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When I began this course, I thought I knew how to write a college paper fairly well, but over the last 17 weeks, I’ve learned differently. In terms of the English 250 course outcomes, major improvements took place in three main areas, detailed below. Specifically, I
- Developed strategies to revise my own writing
- Integrated documents from a range of informational sources
- Adapted my writing for specific purposes, audiences, and situations
These new understandings are sure to serve me well in future courses and in my career, as the basic principles of communication—that you must adapt to fit your circumstances, applies to all circumstances. On the page below, I’ve explained each of these things in more depth, as well as indicating why these things are important to my studies, both now and in the future.
Revisions Strategies Top ↑
One of the major things I learned this semester was how to use the composing process, that is, invention, drafting, feedback, revision, and reflection to both lengthen and strengthen my written, oral, visual, and electronic communication. The process starts with invention (generating ideas) and leads into drafting (putting ideas down on “paper”). Then, I learned the value of soliciting and listening to feedback (from my peers and my instructor), and using that feedback and my own increased understanding to revise the piece. Even though this process may seem ordered, in reality I had to return to early stages and work on multiple phases at the same time. The composing process was used in every project this semester, from essays to speeches, even in this website.
Research and Source Integration Top ↑
Another major thing I learned this semester was how to make and support claims with evidence, especially in the form of quotations from source texts. In each of the projects this semester, even my oral presentations, I practiced supporting key points of my arguments with selected portions of other texts, and I learned to use signal phrases and citations to integrate these quotations into my own writing. I also learned how to use research and take notes on sources, and to paraphrase and summarize when quotations were not needed.
Adapting for my Audience Top ↑
Probably the most important thing I learned this semester was how to write to a specific audience. Being able to target a particular audience is a key strategy used by professional writers, and in my essays and presentations I learned to include contextual information in the introduction, at important moments in the body, and in the form of implications in the conclusion. I learned how to answer the questions of “so what?” and “who cares?” for my readers, so that the purpose and content of my communication was made apparent from the outset.
W·O·V·E Communication Top ↑
Each of the techniques of composing described above were used in each and every project this semester, and so I had plenty of opportunity to practice and improve them. For example, even though I used quotations extensively in my summary, it really wasn’t until my documented essay that I really understood how to use signal phrases and citations around those quotations, to make them more useful for my reader. Likewise, it really wasn’t until I revised my textual rhetorical analysis that I fully understood the value of the composing process.
Because I’ve learned to target my communication for a specific audience, support my claims with evidence and quotations, receive feedback, and perform revision, my finished products have become much stronger. As I continue to pursue my studies, this knowledge will prove useful in my future courses when writing papers, giving presentations, and creating visuals and even websites. Even after I graduate and move into the work force, this knowledge will help me write reports, communicate with clients, and collaborate with co-workers.
It’s my sincere hope that the contents of this portfolio demonstrate how my communication skills have grown and strengthened in these key areas, and I invite you to explore the materials I’ve presented here.