How to Write a Reflection Paper in Biology

Writing guide
Posted on February 24, 2020

Looking for tips on how to write a reflection paper in biology? Reflection papers are common assignments in many classes at high-school and college. Such type of writing helps students process new information and connect it to prior knowledge. Writing a reflection paper in biology can be challenging because you need strong analytical and critical thinking skills and creativity to present your opinion about a certain topic or experience. To help you get started with your reflective writing in biology, we have created this useful guide where we discuss the writing process and give you step-by-step instructions you should follow. If you face difficulties with completing any other types of academic papers, at our website, you can also find a lot of full guides to all writing assignment out there.

What Is a Reflection Paper in Biology?

Reflection is a cognitive process that is carried out when we are learning from experiences. Actually, it’s a way of thinking about an event or experience. There are different types of reflective writing assignments that can take different formats, for example, practice portfolio, research log, journal, reflective essay, and more. A reflection paper in biology can require you to reflect on a book you have read, a lecture you have listened to, an event you have attended or your personal experience.

To get a clear understanding of what you have to do when writing your reflective piece, you need to read your assignment carefully, paying attention to the key words that may give a direction. For example, you may be assigned to write a reflective essay on a specific subject or topic, give a reflective account of the specific event or write a reflective commentary to an article or expert quote.

When writing a reflection paper in biology, your task is not just to provide the summary of new ideas you have learned or report your experiences but analyze it and explain how it connects with your previous knowledge, why it is important for you, and what impact it has for your future. In fact, reflective writing is the evidence of critical reflection which is one of the main challenges of reflective writing. Critical reflection is an analytical level of thinking that demonstrates understanding of connections between events, actions, and ideas and other knowledge. So your reflection paper in biology should record the development of new insights and ideas. It’s crucial for focus on a specific new understanding and how it can be applied for future practice.

Speaking about the writing style of a reflection paper in biology, we recommend that you should use 2 tones: academic and conversational. When you speak about a theory or ideas, academic tone is preferable. It includes more formal vocabulary. But when you explore your feelings, experiences etc., you should use conversational tone – write in the first person and use personal pronouns to sound more natural although you should keep colloquial language to the minimum.

How to Pick an Interesting Topic to Write About in Your Reflection Paper in Biology?

Typically, students are assigned a topic to write about in their reflection essays in biology. Your professors may give you an assignment where you have to show your understanding of certain theory connected to your personal experiences. But sometimes, you can be given an opportunity to reflect on a topic or a subject of your preferences. Then, you should choose a topic that you are really interested in or an idea that contributed to your personal or professional development. There are lots of interesting biology topics out there so selecting one of them to explore in your reflection paper can be tricky and time-consuming. To help you get started, here is a short list of great biology topics for reflective writing that may inspire you to create a powerful piece of writing.

  • Speak about the Development of the Concept of Life as the Natural Phenomenon;
  • Why Should People Save Endangered Species?
  • Is Biological Immortality for Humans Possible?
  • Can Science Cure Aging Like a Disease and Defeat Death?
  • What Do You Think about the Application of Nanotechnology in Agriculture?
  • How Common Is Homosexuality in the Animal World?
  • What Are Advantages and Disadvantages of Genetic Engineering?
  • Can Genetic Modification Create Perfect Humans?
  • Why Is Vaccination Important?
  • What Are the Dangers of Antibiotic Resistance?
  • How to Prevent Organ Transplant Rejection;
  • Do Genes Matter in Addiction?
  • Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Human Body;
  • Potential Risks of Being Vegan or Vegetarian;
  • Side Effects of Anabolic Steroid Abuse

How to Structure a Reflection Paper in Biology

A reflection paper gives you a great opportunity not just report about what you have experienced or read but also add your thoughts and analysis. It should explain how you understand the new material and how new ideas affect your knowledge and future practice.

A reflection paper in biology should be about 350-700 words in length and since it is personal writing so there is no standard format for it. Still, your essays should be structured and your instructor may assign you to follow one of the models for reflective writing. For example, your reflection essay can be broken into 3 distinctive parts:

  • Description of the situation, experience, event in specific terms
  • Interpretation and examination of event, experience or idea from the perspective of personal growth or academic learning
  • Outcome that explains what you have learned, why it matters for you academically, and why it is important for your future

There are other models as well but whichever approach to writing a reflective paper you choose, you should keep in mind the following points.

