who are usually outcome-oriented and assessment-driven in creative and fun activities that can, nevertheless, lead to insightful and often quite profound writing and reflection. Essentially, we aim to awaken reflection in students instead of attempting to guarantee it through more direct and potentially constrained approaches (Saeverot 2022 ). It is, in some ways, a form of gentle misdirection—or, speaking more pedagogically, it uses indirection as a way of fostering reflection.

The use of indirect techniques and pedagogies has a strong base in both education and humanities disciplines, where indirection is defended as frequently desirable, if not necessary, to generate reflective insights and meanings that may be limited by direct communication or transmission of knowledge (Fraser 2020 ; Saeverot 2022 ). The theory of indirection is notably, and more popularly, represented in the book Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards ( 1979 ), which teaches drawing through the strategy of turning the figure upside down and forcing the brain to forego the assumptions and expectations of conventional orientation, bringing intuitive and spontaneous elements to the fore. The use of indirection is also not new in medical education. Both Bleakley ( 2015 , 146) and Belling ( 2011 ) report on the use of indirection in “art rounds” in medical contexts. As Belling explains, commenting on the research study of Gaufberg and Williams ( 2011 ), museum objects were used to promote reflection in medical students by focusing primarily on the art object itself rather than the transferable skills. While such skills-based approaches are not uncommon in the medical humanities (Blease 2016 ; Chiavaroli et al. 2018 ), they can come unstuck in the context of teaching for reflection. As Belling argues, “authentic personal responsiveness” is integral to reflection ( 2011 , 580), and overly didactic approaches to teaching it, even when using creative products, can inadvertently elicit superficial or even cynical responses. Furthermore, drawing inspiration from Emily Dickinson’s notion of telling the truth slant , some medical educators seek to use poetry’s natural affinity for indirection to enable students to produce experiential insights about their professional development (Gaufberg and Batalden 2007 ; Shapiro and Stein 2005 ). Such an approach, Shapiro and Stein write, “allows learners to more easily examine intangible aspects of their relational experiences in medical school. Issues that seem straightforward when organized through the well-defined and prescribed formulas of the case presentation yield other interpretations when explored in verse” ( 2005 , 279). In the study reported here, we sought to utilize these very advantages of verse writing and indirect reflection by using creative tasks that were more guided and structured than might typically be the case with poetry sessions.

The second year of the medical course marks the transition from a pre-clinical campus-based first year to clinically based learning for the graduate-entry Doctor of Medicine (MD). The Epworth Hospital is one of the smaller clinical schools of the Melbourne University Medical School, with approximately 15–20 students based at the hospital for their second-year clinical rotations (from a full second-year cohort of approximately 350 students). As such, there was an opportunity to engage with students in creative reflective exercises that may not have been possible in larger cohorts. Our aim was to enable reflection on clinical learning experiences through creative exercises and to balance the otherwise dominant science basis of the clinical curriculum while introducing students to alternative ways of knowing in medicine, such as those associated with the medical humanities (Chiavaroli et al. 2018 ; Jones et al. 2019 ). The cohort of second-year MD students from the Melbourne University Medical School based at the Epworth Hospital was invited to participate in four one-hour workshops. The workshops reported in this paper were conducted throughout the course of 2019. Ethics approval for the study was obtained from the Human Research Ethics Committee, Melbourne Medical School, University of Melbourne.

The workshops consisted of several writing tasks designed to stimulate creative responses about students’ clinical education experiences. They were not cumulative or sequential in orientation, though each provided an opportunity for students to take a more holistic view of their experience. Participation was entirely voluntary, and there was no assessment attached to the workshops. Sessions were scheduled during March, May, August, and October to coincide with the timing of different clinical rotations (namely, Foundation, General Medicine, Surgery, and Emergency Medicine). Table 1 below outlines the nature of the tasks used in each workshop.

At the completion of each session, students were invited to share with the group the writing they had produced. Not all students chose to do so, but the majority at each workshop did. Students were also asked to provide a few lines reflecting on the nature of the activity in which they had participated. These reflections were anonymously written and collected in such a way that would not identify students while still providing useful evaluative reflections about the activities for us as educators. Each workshop, therefore, produced both creative products and explicit reflections from each student on the activities by way of workshop outputs.

The authors analyzed the collected data for prevalence and significance, following the protocol for qualitative thematic analysis outlined by Braun and Clarke ( 2006 ). All authors read through the data independently, coding for significant ideas and collating relevant data into key themes, and then met to compare and discuss codes and resultant themes. All authors discussed and debated the allocation of codes and their merging into broader themes until agreement was reached on the main themes presented below (Table 3 ). Although analysis commenced at the end of the first task, results were not used to modify subsequent tasks, which had already been planned and developed.

Fifteen medical students from the 2019 cohort participated in at least one workshop; eight students attended two sessions, and four attended three sessions. No student attended all four sessions. In total, 51 discrete creative products were generated by the participating students. Sample creative pieces are shown in Table 2 below. These are presented here solely as examples of the kind of writing produced through each task rather than as representing any particular theme or quality.

Alongside the creative pieces, the students also provided 32 anonymous comments about their experiences in participating in the workshops. This provided evaluative data about the impact of the workshop, albeit at the level of student reactions only (Kirkpatrick 1996 ). Through the thematic analysis of students’ written products and reflections on the activities, we identified four key themes about students’ clinical learning experiences:

the challenges of life as a medical student;

the emotional demands of the medical course;

a sense of connectedness and solidarity (with fellow students); and

a sense of marginality (within the hospital system).

In addition to the above course-related themes, students’ evaluative comments on the nature of the creative activity itself were collated into a separate theme of Student Reactions. These themes are illustrated in Table 3 , with representative comments drawn from students’ evaluative comments. Again, these examples are intended as illustrative only.

For many medical educators with backgrounds in the humanities or a deep appreciation of the arts, the idea of using creative activities to help students write and reflect seems quite intuitive. This works well for the many medical students who have experience in such curricula and activities; for other students, however, the road to medical school has been paved with scientific textbooks and long hours of rote learning. Creative writing or reflection may not feel or come naturally in such a context. As many educators have noted (Kerr 2010 ; Sandars 2009 ; Shapiro et al. 2009 ), many students do not see themselves as writers or struggle to know what to write about in conventional reflection exercises. And, of course, the verse form itself is an unfamiliar and potentially intimidating genre for many medical students. In presenting the verse structure in such a structured and somewhat mechanical way, we encouraged and enabled our students to write and think quite differently from the objective, convergent ways more commonly utilized in the medical curriculum, aided by the apparent freedom of the indirect approach to reflection.

Despite some initial hesitation and uncertainty, students engaged positively and collaboratively with the activities. Part of this engagement is undoubtedly attributable to the voluntary nature of participation in the workshop, but the challenge and unfamiliarity posed by these tasks should not be underestimated. Both the nature of the activities and openness of the tasks were very different from the type of logico-deductive ways of thinking and factual scientific content that dominate the medical curriculum (Bleakley 2015 ), and several students noted this in their evaluative comments (e.g., “I have not approached reflection in this format before. … reflection does not have to be incredibly time consuming or daunting” [I19]). We believe the constrained and structured set of instructions provided important focus and guidance to the students (Aronson 2011 ), enabling them to overcome initial uncertainties and produce verse-like compositions that appeared to meaningfully represent their own clinical experiences while also resonating deeply with their peers. Many of the students’ verses were insightful and highly evocative; we would even say poetic , though this was not the point of the exercise.

From the students’ evaluative comments, it was clear that the commonality of their experiences and reactions evoked a strong sense of solidarity and relief, as others were experiencing similar feelings about the course and their sense of emerging professional identities. Many students mentioned the sense of camaraderie among the students during the exercise, and several comments related to the affective dimension of the exercise. As one student remarked: “The thought-provoking nature of these sessions has allowed me an opportunity to re-appreciate the exquisiteness of abstraction. I forgot how interesting things are” (B19). Many students reported that the tasks were actually fun —certainly more fun than they had anticipated—and something not necessarily associated with a medical course. Even those students who struggled somewhat with the indirectness of the tasks (e.g., students D19 and O19 in Table 3 ) still generally responded positively to the sessions.

We see other connections between the in-verse reflection approach and the broader project of the humanities in medical education, besides the use of indirection. The humanities continue to be a source of renewal and diverse pedagogies for medical curricula, being utilized in various ways and for different purposes. Initially, its primary role was to support the learning of clinical skills (Blease 2016 ), such as communication, empathy, and teamwork. Medical humanities scholars have extended this scope to more epistemological rationales that include clinical reasoning and personal identity formation (Bleakley 2015 ; Boudreau and Fuks 2015 ; Chiavaroli 2017 ; Moreno-Leguizamon et al. 2015 ) as a counterbalance to the dominant scientific and technological foundation of medical practice (Montgomery 2006 ; Whitehead 2013 ). We see the in-verse reflection approach as applicable to both instrumental and epistemological orientations depending on the emphasis placed on the activities as either a means of facilitating reflection or a broader way of prompting students to think differently about their clinical learning experiences.

Another connection with pedagogical practice in the humanities is the notion of “playful learning,” a relatively well-utilized pedagogy in school contexts (Kangas et al. 2017 ; Mardell et al. 2019 , 232) and one that is emerging in higher education (Forbes 2021 ), especially in the humanities disciplines (Jensen et al. 2022 ). We had certainly hoped that our students would find the activities fun, but we were surprised at the number of comments that reflected enjoyment even alongside confusion or bewilderment. Some students even appreciated the humor inherent in the approach (e.g., “Adding humor is therapeutic in reflection and allowed me to overcome thoughts and experiences that were previously avoided or swept under the rug” [F19]). Of course, ours is not the only method to draw on this element of humanities pedagogy; a similar underlying spirit can also be seen in the successful use of comics and other creative practices in medical education (Green 2013 ; Shapiro et al. 2021 ; Maatman et al. 2021 ). Such playful learning can be a valuable counter to the typical emphasis on the “logics of efficiency, competition and achievement” (Jensen et al. 2022 , 206) that can characterize many medical courses, while other research suggests that play promotes learning and engagement and helps create relational safety and positive affect and motivation (Forbes 2021 ). Jensen et al. ( 2022 ) go further to draw more direct links with humanities pedagogies:

Addressing teaching activities as playful relates to broader aspects of humanities in higher education that aim to support the students’ development of judgment and active engagement in learning; of their individual, professional and social identity; and of meaningful life choices within and beyond their education. (199)

These are exactly the kind of broad epistemological perspectives and cognitive skills we want our medical students to acquire, alongside the necessary and obviously important scientific and clinical knowledge required for good medical practice. The in-verse reflection method appears to tap into this vein of playful learning, providing an adaptable and useful framework for incorporating such an approach into medical education. Even with the relatively limited sessions and non-compulsory participation, the mix of serious insight with lighthearted and occasionally wry sentiments is a marked feature of the students’ outputs.

