All WR courses should offer students regular and varied opportunities for reflection, including personal, metacognitive, and social/systemic reflections that instructors assign as in-class activities and/or for homework throughout the term. Each semester, WR students will choose three of these reflections for inclusion in their cumulative portfolios.

Below you will find ideas and examples that can be used or modified as you wish. Remember that reflections don’t always need to take written form. As long as students can capture them in some way (as a photo or video, for example), they can include them in their portfolios on Digication.

Note that all sections of WR 111-WR 15x must also assign the Literacy Narrative, though only students who are new to the WR sequence will complete it.

Personal Reflections

In personal reflections, students reflect on their own experiences with communication, as well as their own identities vis-a-vis writing—their “personal views, knowledge, experiences, reactions, and positionality” (Goldsmith et al. “Expanding Reflective Writing Theory for Inclusive Practice.” Association for Writing Across the Curriculum workshop,, April 6, 2022.).  They answer the question: “Who are you as a writer and communicator?

In relation to the Writing Program’s common portfolio literacy narrative:

  • Scaffold the literacy narrative with Qianqian Zhang-Wu’s “Draw your linguistic and cultural identity” activity (presented to the Writing Program in January 2023 here, with more information here).
  • Have students create positionality maps (see resources here and here) and have them reflect on the intersections between positionality and education/writing.
  • Follow up on the literacy narrative in a way that is relevant to your course level and/or course topic.

During the drafting and peer review process:

  • Assign the inner critic activity.
  • During peer review activities, have students reflect on how their identities/positionalities and/or past experiences with writing may shape their ways of engaging other students’ texts.

At the end of the semester:

  • Ask students to revisit and respond to their literacy narrative in light of their experiences in the class.
  • Have students reflect on how writing has helped them connect with communities at BU, both academic and nonacademic.

Metacognitive Reflections

In reflections for metacognition, students reflect on the writing and learning processes, on their “individual learning or choices made within disciplinary activity to move toward action” (Goldsmith et al.) They answer the question: “What have you learned about how to write and communicate?” All of our Essential Lessons contain metacognitive notes with specific applications in a sidebar. Instructors may also wish to consult our faculty guide to metacognition in the writing classroom.

In relation to texts: 

  • Have students reflect on/discuss how readings fit into the context of the course: Why did we do this reading/viewing/etc? What was the purpose of it? How would I have experienced it differently if it preceded this other author we read? How might I respond to this reading if I were writing a paper on it?

During the drafting and peer review process:

  • Before they begin writing, have students reflect on assignment goals: What am I imagining for the upcoming paper assignment? What feeling do I want my reader to take away from my paper, and why? Which of our class readings do I really want to include in my paper? Which do I definitely not want to include?
  • Before or after peer review, have students reflect on where they are in the process: What is the best thing about my draft at this point? What strategy or tip did I use in the process of working on this draft that has been helpful? Where am I stuck right now? What would I like feedback on at this point, and why?
  • Have students submit a cover memo with their final draft: If I had an extra two days, with no other commitments, to work on this paper, how would I change it and why? What is different about this paper than my other papers? What is one style or technique I borrowed from the writers we read?

At the end of the module:

  • Ask students to respond to the feedback they have received on a final draft: In what ways does the feedback align with how I was thinking about my essay? What, if anything, surprised me about the feedback I received, and why? How can I take this feedback and apply it to future assignments?
  • Once an assignment sequence is complete, have students consider what might transfer out: What skills did I develop during this assignment sequence? How could I apply them in other academic and/or non-academic contexts?

Social/Systemic Reflections

In social or systemic reflections, students “grapple with belief systems […] reflecting on concepts by examining broader social elements and understanding beyond personal experience” (Goldsmith et al.) They answer the question: “What do you believe about writing and communication?”

In relation to texts:

  • Have students tie course texts/content to larger questions about language and power.
  • Have students reflect on the syllabus as a genre that forms/is formed by social relationships and operates within a system of power.
  • Have students reflect on ________ as a genre that forms/is formed by social relationships and operates within a system of power

During the drafting and peer review process:

  • Have students reflect on the genre of and audience(s) for their draft: Where do you find this genre empowering? Where do you find yourself resisting constraints of this genre? Why?
  • Before and/or after peer review, have students reflect on beliefs (old and new) about language choice and “correctness” or “standard” language conventions.

At the end of semester: 

  • Have students reflect on their ideas about what writing is or how writing works (perhaps in relation to genre awareness, interactions with generative AI, critical language awareness, or another topic relevant to your topic)
  • Ask students to reflect on the relationship between writing, identity, and community–at BU, in their prospective field of study, or in other contexts.