How to Write a Reflection Paper : 5 Easy Steps & Sample Text


If you want to write a reflection, you can follow our guide. In addition to all the important facts on the topic, we have explained to you with the help of a sample text what you have to pay attention to and how you can get the best results from your written reflection. How to Write a Reflection Paper : 5 Easy Steps & Sample Text.

There are many reasons to write a reflection – whether for an internship, a presentation , group work or another teaching model, as a trainee teacher, teacher, pupil or student. Many people also write a self-reflection in private to work on themselves. We have everything you need to know about reflection, the structure at a glance and a guide with sample text.

Write a reflection

Below you will first find a definition of what a reflection actually is and what you can use it for. Then we clarify the spelling, as the term “reflection” is still very common despite the incorrect spelling. You will also learn the goals and, at the same time, the advantages of reflection and how it differs from self-reflection.

Definition: What a reflection is?

How to Write a Reflection Paper : 5 Easy Steps & Sample Text
How to Write a Reflection Paper : 5 Easy Steps & Sample Text

The noun “reflection” comes from the Latin “reflexio”, which means “to bend back”, “to throw back” or “to reflect”. It occurs in different areas. For example, in physics as a light reflection from a reflective surface or in the field of programming as a term for determining program properties with regard to their runtime. Most often we come across the term in education as a term for thinking about a certain issue, a topic or concrete experiences.

This type of reflection can be done either in writing or orally. It is a mental reflection or a critical and constructive ‘reviewing’ with the aim of better understanding a situation and learning from it . This can be helpful for students after an internship or class, for example.

Prospective teachers often write reflections in their clerkship after class to improve. There is also what is known as self – reflection , with which one should look at and question one’s own behavior in order to gain self-knowledge, but more on that late

Spelling: reflection or reflection

It is often assumed that the terms “reflection” and “reflection” both exist and have different meanings. This is because we know the terms “reflect” and “reflector” (for example on a bicycle). The truth is, however, that the variant with “k”, the “reflection”, does not even exist. If something is “reflected” and one wants to talk about the effect, one can speak of “reflecting” or “reflection”.

Objectives of a reflection

How to Write a Reflection Paper : 5 Easy Steps & Sample Text
How to Write a Reflection Paper : 5 Easy Steps & Sample Text

A reflection is helpful in every way. It prevents you from encountering a situation with the same mistakes as before and ensures that you learn from it. Either you can reflect on your own behavior and learn to improve yourself, or you think about solutions on how you can deal better with the behavior of others. It is always important to know that you cannot control the behavior of others and that you will learn for yourself how you can best deal with the given situation. Thus we come to the following goals of reflection:

  • Solving problems / solution-oriented thinking
  • Self-knowledge ( character traits , way of thinking)
  • Training the ability to question things
  • Learn to express feelings and thoughts
  • Train to make decisions
  • Train structured and analytical thinking
  • Learn to accept foreign behavior
  • For reflections on lessons: deeper understanding of the subject matter and promoting the learning process through follow-up and processing

Difference: writing self-reflection

A self-reflection relates only to one’s own behavior. In the area of ​​upbringing, for example, this can be your own upbringing methods, as a pupil you can reflect on your participation in the classroom or the completion of the tasks in the internship. Such self-reflection usually takes place in writing.

Many people also use regular self-reflection as a method to improve their self-awareness. This kind of reflection can take place purely mentally in the form of meditation or in writing in the form of a diary. In any case, the goals of self-knowledge, self-confidence and self-improvement are pursued.

Writing a self-reflection takes time, patience, understanding of yourself, regularity, and the will to work on yourself. The difference to reflection is that this includes the overall situation and the overall behavior of those involved and not mainly one’s own behavior, as is the case with self-reflection. Most of the time, however, the ‘normal’ reflection is also used for one’s own knowledge or as feedback for the teacher.

Formal and structure of a reflection

A reflection is usually written in the first person. In addition, it is common that sub-headings are used to detect the respective core of the section. Often there are many points that can be illuminated individually. The headings ensure that you keep track of things.

Sections and paragraphs also show you which aspect of this situation seems to have preoccupied you: the longer the text passage, the more intensive a reflection was necessary. The common tenses of a reflection are the past tense or perfect tense, since you are looking back at something in the past. However, if you are talking about the topicality of your topic or looking towards the future, the present and future tense are of course also suitable .

In the following we have created a small overview for you of what the structure of a reflection can look like. Depending on the area in which you are writing the reflection, you can focus on different aspects. After the overview, you’ll find a detailed guide on how to write a reflection.

