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Instructions for Writing the Reflective Paper

During this course, you will study the psychology of adulthood. The primary textbook you will read for this class is about adult growth and development and planning your future. This paper asks you to reflect on your growth and development so far and your plans and dreams for the years to come. The topic of the paper should be your life story and your personal, professional, and academic future. The Reflective Paper should demonstrate your understanding of the reading assignments and your application of this new knowledge. You are asked to illustrate your story by using some of the theories from the textbook. You will demonstrate your understanding of the theories by providing examples from your life or from situations you know.

NOTE: Whenever you use ideas from an outside source, to avoid plagiarism, you must give credit to these sources in the text of the paper itself and in a reference page included with the paper. This course will give you the information you need to meet these requirements.

We have provided you with a Sample Reflective Paper and Sample Outline for guidance on how to create this paper so you will know what will be expected. You will begin writing in Week Two and will submit your paper in three steps.

1. The first step, or first section of your paper, will be submitted to your Teaching Assistant (T.A.) for feedback in Week Two. a. From Week Two, you will have the input of a Teaching Assistant and will have the opportunity to ask questions in the Teaching Assistant discussion. Many of the discussions in this class will also provide you an opportunity to create text that can be integrated into the Final Paper.

2. Step two will be submitted for review and feedback in Week Three.

3. Then your final, completed Reflective Paper will be submitted at the end of Week Five. a. During Week Five, you will combine the sections together for your final submission. Your Final Paper should be about four to five pages of text, a title page, and a reference page, for a total of about six to seven pages.

Step One (due in Week Two)


First, read the Sample Reflective Paper. This sample paper will give you an idea of what your final paper should look like. Then read the Sample Outline, which relates specifically to Step One. The Sample Outline explains how to approach the paper. During this week, you will complete the following tasks related to your paper:

1. Title Page (APA format) Check the information in the PSY202: Writing Resource for guidelines on how to format your title page.

2. Outline for Your Paper Use the Sample Outline and Preliminary Outline Form provided to construct an outline for your paper. NOTE: Outlines are generally not required for Ashford University papers. However, an outline is required for this paper as a tool to help you plan your writing. Think about the answers to the questions posed in the Sample Outline. These answers will develop into the text of your paper. Your outline does not have to be complicated or extensive. It is a set of short points or phrases: the start of your essay plan. It is simply an opportunity to begin thinking about how to organize the story of your life thus far. In Step One of your paper (due in Week Two), this guidance should help you develop your outline by suggesting brief points to include in each section of the paper. In Step Two of your paper (due in Week Three), you will take the brief points in your outline and turn them into sentences and paragraphs.

3. Reference Page Whenever you use ideas that are not your own (such as theories or concepts from your textbook or from articles on the online library), you must give credit to these sources in the text of your paper. You must also include a reference page at the end of the paper. Check the information in the PSY202: Writing Resource for guidelines on how to prepare your references. Begin by formatting the reference for the text, Adult Development and Lifetime Assessment.

The three pages (title page, outline, and reference page) must be in one document. The document must be completed in Microsoft Word, not Microsoft Works or another word processing program. (In other words, your document must be a file that has a .doc or .rtf extension at the end of the file name, not a .wps or a .wpd extension.)

The three tasks above constitute Step One. When you have completed these tasks and have created one paper, submit the paper. Your Teaching Assistant will return this paper to you with feedback to guide you in developing academic writing skills. You will have the opportunity to revise your Step One assignment before you add to the paper in Week Three.

Step Two (due in Week Three)


During Week Three, you will complete Step Two of your Reflective Paper. You will write a draft of your Reflective Paper in full essay form. The introduction and body of your paper must be in full sentences and paragraphs. This is the next step of the writing process. NOTE: Although the headings Introduction, Body, and Conclusion are used here to separate the information, personal papers like your Reflective Paper should not have any headings. The paper should flow smoothly from one paragraph to another.

As part of this step, search the Ashford Online Library for one source about adult learning that supports your position into your paper. You do this by clicking on the Library link in the left navigation of your online course. Review the Library Tutorial.

