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How to Write a Reflection Statement – A Step-by-Step Guide

Do you know how to write a reflection statement? In this post, we give you a clear process for writing reflection statements.

Do you know how to write a reflection statement? Reflection statements are tasks that will increasingly be part of your assessments. In the past, reflection statements were only set for Extension 2. Now they will be commonplace in Advanced English for both Year 11 and Year 12.

In this post, we will demystify reflection statements and give you a step-by-step guide to producing that will impress your teachers!

 

What is a Reflection Statement?

A reflection statement is a complementary task that will accompany other assessment types. A reflection statement requires students to discuss the process of producing the associated assessment task.

In a reflection statement, students need to explain why they made the decisions they did. The reflection statement also offers the student an opportunity to say what they think they did well, or did poorly. Students can reflect on what they would change if they could do it over.

If you want to learn more about why self-reflection is such an important skill for students, you should read this excellent article by Cathy Costello at Virtual library.

Why can’t you give a specific definition of what reflection tasks involve?

The exact nature of the reflection task will depend on the assessment task you’ve been asked to reflect on. To give you an idea of this, we’ll look at some examples of the tasks that reflection statements might accompany and what the reflection statements need to address.

Reflection Statement Requirements
Assessment TaskReflection Statement Requirements
Non-Fiction Composition:

A composition in a non-fiction form. This could be written as a journal entry, newspaper article, or something less specific like a persuasive piece

  • Reflect on what you were trying to achieve in your writing;
  • Discuss what influenced your writing style;
  • Discuss what influenced your choice of subject matter or subject position;
  • Discuss why you have used certain techniques or rhetorical devices;
  • Reflect on your compositional choices;
  • Reflect on what you found challenging about the assessment task.
Creative Composition:

An original piece of creative writing

  • Discuss the themes you were trying to convey;
  • Reflect on the compositional choices you have made;
  • Discuss the influences on your writing style;
  • Discuss why you have used certain techniques in your writing.
Imaginative Recreation:

A piece of creative writing written in response to a text that has been studied in class. For example, this might be an adaptation or a scene written from another character’s perspective.

  • Discuss what you were trying to recreate in your composition;
  • Discuss what influenced your choice of genre and form;
  • Discuss what influenced your writing style;
  • Discuss what influenced your choice of theme(s);
  • Reflect on what you were trying to achieve with your composition;
  • Discuss why you have used certain techniques or rhetorical devices;
  • Reflect on your compositional choices;
  • Reflect on what you found challenging about the assessment task.
Speech:

A presentation to your class or some of your teachers.

  • Reflect on why you took your position on the question;
  • Reflect on why you chose your themes;
  • Discuss why you chose the rhetorical devices you used in the speech;
  • Reflect on what you found challenging about the task;
  • Reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of your speech and/or those of some / one / all of your peers.
Group Presentation:

A group presentation by yourself and several of your classmates.

  • Reflect on why you took your position on the question;
  • Discuss how you split up tasks and planned the presentation;
  • Reflect on why you chose your themes/ideas;
  • Discuss why you chose the rhetorical devices you used in your presentation;
  • Reflect on what you found challenging about working together to produce the presentation;
  • Reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of your speech and/or those of some / one / all of your peers;
  • Reflect on how you would improve your role in the task.
Multimodal Presentation:

A presentation where you need to mix several of the modes of learning (speaking, representing, etc.)

  • Reflect on why you took your position on the question;
  • Reflect on why you chose your themes;
  • Discuss why you chose the rhetorical devices you used in the speech;
  • Reflect on what you found challenging about the task;
  • Reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of your speech and/or those of some / one / all of your peers.
Listening Task :

A task where you listen to an audio clip and write a response or answer questions. This could also be a task where you listen to a peer’s speech or oral presentation and you reflect on your presentation in light of their presentation.

  • Discuss the difficulties of the task;
  • Reflect on what you understood about the material you were played;
  • Justify your response(s) to the question(s) set in conjunction with the audio you were played;
  • Reflect on and discuss another student’s oral presentation.
Essay Task:A written essay
  • Reflect on why you took your position on the question;
  • Reflect on why you chose your essay structure;
  • Reflect on what you found challenging about the task.

As you can see, there are a wide variety of tasks where you could be asked to provide an accompanying reflection task.

How long is a reflection statement?

This will vary.

English Extension 2 reflection statements need to be 1500 words. If you’re not doing English Extension 2, it is unlikely that you will be required to produce something that long.

The tasks you will be set for English Advanced will range between 300 and 800 words. Most reflection tasks will be on the shorter side of things at around the 400-word mark.

 

Where will I encounter reflection statements?

You will be set reflective statements throughout Years 11 and 12. They can be attached to any assessment task for any Module.

However, due to the nature of the Common Module: Reading to Write it is likely you will be set one to accompany the main writing task for that Module.

