Strategies for Writing Reflection Papers
As you begin writing ask yourself the following questions:
◦ What kind of text is this? Is it a primary text or a secondary text of scholarship? Is it
a philosophical piece, a myth or story, an historical account, a scholarly argument?
◦ Who is speaking in the quotation? An ancient thinker? A modern scholar? A
character or figure in a narrative?
◦ What is the basic, face-value meaning of the quotation itself? What terms and ideas
does it use that I need to grasp in order to explain what it is trying to say?
◦ What do I need to understand from previous and later paragraphs in the text to
explain this quotation’s argument or full significance? Does the quotation give any clues
about what the author’s overall project is, or is it a relatively modest point?
◦ What are the implications of the quotation? (In other words, if this is true, what else
will follow?) What questions does it raise?
A foundational skill is being able to articulate in your own words – clearly, concisely, and
fairly – another person’s argument, statement, or view. This is the aim of the reflection
papers. You should not write about your personal response, reaction, or opinion about the
issues considered in the quotation.
The reflection paper should be about a page to a page and half (no more, no less), double-
spaced and typed, and turned in on Thursdays. Remember, they cannot be submitted late
under any circumstances, but we will drop your lowest reflection paper grade in the final
assessment of your grade. Keep in mind that all good writing requires some reworking of
your sentences, organization, and ideas.
You will be graded on a ten-point scale on 1) exposition; 2) clarity of expression; 3) your
focused explanation of the complexities of the ideas in the passage; and 4) your ability to
draw out the importance and significance of the statement.