How to Write a Reflection Paper in Ecology

Writing guide
Posted on February 24, 2020

Not sure how to organize your ideas in a reflection paper in ecology? An increasing number of college courses require students to write reflectively and ecology is one of them. It’s an interesting branch of science that studies distribution of living organisms, their interactions and reciprocal influences within a specific environment, and structure and functions of ecosystems. Studying ecology helps us understand connections between people and the natural world and impact of human activities on the environment.

Students who study ecology are often asked to write an individual reflective commentary or essay where they need to explore their own ideas about a text they have read, an event they have seen or a lecture they have attended and express their personal opinions about their experiences or someone else’s ideas. These papers may feel more difficult than other types of academic writing. If this task appears too challenging for you, keep reading this article where you will find detailed step-by-step instructions and useful writing tips that will help you master the art of reflective writing and learn to make connections between ecology theory and practice. If you can’t boast of strong writing skills, you may want to check other articles on our website that contain full guides to all writing assignments out there.

What Is a Reflection Paper in Ecology?

A reflection paper in Ecology is a specific type of academic essay that is based on the reflective thinking. In the academic context, reflection involves looking back at something (event, object or idea), analyzing it, and considering what the new idea or a specific event means to you and what impact it has on the ongoing learning process. In other words, reflection in ecology is actually a form of a personal response to some new information, events, situations, and experiences. Keep in mind that we can’t speak about a right or a wrong way of reflective thinking, your task is simply to explore certain questions, examine your beliefs, assumptions, attitudes, and values, and establish connections between your prior knowledge and a new experience. Writing a reflection paper in ecology and other subjects can help you become an active and critical learner because it gives students a chance to think more deeply about what they are doing and to learn from their experience.

The style used in reflection papers differs from the common academic writing style that we use when writing other types of papers. Here are some tips to help you get the language right.

  • Since you write about your personal experiences and feelings, you can use the first person singular and write in informal language.
  • You should maintain the formal tone although your reflection paper in ecology may be less objective and more emotional.
  • You don’t need to use a lot of academic books and scholarly articles as evidence. But still, you may need to include some references to provide a support for your own ideas and better explain new ideas you have learn.
  • You need to be not only descriptive but also critical.
  • Use the past tense when you are referring to a specific moment and the present tense when you refer to theory.

How to Select an Impressive Topic for Reflection Paper in Ecology?

Students are typically assigned a topic to write about in their reflection papers. But sometimes you may be allowed to select your own topic or subject to write about. This process may be rather time-consuming but really rewarding. Even if the topic assigned to you, you will need to spend some time thinking about certain things and ideas you would like to include in your reflective ecology paper.

Looking for interesting topic ideas for writing a reflection paper in ecology? Here is a short list of interesting ecology topics that may give you the inspiration you need.

  • Discuss the Role of Humans in Global Climate Change;
  • Speak about Environmental Impacts of Excessive Overuse of Resources;
  • What Do You Think about the Concept of Sustainable Development?
  • Why Is Ecosystem Management Important?
  • How Can People Reduce Ecological Footprint?
  • What Can Be Done to Save Endangered Species from Extinction?
  • Are Animals Equal to Humans and Should They be Treated in the Same Way?
  • Discuss the Impact of Trends in Eating Habits on the Environment;
  • What Are the Chances of Human Extinction Due to the Climate Change?
  • Why Are Coral Reefs Important to Humans?
  • Why Will Insect Extinction Have Catastrophic Consequences for Our Planet?
  • Explain the Link of Deforestation to the Spread of Infectious Diseases in Humans;
  • What Are the Major Environmental Problems?
  • What Should Be Done to Stop Biodiversity Loss?
  • What Are the Benefits of Biodiversity to Humans?

What Is the Possible Structure for a Reflection Paper in Ecology?

Although reflective thinking can often be unstructured, especially when done during discussions with other people, your reflection paper in ecology should be structured carefully. For example, your piece of writing may consist of 3 parts such as description, interpretation, and outcome. These parts can often consist of smaller elements to put your actions and feelings into the context and determine what you could learn from your experience.

  • First, you need to describe what happened or what concept or idea is examined in your essay.
  • Then, you need to use analytical and critical thinking skills to analyze the event, experience or the new idea and determine the most important, relevant, interesting, and useful aspects of it. Decide what you would do differently next time.
  • Finally, you need to identify what you have learned from this and what it means for your future.

