A reflective essay allows you to communicate with the professor about how a particular lesson, article, experience, or lecture forms your understanding of the material. These papers are subjective and personal but you still need to use an academic tone when writing them. They also must be cohesively and thoroughly organized. Read on to find out more about this kind of academic assignment.
Aspects of Reflection That Can Be Included in the Reflective Essay
- Communicative aspect. Reflection is considered as an essential component of developed communication and interpersonal perception, as a specific quality of human cognition by man. Here, there is a reflection on another person, the ability to understand what other people think, and a person’s awareness of how they are perceived by the communication partner.
- Cooperative aspect of reflection. It is most relevant for the analysis of subject-subject activities and plays a role in ensuring the design of collective activities, taking into account the need to coordinate professional positions and group roles of actors, as well as the cooperation of their joint actions. At the same time, reflection is also seen as the release of a subject from the process of activity, as their exit into an external position in relation to it.
- The personal aspect of reflection. This aspect is expressed, on the one hand, in building new images of oneself as a result of communication with other people and active activity, which finds realization in the form of appropriate actions. On the other hand, it manifests itself in developing more adequate knowledge of the world. Reflection here is not only the principle of differentiation in every developed and unique human but also the integration of the “I” into a unique integrity that cannot be reduced to either one of its individual components or to a mechanical sum.
- Intellectual aspect of reflection. This is the understanding of reflection as a subject’s ability to isolate, analyze, and correlate their own actions with the objective situation. In addition, the consideration of reflection in its intellectual aspect contributes to the development of the problem of the psychological mechanisms of theoretical thinking.
Thus, the subject can reflect the following
- Knowledge of the role structure and organization of collective interaction
- The concept of the inner world of another person and the reasons for their actions
- The actions and images of their own self as an individual
- Knowledge of the object and ways of acting with them in a situation
Types of Reflection Depending on Its Functions
- Situational reflection. Acts as motivations and self-assessments and ensures the direct involvement of the subject in the situation, the comprehension of its elements, and the analysis of what is happening. It includes the ability of the subject to correlate with the situation own their own actions, as well as coordinate and control the elements of the activity in accordance with changing conditions.
- Retrospective reflection. Serves to analyze already performed activities and events that took place in the past. Reflection in this case affects the premises, motives, conditions, stages, and results of the activity or its individual stages that are already in the past.
- Perspective reflection. Includes thinking about the upcoming activities, a presentation on the progress of activities, planning, choosing the most effective ways of accomplishing, predicting possible outcomes.
In addition, there is usually a differentiation for intellectual and personal reflection. Intellectual reflective essay is aimed at analyzing the subject matter of the problem situation and its place in it, which is determined in turn by the content of the vital task, as well as the possibilities for its transformation. Personal reflection is addressed to the person who finds oneself in the process of searching, and accordingly leads to a rethinking of all the activities as a whole.
Context, in Which Reflections Is Developed
In addition, many authors note that reflection is a theoretical activity aimed at understanding their own actions and their laws. Reflection, in the final analysis, is an awareness of practice. Researchers identify three contexts in which the problem of reflection is developed:
- In the study of theoretical thinking (in science, philosophy, methodology).
- When studying the processes of communication and cooperation of the participants in these processes.
- In studies of the self-awareness of the personality associated with problems of personality formation, upbringing, and self-education.
Today, in the structure of the psychological knowledge, within which we will limit ourselves in the further analysis of reflexive processes, there are three main directions in the development of reflection problems:
- The study of the reflective self-consciousness of man
- Work on creative thinking
- The study of reflection as the cognition of the phenomena of another’s consciousness by man.
In accordance with this classification, we attempted to generalize the material concerning the theoretical understanding of reflection. Representatives of the first approach examine the self-awareness of a person, assessing their actions, controlling their behavior, etc. Authors of this kind of concepts focus on the idea of reflection as the inwardness of the cognition of man to himself, his inner world, mental qualities, and states.
Methods of Reflection
Reflection is carried out throughout the entire educational process, performing various functions at different stages of it. At the same time, as already noted, it is important that both the students and the teacher are involved in the process of reflection. Experience shows that in the case of non-participation of any of the subjects of the learning process in the process of reflection, the entire mechanism of reflection is ineffective.
Reflection can be carried out either verbally or in writing. In this case, it has a different semantic purpose.
Oral reflection has its goal the promulgation of one’s own position, its correlation with the opinions of other people. Often students or schoolchildren say that expressing their thoughts in the form of narration, dialogue or questions helps clarify some significant problems. Among all the variety of methods of oral reflection (dialogue, cross-discussion, or the joint search discussion) the method of a two-row round table is the most effectively used in the work with teachers and students in the process of pedagogical practice. Its aim is to exchange views on the most pressing issue for participants.
However, most psychologists and educators note that the most important for the development of the individual is written reflection.
Several well-known forms of written reflection can be distinguished:
- A reflective essay as a product of a small size, revealing a specific topic and having an emphatically subjective interpretation, free composition, orientation to spoken language, propensity to paradoxes. Writing an essay is designed to draw the students to their experience in all their contradictions on a particular issue.
- Log is a form of recording information using keywords, graphical models, short sentences, inferences, and questions. As the parts of the log the instructor asks the students to fill out, there may be: key concepts of the topic, links that the student can establish, and important questions.
- Various types of diaries: ordinary, art album, two-part diary, and others. Unlike the essay and the log, the diary is kept for a long period of time and allows the student to exercise more thoughtful reflection, monitoring both the immediate process and comparing their actions in time.
- Written interview is a variant of group written reflection in the form of questions and answers of group members. This method allows for a fairly short period of time to conduct a written reflection with the aim of exchanging opinions.
- Poetic forms. This is a method of creative reflection, which allows in an artistic form to evaluate the concept, process, or phenomenon studied.
- Different portfolio options, which represent a set of works by students, relate specific aspects of their activities to a more complete picture. Portfolio can include a set of evaluation sheets, observation sheets, fragments of diaries, logs, video fragments, drafts, and plans for speeches. The portfolio is more than just a folder of student work; this is a pre-planned individual selection of students’ achievements.