Final Reflective Essay
At the beginning of the course, I was new to college writing. My writing skills were not bad, but they needed some fine tuning. A lot of the skills I have translated over easily from high school, but some did not. I was always good at getting information and laying down a foundation. Alongside that, I’ve always found writing easy once I have that base. Filling out the main ideas were simple. However, once I arrived in college it was apparent to myself that I needed more detail, and that it was something I lacked. It needed improving, but it was not a hard fix. Sometimes it is hard for me to understand why some writing needs more detail but others do not. This class has helped me fix that issue a bit, while also strengthening my proficiency in other areas. Throughout the semester, I have completed assignments that have increased my skills, and broadened my sense as a writer in different areas. By taking this class, I have been able to develop rhetorical knowledge, develop critical thinking, reading, and information literacy, develop effective strategies for drafting texts, and develop knowledge of conventions.
This class has helped me develop rhetorical knowledge by analyzing and composing multiple forms of writing to understand how genre conventions shape readers’ and writers’ practices and purposes. This means that I have been able to analyze different types of writing in order to understand how a genre affects how an author writes, and how the reader reads. One assignment that comes to mind that helped me achieve this outcome was our advertisement analysis assignments. In class, we spent time looking at different advertisements, and how they appealed to certain audiences. We all had to bring an advertisement to class, and analyze it ourselves, pointing out what techniques the ads were using, if they were effective or not, and who were they targeting. This assignment helps develop rhetoric as it allowed me to understand how the category of advertisement writing can differ from not only other genres, but other ads as well.
Rhetoric knowledge was also developed by practicing purposeful shifts in structure, content, diction, tone, formality, design, and/or medium in accordance with the rhetorical situation, which means to be able to change your writing to reflect the rhetorical situation at hand. This was not the result of one assignment, but many. During the course we were asked to write different essays that reflected different styles of writing. From storytelling and analyzation, to infographics and research assignments, I have been able to change how I write in order to meet the requirements. For example, in the literacy narrative, I had to write to convey a story. This means using traditional elements of a story, such as a beginning, middle, climax, and resolution, along with elements such as foreshadowing. This style of writing is different from an image analysis essay, where the purpose is mostly informative rather than anecdotal. In this case, elements such as facts, context, and comparison are common, and story like elements would not be appropriate here. I display that I have met this outcome by understanding how to write in those genres and how to keep it appropriate.
Another outcome this class has helped me meet is developing critical thinking, reading, and information literacy by composing and reading for inquiry, learning, critical thinking, and communicating. One such way I have met this outcome is by writing journals almost every class about different things. Every so often we had to write a journal about our thoughts about either our writing skills, how we defined different terms, and our reflections on our assignments. By completing these journals, I was able to look back on certain assignments, and learn how I was able to accomplish what I did. This style of writing is helpful because of its creative nature, and allows myself to become better as a writer.
Two more ways I was able to develop my critical thinking, reading, and information literacy skills was by using outside materials in their own writing through techniques such as interpretation, synthesis, response, critique, and design/redesign, and incorporating outside materials through quotations, paraphrase, and summary. By completing the image analysis essay, I was able to meet the outcome about using outside materials in your own writing. I used two advertisements in the essay, and analyzed how they were done, and who they targeted, in order to compare and contrast them at the end. I appropriately commented on their effectiveness, and how they could have improved. Speaking of using outside materials, my research essay demonstrated the outcome related to using paraphrase due to the nature of the assignment. By using outside sources, I was able to make my argument stronger, and I was able to improve as a writer because my skill to read and take information away improved.
The third outcome this class helped me to achieve was to develop effective strategies for drafting texts by working through multiple drafts of a project and recognizing the role of reflecting, revising, and editing in the process, engaging in the collaborative and social aspects of writing processes, such as learning to give and to act on productive feedback to works in progress, both by and with peers and in one-on-one instructor conferences, and critically reflecting on how they may further develop and apply writing skills in the future. The first outcome was reached simply through the rough drafts of each project. I usually had to brainstorm first, but afterwards, I was able to just write in order to get the information down. It had quite a few flaws to begin with, but during editing, most of them were ironed out easily. The second outcome was achieved through peer review. This was something I had always struggled with because I did not know how to do it. After learning, I saw how important it was. It allowed me to see mistakes my brain would have never saw, and let me see what my most common mistake were, which then allowed me to know what to avoid when writing. By reviewing other’s works, I was able to see common writing errors in general, and thus gave me information about what to avoid. The last outcome was achieved through peer review reflection. This is self-explanatory, but being able to reflect on the advice given is helpful. Mostly because it allows you to take a step back, and go over everything. You can see what you did well, and what you need to avoid in the future. This way, in future endeavors, the same mistakes will hopefully not be made.
The last outcome this class helped me to achieve was to develop knowledge of conventions by demonstrating competence in grammar, punctuation, and spelling, practicing genre conventions for structure, paragraphing, tone and mechanics, and understanding the concepts of intellectual property that motivate documentation conventions through application of recognized citation styles. The first two outcomes are rather similar, in the regard that most of the assignments help reach this outcome. Grammar will never change in writing, so it is important to get it write initially. The only assignment that really tested this was peer review. Being able to recognize sentences that do not make sense is helpful, and will help a writer catch confusing or contradicting statements. As for practicing genre conventions, almost every project helped display that. Writing paragraphs and formatting them correctly is easy, so there is not reason to drag on about this point. Lastly, the assignment that helped reach the outcome about citing intellectual property was the research assignment. It is important to cite your sources so that you do not plagiarize someone’s work, and jeopardize your own academic career. The research assignment helped because you had to find sources for you argument, and as a result, citations would follow.
During the course, I was faced with a few assignments where I had to write day by day, and not just in one day. Writing is not something to do, but rather a process that you have to follow in order to succeed. Many of the different assignments helped improve my skills in rhetoric, critical thinking, drafting, and conventions. While some did not improve much, others did exponentially. The work is not perfect, but for a beginner in college, it shows that I am willing to put in the time and effort to become more than just a beginner. As I progress through school, I hope to not only maintain these skills, but improve them also. Writing is not something that you leave behind after leaving school, so it is important that I take these skills not only with me for the next four years, but for the rest of my life. If I succeed in doing that, then I will always be prepared for any assignment that my field of interest throws at me.