Writing Process Reflection Assignment, Core 101
The Writing Process Reflection Assignment requires students to consider how their work in Core 101 has contributed to their growth as writers. The ability to reflect upon your work is essential to your development as a writer. We know, for example, that students do better in their writing courses when they think actively about what they are doing well and what they need to improve in the future. Put another way, students improve their writing when they think of each writing assignment as a way-point in their development as writers, instead of thinking of each one as an isolated “hoop” to jump through. We also know that when students reflect upon how they can apply what they’ve learned in their writing classes into their major field of study, they have a much better chance of successfully transferring those skills into upper-level courses.
Students will evaluate their progress as writers by reflecting upon foundational concepts in rhetoric and composition and discussing their approaches to the writing process.
- Assess efforts to write for different audiences and purposes, e.g. argument, personal expression, rhetorical analysis.
- Reflect upon the relationship between writing and critical thinking.
- Distinguish between composing, revising, editing, and proofreading.
- Propose goals for writing progress.
Because of much of this section overlaps with material covered under OBJECTIVE II of the Personal Essay Assignment, particularly Question 3: “How do I show that I have considered my audience?”, we encourage you to re-read that section. Also, ask yourself:
- Did I tell my audience everything they needed to know?
- Did I assume that my audience already possessed certain knowledge or held certain beliefs?
- Was I correct about those assumptions?
- Did I consider the kinds of evidence my audience would value?
A genre is a way of presenting information that is familiar to a certain audience. As we say in the section “Why should I care about my audience?“, each genre has a typical length, format, style, tone, and content. The concept of genre is closely related to audience. For example, literary scholars would expect an analysis of a poem to include an argument about it, and for that argument to be supported through very close attention to the poem’s specific language. Quotations and paraphrases of the poem would serve as the primary “evidence” for this analysis, though the writer may choose to include detail from the poet’s life or historical period. The paper might conclude by restating its argument, exploring its significance, or even suggesting further avenues of research. If a writer failed to live up to her audience’s expectations of what a literary analysis is “supposed to look like,” then she likely won’t be successful in conveying her ideas.
Consider the following:
- How well did you do switching from one genre to another?
- Was it easier to write an essay describing a personal experience, rather than one analyzing an essay that you read for class? Why do you think this is the case?
Review the bulleted list of questions in the section “How can I use language appropriately and effectively to accomplish my writing goals?” Do you think you made appropriate choices for each assignment?
As we say on page 70, “writing helps us to develop our critical thinking skills and communicate our ideas effectively.” While that statement is true in a general sense, it doesn’t say anything specific about your own writing or thinking. To that end, consider the following:
- How do you discover or develop your ideas?
- Do you think through your ideas before you write, or do you brainstorm through writing?
- Do you ever change your ideas after you first write them down?
- Do the methods you’ve learned for generating ideas in Core 101 differ from what you’ve previously been taught? If so how? Is one more effective for you than the other?
- How often do you stop to reconsider what you’ve written?
Composing is the act of putting ideas to words, sounds, or images. Revising, or “re-visioning,” is concerned with the changing of ideas on a large scale, usually in terms of paragraphs, sections, or even entire papers. A writer revises when she rethinks major components of her project and changes substantial portions of it. Editing concerns itself mostly with sentence-level issues or matters of style. A writer often edits to trim down lengthy sentences, to replace passive constructions with active ones, or to make sure the tone of a piece is effective for its intended purpose. Proofreading concerns itself with small-scale issues, like punctuation, capitalization, spelling, etc. A writer proofreads to ensure that she doesn’t leave any embarrassing mistakes in her final submission.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- What are your practices for composing, revising, editing, and proofreading?
- Do you plan your ideas about beforehand? Does that plan ever change during your writing process?
- Before Core 101, did you think of composing, revising, editing, and proofreading as distinct tasks? What about now?
- Are you mindful of matters of style when you first compose your ideas, or do you save those concerns for later in your writing process?
If you remember anything from Core 101, we hope it’s that learning to write is a complex process that continues for your entire life, well beyond your freshman writing requirement. You will never be “done” learning how to write, and aside from recalling a teacher or parent helping you to form individual letters and words, you will never be able to identify a single moment when someone “taught you how to write.”
The fact is that you will be learning and relearning how to write for various situations and audiences. Each situation you encounter will present different requirements and challenges. Even basic terms will mean different things, depending on your chosen discipline. For example, “evidence” in an English class is very different from evidence in a history class. Similarly, your criminal justice professor will have a very different idea of what it means to present an “argument,” compared to your economics professor. One goal of your Core classes is to help you to consider how concepts like argument, evidence, knowledge, audience, and purpose change from one context to another. That is why you’ve been asked to write in different genres, like the personal essay and the academic argument.
It is essential that you begin thinking actively about how you can transfer the skills you have learned in Core 101 to your other classes (and to the world beyond Radford University). If you don’t think actively about your development as a writer, then it is very likely that you will make little progress from one semester to the next. The key to improvement is to “look back” as well as “look forward.” In other words, it is important to consider what you have succeeded or had trouble with in the past, so you have an idea of what you need to work on in the future. To that end, consider the following questions.
- What does your instructor say you did well in a particular assignment?
- What advice does your instructor have for improvement?
- What do you think you did well, and what do you think needs more work?
- What challenges did you face when completing specific assignments? How did you attempt to meet those challenges?
- How might you define terms like argument, evidence, knowledge, audience, and purpose in the context of your other classes, especially ones in your major?
- Even if you are under the impression that your intended career is not writing-intensive, chances are good that you will be writing a lot more than you think. What are some scenarios in your career that might require writing—even very small amounts—and how do you think you could apply what you’ve learned in Core 101?