What is a Reflective Essay? - Definition, Format & Examples

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: What is an Almanac? - Definition & History

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
 Replay
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:00 Format of a Reflective Essay
  • 0:40 Structure of a…
  • 2:20 Examples of Reflective Essays
  • 3:10 Lesson Summary
Add to Add to Add to

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Login or Sign up

Timeline
Autoplay
Autoplay

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: J.R. Hudspeth

Jackie has taught college English and Critical Thinking and has a Master's degree in English Rhetoric and Composition

Reflective writing helps us to think more about ourselves, who we are, and how we have changed. Read on in order to find out more about what a reflective essay is and how reflective essays are written!

Format of a Reflective Essay

A reflective essay is an essay in which the writer examines his or her experiences in life. The writer then writes about those experiences, exploring how he or she has changed, developed or grown from those experiences.

The format of a reflective essay may change slightly depending on who the audience is. For example, writing a reflective essay for a college course and an academic audience will have slight changes in how the essay is organized from writing a reflective essay for a magazine or a collection of essays, which has a broader audience, without people who have necessarily gone to college. However, some major elements go into a typical reflective essay: introduction, body and conclusion.

Structure of a Reflective Essay

Reflective essays always have an introduction, where the speaker shares, either directly or indirectly, what the overall focus of the reflection will be. Many popular essay writers might be a bit indirect about their main topic, or about what part of their lives they will focus on. However, an academic writer should be more direct in explaining what aspect of his or her experiences that he or she will talk about.

The body of the reflective essay explains how the writer has changed or what the writer has learned. It also explains what things caused the writer to change. For example, many academic writers are asked to reflect on how they improved as writers over the semester or quarter. Those writers often share how different assignments and lessons made them stronger writers.

A strong reflective writer will not only share the change but also give examples as supporting details. For example, if a writer discusses becoming more optimistic in life, then examples should be given of what made this change, such as sharing an incident in which the writer took a positive approach to resolving the incident.

In the conclusion of a reflective essay, the writer sums up how he or she has changed or the effect of those changes. The writer also might look ahead or look backward. If looking ahead, the writer shares how he or she thinks the experiences in the essay will change him or her in the future. If looking backward, the writer will note how different he or she was in the past. Often, the writer will compare past and future selves to emphasize the difference.

Examples of Reflective Essays

Numerous essayists have used the reflective essay style to share ideas that are important to them or lessons that they have learned through personal experience. Examples include the following:

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 160 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create An Account
Support