Professors assign reflection papers so they can see how much you move from point A to point B. Here are some scenarios:
- your class readings challenged you to think (or feel) a different way
- your training asked you to perform a task in a particular manner
- you watched a film and were asked to reflect on it.
A reflection paper, from a writing standpoint, can be a challenge. In this handout, I’d like to show you some of the ways to do well on it.
Balance Story and Judgments
A famous writer, Russell Baker, once wrote that great narratives move between the story and evaluation: that means that a writer tells something and then judges. Often students will just tell the story without putting in a judgment. The book There Are No Shortcuts by Rafe Esquith is an excellent example. He tells his story as an inner-city teacher and judges his own actions constantly—he shines a light on his own errors. For instance, in one chapter, he writes about several honors students he had who treated him badly: one kind student filled him in on their real character, and from that moment on, he realized that intelligence alone would never matter to him again. That is an example of balancing the story and the judgment.
Discerning What to Reveal about Yourself
Rebecca McClanahan, a creative non-fiction teacher and writer, said that if you were uncomfortable yourself about some issue, then it was not wise to reveal it to others. Some cultures don’t favor revealing anything, which can make writing a reflection paper difficult. You do have the choice not to reveal things about yourself. In that case, write about the issue itself and the concern you have professionally for the people or implications for workplace effectiveness.
In American culture, men are trained not to reveal their emotions because it is a way of being vulnerable. Many male students can lose points on this assignment because they don’t write enough. If length is an issue, pull back and consider the larger societal issues or an academic issue. For instance, if in a physical therapy class you learn how to treat patients with disabilities and then spend the day in a wheelchair and have to reflect on it, you could speculate what it would be like to be there all the time—in other words, give compassion toward others instead of worrying about writing about yourself. You could also reflect on the difference between your readings for the class and the experience you had—whether the readings need to be modified.
Time to Reflect
Many students work several jobs, have families, and a variety of classes, which means reflection time can be fragmented or slight. A faster way to approach this task is to go toward what is uncomfortable (both positive and negative) and make quick notes. That discomfort might reveal something positive (a new idea, some ability you didn’t know you had), or it might reveal that you were not good at something or had an idea that was harmful to yourself or someone else.
Suggested Planning Activities
The text box below shows you a fast way to plan your paper. As you read something in class, watch a film, or participate in professional training experiences, you can keep notes on these three things. Remember that college-level work seeks to challenge your thinking.
The Reading, Film, or Professional Experience that I Encountered in My Class: What Was Challenging—Positively or Negatively
My Own Personal Response and Values
What I Choose to Share and What Is a Professional Response
To structure your paper, consider some of the ideas below:
- Begin with the most important facet of the challenging reading/activity/film and how you moved from point A to point B
- Make a focus or thesis of this movement (for example, “From this film, I learned how important it is for instructors to. . . .”)
- Explain that movement using stories with examples
- Weave in the readings or professional materials from your class (don’t leave these out)
- Respond in a professional manner—respectful of others in the readings, the experience, the film
- Talk to the professor or a Writing Center tutor if you experience a huge conflict in what you are writing about
How to Write a Reflection Paper on a Movie
A reflection paper is less formal as compared to the traditional academic paper. When your tutor asks you to do a reflection paper on a movie, you have to delve into personal observations. Here, you do not build an argument using supporting evidence and credible sources. Instead, you bring out your feelings and thoughts about the movie under analysis. Your greatest task is structuring the paper from personal experience and reasoning, especially after watching the film. This is no easy task. Deep knowledge on how to write a reflection paper on a movie will help you overcome most of these challenges.
See what this handout contains:
- Reflection paper writing tips
- Movie reflection papers
- Examples of movie reflection papers
While this guide contains well-researched strategies from authentic sources, it is a tool to make your writing assignment simpler and not stringent rules to follow. Be flexible and make adjustments any time to meet your homework needs. Are you ready? Let us goo…
Getting Started: How to write a reflection paper on a movie
Always remember that a reflection paper is about you. It gives you a chance to express your thoughts over a book, movie, speech or a debate you attended. In this section, you will find everything you need to know to overcome the challenges of writing a flawless movie reflection paper.
Unless you get instructions from your tutor, always write your reflection paper in the first person. Besides, include concrete examples and cite experts where possible to support your opinion.
To write a good reflection paper on a movie, you need to understand the film. This allows you to give a balanced and informed opinion. As such, take your time to watch the movie several times until you master the theme of the producer.
The following guidelines should help you master how to write a reflection paper on a movie.
Hints to remember when writing a reflection paper on a movie
Do not repeat the story. A response paper is far away from narrating the story to your audience. Do not try this. In fact, do not even bother writing a synopsis of the movie because you do not need it. Your focus should be on the major themes in the film.