Nonetheless, we recognize that many students may find the indirect and playful nature of the tasks potentially irrelevant or even disconcerting. While this can be a useful source of “creative tension” in reflective activities (Wald 2015 , 702), it may also point to the challenges of trying to balance an entire science-focused curriculum with a few short voluntary creative sessions. As educators, we certainly need to acknowledge and respect that not all students will warm to such activities, but our results encourage us that most students are prepared to give it a genuine try. Ultimately, though, we see the in-verse approach as an additional method for engaging students in reflective practice to be used alongside more direct and conventional approaches to facilitate reflection in medical students.

Several other limitations of this study are also acknowledged. The number of participants was relatively small and limited to a single clinical learning site. The site itself may also limit generalizability in the sense that, as the most recently instituted clinical school of the MD program, there may well be an openness to innovative approaches that may not be easily adopted at larger, more well-established clinical schools. The evaluation component of the workshops, of course, only gathered immediate responses, and further systematic follow-up is planned. Finally, we did not attempt to compare our approach with more conventional, direct methods for reflection, which could be expected to yield useful insights. Our primary aim in attempting this novel and alternative approach was to encourage busy and assessment-focused medical students to take time out from their clinical schedule and, through fun, collaborative, and relatively efficient creative activities, explore the potential of reflective practice in all its guises. We believe our findings, however early and provisional, offer considerable promise when it comes to the value of such indirect and playful approaches to reflection through writing. To be able to generate such profound and relatable themes in a few sessions with very brief writing tasks was a significant outcome.

The in-verse reflection approach appears to offer a feasible and stimulating opportunity to engage students with reflection about their learning while providing a sense of connectedness and an invaluable opportunity to share and discuss their clinical experiences and the process of professional identity formation. It does so through short, enjoyable, and structured creative exercises. The highly relevant and insightful nature of the creative outputs produced by the students point to the potential value of indirectness and playfulness when utilizing humanities approaches in medical education contexts. The described method adds to the repertoire of techniques to facilitate genuine reflection in medical students and can potentially assist medical schools in finding the necessary space in the curriculum for such activities.

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We thank the anonymous reviewers for their thoughtful and constructive comments on earlier versions of this manuscript.

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DM and MR conceived and implemented the method described in this paper. NC and CD supported the educational application of the approach and its theoretical framework. The collected data were jointly analyzed and interpreted by all authors. The paper was drafted by DM and NC and revised critically by all authors for intellectual content. NC and DM completed the final draft. All authors approved the final version of the manuscript.

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McLean, D., Chiavaroli, N., Denniston, C. et al. In-verse reflection: structured creative writing exercises to promote reflective learning in medical students. J Med Humanit 43 , 493–504 (2022).

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creative writing reflection structure

Creative Nonfiction: An Overview

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This resource provides an introduction to creative nonfiction, including an overview of the genre and an explanation of major sub-genres.

The Creative Nonfiction (CNF) genre can be rather elusive. It is focused on story, meaning it has a narrative plot with an inciting moment, rising action, climax and denoument, just like fiction. However, nonfiction only works if the story is based in truth, an accurate retelling of the author’s life experiences. The pieces can vary greatly in length, just as fiction can; anything from a book-length autobiography to a 500-word food blog post can fall within the genre.

Additionally, the genre borrows some aspects, in terms of voice, from poetry; poets generally look for truth and write about the realities they see. While there are many exceptions to this, such as the persona poem, the nonfiction genre depends on the writer’s ability to render their voice in a realistic fashion, just as poetry so often does. Writer Richard Terrill, in comparing the two forms, writes that the voice in creative nonfiction aims “to engage the empathy” of the reader; that, much like a poet, the writer uses “personal candor” to draw the reader in.

Creative Nonfiction encompasses many different forms of prose. As an emerging form, CNF is closely entwined with fiction. Many fiction writers make the cross-over to nonfiction occasionally, if only to write essays on the craft of fiction. This can be done fairly easily, since the ability to write good prose—beautiful description, realistic characters, musical sentences—is required in both genres.

So what, then, makes the literary nonfiction genre unique?

The first key element of nonfiction—perhaps the most crucial thing— is that the genre relies on the author’s ability to retell events that actually happened. The talented CNF writer will certainly use imagination and craft to relay what has happened and tell a story, but the story must be true. You may have heard the idiom that “truth is stranger than fiction;” this is an essential part of the genre. Events—coincidences, love stories, stories of loss—that may be expected or feel clichéd in fiction can be respected when they occur in real life .

A writer of Creative Nonfiction should always be on the lookout for material that can yield an essay; the world at-large is their subject matter. Additionally, because Creative Nonfiction is focused on reality, it relies on research to render events as accurately as possible. While it’s certainly true that fiction writers also research their subjects (especially in the case of historical fiction), CNF writers must be scrupulous in their attention to detail. Their work is somewhat akin to that of a journalist, and in fact, some journalism can fall under the umbrella of CNF as well. Writer Christopher Cokinos claims, “done correctly, lived well, delivered elegantly, such research uncovers not only facts of the world, but reveals and shapes the world of the writer” (93). In addition to traditional research methods, such as interviewing subjects or conducting database searches, he relays Kate Bernheimer’s claim that “A lifetime of reading is research:” any lived experience, even one that is read, can become material for the writer.

The other key element, the thing present in all successful nonfiction, is reflection. A person could have lived the most interesting life and had experiences completely unique to them, but without context—without reflection on how this life of experiences affected the writer—the reader is left with the feeling that the writer hasn’t learned anything, that the writer hasn’t grown. We need to see how the writer has grown because a large part of nonfiction’s appeal is the lessons it offers us, the models for ways of living: that the writer can survive a difficult or strange experience and learn from it. Sean Ironman writes that while “[r]eflection, or the second ‘I,’ is taught in every nonfiction course” (43), writers often find it incredibly hard to actually include reflection in their work. He expresses his frustration that “Students are stuck on the idea—an idea that’s not entirely wrong—that readers need to think” (43), that reflecting in their work would over-explain the ideas to the reader. Not so. Instead, reflection offers “the crucial scene of the writer writing the memoir” (44), of the present-day writer who is looking back on and retelling the past. In a moment of reflection, the author steps out of the story to show a different kind of scene, in which they are sitting at their computer or with their notebook in some quiet place, looking at where they are now, versus where they were then; thinking critically about what they’ve learned. This should ideally happen in small moments, maybe single sentences, interspersed throughout the piece. Without reflection, you have a collection of scenes open for interpretation—though they might add up to nothing.

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

Matrix Blog

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

creative writing reflection structure

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. 

creative writing reflection structure

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

Flowchart: The Process for Writing a Reflection Statement

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:

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:

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:

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:

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:

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:

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:

When writing your introduction, you must:

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:

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:

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:

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.

creative writing reflection structure

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Creative Reflection Technique: Everyone Wins When Students Map their Learning

Looking for a creative reflection activity? Try year mapping! Students map their learning by creating their very own personalized concept map...full of brain-based connections!

Inside: A meaningful end-of-year reflection technique for older students that combines the power of student-led learning with brain-based associations… 

Ever wish you could just find a rainbow that will lead you all the way to a real pot of gold? If we’re speaking in metaphors, you may be in luck. When it comes to teaching and learning, we all want students to “do the work.” Yes, they should be taking charge of their learning! But…how?

Year mapping is a powerful reflection technique that highlights a whole slew of power-house education skills.

So, if you’re in search of creative reflection techniques where students are driving the critical thinking bus, you’ll want all the year mapping details: What? Why? How? In this post, we’re going to dive in!

If you find that you are ready to start playing with this activity but are short on time to prep, you can find my starter kit here .


Year mapping is a blissful mixture of some things you probably already know about! Imagine a combination of one pagers , sketchnotes , and concept maps…without the limitation of a single page. I first learned about the general concept of year mapping from brain-based teaching experts Donna Wilson and Marcus Conyers  who share that the practice helps students to see and celebrate what they’re learned in your class.

Intrigued, I set to work with figuring out what year mapping means to me and creating scaffolding materials I felt students may need to get started. In doing so, my brain was swirling with inspiration and ideas, and I started to well up with excitement. Done well, I thought, this could really be a reflection game changer!

For me, year mapping is an activity that requires students to reflect on everything they have learned in the class! Students work with peers or individually to identify big takeaways, key learning points, and make connections between overarching topics of the class. (You can choose the topics, students can pick, or you can select some together.)


Ever wonder if your teaching is clear? If you are curious whether students can make connections between units or learning standards, this creative reflection activity will give you valuable feedback to analyze.

For instance, can students explain the relationship between reading like writer and writing like a reader? Can they draw parallels between sentence structure and pacing techniques? Do they see how language elements and vocabulary impact an author’s style?

As students map their connections, they solidify their understanding of concepts, unearth the magic of how all parts of the course are interconnected, and even extend learning to life outside of school. (Ex. – Why is the writing process an important workplace skill?)

Due to the open-ended nature of this end of year activity, there are many access points for students of all readiness levels. That means it’s allows for efficient and practical differentiation! Plus, it really can be adapted to any occasion and format.

Another fabulous detail? YOU, the teacher, are free to confer with students, coach them through their review session, and fill in learning gaps where necessary.

Look how much brain-based connections are emphasized with this reflection technique!

Year mapping - a powerful creative reflection technique for older students!


Learning maps are visual representations of learning. When we ask students to create maps of their learning, we are, to some degree, putting them in the shoes of the teacher.

Think about it. What do you do when you sit down at the beginning of the year with your curriculum? Most likely…identify learning standards, group them into lessons or units that are related in content, and figure out how to draw connections between them. Part of this process is scaffolding skills. We teach parts of speech before sentence structure, and we teach story elements before theme. They are building blocks.

This is higher-level thinking!

Once students have the “topics” they will map, they go through a very similar process. Except…theirs is a reflective activity toward the end of the semester or year instead of a planning session at the beginning.

Students truly get to be creative because they really can arrange the topics on their “maps” in any way they desire, as long as they can show meaningful connections .

