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 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 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.
2006 Academic Affairs Faculty Symposium Unicoi State Park and Conference Center April 14-15, 2006
TASK: In preparation for the Academic Affairs Faculty Symposium, the organizers invite you to share with fellow participants some brief reflections on the concept of academic rigor. We would appreciate receiving by Friday, April 7th, your perception of academic rigor, your personal experience with academic rigor as a teacher or student, and/or your thoughts on what faculty and the University should do to promote rigor in our academic programs
One essay that has already been posted poses the question, “Does the current system of rewarding research over teaching ‘institutionalize’ neglect of undergraduate teaching (Sperber in Declining 138)?” [emphasis added]. If we at UGA will further embrace a culture of undergraduate research and a community of scholarship we can have research enhance teaching.
The recent CURO Symposium, for example, highlights what can happen when faculty allow students to see behind the curtain and join the research enterprise, instead of just being informed about it. It is mutually inspiring when faculty, grad students, and undergrads operate as teammates in the process of inquiry and discovery. And not just in the sciences, but in the humanities and arts as well. A second essay speaks of “committing to a culture of rigorous engagement with student learning.” It seems to me that undergraduate research provides a key way to do this. Rather than seeing professors as primarily dispensers of data (information), we can be fellow searchers, albeit more experienced.