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5 Rhetorical Modes of Writing
Reflective Mode

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In reflective writing, you critically analyze and share your thoughts and experiences. Students are sometimes asked to engage in reflective writing so that they can think about their own learning and thinking.

By its very nature, reflective writing calls for the use of the first person “I,” which writers tend to avoid it in other modes of writing.


Although the reflective mode of writing is a personal type of writing, it is not have to be only about the writers’ feelings. Writers can still support their thoughts by providing evidence from their experiences, from what they have learned, and from other sources.

Reflective writing

Impact on readers. Reflective writing allows readers to gain insight from writers’ personal thoughts and reflect on their own.

Tone. By nature, the tone of reflective writing is usually personal. It generally reflects myriad emotional states by the writer.

Type of materials. You commonly find reflective writing in personal blogs, diaries, student portfolios, and so on. Some college-level assignments may specifically request students to write reflectively.

Example of reflective writing

A student was asked to write a self-evaluation after completing an online writing course. Below is the student’s reflection.

Even though my performance in this course was not very good, I learned a lot not only about the writing process but also about what you need to do to be successful in an online course. This was my first online course, so I needed time to figure out what I needed to do.

My grades for my first assignments were low because I did not know what I needed to do. Halfway through the semester, I realized that I had all the information I needed, but I did not take the time to read the instructions carefully. The instructions were both in writing and in videos. I realized that “not being able to talk to the instructor directly” and “being confused about the instructions” were excuses. I was neither reading the instructions nor watching the videos carefully enough. Besides, I could always email the instructor or see a tutor at the Writing Center if I needed help.

I am definitely going to take other online courses in the future. I am sure I will do much better because I learned from this experience that I need to be more organized, follow all instructions carefully, and get help when needed. When I started doing these simple things in this course, I started learning and my grades improved significantly.

Writing tips

A reflection is often written as a “stream of consciousness,” where your thoughts are presented in a continuous flow of commentary. However, you can also organize your thoughts by outlining your ideas before you get started.

If you are ever asked to complete a reflective assignment in college, ask your instructor what the expectations and guidelines are. In fact, this applies to any assignment.

Assess Your Learning

Practice 1. Identify the rhetorical mode of writing of short passages.

You’re all done. Congratulations!

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