What skills did I learn? How can I apply what I learned to my life? How can I apply this experience to my studies? How can this help me in my career? What about this experience challenged me socially? In what way did this expand my understanding of my own culture?
How was this emotionally important? How did this experience relate to my understanding of theology, God or religion? What questions did this experience make me have? How has this changed the way I think? How has this made me realize someone else was right?
How was this unexpected? Or how did this fulfill my expectations? Would I want to repeat this experience? Would this experience be the same if I did it again? How did this affect me and why?
Why did I have the reaction I did to this? Example: "I picked the questions: What did I notice? What does this event mean to me? How did this place shape my life? Answer the Questions You Selected Read your questions, then answer them. This doesn't have to be in formal essay form or in perfect sentences. You just want to get as many ideas down as possible. Example What did I notice? Couples walked hand in hand. Parents played in the sand with their children. I saw the holes in the sand where I knew sand crabs were scrambling to hide.
I noticed the cool wind on my face and the homes right up against the sand. I'm usually too busy helping her or spending time with relatives. This trip, however, a friend of mine named Rhonda, who is also a caregiver to her mother, told me to go to visit the beach for her.
As a native Texan, Rhonda has only gotten to visit the beaches in California a few times. So today, I w ent to the beach for Rhonda. I smelled the beach air and walked along all by myself and took an hour to not think about responsibilities to others. Then I wrote "For Rhonda" in the sand and took a picture of it. When I went through the struggles of growing up, I remember feeling soothed by the waves. They always seemed to keep on going.
That reminded me to not give up. To know that there is always something to look forward to ahead. To remember that laughter and tears are both a part of everyone's life. To me, the waves reminded me to have faith in a God who is in control of everything and has a bigger purpose for me than I can imagine. Identify the Meaning of Your Experience Before you can begin writing your essay, you need to decide what is the most important thing you learned from this experience.
That "most important thing" will be the thesis of your paper. Example: "What I learned from this trip to the beach is that I need to remember that in the midst of being a caregiver to my mother, my husband, my five kids, my students and my friends, that I also need to care for myself and create a space for myself where I can rest and renew.
The following is an excerpt of my sample reflective essay. To read the essay in full, click on the link above. This strategy, according to Denzin , is known as methodological triangulation and it allows researchers to make use of various data gathering methods to ensure internal validity. Based on the use of methodological triangulation, I specifically designed interviews targeted at both elite groups and slum dwellers in Rwanda to investigate the thinking behind the urban policies designed by political elites, and how it impacts marginalised slum dwellers.
The first group of interviewees that I targeted comprised of government officials and the second comprised of a group people living in slums. The elite interviews were generally semi-structured in nature and were based on open- and closed-ended questions.
Scholars such as Harvey have noted that this is the best approach for elite interviews because it allows flexibility and hence, maximises response rates. Notably, scholars such as Aberbach and Rockman , Hoffmann-Lange as well as Zuckerman have also shown that elites prefer to engage with open-ended questions so that they can articulate their views coherently.
During my interviews with elite groups, I did not always draft formal questions, but I made sure that I was familiar with the topic so that I could comfortably develop a natural rapport with the respondents.
Interview times ranged from thirty minutes to up to two hours, and respondents commonly offered me some data sets to consult, which followed with some discussion.
I was often required to submit a formal application to access these files, and although I formally submitted a request letter to the Ministry of Urban Development, my efforts proved futile, and it became increasingly frustrating for me to access the data sets I needed.
In some of the interviews, I found that political elites provided evasive answers because of the politically sensitive nature of some of the questions posed. The general etiquette according to Peabody et al. I felt particularly irritated because the absence of a recording device meant I was unable to get hold of a verbatim record of my interviews.
Because I had to write down observational notes while engaging with the respondent, it was difficult to record all the information and I lost out on some important points.
I tried to strike a balance between note taking and the interview process, but I found this to be a difficult endeavour. I tried to counteract these limitations by shifting my focus to the second sample in my study, the slum dwellers, although this was also fraught with some complications.
Comparatively and overall, the second sample group proved to be more cooperative and I quickly learned that I had wasted a significant amount of time focusing on political elites, when a lot of the responses I desired could have easily been sourced from policy documents and government reports.
As mentioned, I discovered that slum dwellers, after gaining their trust, provided a great deal of nuanced insight into my understanding of urban regeneration in Rwanda, which was very beneficial for my project. Harvey has highlighted how field researchers must endeavour to earn the trust of their respondents to gain access to high quality data and looking at the results I garnered, I believe I was able to do this successfully.
The data acquisition from the sample group was however, not without complications. The first complication pertained to my status as a foreigner, which I realised made several people wary of my presence. After visiting the research site continuously over a period of time, they became more familiar with me and thus opened up to the idea of participating in my study. I also ensured that I hired a local research assistant, and I realised that my association with a local gave me a greater deal of legitimacy in the eyes of my potential research respondents.
While oftentimes the data collection process was extremely stressful, and sometimes precarious, I learned to be resilient in, and how to maintain focus on meeting my set objectives. Concurrently, I also learned when to change approaches in the field — especially when a particular research method had proven to be unsuccessful. In hindsight, I should have changed my approach much earlier to save a lot of the time I wasted.
Looking back, I would have placed less emphasis on the elite sample group as primary data was not necessary for addressing my research questions concerning government policy. I could have saved time and effort in sourcing this information from secondary sources such as government reports and books. I also would have employed a local researcher much earlier in the process as it paved the way for gaining the trust of respondents. At the same time, I realised that I should have provided a lot more training for the research assistant who also served as a translator, due to the events that ensued in the field.
According to scholars such as Temple and Edwards , p. Generally, the research assistant was highly opinionated and in some instances tried to impose his political views on my respondents. You should reflect on your personality. If you aim to write about some book, ask yourself what episode you like the most, what problems are the main ones, what important social, emotional, cultural issues are raised.
The number of such questions may be extremely long. Create a reflective essay outline. It is extremely significant thing for such papers, as it helps to create a map of the paper, determine essential ideas and make the process of writing much easier. Write briefly. Usually the number of words in the paper varies between and , but your instructor can change it. If it happens, you have to meet his or her requirements. Pay attention to this point before you start writing.
Write the text.
I walked along swinging my sandals in one hand. You may also like In hindsight, I should have changed my approach much earlier to save a lot of the time I wasted. How has this made me realize someone else was right?
Example What did I notice? I felt particularly irritated because the absence of a recording device meant I was unable to get hold of a verbatim record of my interviews.
Example What did I notice? How did I feel about this? There are no right or wrong answers in this type of essay. How did others who were there experience it differently? In hindsight, I should have changed my approach much earlier to save a lot of the time I wasted.