Retelling a movie to your audience makes it hard for them to understand what the film is all about even though they may get a clue of what transpired. The secret of a good movie is never in the action but in the message.
In the first paragraph of your reflection paper, introduce the reader to your topic. Say what you are discussing as revealed in the movie.
Provide proper bibliographical information – As you figure out how to write a reflection paper on a movie, be sure to acknowledge every source you use to develop your reflection paper. Format your bibliography using standard styles like APA, MLA, and Chicago and ASA format. For reviews, do not include full copies instead capture the bibliographical reference. For web reviews, make sure you provide correct URLs. Also, adhere to standard referencing rules as you do in text citation of your paper.
Organize your paper in paragraphs. A good reflection paper should have paragraphs, without which your ideas will be disorganized. It would be meaningless to have a perfect storyline yet your ideas are jumbled up. You can also use headlines to demarcate different sections of your paper.
Bring out the movie’s central theme: – Though you have the freedom to talk about a range of issues as you articulate your opinion on the movie, do not forget the main theme of the film.
Present a flawless paper – Endeavour to write a perfect paper without common grammar and punctuation errors. Achieve this by proofreading your assignment. You can also give your final friend to a friend to read it and help you make final touches.
Do not do film critic. Remember that a reflection paper of a film is not a critique of the work. Forget about editing, lighting and other filmmaking processes. The issues, which the producer is passing across, are what matter. If you follow these tips on how to write a reflection paper on a movie, you score high in your coming assignments.
For better understanding of the tips above, let us examine the following example.
Example #1: Reflection Paper on a Movie ‘The Crash’
This movie helped me understand the issues of racial tension and animosity in our society today…It also allowed me to stop for a moment and reflect on my thinking and perception towards people of other races and how I would treat them in case we met…
Among the characters who caught my attention as I watched, the movie was Officer Ryan (Matt Dillon). He portrays a practical example of the effects of our actions to other people’s lives…
The locksmith guy also amazes me in the movie. It is interesting to imagine how he tolerated the crap from the Persian guy and Sandra Bullock…
Adapted from: web.pdx.edu
This is a good example of a reflection paper on a movie. The writer sticks to his opinions and thoughts about the film, as it captures issues of racial discrimination and animosity. To develop his reflection, the writer analyzes different characters in relation to racial segregation. He focuses on those who perpetrate the vice and those you overcome the arising challenges. Note that the writer sticks to the first person pronoun as we earlier discussed.
Hoping that this example has helped you gain more insights on how to write a reflection paper on a movie, let us look at a stepwise approach of handling this kind of assignment.
4 steps of writing a reflection paper on a movie
Movie reflection assignments should be the simplest and enjoyable. Imagine working on a paper that requires you to sit, watch movies and give your views. That sounds interesting.
Movies are a good teaching aid as they offer a different perspective on different issues in life. A reaction paper helps you understand specific materials and appreciate its relationship within your course. Here are some of the steps to help you achieve your objective:
Step 1: Treat the movie as a literature piece. As you watch the movie and piece together your reflection paper, see the film as other works of literature you have studied. Bring out the themes and motifs in the movie. Focus on the characters and state how they affected your perception. In addition, bring out the role of these characters in developing the theme.
Step 2: Select a good focus for your paper. If you are in a history class, your reflection paper may seek to establish the accuracy of the events plus where the movie takes artistic license. For example, explain your connection with the characters in the movie and if this would change if it were a book. Talk about the effectiveness of different characters. For example, who is the most sympathetic person in the movie? Capture scenes or events in the movie, which put you off as you watched.
Step 3: Select the elements to include. As you work out on how to write a reflection paper on a movie, always have in mind the production elements, which stand out in the film. How are the events of the story harmonizing to bring out the main theme?
Step 4: Review your paper. Always take time to go through your completed paper to confirm if you have captured everything according to the tutor’s instructions. Also, check grammar, punctuation, consistency, spelling and language clarity.
Examine the following examples as you reflect on this section:
Example # 2: Reflection papers on a movie
How I Met Your Mother Series is another example of a reflection paper. The writer discusses the movie from a personal point of view, giving opinions and thoughts. An excerpt from the series reads:
After watching how I met your mother, I got a deeper understanding of issues of relationships in our society. I was thrilled by how relationships affect everyone in life regardless of their age or gender. I also find the movie captivating and informing in addressing some of the causes of divorce and separation in the American society today.
You can read the whole essay here and get more wisdom on how to write a reflection paper on a movie.
With this handout, you have all it takes to perfect your reflection writing skills. Read and reread these tops and apply. You’ll do great!
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