Writing for Education and Human Development

Papers for many Education and Human Development (EDHD) courses require that students observe and present information in a clear and concise manner. As a general rule of thumb, the guidelines that are presented in the American Psychological Association (APA) are used in this department as the standard for writing acceptable papers.

This web-page is designed to exhibit various types of papers assigned in The School of Education and Human Development and give the reader techniques that will improve his/her writing within this department.

The following information has been created by members of The School of Education and Human Development and the Alton A. Wilmer Writing Center Staff. This information will summarize the expectations for writing various types of papers within this discipline.

Types of Writing Assignments

  • Assessment Reports
  • Case Histories
  • Classroom Observations (anecdotal writing)
  • Journal Writing
  • Research Papers
  • Reflection Papers

Writing Tips

Components of Papers

  1. The title page should include the title of paper, student's name, course professor and/or course name, and date.
  2. The text is the written content of the paper. (You do not normally need an abstract). Text should include an introduction, discussion section, and a summary or conclusion. If the paper is lengthy, headings should be used to identify components of the paper. For example, the headings Introduction, Discussion, and Conclusion might be used.
  3. The reference list is used to list the sources that you have used to prepare the paper. All of the sources listed must be cited within the paper itself.

Typing Format

  1. Page numbers should be placed in the upper right corner; the first page is NOT numbered so page numbers actually begin to appear on the second page. Although a variation on APA, the title page is not to be counted or numbered. Start counting on the first text page and numbering on the second text page.
  2. All text should be double spaced, including information on the title page. The only exception, if desired, is the reference list, which may be single spaced.
  3. Margins should be 1 inch all around. Justify left margin only.
  4. The type or font size must be pica (10 characters/inch) or elite (12 characters/inch). No other text size is acceptable.
  5. Indent new paragraphs 5 spaces from the left.
  6. Place a running head that includes an abbreviated title of the paper on each page on the top left.

Dr. Glenn Buck's Effective Writing Strategy


L= List your major ideas.
A= Arrange your ideas.
W= Write your draft.
S= Sleep
R'= Reread your draft the next day (out loud to someone else).
U= Undo the weakness in your draft.
S= Use the Spell Check!

Additional Hints for Effective Writing

  • Include a topic sentence at the beginning of paragraph that introduces what is going to be discussed in the paragraph.
  • Avoid putting too many ideas in one paragraph. Remember the words clear, concise, and cogent when writing papers.
  • Avoid run on sentences

Reflection Papers

What is a reflection paper?

Reflection papers and assignments are designed to reinforce what has been learned through lectures, discussions, and activities presented in class and in the readings. Most reflection papers are two-three pages in length. In addition, they are often about personal reactions and thoughts; they should not be done in collaboration with other students unless directed to do so by the instructor.

5 Steps to an Effective Reflection Paper

Remember that the rules of writing apply to papers about your thoughts and feelings. Although you are writing about a personal experience, this does not allow you to use a free-form of writing.

Here are 5 steps to follow:

  1. Focus your feelings.
    Before writing a reflection paper, the writer needs to stop and decide what it is that he or she going to write about. By establishing a theme, the writer will be able to write in a clear and concise manner.
  2. Be organized.
    Being organized will also allow the writer to write in a clear, concise, and cogent manner.
    • Make a point--State what you have established as your theme and the pertinent information that surrounds the theme.
    • Divide your paper into paragraphs--Give each major point its own space so that the reader will be able to understand and conceptualize the different components of your theme.
    • Use topic sentences in paragraphs--These sentences should correspond with your major points and draw the attention of the reader.

    *A reflection paper is not a random free-flow of ideas. It needs to grab the interest of the reader and present ideas in a clear, concise, and cogent manner.*

  3. Develop observations and feelings.
    Observations and feelings are an essential component of a reflection paper; however, in order for these components to be properly conveyed by the writer, they must be developed. Identify specific aspects or components of the situation that has been observed. One way to do this is by asking the five basic questions:
    • Who observed the situation?
    • From What perspective was the observation made and What was being observed?
    • When did the observation take place?
    • Why was the particular situation being observed?
    • Where did the observation take place?

    *After asking these questions, state what it is that you have learned. This will give relevance to the observation and your feelings, as well as, help the reader better understand your point of view.*

  4. Review your work at the sentence level.
    • Use good sentence structure--Remember the Mnemonic Device K.I.S.S==> Keep It Simple Stupid: Do not pack your sentences full of ideas but, keep them focused.
    • Avoid sentence fragments--Write complete sentences that have a subject and verb.
    • Avoid fused sentences--Two sentences that have been fused together into one sentence.
    • Choose language which expresses your meaning--Again remember K.I.S.S., simplicity brings clarity. The writer does not need to use language that does not fit within the setting.
  5. Remember these tips:
    • Relate ideas and link the information together form the writer's personal experience.
    • Relate relevant information from classroom learning to the experience.
    • Use key phrases, such as "for example," "as a result of," "another idea that supports my view is," "an opposite view is," and "a different perspective is," are all good transitional phrases that signal the introduction of specifics as well as shifts in the argument.

Reflection Paper Grading Guidelines:

An 'A' Paper Demonstrates:


  • There is evidence that the author reflected extensively on the issue. Opinions and ideas should be thoughtful, comprehensive, creative, and/or insightful. The inclusion of humor can be effective.
  • The author provides depth to the paper by providing such things as specific example, multiple points of view, opposing points of view, analogies, quotes from various sources, comparisons, lists of ideas, etc.
  • The author organizes content so that ideas are grouped and sequenced logically. The author uses phrases to organize ideas (example: "I have always believed that...For example...Evidence for this idea is found...")
  • The content includes information learned from other courses (the interdisciplinary perspective).
  • The content can include personal stories, things that have happened to you in relation to the issue. But, do not go overboard; there need to be opinions and conclusions based on those stories.


  • Flawless Spelling (the writer needs to utilize the spell checker)
  • Grammar and punctuation that reflects college level writing
  • All papers are to be typed, double spaced, and stapled (note: all unstapled papers will be penalized 1 point)
  • Length: Unless stated otherwise, a paragraph will be insufficient. I expect at least a full page of content. However, it is not suggested to exceed three full pages; although, the writer will not be penalized for doing so.
  • Margins should be one inch on each side, top and bottom.
  • Headings for papers must include the following information
    -your name
    -name of assignment (or a word/phrase that describes the assignment)
    -date due

Created by Andrew Miller in consultation with Dr. Glenn Buck, School of Education and Human Development, Lynchburg College.