ENG 501: Reflection in Student Composition Courses

Introduction: Textbooks and Student Learning

Reflection Papers

What are they, and why are they important?

Metacognitive reflection writing is a staple in first-year composition classes, but few scholars agree on what it is. For some, it's a narrative essay about a life experience. For others, it's an analytical look at a specific writing assignment.

Whatever it is, textbooks aren't writing about it.

Textbooks privilege certain forms of writing and communication because the material that a textbook includes necessarily excludes other material. Sometimes, textbook material does not adequately present or explain topics covered in composition classes.

My research has uncovered an underrepresentation of reflection writing definitions, explanations, and samples in first-year composition textbooks. This underrepresentation is compounded by confused wording in these textbooks.

In short: textbooks hardly talk about metacognition. And when they do, they hardly agree on what reflective writing really is.

The following pages will discuss who talks about critical reflection writing and why it's so confusing for students, researchers, and instructors.


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