Recent interest in reflective writing in the classroom is tied to the suggested links among reflection, metacognition, and learning transfer. There is still a limited understanding, however, about the distinguishing features of reflective writing and how teachers might identify and use these features to teach effective reflective practices and to interact with student reflective writing. This study uses Gorzelsky et al.’s (2016) taxonomy of metacognitive behaviors to examine the end-of-semester reflective essays of undergraduate students enrolled in a first-year writing course at a large midwestern university. The authors identify and describe a feature of student reflective writing involving the use of emotional language and, working from their findings, suggest a teaching strategy and set of classroom activities aimed at leveraging students’ emotive expressions in ways that foster metacognitive awareness.

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