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Do You Need References In A Reflective Essay

A great deal of your time at university will be spent thinking; thinking about what people have said, what you have read, what you yourself are thinking and how your thinking has changed. It is generally believed that the thinking process involves two aspects: reflective thinking and critical thinking. They are not separate processes; rather, they are closely connected (Brookfield 1987).

Figure 1: The Thinking Process (adapted from Mezirow 1990, Schon 1987, Brookfield 1987)

Reflective thinking

Reflection is: 

  • a form of personal response to experiences, situations, events or new information.
  • a 'processing' phase where thinking and learning take place.

There is neither a right nor a wrong way of reflective thinking, there are just questions to explore.

Figure 1 shows that the reflective thinking process starts with you. Before you can begin to assess the words and ideas of others, you need to pause and identify and examine your own thoughts.

Doing this involves revisiting your prior experience and knowledge of the topic you are exploring. It also involves considering how and why you think the way you do. The examination of your beliefs, values, attitudes and assumptions forms the foundation of your understanding. 

Reflective thinking demands that you recognise that you bring valuable knowledge to every experience. It helps you therefore to recognise and clarify the important connections between what you already know and what you are learning. It is a way of helping you to become an active, aware and critical learner.

Reflective writing is:

  • your response to experiences, opinions, events or new information
  • your response to thoughts and feelings
  • a way of thinking to explore your learning
  • an opportunity to gain self-knowledge
  • a way to achieve clarity and better understanding of what you are learning
  • a chance to develop and reinforce writing skills
  • a way of making meaning out of what you study

Reflective writing is not:

  • just conveying information, instruction or argument
  • pure description, though there may be descriptive elements
  • straightforward decision or judgement (e.g. about whether something is right or wrong, good or bad)
  • simple problem-solving
  • a summary of course notes
  • a standard university essay

See next: How do I write reflectively?

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Writing creative reflective essay can contribute to the development of your critical thinking skills. It will sharpen your mind and improve the ability to analyze.

Before you start writing your masterpiece, it is advisable to have a look at creative reflective essay examples. You have to think thoroughly what you are going to reflect in the essay. It will help you to avoid losing your track of idea and increase your chances to write a worthwhile essay. If we could compare the style of reflective essay with something from our everyday life, it would definitely be a journal or even a diary, where all your thoughts and feelings about certain topic are outlined in a reader-friendly way. That’s why while choosing a topic pay attention that it should be something that trigger your emotions and grab your attention. For example, you decide to write about your favorite film, book, or a theater play. As a result, the topic is completely up to you.

If you have already decided on the topic you are going to write about, stop for a moment and try to answer these questions.

List of Reflective Essay Writing Questions

  • What are your feelings towards the topic?
  • In what way does this topic affect you?
  • Why does it affect you in this way or why not?

All these questions have a kind of personal nature, due to the main reason of reflection essay. Reflective essay writing allows you to express your feelings and insights. As soon as you give the answers to these questions, you are ready to begin writing your reflective essay. If you decide to create APA style reflective essay, remember that there are strict rules you should follow.

List of Important Rules

  • First of all, APA reflective essay should consist of 4 major parts: The Title Page, Abstract, Main Body and the References. The information on the Title Page will introduce the details about essay’s author and his or her institutional affiliation.
  • Abstract is a concise summary that reflects the key points of your research. Usually, it is not very big- between 150-250 words. Abstract presents the topic of your research, research participants and questions, methods you used to conduct an investigation and the results you got.
  • The main body of the essay should show the progress of your investigation and the way your thoughts and feelings have changed under the influence of your research. It would be great if you could mention factors due to which your understanding of the topic has been changed. State the difference between your mindset before the research and after it. Try to capture every single thought during your work on the research. It will help you to represent the broad picture and catch the reader’s interest.
  • The main goal of the reflective essay conclusion is to describe the way your outlook has changed. Don’t be confused by the fact that you have already mentioned this in the main part of your work. Remember, that conclusion is exactly that part of the essay that stick’s to people’s memory most of all. Conclusion is your chance to drag people’s attention to the results you’ve got after conducting of your research.

If you get a glance at APA style reflective essay example you will see that its structure is exactly the same with the one described above. There exist the common rules following of which will definitely assure 100% success of your essay.

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And the last but not the least, issue of reflective essay writing is citing. You should include to the reference list all the works that were used during the conducting of the research. As APA style has some significant differences you should know the rules how to cite APA reflective essay.

It is essential to cite all the used resources in two ways: text citation in the main body of the paper and reference section at the end of the paper, where the total amount of sources would be presented. APA citing can also vary according to the type of the used source: books, articles from journals and magazines or electronic sources.  Remember that you should include not only author’s name and book title, but the year and the place of its publishing. If you will follow these simple rules your reflective essay will definitely impress everybody and get the highest mark.

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