Creative guidelines on how to write a reflective essay

A reflective essay can be a lot like a personal diary. It’s all about you and something you learned along the way. Often a reflective essay will be written after you’ve been out doing something practical like teaching for a week or being in a lab for a while. Follow these steps to make sure your reflective essay hits the mark:

  •   Be Personal
  • The Ws
  • Outcomes
  •  Improvements

  •   Be Personal
  • A reflective essay is all about you, so write it in the first person and discuss what you got up to. It’s not about other people or other things, though you can mention them, but for the most part a reflective essay is designed for you. Whatever your topic is, keep in mind that this should describe how you were feeling and what you learned. Don’t hammer on too much about the other things, write about what you got up to and why it matters.

  •   The Ws
  • Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How. These are very important for a Reflective essay. Who were you with? What were you doing? How long was it for? Where was it? When? Why did you choose it? These kind of question open you up for further self-analysis. You don’t have to make bullet points about them, but try to incorporate it into your writing. Make sure every paragraph answers at least one of these questions.

  •   Outcomes
  • What did you learn, if anything? What skills did you develop? Did you find it tough going or did you love it? Would you do it again? Here you’ll be able to show what you did with your time and how it shaped you as a person.

  •  Improvements
  • Would you do it differently next time around? What did you feel you were bad at? Was it different to what you had expected, and were you able to keep up with the demand? By acknowledging where you faltered and what you would do to improve yourself then you can show you learned something from your experience. This is vital, as otherwise the whole endeavour would be a waste of time. You don’t just want to write a list of what happened and when it happened, you want to show that what you did impacted you somehow, made you change, whether for better or worse. 

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