Think…spokes on a wheel, threads on a spider web, stops on a highway, or rungs of a ladder. Some may choose to use a line graph for their year, showing the points where writing, reading, grammar, and vocabulary intersected for them. Others may opt for books on a shelf and group them by genres that represent standards. What about a treasure map that moves from Unit 1 all the way to the final Unit? X marks the spot!

Creative thinkers will latch on to the visual aspect of the brainstorming stage. Working with partners and using graphic organizers can help to make the process less abstract for students.


First, students should identify the knowledge, skills, and big ideas they should include in their maps.

Once your students have identified their topics, they’ll be staring at…a blank paper. To complete year mapping, students really can use any medium they want. Consider some of the possibilities:

Regardless of the final product, I recommend having students do some brainstorming. You may want to give them directions, like this:

Organize categories…

Use the blank paper or sticky notes in front of you to begin thinking about how each of your topics is related to others on the list. It would be helpful to first create some categories . One example would be to organize topics by unit. What learning targets did we accomplish during our short story unit? Many of you probably recall we worked on analyzing story elements. In one category, you may include strategies for analyzing characterization, plot, and setting. (It may help to brainstorm some possibilities together on the board.)

Make connections…

You have all demonstrated that you can analyze a short story and identify the theme, but now I want to see your creativity at work! As you reflect on what you have learned this school year, try to map as many connections as possible between learning targets within and across units of study. How does grammar help us write? How does being an observant reader help us with writing? Can analyzing story elements help us to be strong writers? You can use the graphic organizers to help you put ideas together. This will be your brain on paper!

Choose your format…

Once you have a basic idea of how you want to proceed, you’ll want to choose your medium . Would it make most sense to represent your learning digitally or on paper? What size or how many pages would be appropriate to show a vast spread of learning? (Discuss the advantages and limitations of each.)

Remember your goal…

Your goal? Reflect on your year of learning and make as many powerful associations between lessons as possible! Show me what you know! Don’t forget to make revisions frequently! Add, subtract, combine, and simplify until you are happy.

There’s so much opportunity for students to use as much or as little scaffolding as possible with year mapping. Students who are ready for a challenge can push themselves to make more symbolic, higher-level connections, while students who need scaffolding can use graphic organizers to help them visualize where to put information.

So let’s consider what each step of this reflection technique might look like in the classroom.

Students find brainstorming pages helpful for pre-mapping . However, one size doesn’t usually fit all. So, you can offer some options and have students pick the one that fits their categories best. I like to provide a couple of basic graphic organizers because it helps students to understand what I mean by “categories” of learning. Offering a blank option is convenient for abstract thinkers.

Year mapping graphic organizers for middle and high school

Next, students organize their ideas into a more purposeful arrangemen t. You can show them a variety of options, and let those be springboards for creativity. You can provide organizers or have students spend some time researching flow chart style organization for inspiration. Sticky notes work, too!

Encourage students to think about how they can show connections between important ideas and emphasize learning. Students can add arrows, shapes, and colors. This is usually one of the biggest coaching opportunities as you confer with students. Once students grasp the idea of how to categorize their learning, we can encourage them to get out of the “silo” mode. Those categories are connected to the larger picture… how ?

Digital year mapping example; creative reflection activity

Year maps can be digital (like the examples pictured above), or they can be print (my personal favorite!). It really doesn’t hurt to give students the choice if you have the means for them to complete the creative reflection either way.

When students complete year maps digitally or on paper, it’s important to stress that typically more than one page or one slide is needed to truly be comprehensive.

While the examples pictured so far have been for English Language Arts, this reflection technique really can be powerful in any subject area. See the example below, which was created by a ninth-grade math student.

Year mapping math example; end of year creative reflection on learning


You may find that adding a writing reflection deepens students’ thought process. Students can reflect on the effort they put into the class, on the parts of the course that were most rewarding and challenging, and on their contribution to the greater body of learning.

By including a writing component, students are encouraged to articulate the connections they made as well as identify areas where they could grow more. Naturally, this reflection process can lead to goal setting .

Set students up for productive written reflection by crafting questions that will lead them toward evaluating their learning and their work ethic. A thoughtfully designed written component has the potential to lead students to their best thinking.

For this reflection technique, I do provide content suggestions with a rubric , but I’m often pleasantly surprised with what students come up with on their own!

The reflective writing assignment should not lead to mounds of grading! Yes, students should always strive to be producing their best quality work, but for this assignment, I only recommend assessing ideas (if anything).

Engaging reflective writing assignment for the end of the year



If possible, working together on year mapping will provide more perspectives and associations, deepening the creative reflection process. From the brainstorming step to categorizing and emphasizing key ideas, students push one another’s thinking to new spaces.

Before asking students to create a map of their year, it may be helpful to show them some examples and ask them to evaluate the strengths and limitations of each.

Do the examples show clarity of ideas? Are the connections strong? Does the creator include enough high-quality examples and inter-lesson connections?

Having students walk through this evaluation process will make them more cognizant of the depth of their own thinking.


Like one pagers , hexagonal thinking, mind maps, and any other assignment that feels abstract and fuzzy at the outset, we as teachers will be able to lead our students through the process more effectively if we complete the work first! Before trying this reflection technique with students, I experimented with year mapping myself. In doing so, I realized I didn’t like what I came up with first.

Rough draft of creative reflection year map


Year mapping can be as low-key or as formal as you’d like. If you’re looking for a meaningful, creative reflection technique to prepare students for final exams, you probably don’t need to assess them. Likewise, if you just want a window into students’ learning from the year… (Did they make the connections you wanted them to? Have they really reached deep thinking about the standards? Where might lessons have not been as effective as possible?)… you probably don’t need to grade them.

However, if you’re using the year maps as a culminating project, I recommend using a rubric . You can identify categories and create proficiency scales with students, or you can define the success criteria yourself and discuss them with students while evaluating examples.

For the best results, coaching students throughout the planning, drafting, and revising process is the most valuable feedback you can provide them in terms of assessment. As you encourage them to make connections they haven’t, think deeper, and clarify ideas, students will have time to adjust and do the work they hadn’t yet completed.


Of course, one of the best ways to finish year mapping is to share the maps! Celebrate learning by having students display their maps or share highlights (favorite parts, most challenging learning experiences, and etcetera). Depending on your time constraints, this can be formal or a gallery walk style in which students have their work displayed, and peers walk around, leaving feedback. (Praises, questions, and ideas are helpful ways to guide peer to peer feedback.)

Year mapping is the perfect end of the year activity for reflection and review ! Of course, you can use this same concept at the end of a unit to make connections between smaller time segments as well.  Students can complete this activity in any amount of time, but the less time they have, the fewer connections they will make.

When students map their learning, everyone wins. Collaboration , critical thinking , and brain-based learning take center stage with this end-of-year reflection technique. End the school year meaningfully with learning maps !


“It was a great way to mentally assess the year. It not only helped me reflect on my own performance as a student but also helped me review the different topics that we studied throughout the year. When I was creating my map, I was unintentionally giving myself a brief refresher course that I will remember long after the individual lessons are forgotten. It was helpful to recap my ninth-grade learning before moving on to tenth grade. I know I will need these skills! This was a fresh way to remember the year and connect all of the dots in ways that I wouldn’t have noticed before.” – Elise, Freshman


If you are loving this reflection technique but don’t have the time to to put the scaffolding together, this starter kit will help you make it happen.

Year mapping is a creative reflection activity that prompts students to make connections between everything they've learned in a course.

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Creative reflection activity for the end of the school year! Students map their learning by creating personalized, detailed concept maps that capitalize on brain-based connections #EndofYearActivities #MiddleSchool #HighSchool

Melissa Kruse

An avid reader and writer, I've had the privilege of teaching English for over a decade and am now an instructional coach. I have degrees in English, Curriculum & Instruction, and Reading as well as a reading specialist certification. In my free time, I enjoy loving on my kids, deconstructing sentences, analyzing literature, making learning fun, working out, and drinking a good cup of coffee.

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creative writing reflection structure

Reflection About Creative Writing

Taking a creative writing class was a good way for me to express my thoughts and feelings onto paper, as well as read my other classmates stories. Reading stories created by other people lead me into their mind brain to experience what type of writer they were, it was an overall exquisite class. I believe that every person has a way of expressing who they are through writing stories of their own, fiction is the best way to express your creative imagination. This class that I took for two years helped me become a better writer and helped me understand the types of writers we have. The first book series I read that got me interested in creative writing was the Immortal Series, by Alyson Noel. I was never one for non-fiction, …show more content…

In this essay, the author

I believe that writing stories gives you more of an appreciation and understanding for a good book. All of the ideas that make a book come alive is from one author with an amazing imagination, who can captivate someone’s mind and tuck them into their world for a few hours. Every day in class I was allowed one hour to dedicate my time into a story, it is almost like entering your main character’s mind and acting as if it was you. I never had any interest in writing before entering high school, I never enjoyed writing essays. I believe the reason was I did not find it necessary to write a 5-page essay on 'To Kill a Mockingbird '. In the real world we will write a page or two for job opportunities and some for the job itself, but hardly ever will you need to write an essay on some book or event in time; unless you went to college to become an English teacher, history teacher, lawyer, journalist, etc. Even though writing these essays were to help your "writing skills" why not write papers to help your future, such as; cover letters for future jobs, interview speeches, life goals, creative writing, or arguments for court cases if you wanted to be a lawyer? Books are only fun for me to read if I can do it on my own time with my own book, not

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How to Write a Reflection Paper

Last Updated: October 25, 2022 References Approved

This article was co-authored by Alicia Cook . Alicia Cook is a Professional Writer based in Newark, New Jersey. With over 12 years of experience, Alicia specializes in poetry and uses her platform to advocate for families affected by addiction and to fight for breaking the stigma against addiction and mental illness. She holds a BA in English and Journalism from Georgian Court University and an MBA from Saint Peter’s University. Alicia is a bestselling poet with Andrews McMeel Publishing and her work has been featured in numerous media outlets including the NY Post, CNN, USA Today, the HuffPost, the LA Times, American Songwriter Magazine, and Bustle. She was named by Teen Vogue as one of the 10 social media poets to know and her poetry mixtape, “Stuff I’ve Been Feeling Lately” was a finalist in the 2016 Goodreads Choice Awards. There are 9 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article received 24 testimonials and 85% of readers who voted found it helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 3,619,194 times.

Reflection papers allow you to communicate with your instructor about how a specific article, lesson, lecture, or experience shapes your understanding of class-related material. Reflection papers are personal and subjective [1] X Research source , but they must still maintain a somewhat academic tone and must still be thoroughly and cohesively organized. Here's what you need to know about writing an effective reflection.

