My college writing has drastically changed since I was a Freshman. The most drastic changes occur in my later experiments with compositions outside of MLA style critical analysis and research papers.
I wrote the first collegiate essay for my freshman composition class. The paper represents a fulfillment of Objective 2 - Read, interpret, select, and use evidence critically to support arguments. In one paragraph, I wrote:
The rejection of a formal college education is completely understandable with a guaranteed allowance, debt forgiveness, convenient Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) programs, and high job security offered by the military. In fact, the Army alone recruited over 101,000 men and women to join the active and reserved armies in the year 2003 (“Support Army Recruiting”). From the evidence of this record-breaking statistic, it can be assumed that a large majority of the American population can in some way relate to the choices being made by young men and women.
Not only was evidence provided and cited in the text, but the evidence was applied to the overall arguments being made in the paper. Instead of dropping a quotation or ending my paragraph, I took the time to find a reputable source, take data from that source, and apply that data in support of my arguments.
While this skill remained with me, I began applying the use of evidence in increasingly more sophisticated ways as time progressed. In the following year, I took a literature class that required a literary analysis of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. I remember getting excited over the the connections I was making in the novel, and I struggled with remaining in the page limit. These difficulties came with more advanced thinking and connections, which needed to be supported in the text. At one point in the analysis, I wrote:
The conclusion is best described by the last words of Frankenstein, “Seek happiness in tranquility, and avoid ambition, even if it be only the apparently innocent one of distinguishing yourself in science and discoveries” (Shelley, p. 260). These last words spoken by Victor convey the Romantic idealist worldview of pursuing happiness, but through the pursuit of peace rather than the attainment of achievement.
These thoughts continued on to include cultural and historical details, elements drawn from class discussions. Altogether, the analysis relies on the textual evidence but has transitioned to a focus on using the data to convey my thoughts. This method is more of an appropriate approach to an analysis paper. This helps in my alignment to Objective 1 - Compose differently for particular audiences, purposes, and genres. As I continue to write more advanced compositions in this genre, I am better able to communicate my ideas to my intended audiences.
My third artifact also supports Objective 1 in the genre of reflection. The composition is a personal reflection of my beliefs as a teacher. Unlike the previous college compositions provided, this example uses personal experiences and the first person point of view to make an argument. Also, the intended audience is essentially myself, though my teacher and others may read it. The composition did include evidence (Objective 2), but the formatting did not require an MLA citation style.
As demonstrated by my fourth artifact, writing does not always involve lengthy texts. This blog was originally created for a class on educational technology, and includes several expanding sections. While many of these texts were previously assignments for literature and education classes, I include a section assessing web tools that may be used in a classroom environment. Instead of an essay, these posts include hypertextual information in the form of links. Each post also includes a visual description of the web tool as either a picture or a video. The writing involved short descriptions and uses for each tool. These elements support my completion of Objective 4 - Compose in multiple modes and media. The use of a digital platform, as demonstrated by the artifact, can entertain many non-traditional writing spaces. Thus, the audience and purpose must be defined and evaluated (Objective 1) instead of assuming the same audience as an MLA style paper.
Regrettably, my writing process typically does not include peer reviews or other collaborations other than professor feedback upon final submission. However, I did include this process at several points in my writing career. This marks a deficit in my completion of Objective 3 - Describe and apply appropriate writing processes, both individual and collaborative. However, I submit my final artifact as an example of the product of a college Writing Center session. This essay is one of my most recent works in which the audience, my professor, had specific formatting and organization rules. My struggle with the paper had to do with shortening my text to fit a page maximum which involved making my arguments more concise without sacrificing clarity. The peer review assisted me in eliminating paragraphs and working those ideas into other places of the paper. This collaborative experience greatly assisted in meeting the expectations of the rhetorical situation.
The artifacts included in this portfolio reflect my transition from a novice writer to a more experienced writer. While I have by no means “arrived” in any sense, my advancements are evident through the choices I made in each composition.
This portfolio was compiled in December 2016.
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