Similarly, in Year 12, Common Module: Texts and Human Experience and Module C: The Craft of Writing are the most likely Modules where you will be asked to reflect on your process of composing.

Remember, there is no limit on how many reflections you will need to produce as they supplement a larger assessment task. You may need to write as many as two in both Year 11 and Year 12.

In the HSC English Advanced Paper 2 (from 2019) and HSC English Extension 1 Paper, you may be asked to write a composition and a reflection statement.

If you study English Extension 2, this is a mandatory accompaniment for your major work. (Please note, while the process discussed in this post is similar to the one for producing an Extension 2 reflection statement, it does not discuss the research and referencing components that you need to complete for an Extension 2 work).

Clearly, it is important to be confident writing reflection statements. Matrix students learn how to produce reflection statements and get help refining them.

The secret to producing killer reflection statements is to follow a process when writing them.

What we’ll do now is look at the process for how to produce ace your reflection statement.

How to write a Reflection Statement – a step-by-step guide

Like everything in English, there is a process you can follow to produce a reflection statement. Even though the specific task may vary. The process for writing the reflection will largely remain the same.

The process for writing reflection statements looks like this:

How to Write A Reflection Statement Step-by-Step

Flowchart: The Process for Writing a Reflection Statement

Step 1: Produce the main piece of work for the assessment

Reflection statements are never tasks in and of themselves, they supplement the main task. You will not be able to produce your reflection statement until you have completed and edited your main task.

If you are stuck on your main task and need help, you should read our Beginner’s Guide to Acing HSC English for detailed advice on all aspects of Year 11 and 12 English.

This can be useful. You may well discover that your reflection statement makes you reconsider some of your choices in your main task. In the process of writing your reflection statement, you may decide you need to redraft your main work.

This is one of the key purposes of writing a reflection statement. It forces you to consider what you have produced and the process of producing it. This is a key part of editing and improving your work.

Step 2: Read the assessment notification

Once you’ve produced your main piece of work, you need to revisit your assessment notification. A task that involves a reflection statement will come in two sections:

  • Section 1 will be the instructions for the main task;
  • Section 2 will be the instructions for the supplementary reflection task.

Rereading the notification is important as it will help you check that you have completed the main task correctly. It will also tell you exactly what you need to do for the second part of the task.

Step 3: Read the marking criteria

For every assessment task that you are given, you MUST be given accompanying marking criteria. Marking criteria are very important. They tell you explicitly what you need to do to get full marks for a specific task.

Reading through the marking criteria at this point serves two purposes:

  • You can double check that you have addressed all the criteria for a Band 6 result for your main task.
  • You can see what you need to do to achieve a Band 6 result for your reflection statement.

Your reflection statement may have very different requirements for a Band 6 mark than your main task. It is important that you are aware of the differences.

Step 4: Unpack what the reflection statement needs you to discuss for a Band 6 result

Now you’re familiar with the notification and marking criteria for the assessment task, you need to get these understandings down in writing.

To do this, you need to take a few steps:

  1. Read through the instructions for the task and highlight or underline the keywords (these will usually be the verbs and nouns in the instructions).
  2. Now you want to write these words down and define them. If you are unsure of a what a word means, that’s okay. Look it up. This is how you expand your vocabulary.
  3. Next, do the same for the marking criteria. Underline what you feel are the keywords and terms. Again, write them down and define them.
  4. Now you need to write down what you need to do for a Band 6 result. To do this, write down the instructions in your own words. Include what you need to do for a Band 6 mark in this instruction. Be sure to make note of whether this is meant to be written informally or formally, in the first or third person. You must follow the instruction regarding form for these tasks.

Now you’ve unpacked the question. This means you are now equipped to answer the question you’ve been set.

Next, you need to revisit your main task so you can see what you’ve done and evaluate how you’ve put it together.

Step 5: Reread what you have produced for your main task

Your reflection statement will require you to explain the choices you’ve made in your main composition.

You may not have thought too much about these things when you produced the work. And this is fine. It just doesn’t help you with the reflections statement.

If this is you, you need to read your work with an eye on how you have conveyed information. You must unpack how you have presented your ideas. Essentially, you need to reverse engineer your writing through textual analysis.

Some useful questions to ask yourself when doing this are:

  • How does my work address the assessment instructions and marking criteria?
  • What am I trying to convey here?
  • How does this part of my work address the marking criteria?
  • What technique have I used to convey meaning?
  • Why have I used that technique?
  • Could I have conveyed this idea differently? Would this have been more effective? Why?

Make notes while you do this. You want to be able to refer back to your findings in detail when you write the reflection statement.

Once you’ve finished this, you’re ready to start planning. By now you should have:

  • A detailed breakdown of what your task requires you to discuss in your reflection statement and how to discuss it.
  • A detailed set of notes about the piece you have produced for the main task.

