Sunday, April 13, 2008

Learned and Unlearned

All in all this class was very good. I learned lots of important principals about writing that will help me throughout my life. Although there are some ideals I wish I could have learned but didn’t, I still feel that this class was well worth my time as I learned a great depth more about writing than I had before known.

I feel that I could have better learned grammar skills. Going into this class I did anticipate learning grammar skills as part of the regular curriculum. I was quite surprised to be graded for expert level grammar skills without being explicitly taught the principles in class. Grammar is not a weak point for me because most of it makes sense, but little nuances prevent me from making more lucid, concise arguments.

One good thing I did learn was how to properly cite sources in our research paper. I have written several papers over the years, each with weak citations and likely high amounts of accidental plagiarism. Now I can effectively take an idea from another source and legally incorporate it into my own work.

Also with this research paper I learned a better way to commence the research process. Now I know that it is better to go into a research attempt without heavily preconceived notions, but rather to let the research dictate what my argument will be. This allows the paper to be more accurate and truthful because I didn’t throw out sources that didn’t agree with my previous notion.

I do feel that I learned some valuable things about the writing process. For example, the structure and form of my thesis statements have much improved. Now I can write concise directives for my paper that maintain to be interesting. Also, since we had the discussion about conclusions, I feel much better about writing them. Before, conclusions have always been confusing and difficult for me. Now I know about many techniques to bring a paper to a close.

With the peer reviews and teacher reviews of our work, I have learned how to improve my writings skills. I do not feel that I was a bad writer before, but to have 4-6 different people look at my work and offer suggestions has been beneficial. I am able to see patterns in my writing that are strengths and weaknesses. Also, when others read my work, some are confused by ideas that I thought to be clear. If this is intimated to me, I will be able to revise the idea to be more concise, descriptive, and strong.

Hopefully in my future writing ventures, I will be able to incorporate the things that I have learned in this class. I realize that even in the very technical field in which I will be employed, it will be necessary to effectively communicate ideas to others with which I associate. In the next couple of semesters I will be taking a follow-up course for technical writing which focuses more on technical aspects. I do realize, however, that without the general ideas to be gleaned from a first-year writing class I would not have the foundation necessary to be able to effectively discuss technical things in writing.

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