Things You Should Know

Sample Outline and Paper

creative writing reflection structure


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Organizing a Reflection Paper

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To write a reflection paper, start with an introduction where you state any expectations you had for the reading, lesson, or experience you're reflecting on. At the end of your intro, include a thesis statement that explains how your views have changed. In the body of your essay, explain the conclusions you reached after the reading, lesson, or experience and discuss how you arrived at them. Finally, finish your paper with a succinct conclusion that explains what you've learned. To learn how to brainstorm for your paper, keep reading! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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

creative writing reflection structure

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 .

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:

creative writing reflection structure

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:

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

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.

creative writing reflection structure

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.

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:

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.

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

creative writing reflection structure

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:

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.

'If only someone could write my essay !' you may think. Ask for help our professional writers in case you need it.

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.

The lecture started off with a quote: “If we can conquer space, we can conquer world hunger” — Buzz Aldrin. This quote had already got me thinking about how incredible of a feat it is that we’ve sent humans and animals into space. If it’s possible to survive in the infinite vacuum we know as Space, how are there billions of people who have a hard time surviving on Earth? This relatively simple idea reached out to get my attention and make me feel sympathy for all of the starving children and families in the world. On a morning like any other, our guest professor gave a lecture that truly impacted me to my core.

Do You Need a Well-Written Reflection Paper?

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10 Unique and Creative Reflection Techniques & Lessons for the Secondary Student

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As educators, we know how critical reflection is to the learning process. Getting students to reflect- deeply and meaningfully- is often one of the most challenging lessons we teach. I have found that both my middle school and high school students will often scoff at these reflection activities, providing the least amount of effort possible to complete the task they see as meaningless. I have been searching for and creating lessons and activities that will bring interest and engagement to this task. The following is a list of 10 lessons and activities I use regularly in my classroom to create a class of reflective learners.

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1. Growth Mindset and Goal Setting

The first step in developing a truly reflective learner is to develop the growth mindset within each and every student. Students do not naturally believe that reading and writing are skills that can be improved upon. We have all heard our students comment that they “just are not good at writing.” With this mindset, students are willing to accept poor scores, give less effort, and fain any reflection activity given. As we know, this mindset takes time to alter. I focus on these skills at the beginning of the year, but this concept can be taught at any time!


I love asking my students to create goals. We do this at the beginning of the year, the start of a new semester, a new unit, a new skill, etc. This is a great place to naturally build in those reflection conversations. As we close out that unit or semester, we can look back on these to reflect on our learning and set new goals. What a great life skill and habit to develop with our students! I use these engaging goal setting one pager activities to help my students craft these goals. They are guided and specific, but my students get a chance to be creative and have a little fun in the process! Click here to learn more about these goal setting one pagers!

Click here to download your own copy for free!

Click here to download your own copy for free!

2. Asking students to reflect on a deeper level.

The first few times I asked students to reflect on their thinking, I received reflections that were basic at best. I have created this poster to encourage my students to reflect at a deeper level. Similar to Blooms Taxonomy, the lower the question- the deeper the thought. I keep this posted in my room, and use this as a guide for open reflections on activities, daily work, or projects.

3. Model your own reflection.

I take the opportunity to model my learning and my reflecting whenever possible. After an activity or lesson, I will model my own reflection for students. I will also let students see when I make a mistake, so I can express what I have learned from this. I reflect on these in the same way I would wish my students to do after their own mistakes/learning opportunity!

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4. Reflect ‘n’ Sketch.

Click here for more information!

Click here for more information!

One of my favorite reflection lessons is the Reflect ‘n’ Sketch activity. When I began teaching, I only saw my students as readers and writers. I could see their struggles and successes within my subject alone. Then, after teaching tone and mood to a group of eighth graders, I asked students to draw a picture of the mood of a poem. Through this activity, I saw my struggling readers excel with beautiful artwork. I realized that my subject, English, is not the only skill to be had. Many of my students excelled in other areas, especially those who struggled in my class. This experience inspired my Reflect ‘n’ Sketch activity. This gives students the option to draw their reflections on a project or activity. Guiding questions guide their artwork, and students can still deliver deep reflections with a medium that inspires them.

5. Reflection Vlog

I tried this for the first time this past fall, and my students absolutely rave about the Reflection Vlog. I gave students the guiding questions found within the Reflect ‘n’ Sketch activity, and asked them to create a personal Vlog. After each major project or assessment, I asked students to add to their Vlog. Some students chose to upload their videos to YouTube, and others preferred the privacy of simply creating an iMovie or Windows Moviemaker video. With this medium of reflection, students were free to speak about their work, display their work, or add videos and pictures of the process of creating their work. Not only did students find this engaging, but they found that they were able speak freely about their learning. They have commented that they did not feel bound by words, grammar, structure, and organization within the reflection, so they felt that they were better able to express their truest feelings. I can attest to this as I watched their Vlog videos. They opened up more through this ‘on camera’ experience, than in any other reflection technique!

6. Analyze your work from the teacher’s perspective.

When introducing a writing assignment, I would often provide exemplars, or mentor texts, and ask students to assess these using the rubric that would assess their own work. Not only did students better understand the rubric, they better understood the expectations for the writing. This inspired me to have students assess their own work in a similar manner. I ask students to assess their own work from my perspective. This can be via rubric or by simply providing feedback that they believe I would give. Once students get to know me, this feedback can be eerily correct! This helps students to see their work from a new perspective, and often will encourage students to make revisions before they submit their final work!

7. Scrapbook

I have asked my students to create a scrapbook reflection on larger projects; this is especially effective for group work. Students take pictures of the process of their work, students working in their group roles, and of their final project. Each group member can showcase their own pictures or drawings of the groups work. Then students can reflect on their roles within the group, the process of collaboration, their impact on the groups success/failures, and on the learning that was derived from the project’s completion. Some students get very creative with this process, and truly enjoy this as much (or more) than the project itself!

8. The Cube of Reflection

Click here for more information!

I have use this Cube of Reflection after a group project. Students have a tangible cube that they roll to help them reflect together. The cube really helps them to think about their collective learning; they will use the reflection taxonomy to build their reflection to the deepest levels. Guiding questions help students with each level of this taxonomy. The fun cube fosters a collective reflection experience!  Students will:  -Remember it. -Understand it. -Apply it.  -Analyze it.  -Evaluate it. -Create it. 

9. Social Media

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I have created a Google site to mimic Facebook. Students can upload a picture of their project and reflect on their process or learning experience. I can also pose reflection questions and have students respond to these through this “Fake Facebook”. This can be equally effective on a class blog as well. For more details about setting up a class blog, check out this article on the left! 

Click on the image to grab this free resource!

Click on the image to grab this free resource!

10. Semester Reflection

I always try to do a deeper reflection at the semester break. For most of my classes, I will retain the same set of students into second semester. This transition practically begs for a deep reflection on the previous work before we have a fresh new start in the new semester. I break down my semester reflection into three categories: academic, out-of-school, and personal. This has helped my students to write a guided reflection that covers all parts of their life as a learner. 

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About the Author

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Liz is a collaborator on  and the founder of Teach BeTween the Lines . She has been teaching for over ten years; she has loved growing young minds through literature and the art of crafting the written word. She is currently working on her doctorate in Education from the University of Minnesota, and holds an M.A. in Education from St. Mary’s University, Minnesota. She loves to write short stories in her free time, especially in those cold Minnesota winters. She is supported by a wonderful family made better by the addition of her two beautiful children.


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“The overwhelming burden of writing my first ever reflective essay loomed over me as I sat as still as a statue, as my fingers nervously poised over the intimidating buttons on my laptop keyboard. Where would I begin? Where would I end? Nerve wracking thoughts filled my mind as I fretted over the seemingly impossible journey on which I was about to embark.”

Reflective essays may seem simple on the surface, but they can be a real stumbling block if you're not quite sure how to go about them. In simple terms, reflective essays constitute a critical examination of a life experience and, with the right guidance, they're not too challenging to put together. A reflective essay is similar to other essays in that it needs to be easily understood and well structured, but the content is more akin to something personal like a diary entry.

In this guide, we explore in detail how to write a great reflective essay , including what makes a good structure and some advice on the writing process. We’ve even thrown in an example reflective essay to inspire you too, making this the ultimate guide for anyone needing reflective essay help.

In a reflective essay, a writer primarily examines his or her life experiences, hence the term ‘reflective’. The purpose of writing a reflective essay is to provide a platform for the author to not only recount a particular life experience, but to also explore how he or she has changed or learned from those experiences. Reflective writing can be presented in various formats, but you’ll most often see it in a learning log format or diary entry. Diary entries in particular are used to convey how the author’s thoughts have developed and evolved over the course of a particular period.

The format of a reflective essay may change depending on the target audience. Reflective essays can be academic, or may feature more broadly as a part of a general piece of writing for a magazine, for instance. For class assignments, while the presentation format can vary, the purpose generally remains the same: tutors aim to inspire students to think deeply and critically about a particular learning experience or set of experiences. Here are some typical examples of reflective essay formats that you may have to write:

A focus on personal growth: A type of reflective essay often used by tutors as a strategy for helping students to learn how to analyse their personal life experiences to promote emotional growth and development. The essay gives the student a better understanding of both themselves and their behaviours.

A focus on the literature: This kind of essay requires students to provide a summary of the literature, after which it is applied to the student’s own life experiences.

What do I write about?

As you go about deciding on the content of your essay, you need to keep in mind that a reflective essay is highly personal and aimed at engaging the reader or target audience. And there’s much more to a reflective essay than just recounting a story. You need to be able to reflect (more on this later) on your experience by showing how it influenced your subsequent behaviours and how your life has been particularly changed as a result.

As a starting point, you might want to think about some important experiences in your life that have really impacted you, either positively, negatively, or both. Some typical reflection essay topics include: a real-life experience, an imagined experience, a special object or place, a person who had an influence on you, or something you have watched or read. If you are writing a reflective essay as part of an academic exercise, chances are your tutor will ask you to focus on a particular episode – such as a time when you had to make an important decision – and reflect on what the outcomes were. Note also, that the aftermath of the experience is especially important in a reflective essay; miss this out and you will simply be storytelling.

creative writing reflection structure

It sounds obvious, but the reflective process forms the core of writing this type of essay, so it’s important you get it right from the outset. You need to really think about how the personal experience you have chosen to focus on impacted or changed you. Use your memories and feelings of the experience to determine the implications for you on a personal level.