Step 6: Plan your reflection statement

As with any task, you want to plan things before you get stuck in. Planning your work forces you to consider what information you must include and how you will structure that information in your response. This is an important part of the critical thinking process.

Reflection statements need to have structure, too.

You need to ensure that you introduce your ideas clearly, then expand on them, and, finally, summarise and conclude your statement. Even if you only need to produce a 250-word paragraph, you still need to ensure that it follows the conventions of composition structure. You will lose marks for presenting idea soup.

To plan your response, you’ll need to get your notes on the task and your notes on your response together. Then:

  1. Read through your notes on the question. Remind yourself what you need to discuss in your reflection statement.
  2. Write down what you will discuss in your reflection statement.
  3. Now you need to think about what parts of your main task you will discuss. To do this, refer to your notes about your main task. Ask yourself, “which parts of my task are most relevant to what the task is asking me to discuss?”
  4. Note down what you think will be the order for presenting your reflection. For example, you may want to start with your structural decisions before discussing your use of techniques or you may want to discuss your influences before discussing your ideas.

Once you’ve got your plan together, you’re ready to write. Matrix students get advice on their assessment tasks from their Matrix Tutors and Teachers. It might be helpful to ask a peer or parent for their thoughts if your school teacher can’t provide advice.

Step 7: Write your introductory statement

The length of your introduction will be contingent on the specifics of your task:

  • If your reflection statement is less than 400 words, you will need to produce one or two sentences.
  • If you are writing a longer reflection statement of more than 400 words, you will need to write a short introduction.
  • If you are producing an Extension 2 reflection statement, this will need to be a longer and more detailed introductory paragraph.

When writing your introduction, you must:

  1. Introduce the topic you will discuss;
  2. Explain how this reflects on the work that you are discussing;
  3. Make reference to the Module you are studying.

Once you have produced your introduction, you are now ready to develop your discussion and discuss the specifics of your main piece of work.

Step 8: Write the body of your argument

Now you’ve introduced your subject matter you need to start presenting an argument. Even though you are reflecting on your own work, you still need to use examples to demonstrate how you’ve set about responding to the main task.

You will need to present several examples to support your argument, but the number of examples will vary depending on the length of the task you’ve been set.

For a shorter reflection, try to present two or three examples and discuss them in detail. If you need to produce several paragraphs, you should be aiming at around four per paragraph.

To do this:

  1. Introduce the idea you were trying to convey (this might be an influence on your work, a technique you’ve tried to use, or a theme you’ve tried to explore).
  2. Present an example of this idea.
  3. Explain how you have attempted to use or explore this idea.
  4. Explain how this addresses the instructions and marking criteria for the task.
  5. Explain how this is relevant to the Module you are studying.
  6. Comment on other choices you could have made and why you didn’t use the other option.
  7. Repeat this for each example that you need to support your point.

Once you’ve done this, you need to conclude your reflection.

Step 9: Write your concluding statement

Your final statement needs to address the broad idea you have discussed in your response. It will need to be at least two sentences. A longer reflection will require a longer concluding statement; if you had a separate introduction you will require a separate conclusion.

To write your concluding statement:

  1. Summarise the key ideas that you have discussed.
  2. Make a statement about what you have taken away from your study of the Module and the process of producing this task and reflecting on it.

Now you need to revise what you’ve written.

Step 10: Proof and edit your work

It is really important that you proof and edit your work before submitting. You don’t want to throw away marks on typos and unnecessary grammatical errors. Proofing your work is something you must do after you finish any task.

To proof your reflection statement:

  1. Reread your summary of the notification of the task and the marking criteria.
  2. Read your reflection statement aloud.
  3. Whenever you encounter a mistake or a sentence that sounds ungrammatical, correct it.
  4. Pay attention to the logic of your argument. Does it make sense?
  5. Ask yourself, have I addressed the instructions for the task?
  6. Ask yourself, have I addressed the marking criteria for a Band 6 response.
  7. Redraft your reflection statement in its entirety. Don’t submit your first draft. Your second draft will always be better.

If you would like to know more about the editing process, you should read Part 7 of our Beginner’s Guide to Acing HSC English: How to Edit Your Work.

Now you’ve finished a second draft you can submit. If you can, you should try and get some feedback. Matrix students get regular feedback from their Matrix Tutors and Teachers. Feedback on your work allows you to take somebody else’s perspective and use it to improve your marks.

 Need help perfecting your reflections for Module C?

In our 5-day Module C Bootcamp, our HSC expert will teach you how to insightful and constructive reflections. Learn how to reflect effectively.

Written by Patrick Condliffe

Patrick has a Bachelor of Arts (Hons. 1st Class - Australian Literature) from USYD. His poetry, short stories, and essays have been published online and in print and he regularly reviews film and other media. Patrick is the editor of the popular Matrix blog and has been an English teacher at Matrix since 2012.

 

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