  • Reflection involves not only description ideas, events or experience but also exploration, explanation, analysis, and evaluation.
  • It would be a mistake to cover everything related to your topic when you are reflecting. You should choose the most important themes and explore them.
  • You should also reveal your weaknesses, errors, and anxieties and show that you understand the possible causes. Besides, it would be great to explain how you are planning to improve.
  • Your reflection may concern the past or present events but you can also reflect forward and present your assumptions about the future.

Creating an Outline for a Reflection Paper in Biology

Making an outline is a crucial step in the writing process because it can save you plenty of time when you start actually writing your draft and will help you follow the right direction. First, you should spend some time freewriting to generate more ideas about the topic. You should set a timer for 5 minutes and jot down every thought or idea that may come to your mind. Don’t worry about spelling, grammar, and punctuation. When the time is up, you need to review what you have managed to write and evaluate your ideas. Select the most interesting themes or key words that you can explore further when writing a reflection paper. Highlight the key themes that can serve as a foundation for future paragraphs. Try to identify connection between ideas in the biology course material and your personal experiences. A good idea is to draw a mind map and show relationship between keywords and main themes.

Now organize your thoughts. Use the key ideas from free-writing to create an outline that is appropriate for the purpose of your writing assignment. You can explore and analyze several themes in separate paragraphs and formulate specific questions that can be used in heading in your outline, helping you organize your reflective writing.

Writing a Draft for a Reflection Paper in Biology

Since there is no one-size-fits-all organization pattern for writing a reflection paper in biology, you are free to organize the structure of your draft choosing a pattern that best fits your ideas and observations. For example, you may briefly introduce the subject, then provide a series of reflections, and finish your paper with an interpretive close. Or you may present a series of major points and support them with relevant evidence and good examples. But no matter which organization pattern you choose, make sure that your reflection essay has an introduction, the main body, and a strong conclusion. Let’s discuss these basic parts of reflection paper in detail.

Writing an Introduction

Your opening paragraph shouldn’t be long. It’s will OK to write a sentence or two but you need to give a statement of some perspective, taking into account new things that you have learned. But, typically, your introductory paragraph should include the main claim or statement of purpose of your writing, main lessons that resulted in changes in your views, and presentation of the key themes that your reflection paper in biology will cover.

You need to create a thesis statement that you’ll support in the body of your paper. It should be strong and highly specific evaluative or interpretive claim that reveals the fact that you have developed a deeper understanding of a certain theory, concept or idea and explains how you will use that new knowledge in the future. Review this example of thesis statement that can be written in an end-of-semester reflection paper in biology.

‘In this biology course, I learned how living organisms interact with each other and that helped me understand how everything we humans do affect other living organisms around us. Now I better understand the place of humans in the whole scheme of life.’

Writing Body Paragraphs

Your body paragraphs should focus on supporting your thesis statement. A reflection paper in biology is a formal assignment so you need to provide a convincing argument to support your claims and back it by properly referenced evidence and expert opinions. Your argument should be about what you have learned and why you think it’s important for you. Make sure each paragraphs demonstrates connections between your personal experience and the new knowledge.

  • Start each body paragraph with a topic sentence that introduces one of the key themes you have identified in your outline.
  • Explain how each theme supports your thesis and add relevant evidence from authoritative sources or quotes.
  • Finish each paragraph with a concluding sentence that wraps everything up and provides a transition to a new theme that you explore in the next paragraph.

Writing a Conclusion

Don’t make a concluding paragraph long. Briefly summarize your overall lesson and your feelings about it. Tell your readers how you are going to use your new experiences and deeper understanding of the new concepts in the future. Make sure your conclusion sounds persuasive and answers all questions you may have posed in the introduction.

Edit and Proofread Your Draft

It’s practically impossible to write the perfect first draft of a reflection paper in biology so you’ll probably need to revise and rewrite it several times to ensure that your essay meets the requirements of your assignment. It’s important to look at your paper through fresh and critical eyes so you shouldn’t start revising immediately as you finish the draft. Take a break for a few hours and then revise and edit your paper in stages, paying attention to different aspects.

You should start the revision process with larger concerns such as content, logical flow, and structure. After that check your essay at the paragraph and sentence level, and finally work with spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Finally, you should make sure that your reflection paper in biology is formatted properly according to the requirements of a specific style guide and that all your formatting is consistent across the entire document.

Writing an effective reflection paper in biology is a rather time-consuming process that involves a lot of hard work just like it typically happens with any other type of academic writing. There are so many important aspects you should consider if you want to write a successful paper and make a great impression on your instructor. But we hope that our easy writing guide will help you cope with this complex project and get a grade you deserve.

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