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5 Rhetorical Modes of Writing
Reflective Mode

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In reflective writing, you share and critically analyze your own inner thoughts, ideas, and experiences.

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.


Students are sometimes asked to engage in reflective writing so that they can think about their own learning and thinking. Although it is a personal type of writing, it is not necessarily all about the writers’ feelings as writers can still support their thoughts by providing evidence from their experiences, from what they have learned, and based on outside 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 reflective writing

In the excerpt from Teen Ink below, a teenager reflects on bullying.

. . . . I personally don’t understand these intimidators [sic]. Why would a human being want to humiliate another person to the point of no return? They make others feel so bad about themselves that they take dramatic measures to try to change the way they are. Are they secretly self-conscious about themselves? Do they feel bad about the way they look, so they take it out on others? These scenarios resemble selfish motives for making someone else feel bad. No matter what the reason, these tormenters shall be punished.

I believe more anti-bullying laws should be passed to stop and punish these bullies. More frequently than not, I see and hear stories of teens being bullied to the point where they commit suicide. Just think for a moment, about how many times you’ve heard on the news, or read in the paper about another fatal victim of bullying. By setting up more laws, we can stop the bully from taking action. We can’t undo the past, but we can prevent future attacks.

. . . .

Source: “My Reflection on Bullying.” Teen Ink, 2012.

Note. The above reflection could have cited social psychological studies on coercion and intimidation, but the writer chose to simply reflect on the topic from a personal point of view.

Writing tip

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 completing a reflective assignment, ask your instructor what the expectations and guidelines are.

Assess Your Learning

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

You’re all done. Congratulations!

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