This introductory essay (final reflection essay)(aim to write 6-8 pages)
1) makes arguments about your progress in WR39B, especially in the RA essay and RIP project; and
2) analyzes all of the writing you’ve selected for the portfolio as evidence for your arguments. The essay should include the following:
- Specific arguments about the advancement of particular writing skills through class participation and engagement, reading and writing homework, paper drafts and the revision process in all its stages, including peer review.
- Supportive analysis of specific evidence taken from your own writing and the feedback you have received. Evidence will include quotations, screenshots and other images of your writing, and/or hyperlinks.
- Your reasons for making the choices you made, and what you may have done differently; what you think you accomplished and what you’re struggling with.
- Your responses to the class texts and how these sources informed your own work and ideas.
- Your plans for writing after WR39B–what you want to work on and how you want to develop your skills in WR39C and/or your other classes.
Beware: you should follow your instincts as well as your informed belief, not hubris or pathos. Consider what you did, what you could have done, what you believe you wanted to learn, etc.
Additional notes on writing the Portfolio Introduction essay:
- Your arguments should relate the development of your writing skills to the larger context of academic writing. Put another way, what do you understand about academic discourse (writing) and its conventions that you didn’t know before taking WR39B? As a college-level writer, how have you adopted (or adapted to) the conventions of academic discourse throughout your writing process in WR39B?
- You may choose to write about anything related to your learning in WR39B, so long as you make arguable claims about your progress in class so far, logically supported by specific evidence from your work.
- Your selection of process work functions as supporting evidence for your claims in the essay–quote or integrate your writing directly using screenshots or photos so that you can analyze it properly.
- Cultivate your personal voice. Feel free to write in the first person; use “we” when referring to your group’s activities. However, a personal tone should not lead to informality or vague ideas; remember to maintain conventions of good writing as you describe your personal experiences and individual learning.
- The Portfolio Introduction is a formal essay and as such, you should organize your essay carefully: begin with an introductory paragraph and end with a concluding paragraph; in between, craft (more than three!) body paragraphs that each develop a single main idea. Your introductory essay should go through more than one draft; revise carefully and make sure to proofread for any lingering errors or typos.
- As much as possible, explain the relationships between the different assignments you completed this quarter. For example, how did particular CR or RIP exercises help you to develop and/or revise your essays? Your introductory essay should not be a mere laundry list of things you did over ten weeks—I already know what you were assigned to do. What I want to know from this document is how you made these tasks meaningful for yourself as a developing writer.
- Don’t be afraid to discuss the negative aspects of your learning process as well as the positive. If you’ve experienced frustration, confusion, or failure, reflect on what caused the trouble and explain how you learned from it. And after only five weeks in this class, you probably still have some things to continue working on—be honest about what skills you need to keep practicing.
- Be as specific as possible! Quote your own work directly and consider including multi-modal elements—hyperlinks, screenshots, camera pics, and/or paper excerpts to illustrate your writing process. Before-and-after images work particularly well.
Below are some guiding questions you might use to jumpstart your self-assessment. I recommend you use these questions for focused freewriting before writing your first draft, so that you can plan what you want to say; the more questions you answer, the better.
Keep in mind that simply answering these questions in paragraph form will not make a good essay–you do need a thesis of some kind and your essay as a whole should be coherent and cohesive.
On your rhetorical awareness:
- How do you understand the significance of rhetorical situation on a writer’s message?
- How do you meet the expectations of different, specific audiences (your instructor, your peers, yourself, the larger academic community)?
- How do you craft different personas to achieve different rhetorical goals?
- How does context dictate your other rhetorical choices?
- How do different rhetorical strategies influence one another in your writing?
On your understanding of genre conventions, and especially travel writing conventions:
- How has your understanding of travel writing evolved since the beginning of the class?
- How do you understand the rhetorical significance of travel writing conventions?
- How have you used your understanding of the travel writing genre to understand other genres and their conventions?
- How does your understanding of genre conventions shape your writing process and your rhetorical choices?
- How have you applied your newly-gained knowledge of travel writing to your life and experience outside WR39B?
On your writing process:
- How do you understand the importance of writing as a process?
- How has your drafting process evolved since the beginning of this class?
- Have you changed the way you take notes on your reading, in order to better prepare for later writing? How?
- What pre-writing methods do you prefer, and why?
- What types of drafting techniques and writing habits work well for you, and why?
On your revision process:
- How do you understand the importance of revision?
- How has your revision process evolved since the beginning of this class?
- How have you grown more attentive to broad conceptual revisions dealing with argument and analysis–that is, refining your ideas?
- How have you grown more attentive to organizational issues, like paragraphs and transitions?
- How do you respond to feedback, both from me and your peers?
- What kind of advice do you tend to give to other writers during peer review?
- How does giving feedback shape your own revision process?
On your use of outside sources:
- How do you understand the usefulness of popular and scholarly sources?
- How do you select appropriate sources to respond to in your writing? Describe your process.
- How do other people’s ideas shape your own ideas and writing process?
On your unique development as an academic writer:
- Have you experienced moments when the light bulb suddenly illuminated? Can you explain why and how this happened?
- Have you experienced moments of productive frustration or failure? Can you explain why this happened and how you learned from it?
- What would you revise further in the RA and RIP, if you had the opportunity?
- Why aren’t you satisfied with that element of the project and what specific changes would you make?
- How do you see your writing, at this point in WR39B?
- How do you view your position as an academic writer and/or as a writer in other contexts?
- How would you describe your authorial voice and style?
- What do you want to communicate as an individual and/or as a member of our UCI community?
- What plans do you for developing your writing skills in WR39C and/or your other classes?