Keep in mind that there are other types of structure for a reflection paper in ecology as well and you may be required to follow one of them – your instructor may require that you should follow a particular reflection essay model. But no matter what approach to writing a reflection paper you choose, you should always take into account the following considerations:

  • Reflective writing involves not just describing events but also exploring and explaining them. Basically, you need to reflect on their meaning and impact.
  • You often need to express your feelings and reveal your weaknesses, errors, and anxieties as well as successes and strengths.
  • You can reflect back on the past and reflect forward to the future.
  • Don’t tell the whole story. Instead you should choose the most significant parts of the idea or the event.

Creating an Outline

First, you need to think about what you are going to write in a reflection paper in ecology and use free-writing technique to generate ideas about your topic. You should write freely for 3-5 minutes without worrying about grammar and spelling and then review what you have written. Underline the main ideas or key words that can be explored further and use them to make an outline that will be relevant for the purposes of your task. Choose several themes that you will explore in your reflective essay. Think how you can tie your personal experience with the material of the ecology course to support your exploration on the topic. It’s important to make connections between your reflections and the course material.

Writing a Reflection Paper in Ecology

Typically, your reflection paper in ecology should consist of 3 main elements: an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. It shouldn’t be long, just about 350-750 words in length. Now let’s discuss what you should write about in different parts of your essay.

Write an Introduction

Your introductory paragraph may be rather brief but you should make sure you address the following issues:

  • Purpose of writing a reflection paper in ecology;
  • Main lessons that you’ve learned from this experience;
  • Review of the past and present views and approaches and changes in your perspective;
  • Presentation of the key themes that you are going to cover in the body paragraphs.

At the end of the introductory paragraph, you should introduce a strong and specific thesis statement that will guide your writing. Take a look at the example of the thesis statement for a reflection paper in ecology.

‘The lecture helped me learn that environmental sustainability which is typically defined as meeting the needs of today’s generation without compromising the abilities of future generations to meet their environmental, economic, and social needs is necessary for survival of humankind. That’s why we must work hard and take measures to leave our planet as a sustainable system which provides equal opportunities for survivals of future generations and other life forms on Earth.’

Write the Body

In the main body, you need to address the key themes and devote a separate paragraph to each of them. The main body of your paper will consist of as many separate paragraphs as you have the key themes. Start each body paragraph with a topic sentence that introduces a theme. Then support the theme with your personal experiences. Try to make connections between the theme, your personal experiences, and the ecology course material. Support your thoughts with relevant examples and quotes from appropriate scholarly sources and expert opinions. Don’t forget to cite your sources according to the guidelines of a specific style guide and include them in your references page to avoid plagiarism. End each paragraph with a sentence that presents some conclusions and includes a transition to the next paragraph to help your audience follow the logic of your paper.

Create a Conclusion

In the conclusion, you need to present your final thoughts about the subject. Highlight some things that are important for you. Tell what you learned, why it matters and how you are going to move forward. Your conclusion to a reflection paper in ecology may look like this:

‘The lecture helped me increase awareness of current environmental concerns and issues. Now I understand the importance of living sustainably and developing a sense of responsibility towards a green environment.’

Edit and Proofread Your Draft

Revising and proofreading are essential parts of the writing process. Be ready that you will need to revise and rewrite your reflection paper in ecology several times because no one can create the perfect first draft.

When you finish your first draft, get some distance from it for a while. Then read it carefully and revise it. Revise the text in stages, paying attention to different aspects. First, take care about overall concerns like the content and structure. Make sure your reflection paper in ecology covers the topic or the subjects and you have followed a model of reflective writing, exploring a situation from multiple perspectives and providing a sufficient analysis. Check the logical flow and eliminate repetition, wordiness, and inconsistencies to make your essay coherent, clear, and concise. Make sure each sentence focuses on one point and is not too long.

When you are satisfied with the quality of content in your final draft, proofread it to fix grammar, spelling, and punctuation mistakes and typos. Pay attention to the following grammar issues like fragments, articles, subject-verb agreement, pronouns, and verb tenses. It’s important to use the correct verb tenses when you are reflecting about the past, present or the future, for example:

I discovered…
I found…
I feel…
I don’t think…
I hope to be able to…

When you are proofreading your essay, it’s better to read it aloud. Another effective proofreading technique involves separating sentences by starting from the last sentence in your paper and reading them one at a time until you come up to the first sentence.

Reflective writing is an essential part of learning and professional development. Unfortunately, it doesn’t come naturally to everyone but it can be learned if you work hard on it. We hope that our full writing guide will help you write successful reflection papers in ecology and other subjects. If you practice regularly, you are sure to develop strong reflective writing skills that will help you succeed in your academic and professional career.

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