Reflective Essay Workshop

The fundamental element of a reflective essay is the work that the writer does with evidence and analysis of that evidence.  Our goal in this workshop is to provide feedback and additional insight into the authors readings of their own experiences to deepen and extend their thinking about the evidence they provide.

1. examine the author’s evidence and the context for it.  Is there any additional information that you need for clarity or understanding?  Any information that you think the author should include or edit out?

2. Before you move on to the analysis, look at the evidence that the author provides, think carefully about the array of ideas that it could support.  What do YOU think that it’s evidence of?  Write these in the margins.  Note important ideas or terms that you think stand out and suggest these ideas.  Things to look out for: the author’s development of specific cognitive processes; the author’s developing skills as an reader, writer, thinker (which?  identify these); the author’s struggle with difficulty, and the strategies that he/she used to overcome it; the author’s integration of a new value into his/her worldview; etc.

3. Read the author’s own analysis.  Locate the place where they connect elements from their evidence (a term, a specific idea, etc.) to the claim that they make about the effect of the experience, quote, etc.  If you can’t see a connection articulated, suggest a place and a way that he/she can draw this connection.

4. Finally, based on your suggestions and the author’s analysis, write a possible “thesis statement” for the author.  What do you he/she should contend marks h/er development as a reader, a writer, or a thinker?  What does the evidence and analysis suggest could be the conclusion to draw about the ways that narrative conveys truth?


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