Writing a Reflection Paper

Reflective writing is a significant part of intro-level environmental studies courses. Often, these stem from an assigned reading and are intended to have the student draw from the text to provide a personal response. These types of papers are designed to draw reactions, feelings, and analysis of the text in a more personal way, rather than to be in the format of a formal research paper. Other reflections can be assigned in response to a lecture, event, or experience (volunteering, internship, etc.). These are typically 2-3 pages, double-spaced.

Getting Started

Many students find it difficult to draw a connection between themselves and the assigned reading. Here are some resources to help you get started writing your paper:

Use these sheets to help you gain a sense of what you’re reading and why it’s pertinent. They can be filled out either as you go along, or after you finish the reading (also applicable for lectures, etc.).

The Writing Process

Each professor will have a specific method for how they would like the paper to be written. A general format is to begin with a brief description of what the reading or lecture was about. This is a relatively short section, around 1/3 of a page, but gives the reader an overview of what you’re reflecting upon.

Spend the remainder of the paper focusing on interpretation and reflection. Explain how the material relates to you and your experiences. Do you agree with the text? Does it have relevance in your life? Several of the questions in the reading tools can be incorporated into the paper and expanded upon. There is flexibility in reflective writing to go in a variety of directions, as long as you have a strong voice throughout the paper.

How to Succeed

  • Clearly identify your thoughts/reaction
  • Use examples from the text, if appropriate
  • Use personal anecdotes, if appropriate
  • Avoid clichés
  • Be honest

Sample Paper

“ENVS 001 Extra Credit Reflection Paper” (PDF) is not a full length reflection essay, but utilizes reflection strategies such as interpretation of ideas presented, relating the material to the writer’s own experience, questioning ideas presented, and drawing connections to class material.