Once you’ve chosen the topic of your essay, it’s really important you study it thoroughly and spend a lot of time trying to think about it vividly. Write down everything you can remember about it, describing it as clearly and fully as you can. Keep your five senses in mind as you do this, and be sure to use adjectives to describe your experience. At this stage, you can simply make notes using short phrases, but you need to ensure that you’re recording your responses, perceptions, and your experience of the event(s).

Once you’ve successfully emptied the contents of your memory, you need to start reflecting. A great way to do this is to pick out some reflection questions which will help you think deeper about the impact and lasting effects of your experience. Here are some useful questions that you can consider:

– What have you learned about yourself as a result of the experience?

– Have you developed because of it? How?

– Did it have any positive or negative bearing on your life?

– Looking back, what would you have done differently?

– Why do you think you made the particular choices that you did? Do you think these were the right choices?

– What are your thoughts on the experience in general? Was it a useful learning experience? What specific skills or perspectives did you acquire as a result?

These signpost questions should help kick-start your reflective process. Remember, asking yourself lots of questions is key to ensuring that you think deeply and critically about your experiences – a skill that is at the heart of writing a great reflective essay.

Consider using models of reflection (like the Gibbs or Kolb cycles) before, during, and after the learning process to ensure that you maintain a high standard of analysis. For example, before you really get stuck into the process, consider questions such as: what might happen (regarding the experience)? Are there any possible challenges to keep in mind? What knowledge is needed to be best prepared to approach the experience? Then, as you’re planning and writing, these questions may be useful: what is happening within the learning process? Is the process working out as expected? Am I dealing with the accompanying challenges successfully? Is there anything that needs to be done additionally to ensure that the learning process is successful? What am I learning from this? By adopting such a framework, you’ll be ensuring that you are keeping tabs on the reflective process that should underpin your work.

Here’s a very useful tip: although you may feel well prepared with all that time spent reflecting in your arsenal, do not, start writing your essay until you have worked out a comprehensive, well-rounded plan . Your writing will be so much more coherent, your ideas conveyed with structure and clarity, and your essay will likely achieve higher marks.

This is an especially important step when you’re tackling a reflective essay – there can be a tendency for people to get a little ‘lost’ or disorganised as they recount their life experiences in an erratic and often unsystematic manner as it is a topic so close to their hearts. But if you develop a thorough outline (this is the same as a ‘plan’) and ensure you stick to it like Christopher Columbus to a map, you should do just fine as you embark on the ultimate step of writing your essay. If you need further convincing on how important planning is, we’ve summarised the key benefits of creating a detailed essay outline below:

Now you’re familiar with the benefits of using an outline for your reflective essay, it is essential that you know how to craft one. It can be considerably different from other typical essay outlines, mostly because of the varying subjects. But what remains the same, is that you need to start your outline by drafting the introduction, body and conclusion. More on this below.

Introduction As is the case with all essays, your reflective essay must begin within an introduction that contains both a hook and a thesis statement. The point of having a ‘hook’ is to grab the attention of your audience or reader from the very beginning. You must portray the exciting aspects of your story in the initial paragraph so that you stand the best chances of holding your reader’s interest. Refer back to the opening quote of this article – did it grab your attention and encourage you to read more? The thesis statement is a brief summary of the focus of the essay, which in this case is a particular experience that influenced you significantly. Remember to give a quick overview of your experience – don’t give too much information away or you risk your reader becoming disinterested.

Body Next up is planning the body of your essay. This can be the hardest part of the entire paper; it’s easy to waffle and repeat yourself both in the plan and in the actual writing. Have you ever tried recounting a story to a friend only for them to tell you to ‘cut the long story short’? They key here is to put plenty of time and effort into planning the body, and you can draw on the following tips to help you do this well:

Try adopting a chronological approach. This means working through everything you want to touch upon as it happened in time. This kind of approach will ensure that your work is systematic and coherent. Keep in mind that a reflective essay doesn’t necessarily have to be linear, but working chronologically will prevent you from providing a haphazard recollection of your experience. Lay out the important elements of your experience in a timeline – this will then help you clearly see how to piece your narrative together.

Ensure the body of your reflective essay is well focused and contains appropriate critique and reflection. The body should not only summarise your experience, it should explore the impact that the experience has had on your life, as well as the lessons that you have learned as a result. The emphasis should generally be on reflection as opposed to summation. A reflective posture will not only provide readers with insight on your experience, it’ll highlight your personality and your ability to deal with or adapt to particular situations.

Conclusion In the conclusion of your reflective essay, you should focus on bringing your piece together by providing a summary of both the points made throughout, and what you have learned as a result. Try to include a few points on why and how your attitudes and behaviours have been changed. Consider also how your character and skills have been affected, for example: what conclusions can be drawn about your problem-solving skills? What can be concluded about your approach to specific situations? What might you do differently in similar situations in the future? What steps have you taken to consolidate everything that you have learned from your experience? Keep in mind that your tutor will be looking out for evidence of reflection at a very high standard.

Congratulations – you now have the tools to create a thorough and accurate plan which should put you in good stead for the ultimate phase indeed of any essay, the writing process.

creative writing reflection structure

Writing your essay

As with all written assignments, sitting down to put pen to paper (or more likely fingers to keyboard) can be daunting. But if you have put in the time and effort fleshing out a thorough plan, you should be well prepared, which will make the writing process as smooth as possible. The following points should also help ease the writing process:

– To get a feel for the tone and format in which your writing should be, read other typically reflective pieces in magazines and newspapers, for instance.

– Don’t think too much about how to start your first sentence or paragraph; just start writing and you can always come back later to edit anything you’re not keen on. Your first draft won’t necessarily be your best essay writing work but it’s important to remember that the earlier you start writing, the more time you will have to keep reworking your paper until it’s perfect. Don’t shy away from using a free-flow method, writing and recording your thoughts and feelings on your experiences as and when they come to mind. But make sure you stick to your plan. Your plan is your roadmap which will ensure your writing doesn’t meander too far off course.

– For every point you make about an experience or event, support it by describing how you were directly impacted, using specific as opposed to vague words to convey exactly how you felt.

– Write using the first-person narrative, ensuring that the tone of your essay is very personal and reflective of your character.

– If you need to, refer back to our notes earlier on creating an outline. As you work through your essay, present your thoughts systematically, remembering to focus on your key learning outcomes.

– Consider starting your introduction with a short anecdote or quote to grasp your readers’ attention, or other engaging techniques such as flashbacks.

– Choose your vocabulary carefully to properly convey your feelings and emotions. Remember that reflective writing has a descriptive component and so must have a wide range of adjectives to draw from. Avoid vague adjectives such as ‘okay’ or ‘nice’ as they don’t really offer much insight into your feelings and personality. Be more specific – this will make your writing more engaging.

– Be honest with your feelings and opinions. Remember that this is a reflective task, and is the one place you can freely admit – without any repercussions – that you failed at a particular task. When assessing your essay, your tutor will expect a deep level of reflection, not a simple review of your experiences and emotion. Showing deep reflection requires you to move beyond the descriptive. Be extremely critical about your experience and your response to it. In your evaluation and analysis, ensure that you make value judgements, incorporating ideas from outside the experience you had to guide your analysis. Remember that you can be honest about your feelings without writing in a direct way. Use words that work for you and are aligned with your personality.

– Once you’ve finished learning about and reflecting on your experience, consider asking yourself these questions: what did I particularly value from the experience and why? Looking back, how successful has the process been? Think about your opinions immediately after the experience and how they differ now, so that you can evaluate the difference between your immediate and current perceptions. Asking yourself such questions will help you achieve reflective writing effectively and efficiently.

– Don’t shy away from using a variety of punctuation. It helps keeps your writing dynamic! Doesn’t it?

– If you really want to awaken your reader’s imagination, you can use imagery to create a vivid picture of your experiences.

– Ensure that you highlight your turning point, or what we like to call your “Aha!” moment. Without this moment, your resulting feelings and thoughts aren’t as valid and your argument not as strong.

– Don’t forget to keep reiterating the lessons you have learned from your experience.

A further tip – using wider sources

Although a reflective piece of writing is focused on personal experience, it’s important you draw on other sources to demonstrate your understanding of your experience from a theoretical perspective. It’ll show a level of analysis – and a standard of reliability in what you’re claiming – if you’re also able to validate your work against other perspectives that you find. Think about possible sources, like newspapers, surveys, books and even journal articles. Generally, the additional sources you decide to include in your work are highly dependent on your field of study. Analysing a wide range of sources, will show that you have read widely on your subject area, that you have nuanced insight into the available literature on the subject of your essay, and that you have considered the broader implications of the literature for your essay. The incorporation of other sources into your essay also helps to show that you are aware of the multi-dimensional nature of both the learning and problem-solving process.

Example reflective essay

If you want some inspiration for writing, take a look at our example of a short reflective essay , which can serve as a useful starting point for you when you set out to write your own.

Some final notes to remember

To recap, the key to writing a reflective essay is demonstrating what lessons you have taken away from your experiences, and why and how you have been shaped by these lessons.

The reflective thinking process begins with you – you must consciously make an effort to identify and examine your own thoughts in relation to a particular experience. Don’t hesitate to explore any prior knowledge or experience of the topic, which will help you identify why you have formed certain opinions on the subject. Remember that central to reflective essay writing is the examination of your attitudes, assumptions and values, so be upfront about how you feel. Reflective writing can be quite therapeutic, helping you identify and clarify your strengths and weaknesses, particularly in terms of any knowledge gaps that you may have. It’s a pretty good way of improving your critical thinking skills, too. It enables you to adopt an introspective posture in analysing your experiences and how you learn/make sense of them.

If you are still having difficulties with starting the writing process, why not try mind-mapping which will help you to structure your thinking and ideas, enabling you to produce a coherent piece. Creating a mind map will ensure that your argument is written in a very systematic way that will be easy for your tutor to follow. Here’s a recap of the contents of this article, which also serves as a way to create a mind map:

1. Identify the topic you will be writing on.

2. Note down any ideas that are related to the topic and if you want to, try drawing a diagram to link together any topics, theories, and ideas.

3. Allow your ideas to flow freely, knowing that you will always have time to edit your work.

4. Consider how your ideas are connected to each other, then begin the writing process.

And finally, keep in mind that although there are descriptive elements in a reflective essay, we can’t emphasise enough how crucial it is that your work is critical, analytical, and adopts a reflective posture in terms of your experience and the lessons you have learned from it.