When you find a source you think might fit into your paper, add this source to your reference page. Since the articles in

the library are available in both print and electronic form and since you are using the electronic/online version, use the appropriate format found in the Library Tutorial.

1. Introduction Your introduction is a paragraph or two that includes a brief thesis statement and gives an overview of what you will cover in your paper.

The thesis statement can be defined as a single sentence that creates a main focus for your paper.

The introduction sets the stage for what is to follow in the body of the paper. It might be considered a brief description or synopsis of what the paper is about, much like the information you might find on the back cover or the inside cover of a novel to get your attention and to entice you to buy the book. Follow the guidelines below for preparing the introduction:

a. Repeat the title of your paper, centered, at the top of the page. b. Do not use a heading for the introduction of your paper. c. The introduction section should be brief and specific (one or two paragraphs), clearly stating what you intend to write about in your paper. d. Clearly identify the topic or main focus of the paper. (This statement, in effect, will become your thesis statement.) e. Briefly explain how you will approach the paper. (Provide your reader with a preview of what you intend to cover.)

2. Body The body of your paper will expand on the brief points or phrases you created in your outline and will relate different key point related to your life story. Because this is a personal reflection paper, you will write it in the first person (meaning you will refer to yourself as I not as the author, which would be third person). When you begin writing research-based papers, you will use the third person.

In addition to telling the narrative of your story by expanding the outline into full sentences and paragraphs, you also need to show how your story is explained by some of the theories from the Adult Development and Lifetime Assessment text. You demonstrate your understanding of a theory by giving examples from your life or from a situation you know that illustrate the theory. See the Sample Paper for guidelines.

Part of the purpose for this Reflective Paper is to teach you how to cite (or give credit) to outside sources (references). Theories from your textbook experiences and information you use from articles you select in the library that you link to your personal are examples of outside sources; they are ideas that are not your own. Your outline should include at least two places in your paper in which you plan to include outside sources. Highlight these two places in your paper in yellow

so that your Teaching Assistant knows to look at how you have cited your sources. You will not lose points if your sources are cited incorrectly at this point. The rest of your paper will be your own experiences and thoughts in your own words and will, therefore, not need citations.

When you write the body of your paper, your paragraphs need to be clear and cohesive. Below is one suggestion for structuring a paragraph.

a. Begin with the main idea for the paragraph. b. Write each of your supporting points. c. Add some additional explanation or discussion.

At the end of the paragraph, add a summary sentence and a transition that will lead the reader smoothly to the next paragraph. The introduction and body of your paper should consist of four to five double-spaced pages. (The title page and reference page do not count as part of the four to five pages.)

When you have finished writing the introduction and body of your paper, revise your Step One assignment and add the introduction and body to it, so that your paper now includes the following:

1. Title page 2. Outline 3. Introduction paragraph (with a thesis statement) 4. Body (paragraphs expanding on your outline) 5. Reference page

During Weeks Four and Five, you will write a conclusion for your paper, revise and polish your paper, and then submit the final version of this progressive paper at the end of Week Five. This is the time to reflect upon and to integrate the changes suggested by your Teaching Assistant. If necessary, consult the PSY202: Writing Resource to understand the language and formatting suggestions.

Step Three: Final Reflective Paper (due in Week Five)


You have already completed most of the work! During Weeks Four and Five, you will write a conclusion for your paper, revise and polish your paper, and then submit the final version of this progressive paper. This is the time to reflect upon and to integrate the changes suggested by your Teaching Assistant. If necessary, consult the PSY202: Writing Resource to understand the language and formatting suggestions.

1. Conclusion First, write a conclusion for your paper. The conclusion creates closure for your paper and for your reader. It includes a brief summary of your paper and provides your final perspective on the topic. Your thesis statement

should also be restated in the conclusion. Your conclusion should consist of at least four to five strong sentences and can be up to two paragraphs in length.

2. Compile and Polish Your Final Paper The final version of your Reflective Paper must be a compilation of the following: a. Title page b. Outline c. Introduction d. Body of the paper e. Conclusion f. Reference page (last page)

By now, you will have feedback from your Teaching Assistant from Steps One and Two. Use that feedback to polish your paper. Then submit the final version of your Reflective Paper.