This website uses cookies.  Find out more in our Privacy Policy.

Reflections and Think Pieces

These assignments are short papers with an informal tone that show clear, critical, and independent thought about a text. More than just an emotional response, these papers should evaluate and question. All three types of assignments require the same steps— reading, thinking, and of course, writing.

Reading the text.

  • Keep the assignment in mind. Does it ask for a response to a specific issue within the text, or does it ask for a more general and open response targeting the text as a whole?
  • Underline or mark passages that “speak” to you and write down ideas that are sparked by the text, so you won’t forget your immediate reactions. These ideas might lead to the topic of your think piece (and they might prove useful for class discussions).
  • Note the smaller themes in the text as well as the larger ones. They may turn out to be pivotal to the direction of your paper.

Thinking about the text.

  • How do you react to the text? Does anything strike you as particularly interesting, bothersome, worthy of further thought? Answering these questions will help you come up with ideas for topics.
  • Where are the holes in the text? Does the author cover the topic thoroughly? What has the author left out that you feel is integral? Are there any questionable assumptions made by the author? These can be points to elaborate during writing.
  • What path do you want your reflections to take? After exploring your initial reaction, consider what direction to pursue. Short outlines, diagrams, or lists of ideas to cover can be useful at this point.

Writing about the text.

  • Though your think piece need not follow a formal essay structure, organization and clarity are still important.
  •  Don’t merely summarize. Develop your own thoughts and reflections in connection to the text.
  • Lead your reader somewhere beyond a simple observation. Make a point or several points and examine
    them in depth.
  • Use examples and quotations from the text to support what you say and make the piece stronger and more convincing.
  •  Use the assignment to express more than how you “feel” about the text or problem. Whether you liked the text or not is usually relevant, but should not be the central focus of your think piece.
  • Make connections between the text and the course content (lecture or discussion topics, other readings, films, guest lectures, student presentations). Show that you are thinking holistically.

Above all, explore your own ideas and thoughts about the assigned text. After all, think pieces are designed to make you, the writer, think.

Back to top