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What is Creative Writing? | An Introduction for Students

But what exactly is it all about? And if you’re new to the subject, how can you get started? 

Creative writing is all about using your imagination and creativity to express ideas and thoughts in a way which is personal to you. Quite simply, it’s about adding your own ‘flair’ to writing, going beyond the traditional boundaries of academic or other technical forms of literature.

Learn more about what creative writing is, what the different types are, as well as some top tips on how to get started - all with this helpful guide and introduction to creative writing.

What is creative writing?

As the name suggests, creative writing is a form of writing that goes beyond the traditional realms of normal, professional, academic or technical forms of writing. 

Instead, it encompasses a number of different genres and styles across a whole range of fields of both fictional and non-fiction writing; storytelling, playwriting, poetry, prose, journalistic, and more. 

Though the definition can be quite vague, creative writing can, for the most part, be considered as any type of writing that is original and expressive of oneself. Typically, it can be identified by an emphasis on narrative craft, focusing on elements such as character development, narrative and plot, infusing its structure with imagination, invention and story. 

In this sense, creative writing can technically be considered any writing of contemporary, original composition - it's bound by no standard conventions and uses a whole range of elements in its craft.

In an academic setting, creative writing is typically divided into fiction, poetry, or scriptwriting classes, with a focus on writing in an original style, not defined by pre-existing structures and genres. 

What are the different types of creative writing?

Creative writing comes in many forms, encompassing a number of genres and styles. There are lots of different types of creative writing, which can be categorised as fiction or non-fiction. Some of the most popular being:

1 (3).png

What makes a good piece of creative writing?

First and foremost, it’s important to note that there is no pre-defined description of what it means to create a ‘good’ piece of creative writing. As the very name suggests, creative writing is an imaginative process, created by the individual with all their quirks and personalities.

Creative writing doesn’t fit one set genre and therefore there will never be an umbrella definition to describe the ‘perfect’ piece. Just think about a Gothic short story and then compare it to the features of a great Romantic poem - the two are so very different - it wouldn’t be unfair to judge them together. 

However, with that being said, there are a few general principles that you can follow to make your creative writing as strong as it can be - by making it as authentic and true to you as possible:

Know your audience - All great stories begin with a target audience in mind - because it’s exactly what you need to know in order to really tailor your writing and connect with them. Therefore, any creative writer should begin their writing by plotting out exactly who they want to read their work. Once you have this in mind, your writing will naturally begin to take direction and flow in a way that seems appropriate to your audience.

Write what you know - Quite often, the best stories are those which we can connect to and relate in one or another way to our own lives. Or, they’re stories which seem so authentic that you could imagine it to be about the writer’s own life. Now, this doesn’t mean that you quite literally have to write about your life, but drawing on knowledge you have about different elements of our lives to give your story some authenticity and more believability.

Creativity is key - Creativity is one of the most important elements of creative writing. It’s what sets you apart from other pieces of writing in your genre. Of course, this doesn't demand that you write a tale about a totally fantastical and mythical world with unique creatures - but simply use your creativity to think a little outside the box and put a unique twist on things; using literary devices like metaphors, alliteration, and varied sentence structure to make your work unique and interesting.

Push your imagination - One of the great things about creative writing is that there is no definition or rules on ‘how’ to write. It’s a much more subjective genre, and one which relies heavily on your own interpretations. Therefore, you should push your imagination to the limits to see what the end result could be. Some of the most interesting pieces of literature are thought-provoking or make us question the writing or world around us - where could your story take us?

Plot a loose story arc - Despite the loose bounds of creative writing, it is still advisable to plot a loose story arc for any piece of literature you create. Story arcs are critical at giving your writing direction and purpose, helping you to write the whole piece at a good pace, without writing any superfluous content or ‘waffle.’ Follow your story arc, and your writing will have a strong structure, pace and direction - keeping your readers more engaged.

What are some techniques used in creative writing?

To make their writing stand out, writers often employ several creative writing techniques and literary devices, including:

Character development - The process of creating a well-rounded, realistic character with depth, personality, and clear goals or motivations.

Plot development - The story of your piece of writing - how it develops, unfolds, and moves along in time.

**Point of view **- The perspective from which a narrative is told. It indicates who is telling the story and how the information is conveyed to the reader. Quite often writers will play with the point of view of the central character or protagonist to trick the reader and twist their perspective. 

Dialogue - Refers to the speech and conversations characters use to speak to one another. Dialogue and the language choices a character makes can be pivotal in helping define their personality.

Literary devices - Such as metaphors, similes and alliteration to make creative writing more imaginative and descriptive. These are used in a myriad of ways by writers to make their writing more vivid, interesting and engaging.


Can creative writing be taught?

Of course! Creative writing can be taught, and is a very popular subject for university students, and for those who attend our summer courses . 

Those who pursue the subject of Creative Writing will typically study a variety of texts from different periods of time to learn more about the different genres of writing within the field. They’ll become familiar with some of the leading creative writers from generations past to present, as well as some lesser-known and emerging writers in the industry.

Inspired by what they’ve learnt in the classroom, it’s not uncommon for Creative Writing students to also participate in regular workshops and scratch sessions, where they bring a piece of their writing along to class and have it read by other students and the tutor. They’ll leave with constructive feedback on how to improve their writing, or recommendations of other works which they may want to read to take influence from.

How to start creative writing

If you’re interested in getting those creative juices flowing and improving your writing craft, read some of our tips below on how to start creative writing :

Read as much as you can - For creative writers, inspiration comes from a whole range of sources, but most commonly, from other writers. There’s some excellent examples of creative writing throughout history that all writers should be inspired by. Read a variety of genres by different authors to get a real feel for what type of writing you may want to do. Need some inspiration? Check out our blog: 15 Classic Books to Read

Start journaling - Starting a journal can really help to unleash your inner creativity. Getting into the habit of writing each day about literally anything that’s preoccupied you that day will help you practice the art of writing. The more regular you journal, the more you’ll build your confidence. You never know, you could even find your next great idea from something you’ve journaled about!

Attend a Creative Writing summer course - If you’re just starting out as a creative writer and looking to collaborate, share ideas with others and workshop your writing, then joining a creative writing summer school could be a great option. Our creative writing summer courses are designed to help you extend your creative writing toolkit; you’ll analyse some of the industry’s greatest writers, as well as workshop some of your own writing with your peers.

Practice using literary devices - Literary devices, such as metaphors, similes and rhyme can really help you write more vividly and create really descriptive, imaginative scenes. Practice using them regularly and you’ll soon watch your own creative writing start to flourish. Need some ideas to help you get practising? Look around your house and pick a random object. Then, practice using 5 literary devices to describe that same object - see where your creativity can take you!

Write, write, write! - When it comes to how to start creative writing, one of the biggest pieces of advice we can offer is to pick up your pen or laptop, and start writing. Whether you have a single conversation starter for a character, or a complete narrative arc, you will only begin your creative writing journey when you physically do it. Even if you have no idea on what to write - look for writing prompt inspiration from all around you. The more you practice unleashing your creativity, the easier it will be to write over longer periods of time.

Creative writing is an expressive form of literature; one which demands you to use your own creativity, imagination and story to portray a particular message, emotion, or plot. It defies the traditional bounds of other forms of writing and is completely subjective to our own preferences and experiences.

For those looking to get started with creative writing, it’s important to really immerse yourself in the world of literature, reading and writing as much as you can - and even workshopping your work where possible. Creative writing summer schools and evening classes are a great way to meet other like-minded students, share knowledge and feedback, and really upskill yourself.

Study Creative Writing in Oxford or Cambridge

Interested in joining a Creative Writing summer course? Learn tried and tested writing techniques from some of Oxford and Cambridge's greatest published tutors on our 2-week English Literature and Creative Writing summer course .

Whether you’re new to the subject or looking to advance your skill set, our programme will help develop your own writing voice and style, while learning crucial elements of structure to help your work flow. You’ll learn from our expert tutors - made up of literary critics, authors, and university lecturers - in either the historic city of Oxford or Cambridge . 

It’s the most influential learning environment, with the most inspiring tutors - guaranteed to get your creative juices flowing!

Contact us to find out more or apply today to reserve your place.

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Picturing the Personal Essay: A Visual Guide

A design professor from Denmark once drew for me a picture of the creative process, which had been the subject of his doctoral dissertation. “Here,” he said. “This is what it looks like”:

Nothing is wasted though, said the design professor, because every bend in the process is helping you to arrive at your necessary structure. By trying a different angle or creating a composite of past approaches, you get closer and closer to what you intend. You begin to delineate the organic form that will match your content.

The remarkable thing about personal essays, which openly mimic this exploratory process, is that they can be so quirky in their “shape.” No diagram matches the exact form that evolves, and that is because the best essayists resist predictable approaches. They refuse to limit themselves to generic forms, which, like mannequins, can be tricked out in personal clothing. Nevertheless, recognizing a few basic underlying structures may help an essay writer invent a more personal, more unique form. Here, then, are several main options.

Narrative with a lift

Take, for example, Jo Ann Beard’s essay “The Fourth State of Matter.” The narrator, abandoned by her husband, is caring for a dying dog and going to work at a university office to which an angry graduate student has brought a gun. The sequence of scenes matches roughly the unfolding of real events, but there is suspense to pull us along, represented by questions we want answered. In fact, within Beard’s narrative, two sets of questions, correlating to parallel subplots, create a kind of double tension. When the setting is Beard’s house, we wonder, “Will she find a way to let go of the dying dog, not to mention her failing marriage?” And when she’s at work, we find ourselves asking, “What about the guy with the gun? How will he impact her one ‘safe place’?”

One interesting side note: trauma, which is a common source for personal essays, can easily cause an author to get stuck on the sort of plateau Kittredge described. Jo Ann Beard, while clearly wrestling with the immobilizing impact of her own trauma, found a way to keep the reader moving both forward and upward, until the rising tension reached its inevitable climax: the graduate student firing his gun. I have seen less-experienced writers who, by contrast, seem almost to jog in place emotionally, clutching at a kind of post-traumatic scar tissue.

The whorl of reflection

Let’s set aside narrative, though, since it is not the only mode for a personal essay. In fact, most essays are more topical or reflective, which means they don’t move through time in a linear fashion as short stories do.

