About Reflection Papers

I’ve just finished reading the reflection papers you submitted at the end of the first contract period.  This is a new thing in my course.  I’ve never really done this before so it’s very much a work in progress.   Here are some thoughts:

  • What is a reflection paper?  Before you write your next reflection paper, please read the description here.  The purpose of the reflection papers is for you to think about what you are learning, drawing connections about what you’re learning and what you already know.  A good reflection paper will spell out what these connections are!
  • Reflection pieces can’t be right or wrong; they can only be thoughtful or less thoughtful. Saying “I learned this and I liked it,” or “I learned this and I found it interesting” is only a start and should never be the extent of your reflection.  Why did you like it?  What was it about the topic that resonated with you?  What parallels did you find between the topic and your life or other subjects you’ve studied?   Generalities suggest that you’re not putting enough effort into the work.  Add specificity and examples to your reflection to make it more meaningful to the reader.  Inexperienced writers tend to be impatient and don’t take enough time to figure out what they want to say.  Instead of thinking “I don’t have anything left to say,” put that out of your mind and just sit there until something pops into your head.   If, after a while, you still have nothing left to say, put the paper aside for a while and let your subconscious work on it.
  • Reflection vs Summary.  A few if you turned in papers that were summaries of the topic with little or no reflection.  A reflection paper must have some reflection.  If there’s no reflection, it’s not really a reflection paper.
  • A good reflection paper shows that you care about the subject.  It explains why you care, why the subject interests you, what bigger thing you’ve learned from studying it.  For example, if you’re not an economics major (and few of you are), you might see some connection between the subject and your major.
  • Finally, if you want good feedback, you need to submit your work on time.  If you dump a bunch of reflection papers (or any assignments) on me at the end of the contract period, they’re not going to get the attention they deserve.   If you try to write a bunch of reflection papers long after we’ve covered the material, you will likely have forgotten some of what you thought about the material.  Reflection papers should help with your learning of the material.  If you write your reflections after the exam, then your learning won’t be reflected on the exam.  Many of you send me all or nearly all your reflections in the last week.  You need to turn in reflections no more than a week after the material/test, etc.  If you turn something in later than that, I won’t accept it.  I thought I said this in the reflection papers page.
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