As the school year draws to an end, many students are left reflecting on their successes and failures for the spring semester. While this semester at Rowan University has proven to be significantly harder than my prior semester, I feel that I have attempted to work as hard as I possibly could in my classes while also being able to fully enjoy my Freshman year. In regards to my College Composition II class, I have often felt like it was a pure waste of time. I am an efficient writer when it comes to essays: between my Freshman year, I have not received a grade below a B in any of my other classes. So, for a long time writing essays and various short assignments for my Composition class felt unnecessary. However, half way through the semester, I became aware of the fact that I might have been over-confident in my writing abilities. My professor often tore apart my essays, claiming I was often being vague, repetitive or not analytical enough. Throughout the course of this class, I was faced with new challenges: rewriting most of my essays until their was undeniable clarity between my ideas, and often looking deeper into my arguments than I had ever done before and making unambiguous arguments. I fully believe that there has been a significant improvement in my writing since the beginning of semester. The guidance and often hefty critiques of my professor has led me to becoming a better writer by practicing the seven core values of writing.
In order for a college student to become an advanced writer, they must be able to understand the seven core values of writing. These core values serve as a purpose for emerging writers to improve their personal writing skills, understand the audience to whom he or she is writing for and the academic implications of their work. The first core value serves to make sure the writer can identify where he or she understood that writing is a multi-stage, recursive and social process that requires time for information-gathering, development and reflection on their work. Core value two makes sure that the student understands that a higher level of writing involves making conscious choices to effectively communicate their message to the audience with purpose. Core value three requires that the student understands that test represent meaning and deserve complex analytical strategies; the fourth focuses on the college writer understanding the editing process and the fifth core value highlights drawing experience from others. The sixth core value makes sure that the writer acknowledges the work of others as their own intellectual property and always attributes ideas to the sources from which they were taken; the successful writer never plagiarizes. Last but not least, the seventh and final core value addresses writers focusing on serious and complex topics. While all seven values are important to writing, in my composition class, I focused a great deal on improving core values three, five and seven.
As I stated before, the third core value stresses the importance of understanding how texts represent meaning and how the process of writing and reading can create meaning. I efficiently tackled this core value through my Visual Argument Analysis piece. The assignment required me to watch a television advertisement about unplanned pregnancies. First watching the advertisement without sound, I created what I felt to be an accurate analysis of the commercial based on what I saw, interrupted and how it made me feel. After doing this, I re-watched the advertisement, this time with sound. One last time, I analyzed the commercial. I described that the entirety of the commercial made me feel uncomfortable due to the awkwardness of the couples portrayed in the commercial. When I first played the advertisement without sound, I was able to infer that the commercial attempted at promoting some form of contraception when the words “Bedsider.org” flashed across the screen, quickly changing into pictures of condoms, shots and pill packages. Then, when played with sound, it became very clear that the producers of the advertisement intended for it to come across as awkward due to the upbeat song playing in the background. I further concluded that the commercial was intended to be awkward when I was able to hear a voice over say “You didn’t give up on sex. Don’t give up on birth control either.” This then lead me to hypothesize that it was produced by a more liberal organization who supported safe sex and contraception. After checking out Bedsider.org, I was able to research all the various forms of contraception, and confirm my hypothesis. Writing the Visual Argument Analysis demonstrated that I was able to successfully understand the meaning represented through the text, or advertisement, and how the process of viewing the advertisement both with and without sound helped me interpret it. Through this assignment, I was able to clearly demonstrate my understanding of the third core value and strengthen my skills at evaluating texts.
After evaluating all my work, I have come to the conclusion that this was the hardest core value for me to conquer was the fifth. It is also the most important out of the three core values that were focused on in class this semester. This value focuses on understanding the role and usage of information in writing. I discovered the true difficulty of this value to be the hardest to accomplish when I was writing my Research Position Paper on American obesity. Attention to detail is very important: if a writer makes a statement that can be proven false their entire argument is flawed. For this reason, a writer must be very precise when making an argument. Although I at first felt that my Research Position Paper was written with clarity and made clear arguments, several revisions later proved otherwise. With the help of my professor I was eventually able to make my arguments unambiguous. The evolution of core value five can be clearly seen in my revision process through my argument of measuring waist circumference versus the continued usage of the BMI system . For a decent period of time (consisting of several revisions) I struggled to make my argument as accurate as possible and unquestionable. Now, at the end of the semester, I firmly believe that I made the argument about waist circumference being the best possible alternative measure to the BMI system as convincing error-free as i could. Not only did my personal writing skills improve, but my Research Position Paper was greatly benefited by the fifth core value.
The last core value that was emphasized in my composition class was the seventh. Core value seven states that students must understand the power and ethical responsibility that comes with the creation of written disclosure. This means that writers must be creditable and respectful when presenting their views through their work. Writing can have long-lasting effects on people, communities and even the world. Small scale examples of this could include the popular diet book Eat Clean by Tosca Reno who had originally published her work as an expression of her personal life choices and ended up influencing hundreds of people to attempt her dietary methods. Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.‘s speech “I have a dream” is a much larger example of the power of written or spoken word. While his speech was timed perfectly with the mass movement of US citizens to end segregation, King touched the hearts of many, helped change legislation and much more. Although none of my writing pieces this semester will have as great as an impact as either Reno’s or King’s works, I believe that I demonstrated the seventh core value through my 15 source annotated bibliography and siting my sources throughout my Research Position paper. This demonstrates ethical responsibility by allowing readers to know that the information I used was not made up and extracted from reliable sources. Therefore, if a reader disagrees with a statement made by my paper, they can visit the sources and decide whether or not I evaluated the information correctly. From there, he or she can formulate his or her own opinion about the information rather than holding me responsible. Overall, I think that I did a good job at picking out sources that fit my research topic but also countered the arguments made, showing both sides of the issue. My 15 source annotated bibliography successfully demonstrates the seventh core value.
College Composition II serves as a gate way to creating better, well-informed writers who will be able to successfully utilize all seven core values in their writing pieces. Before entering this course, I over compensated my writing abilities. However, as I have demonstrated throughout this piece, I have learned a lot about improving my writing skills through the usage of the seven core values. These seven core values provide structure and guidance to developing college writers. Although they are all important in their own ways, the three that were closely worked with in my composition class were the third, fifth and seventh core values. In the future, I anticipate that I will refer back to the core values and be able to incorporate them in my writing. I hope to become better at the fifth core vale, which places emphasis on making clear and concise arguments. All in all, my College Composition II class was beneficial to my writing career.