One of the benefits of such a circling approach is that it seems more organic, just like the mind’s creative process. It also allows for a wider variety of perspectives—illuminating the subject from multiple angles. A classic example would be “Under the Influence,” Scott Russell Sanders’s essay about his alcoholic father. Instead of luring us up the chronological slope of plot, Sanders spirals around his father’s drinking, leading us to a wide range of realizations about alcoholism: how it gets portrayed in films, how it compares to demon-possession in the Bible, how it results in violence in other families, how it raises the author’s need for control, and even how it influences the next generation through his workaholic over-compensation. We don’t read an essay like this out of plot-driven suspense so much as for the pleasure of being surprised, again and again, by new perspective and new insight.

The formal limits of focus

My own theory is that most personal essayists, because of a natural ability to extrapolate, do not struggle to find subjects to write about. Writer’s block is not their problem since their minds overflow with remembered experiences and related ideas. While a fiction writer may need to invent from scratch, adding and adding, the essayist usually needs to do the opposite, deleting and deleting. As a result, nonfiction creativity is best demonstrated by what has been left out. The essay is a figure locked in a too-large-lump of personal experience, and the good essayist chisels away all unnecessary material.

Virginia Woolf’s “Street Haunting” is an odd but useful model. She limits that essay to a single evening walk in London, ostensibly taken to buy a pencil. I suspect Woolf gave herself permission to combine incidents from several walks in London, but no matter. The essay feels “brought together” by the imposed limits of time and place.

As it happens, “Street Haunting” is also an interesting prototype for a kind of essay quite popular today: the segmented essay. Although the work is unified by the frame of a single evening stroll, it can also be seen as a combination of many individual framed moments. If we remove the purpose of the journey—to find a pencil—the essay falls neatly into a set of discrete scenes with related reveries: a daydreaming lady witnessed through a window, a dwarfish woman trying on shoes, an imagined gathering of royalty on the other side of a palace wall, and eventually the arguing of a married couple in the shop where Woolf finally gets her pencil.

Dipping into the well

Our attention to thematic unity brings up one more important dynamic in most personal essays. Not only do we have a horizontal movement through time, but there is also a vertical descent into meaning. As a result, essayists will often pause the forward motion to dip into a thematic well.

In fact, Berry uses several of these loops of reflective commentary, and though they seem to be digressions, temporarily pulling the reader away from the forward flow of the plot, they develop an essential second layer to the essay.

Braided and layered structures

Want an example? Look at Judith Kitchen’s three-page essay “Culloden,” which manages to leap back and forth quite rapidly, from a rain-pelted moor in 18th-century Scotland to 19th-century farms in America to the blasted ruins of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, the author’s birthday. The sentences themselves suggest the impressionistic effect that Kitchen is after, being compressed to fragments, rid of the excess verbiage we expect in formal discourse: “Late afternoon. The sky hunkers down, presses, like a lover, against the land. Small sounds. A far sheep, faint barking. . . .” And as the images accumulate, layer upon layer, we begin to feel the author’s fundamental mood, a painful awareness of her own inescapable mortality. We begin to encounter the piece on a visceral level that is more intuitive than rational. Like a poem, in prose.

Coming Full Circle

First of all, endings are related to beginnings. That’s why many essays seem to circle back to where they began. Annie Dillard, in her widely anthologized piece “Living Like Weasels,” opens with a dried-out weasel skull that is attached, like a pendant, to the throat of a living eagle—macabre proof that the weasel was carried aloft to die and be torn apart. Then, at the end of the essay, Dillard alludes to the skull again, stating, “I think it would be well, and proper, and obedient, and pure, to grasp your one necessity and not let it go, to dangle from it limp wherever it takes you.”

See how deftly Dillard accomplishes this effect simply by positing one last imagined or theoretical possibility—a way of life she hopes to master, that we ourselves might master: “Seize it and let it seize you up aloft even, till your eyes burn out and drop; let your musky flesh fall off in shreds, and let your very bones unhinge and scatter, loosened over fields, over fields and woods, lightly, thoughtless, from any height at all, from as high as eagles.” Yes, the essay has come full circle, echoing the opening image of the weasel’s skull, but it also points away, beyond itself, to something yet to be realized. The ending both closes and opens at the same time.

All diagrams rendered by Claire Bascom. An earlier version of this essay appeared in Volume I, issue 1 of The Essay Review .

This essay is fabulously This essay is fabulously useful! I’ll be showing it to my creative writing students semester after semester, I’m sure. I appreciate the piece’s clarity and use of perfect examples.

I love the succinct diagrams and cited writing examples. Very instructive and useful as A.P. comments above. I also loved that I had read the Woolf journey to buy a pencil–one of my favorite essays because it is such a familiar experience–that of observing people.

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Reflection Of Creative Writing

Writing class reflection.

When I started college was not quite sure why I had to take a writing class even though my major has nothing to do with writing. I didn’t know what to expect because I had never just taken

Reflection Of My Writing Process

People have many ways that they write. Some do a process of doing drafts so they can look through, edit and make the paper better. Others will just write a paper and turn it in. My process consist of starting with making a thesis. Then from the thesis I create the topic sentences for the topic at hand. The best way to write the essay in a good format and have good detail in the writing I would write a paragraph a day. By doing that process it allows me to get what is needed out on the paper so none of the paragraphs are mixing content and making the paragraphs less structured. This process not only makes writing essays less stressful while also getting the paper done quickly.

My Writing Reflection

When I look back at my writing before having any college experience, I can see that I had a lot to work on. I can say that I was never really a big fan of writing anything much less essays. Even when I was younger, I just did not have a great big interest in writing. This was because I felt that I could not elaborate as well as others. I was not use to having to write anything really, but I now feel that I have a better grasp on the steps that I need to take to get my writing on the level that it needs to be.

We are already midway through the first quarter of my last year as a high school student. I find it hard to completely grasp how quickly this year is passing and yet I feel like we've already accomplished so much.

Reflection Of Writing : My Writing And Writing As A Writer

Coming into San Diego State University I wasn’t sure what to expect out of any of my classes, especially my writing class. In high school I had taken AP composition and language which helped me improve as a writer but even a college level high school course is not the same as an actual college class. Before college and throughout high school I didn’t think of myself as a great writer, I have always been very average at writing. At the start of the year I wasn’t a very strong writer but RWS 200 is a huge reason how I overcame challenges and became a better writer.

As a student entering the 10th grade my essay writing abilities were questionable at best. However over the course of my sophomore year I acquired new skills and techniques to construct and write essays. In some cases this class broadened my abilities already in place and in others it constructed new abilities to help strengthen others. All in all I am a better writer than when I entered my sophomore year. Despite all the positive changes to my writing style that have occurred over the past year some parts of my writing style require more effort to come to par with other parts of my writing style. As a writer over the past year I have reinforced my arguments well, and learned to develop a thesis better than I had, however I require more work

Olympian, Kim Collins said, “Strive for continuous improvement, instead of perfection.” This quote can also apply to students in school in many different ways. Students always want the best project or writing grade that they can possibly get. While that is a worthy goal it is not realistic because students are not perfect and they are still learning, and developing important skills. In my personal essays throughout the year I did strive for perfection, but I learned that I could not do it. I had to make slight improvements to better my writing for the next essay.

As a recent Egyptian immigrant to the United States, writing is the most difficult subject. In 7th grade, my writing process started to develop with the help of an amazing teacher. Ever since 7th grade I have been practicing wiring to be close to the high school writing slandered. I reached my goal last year when my act writing score is 6 point which places me in English 101. I doubted myself so, I took the Accuplacer test which also, placed me in English 101. I was scared when I saw the results that I’m going to fail this course. After taking this course, it made me more confident in writing and showed me my writing level which needs more practice. This class helped me improve my writing skills, by getting great feedback from my instructor

The Reflection Of My Writing As A Writer

After looking back at all the writing I have accomplished in this class and experiences I have faced in other English classes, I realized how they have affected me as a writer and where I stand as one as of now. The writer I am today has been greatly benefited with years of learning English in school and other literacy sponsors. Throughout the years, I have learned a number of ways to write and I have been positively impacted by these methods. I now know the type of writer that I am and how I write best and in under which conditions. Now, I have my own writing process that most likely differs from my peers.

This week I think my writing was better than the previous weeks because I had learned about many of different type of writing including cause and effect, positive and negative, persuasive writing and comparison which can help me to collaborate the style in my writing to show the variety of the structure. Also, this week I prepare an outline for the research project and I faced the problem on my idea which I’m not assured with this idea so this might be the problems when I write the paragraph. As a result, I got the advised that I should find more references to support the ideas. The another task in this week was listening. The teachers showed us about the listening exam which you have to answer in multiple choice. In my viewpoint, I think answer

Ever since a youth, writing has always been a thing of enjoyment for me. Throughout my life, I have written many essays and learned something new each time I wrote. In turn, this has helped me to become more aware on how to become a better writer and learn from my mistakes. From examining my own writing to receiving constructive criticism from teachers and peers, I can say there are various characterizations which I could utilize to describe myself as a writer. By taking this course, I hope to be more confident in my writing, as well as be able to constitute my own writing in a more positive way.

Reflection Surrounding The Writing Process

The class discussions surrounding the writing process and your feedback concerning adding personality to my writing will be the subject of this week's entry. First, I'd like to address the feedback concerning the personality (or lack thereof) that you've experienced in the writings I have submit thus far. Throughout my academic career, including my experiences in the “ENG 111” course the emphasis as to what constituted excellent writing has always been placed on syntactics, correct adherence to conventions of American English grammar, and putting forth great effort to elevate diction throughout the writing process (even if such diction might detract from the overall voice or tone of the final product). These precepts of writing being ingrained

What I learned while completing this project is that there is so many ways you can learn about different crafts. One, of the things that made me really look deeper into the words or phrases of a book was paying attention and re-reading the sentences of books, until i understood what the author was trying to describe weather igt was a time of day or a place. It was really interesting to see all the different ways authors have to incorporate crafts like the one I choose and the ones I got to see from my classmates when we presented our craft. It was very fascinating to find all this crafts that are possible, because now that I have the knowledge I am able to incorporate this into my own writing, and one day when I have a classroom of my own as

It is my belief that through this class and the tools provided, that my growth as a writer has grown through leaps and bounds I would never have assumed possible. It is not so much the skill I refer to, although I would think skill has gone up in some levels as well, but more so the appreciation for the craft of writing itself. Intially, at the start of this class my sole goal was to further my understanding and appreciation of the writer's and books that I so love to read. Through further evaluation within the first week, a few other goals came to mind, of which were, making writing a habit, finishing what I start, stop second guess my writing skills and making effective use of detail and description. Through the use of the many articles, various reading materials, whether poems or short stories, and especially through the workshop, I feel I was able to really push myself to accomplishing these goals. I have thus far learned how important it is not to be skilled at writing per say, but to have the will to write, that poetry is as much about it's sound as it is about it's subject, just how important character development is, how the narration and point of view of a story is essential to the way the story is told, and just how much of a difference peer's critiques can make to your writing.