1st introductory sentence:

  • Most important key data at a glance (date, place, participants, description of the situation)

2 Introduction:

  • Summary of the situation (extension of the introductory sentence, important information)
  • If necessary, presentation of the project
  • Description of the goals
  • Key question: Which problems should be solved with the help of reflection?

3rd main part:

  • Reflection on the situation (feelings, reasons for decisions, personal and external behavior, fulfillment or non-fulfillment of expectations)
  • Presentation of achieved and not achieved goals
  • Key questions: How do I understand the situation in retrospect? What do I understand better now and which questions are still open?

4th conclusion:

  • Own assessment of the situation (suggestions for improvement for the future, criticism, own skills and difficulties)
  • Key question: What did I learn from the situation through reflection?

5th final sentence:

  • Closing sentence with a view to the future (name the most important finding of the reflection and significance for the future)

Writing a reflection: guidelines + sample text

If you want to write a reflection, you have to focus, depending on the area and topic . For example, reviewing group work at school is more geared towards analyzing behavior, while reflecting on a lesson is more focused on the method. With a project or an internship it looks different again.

We have created a guide for you in which we briefly explain what you have to do under each point. As an example to illustrate this, we have come up with the following situation: A student is asked to write a reflection on group work in class. This example is quite abstract and is only intended as a guide.

First sentence

The opening sentence always includes the most important information at a glance. This includes the date or time period to which your reflection relates, who was involved and a brief description of the situation or project. So the reader knows immediately what it is about.

Even if you are writing the reflection just for yourself, it is helpful to know what it is about right from the start. If there are many participants, it makes sense to divide them into one or more groups instead of naming them all. Also, it is sometimes better to anonymize everyone involved.


The following reflection is about group work in English lessons in class 9b, in which our group of four was supposed to analyze the poem “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” (1807) by William Wordsworth.


In the introduction a situation, a project, an internship, a lesson plan or any topic is described. Give here all the important information that could be important for later reflection in the main part. Also, describe the goals that should be achieved with the situation and give the reason for your reflection. An important key question here is: Which problems should be solved with the help of reflection?


Our teacher, Ms. Lily, gave us a worksheet that the four of us shared. The poem was depicted on it and underneath it read: Analyze and discuss the poem “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud ” by William Wordsworth. What is the poem about, which rhetorical means does it use and to which epoch does the poem belong? Give reasons for your answers, take notes and present your results to the class afterwards. The aim of the group work was to use the advantages of the group so that we can achieve more results faster and learn to work together as a team. The aim of the reflection is to understand whether this has been successful.


In the main part you reflect on the situation. Name your personal assessment, feelings and justify your decisions. In addition, it should be made clear here whether the goal or the expectations were met or not. It is best to divide the aspects by headings so that you can think about each important point in a structured manner. The key questions are: How do I understand the situation in retrospect? What do I understand better now and which questions are still open?


Handling only one worksheet

First we read through the poem one by one. While one student was still reading, the other had already discussed the poem. This meant that the person couldn’t really have a say because a lot had already been said. In addition, he did not notice anything that had already been discussed because he was busy reading.

I would find it more helpful if we all read the poem to ourselves the next time, think about it quietly and take notes and only then exchange ideas. It would have been even better if the teacher had given each of us a worksheet so we could read and take notes at the same time. But I understand the approach why we only got one sheet of paper: so that we learn to be considerate of one another and to take turns.

Faster results

I can confirm that in the group we got results faster than usual, and talking about the poem gave us new ideas. The other students recognized stylistic devices that I did not see at first sight and, especially with the overall understanding, it helped to interpret together and talk about the metaphors . This goal has definitely been achieved.

Splitting up the notes and presenting the results

Since we no longer thought of presenting the results to the class when interpreting the poem, we did not split up who said what. The result was a jumble of individual notes everyone made during the conversation. Therefore, some of the students in the group said almost nothing and the others almost everything. A fair division would be important for the next group work so that nobody feels disadvantaged or bad.


At the end you draw a conclusion of the overall situation and give suggestions for improvement for the future. Talk about your skills and the positive aspects, but also about your weaknesses and points that still need to be worked on. The central question of this passage of your reflection is: What did I learn from the situation with the help of the reflection?


Overall, the group work was a good idea. We got results faster and found out more than if we had worked alone. However, we also have to practice paying more attention to one another in a group so that no one is neglected. I would find a worksheet more important for everyone than practicing how to use just one sheet.

Final sentence

The final sentence should finally highlight your most important insight and direct your gaze positively towards the future. You can also write two or three sentences at this point if necessary.


I have learned to take better care of my group members for the future. In addition, I now know that I have more fun learning in a team than alone and that it doesn’t matter whether I’m in a group with my friends or with other classmates I know less well.



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