Due Date: Sunday, May 22nd
Submit via this Dropbox link as a clearly labeled Word document (First Name Last Name, Final Course Reflection).
If you do not submit by the deadline, you will receive no credit for the work. Late assignments will not be accepted.
*If you would like to discuss your ideas or drafts, please schedule an appointment to see me during my office hours. I am more than happy to discuss your ideas/drafts in person (Zoom “in-person” 🙂 ) with you, at any stage of your reading/thinking/writing process.
In class and on our OpenLab course site, you have been using close reading to generate questions and ideas about various self-help texts this semester. As you know, reflecting on your experiences/writing/thinking/learning has also been a large and important part of our course. Now you will build on this work, and turn a critical, reflective eye on yourself and your experiences in this course and with these materials and ideas. Your task is to reflect on them, describe them, and to make an argument for how they have shaped your views about the genre, your life, your major, and the world beyond.
This Final Course Reflection (doubling as your final exam) is a 5-6 page (double-spaced) cumulative, holistic reflection on your experiences in the course this semester, including your struggles, triumphs, and growth as a reader, writer, thinker, and student. There is no “right” way to do this, though your reflection should be a thorough and thoughtful piece of writing that that critically reflects on how self-help (and the course) have re-/shaped your thinking. You will be making an argument about / providing analysis of your experiences, offering claims and evidence (texts–either read in class or outside, ideas, discussions, your own experiences, the world) to explore and support this argument. Make sure to fully address the following:
1. How has your knowledge of/thinking about the purpose/power/scope of Self-Help developed as a result of the readings/discussions in this course? What beliefs/assumptions have been challenged (or reaffirmed)? What new ideas have you encountered? Why? How might you apply this knowledge to other areas of study (e.g., your major, career), your life (relationships, hobbies, thinking), and/or society as a whole? What ideas do you find particularly compelling? What would you like to learn more about in the future?
2. In addition to discussion how you have grown in your understanding of self-help and your ability to understand, analyze, and write about the genre, you should also reflect on how what you have learned in this course helps you to think more critically about the world and to become a stronger writer.
3. Finally, you should also reflect on your experiences in the course itself: the course materials (texts we read, themes we discussed, self-help as a genre), use of class time, use of the OpenLab (blogging, commenting, class discussions, class notes, People’s Choice, Professor’s Picks), assignments, homework, freewriting, teaching style, peer review, group discussion, conferences with the professor, presentations, technology (i.e., Zoom, Dropbox), etc. This is an honest / substantive reflection, so you should discuss things you enjoyed and that you think went well in the course (and your participation in it), and you should also feel free to “constructively” critique aspects of the course (including teaching methods, texts, assignments) you feel could be altered to better serve students in future semesters. I take this feedback into account as I plan future courses/syllabi (and I will be teaching ENG 3402 and other related courses many times in the future, so I am particularly interested in knowing your level of interest in/excitement about the course content and methods). I thank you in advice for your candid, constructive, and helpful evaluations of the course.
This final course reflection takes the place of your final exam, and asks you to synthesize and critically describe / evaluate your experiences in the course. It counts as 10% of your overall course grade.
Although this is a personal reflection, it is not “anything goes”; it also requires a significant amount of brainstorming / drafting / revision. The assignment requires you to turn a critical eye on the course (which requires you engage with it, even if you did not enjoy all aspects of it), your experiences, and, most significantly, yourself. You will be evaluated on the completeness, complexity, specifics, and thoughtfulness of your reflections as well as the quality of your writing (e.g., organization, topic sentences, transitions, sentence-level style & correctness).
Plagiarism, in all forms, will not be tolerated. Any essay that plagiarizes will automatically fail (and you may fail the course as well). Refer to City Tech’s Policy on Academic Integrity on the Syllabus and Assignments: Formatting, Guidelines, Submission more specific details.
Argument + Organization Tips
- You should write this reflective essay in the first person.
- This final assignment is reflective but it should be driven by analysis (subsequent claims and evidence) of and critical engagement with your experiences in the course. Remember that the purpose of this essay is not to merely summarize (simply report what we’ve done in class or what the texts we read are about) or to write about some idea (e.g., progress) in general, but to critically consider how your encounter with the course/genre has influenced you.
- Keep in mind that, as in your blogs, in-class freewriting, class discussions, you can’t discuss everything. Spend time choosing and focusing your ideas before you start drafting your essay; I would encourage you to review your own notes and the Class Notes as starting points for your brainstorming process.
- This essay extends the thinking and writing you have already done in class and in your blogging and other assignments. Therefore, while you should of course feel free to build on what you have already written this semester in blogs or other informal writing (or what we have discussed in class), do not simply repeat what you have previously stated elsewhere. Remember that your blogging is only an informal response to the texts we read and, as such, your posts may not be organized effectively or clearly / fully articulated. You should use this material as freewriting (or even a rough draft), and then work to revise it into a coherent and detailed argument. There is a much greater emphasis on analysis and structure in this essay than in your blog posts and other informal writing.
- This essay builds from your close reading of your experiences in dialogue with texts and ideas we have read/discussed together as a class. You can also bring in other examples (relevant texts, contemporary events, or even your own outside experiences), but discussion of them should stay grounded in the core reflection/discussion of your experiences this semester. As always, choose specific quotes and examples from the texts that are relevant to your claims and use them in the service of supporting these ideas. Remember that each quote / example should be introduced, explained and analyzed, relevant, and cited (using MLA style for in-text citations). You should also provide a Works Cited page for the texts you use, at the end of your essay … this page doesn’t count towards the 5-6 page requirement for the essay.
- Structure the essay according to your argument, avoiding mere summary, on the one hand, and the five-paragraph essay, on the other. When critically discussing your experiences in the courses, you should structure your essay according to your thesis (your argument about your growth in this class), not necessarily according to the order of the experiences themselves. You can describe but you must also analyze and provide argument (make meaning out of those descriptions and analyses).
- Your essay should include: a focused thesis paragraph; body paragraphs that provide additional claims (topic sentences) and specific, concrete details and examples in support of both these claims and your overall thesis (do not keep repeating the same idea over and over again in different ideas); logical connections / transitions among sentences, paragraphs, and ideas (claims); a concluding paragraph.