Reflection Of Reading And Writing

Writing has always been something I dread. It’s weird because I love talking and telling stories, but the moment I have to write it all down on paper, I become frantic. It’s almost as if a horse race just begun in my mind, with hundreds of horses, or words, running through my mind, unable to place them in chronological order. Because I struggle to form satisfying sentence structure, it takes me hours, sometimes even days, to write one paper. It’s not that I think I’m a “bad writer,” I just get discouraged easily. Needless to say, I don’t think highly of my writing skills. When I was little I loved to both read and write. I read just about any book I could get my hands on, and my journal was my go to for my daily adventures. Although it’s

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What Is Reflective Writing?

student working on reflective writing

Writers use reflective writing to analyze and examine an event, memory, or observation . In reflective writing, the writer reflects on the meaning and impact of the occasion.

Defining Reflective Writing

Most writing is creative writing, where you describe something that happened or you make up a story. However, reflective writing gives the writer insights and can lead to further learning. It is like rewinding your life to a past event and then thinking about how it affected your life, what you could have done differently to change the outcome, or what came out of the event.

Reflective writing isn’t just personal, however. Reflective writing is used in an academic setting to examine your response to a new experience or piece of writing. Reflective writing can also be analytical when applied to critical thinking or processing used in research. To begin reflective writing, start with reflection .

Reflection in Reflective Writing

Reflection is a mental process. It is contemplation or a long consideration. Thoughts or opinions that come to you while you are reflecting are called reflections. Unlike a reflection in a mirror, it is an interpretation of what is going on between learning and thinking.

Factors to Consider in Reflection

When you are writing about a reflection, there are factors that can affect how you express it. These are:

The Process of Reflection

When it comes to reflective writing, there are three important areas that you’ll want to be sure to focus on.


Description provides a short description of what you’ll be reflecting on, whether it’s a personal experience, academic subject, or research. Questions you might ask include:


In interpretation , you’ll focus on the area of the event, idea, or analysis that you feel is the most important. For example, if you’re doing a reflective writing of the birth of your brother, you’ll want to think about:

For the good or the bad, you learn something from every piece of literature you read or every experiment you do. Therefore, the outcome of reflective writing is going to focus on what you learned. Questions to help with reflection in this area might include:

Examples of Reflection in Reflective Writing

Reflective writing isn’t as easy as you might think it would be. Since you are reflecting on yourself or your thoughts or feelings about something, this might look like:

As I lay in bed, I often find myself wondering about this new world we live in. In one small second, my normal has drastically changed. Even leaving the house can fill me with fear. And I begin to explore all the different ways the world and I have changed.

You can also explore additional examples of reflection used in reflective essays.

Topics and Prompts for Reflective Writing

Here are a list of analytical topics for reflective writing:

Here are writing prompts to get you started on personal and creative reflective writing :

Reflective writing is an observation of something. The topic you explore might be academic, a past experience, or personal. Now that you’ve delved into reflective writing, explore what expository writing is.

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by Kaelyn Barron | 16 comments

how to write a reflection paper blog post image

If you’ve been assigned the task of writing a reflection paper on a book you’ve read, film you’ve seen, or an event you’ve attended, you may be wondering where to start.

After all, there are few rules when it comes to writing a reflection, since it’s basically just your reaction and thoughts on the material—and all that creative freedom can be intimidating at first! But even with this lack of structure, there are steps you can take to write a reflection paper that adds value to the discussion.

What Is a Reflection Paper?

A reflection paper is a type of essay that requires you to reflect, or give your thoughts and opinions, on a certain subject or material. This type of essay is often assigned to students after they’ve read a book or watched a film.

However, it can also be written in a professional setting, often by those who study education or psychology, to reflect on an individual’s behavior. Or, you can write a reflection paper for your own purposes, to work out your thoughts and feelings on a personal subject.

If you’re a student, in most cases, you’ll be given a prompt or question to guide your reflection. Often, these assignments are completed in class, so the reflections are generally under 1,000 words. The good news is that there are on wrong answers!

However, there are things you can do to write more effective reflections that will give you (and your teachers, if applicable) more insight to your views and thought processes.

How to Write a Reflection Paper

how to write a reflection essay image

Use these 5 tips to write a thoughtful and insightful reflection paper.

1. Answer key questions.

To write a reflection paper, you need to be able to observe your own thoughts and reactions to the material you’ve been given. A good way to start is by answering a series of key questions.

For example:

Answering these questions will help you formulate your own opinions, draw conclusions, and write an insightful reflection.

2. Identify a theme.

Once you’ve answered a few basic questions, look at your responses and see if you can identify any common themes .

What’s the main takeaway? If you could summarize your thoughts on this piece in one sentence, what would you say?

Think about what you’ve learned, or how the material has affected you. Be honest about how you feel, especially if the material incites any strong opinions or reactions from you.

3. Summarize.

Your reflection paper should not be just a mere summary of the material you’ve read or studied. However, you should give a recap of the most important aspects, and offer specific examples when necessary to back up any assertions you make.

Include information about the author (if you’re writing about a book or article). If you’re writing about a work of fiction, very briefly and concisely summarize the plot. If writing about nonfiction, share the author’s thesis, or the main argument they’re trying to make.

Just be careful to not overdo the summary—you don’t want to reproduce or offer a play-by-play of the original work, but rather offer enough context so readers can appreciate your reflection and analysis.

4. Analyze.

Your reflection paper is a great place to practice your critical thinking skills , which include analysis. The questions in Step 1 will offer you a good start when it comes to thinking more analytically.

Once you’ve offered enough context for your readers by including a brief summary, analyze the

If you’re writing a reflection paper on a work of fiction, be sure to check out our guide to writing a literary analysis.

5. Make connections.

reflection paper tips image

Does the material remind you of any personal experiences you’ve had, or other books or films you’ve encountered? Can you connect it to any current events or real-world examples?

Then, zoom out and try to see the bigger picture. What do these connections have in common? Can you point out a larger, more universal theme?

The more of these connections you can tie in to your reflection to create a cohesive picture, the better.

Reflection Paper Template

Reflection papers don’t really require a rigid structure—the most important thing is that you communicate your ideas clearly and effectively. (Of course, if you received specific guidelines from your instructor, you should stick to those.)

The following is a loose outline that you can use to guide you through your reflection paper:

Reflection Paper Example

The following is an example of a reflection paper I wrote for a university course in response to an academic article on conflict resolution, found in the book Managing Conflict in a World Adrift :

In “Understanding the Gendered Nature of Power,” Oudraat and Kuehnast explain how peace theorists have fallen short in their analyses of the role of gender (and of women especially). Because gender roles are a reflection of power dynamics within societies, they can also serve as valuable indicators of dynamics within conflicts and post-conflict processes.

The authors emphasize the importance of using international intervention wisely. Although postconflict reconstruction might seem like an opportunity to rethink gender norms and roles, it seems that postconflict programs tend more often to reproduce gender norms that “no longer contribute productive approaches to society and escalate social tensions.” While I think we should always strive to bring more opportunities to women and eradicate gender biases, I agree with the authors that international actors must “be attentive to the gendered nature of the societies in which they intervene.” We have seen many cases where international intervention, although well-meaning, can end up hurting a community even more by meddling without truly knowing the conditions of a local situation.

One example of such misguided help is the campaign for “clean stoves” in African villages, based on the idea that women are assaulted when they look for fuel and water outside their camps. Providing clean stoves does nothing to address the root of the problem (sexual violence), and in fact further confines women to their homes, while many studies show that times of collecting water or other supplies are often critical opportunities for women to communicate, socialize, exchange ideas, and so on. In many cases it is the only time they will leave the home or village that day. The solution proposed by the clean stoves campaign reminds me of the culture surrounding sexual violence in the United States, where rather than working to attack the root causes of such crimes, we instead teach women that it is unsafe to go out late, or to dress in a certain way.

In order to make any progress, I agree with the authors when they suggest we need qualitative data that capture the changing nature of societies coming out of war. We must first identify the information we lack in order to move forward wisely and effectively.

Writing a Reflective Essay

Whether you’ve been assigned a reflection paper for school or simply want to write one for your own exercise, these tips will help you get the most from the experience.

Remember that when you’re consuming any type of media, it’s good practice to reflect on what you’ve absorbed and ask critical questions so you can draw your own conclusions.

Did you find this post helpful? Let us know in the comments below!

If you enjoyed this post, then you might also like:

Kaelyn Barron

As a blog writer for TCK Publishing, Kaelyn loves crafting fun and helpful content for writers, readers, and creative minds alike. She has a degree in International Affairs with a minor in Italian Studies, but her true passion has always been writing. Working remotely allows her to do even more of the things she loves, like traveling, cooking, and spending time with her family.


Glecie Centeno Pagilagan

Very helpful, thanks a lot!

jalal uddin

an important piece of information. thanks


Thankful for this! Thanks to you!

Kaelyn Barron

we’re glad you found the post helpful! :)

Frehiwot Kebede

In my understanding, this post helped me to guide my students while I was teaching them how to write effective reflection paper. In addition to this, I had time to correct my past through this post. Thanks a lot!!!

I’m so glad you found this post helpful for your students! :)

Larry Sharif

I believe I understood the steps and instructions on how to write a reflection paper and it makes lots of sense to me now than before . What I was really hoping for was that you could give us an example of a text or an article written followed by a reflection that was done on that article . Maybe I`m asking too much. Thank you though!!!!

Hi Larry, I’m glad the article was helpful for your reflection paper! I tried to provide an example of one of my own papers, but I couldn’t find the full text of the article I wrote on (it was from a textbook). I’ll try to find another example though :)

Benjamin Hussaini Gwamna

am very empress with this information. it really helps me to write an effective reflection papers

thanks Benjamin, we’re so glad you found it helpful! :)


This is very helpful as I am preparing for my portfolio defense. Many thanks Mark

I’m so glad you found it helpful, Mark!


Very informative.

Thanks Sara, I’m glad you found the post helpful! :)

Lyn gamora

Many thanks for this information,,very needed today for my final exam.

You’re very welcome Lyn, I hope it helped for your exam! :)

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