Reflective Essay Guidelines

The reflective essay to be included with your WC II portfolio provides you with an opportunity to introduce your writing to the faculty who will be evaluating it. Although there is no specific length requirement, 2-4 pages is a reasonable range to aim for. The essay should indicate how you believe the materials collected in the portfolio demonstrate your achievements as a writer. Here are some suggestions for specific topics and issues you may wish to discuss:

1. Why did you choose these particular pieces for your portfolio?

2. In order to fully appreciate or understand these pieces, is there anything
readers should know about the assignments or contexts that is not apparent in the writing itself?

3. What do you most want readers to notice about your writings, either
individually or collectively?

4. What do you consider to be your greatest strengths as a writer? Which pieces in the portfolio best represent these strengths?

5. What weaknesses are you aware of? If you feel the portfolio demonstrates improvement in these weak areas, what improvement would you like readers to notice?

6. Which pieces in the portfolio are you most proud of? Why?

7. How do the various pieces represent your versatility as a writer, that is, your ability to adapt style and tone to the demands of different audiences and situations, or your ability to handle different forms of writing (for example, technical reporting vs. imaginative creation)?

8. In what ways do you think you have improved or matured as a writer at
Simpson College? How do the portfolio pieces represent these developments? If you do not think you have developed in any meaningful ways, why do you think you have not?

Organization

You need not include all of these topics in your essay; choose those that are most appropriate for your portfolio. Then organize your thoughts so that you have a coherent essay that develops an overall thesis or main idea, rather than a series of “answers” to the above questions or a series of unconnected observations about the individual pieces in the portfolio.

Length

There is no minimum or maximum length requirement; the essay
should be whatever length you need to convey to the faculty what you want them to know, both generally about your experiences as a writer at Simpson and specifically about the writing contained in your portfolio.

Evaluation

The reflective essay itself is not assigned a “passing” or “failing” grade. It does, however, present an opportunity to reflect on your writing and an effort should be put forth to create a well-written and organized essay. In the case of a borderline portfolio, readers may use the reflective essay as a deciding factor. A well-written and thoughtful essay may influence them toward a “pass”; conversely, an essay that is empty of significant content or poorly written, especially if it exhibits some of the same problems as your other writing, may sway the balance toward failure.