According to the Purdue Online Writing Laboratory, “The expository essay is a genre of essay that requires the student to investigate an idea, evaluate evidence, expound on the idea, and set forth an argument concerning that idea in a clear and concise manner. This can be accomplished through comparison and contrast, definition, example, the analysis of cause and effect, etc” (OWL, https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/685/02/).
University of Michigan says more concisely, “Exposition is a type of oral or written discourse that is used to explain, describe, give information or inform” (http://www.umich.edu/~exppro/info.html).
A paper needs to have a clear main point it is trying to make. Traditionally this main point is called a “thesis.” The word “thesis,” however, has the connotation of defending a strong position on a controversial subject. Some make a distinction between a thesis, which is proper for an argumentative or persuasive essay, and a “focus,” which is proper for an expository writing. This distinction makes a point that the expository writing is not strongly argumentative, yet does give a perspective on a topic.
One can compare the difference between expository and persuasive writing to the difference between teaching and debate.
Michigan explains several patterns that are common in expository writing: description, sequence, comparison, cause and effect, problem and solution (http://www.umich.edu/~exppro/info.html#patterns). They even give visual representations of each of them, such as this one for cause and effect:
Most writing at SHSST is expository.
A reflection is an organized statement of your reaction to a situation, event, reading, talk, problem, or idea. Some reflections want you to focus on your thoughts; others are interested in your feelings as well. Although it is not a research paper, if you do quote or use the ideas of another, you need to cite.
You may see the following on your syllabus or on a writing assignment: “Write a reflection on….”
According to Plymouth State (Plymouth State), a reflection has the following components:
IIRP. “IIRP Tips on Writing Reflection Papers.” Accessed November 16, 2015. http://www.iirp.edu/pdf/IIRP-Reflection-Tip_Sheet.pdf.
WikiHow. “How to Write a Reflection Paper.” Accessed November 16, 2015. http://www.wikihow.com/Write-a-Reflection-Paper.
Butner, Sean. “Steps in Writing a Reflection Paper.” Synonym. Accessed November 16, 2015.http://classroom.synonym.com/steps-writing-reflection-paper-2543.html.
Plymouth State University Graduate Studies. “Reflection Paper.” Plymouth State University. Accessed November 16, 2015. https://www.plymouth.edu/graduate/academics/partnership-courses/reflection-paper/.
What is the issue you are addressing?
What is the history of its development?
Who are the major protagonists?
What are the underlying issues?
This ought to include not only a summary of the position, but also a summary of the arguments used to support the position and possible objections to the position.
The objections can either be by a real scholar or of your own making.
See St. Thomas for a model for anticipating objections.
This is the heart of the paper, where you state your position and give arguments for it.
Basis for your judgment
If you agree with your main protagonist, you need to address the objections you’ve brought up in the earlier part of the paper.
Usually you refer back to the “hook” and show how your conclusion relates to the issue of the hook.
Do not introduce new ideas, unless you want to simply suggest further avenues of exploration.
A book review is not the same as a book report like you may have written in school. The goal of a review is to evaluate the book. This involves three tasks: framing your judgment, describing and analyzing the content, identifying strengths and weaknesses, then making a judgment.
Here is a brief possible outline for a good book review.