“Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.” This quotation from author Robert Collier encouraged me that my daily work in English 145.13 did in fact help me to succeed. This reflective essay will give me the chance to look back upon all the assignments, documents and projects I have accomplished in English 145.13 (Language & Composition II: Writing in Business and Government Orgs) this fall 2007 semester. This paper will showcase my expectations of the course, problems I faced, strategies I followed, and the many things I’ve learned. Additionally, this reflective essay will include my thoughts and opinions of the course, assignments, and instructor overall.
This section will include all the important information I wish to share about my participation in English 145.13 this fall 2007 semester.
With any new course, there will be certain expectations one will have. People can either embrace the new situation or act defensive to change. I didn’t know what to expect from a technical writing English course, but I was ready to embrace it.
As I walked into the classroom the first day, I was delighted to see that it was a small class setting where we each could work on our own personal computer. As the instructor began to go over class procedures, I was excited to find out that there was an organized course website. That would allow me to review each assignment before even working on it. Additionally, the fact that this course was a business writing course, I didn’t quite know what to expect. Throughout the majority of English courses I have taken, I have been able to follow a more free style/ abstract from of writing. With all of my previous English course experience, I expected to participate in activities such as:
Writing research papers
Peer editing others’ writing
Before jumping into any coursework, I had a couple of questions as to what I should expect in this specific course such as:
What would my instructor Mr. Bokor be like?
How many papers would we be expected to write?
Would we be assigned a lot of homework?
How much would we have to work in groups?
As my English 145.13 class took off, my questions about what I should expect were soon answered. My expectations became clearer because I found out things such as:
My instructor Mr. Bokor was very prepared and willing to help his students
The course followed a schedule with specific number of assignments
We would have significant amount of time to complete each project
We could choose our own peer group for editing purposes
As the course continued on, many of my expectations of a normal English class were exceeded. This technical writing class included much more than the normal essays, reports, speeches and peer editing. I knew I was in for a challenge, but I was ready for it.
Problems I faced
The biggest problem I faced throughout the course was taking each technical writing tip and incorporating them into each document. I had to consciously remember to use what I learned from one writing to the next. At the beginning of the course I did expect some differences, but our first document proved there to be much difference. The first document we had to write was the Learning Contract. I faced some problems with that specific piece such as:
Creating the correct format
Eliminating my wordiness
Spacing out my thoughts
While I was working on my rough draft of this project I had to work through all of these problems. At first, I had to figure out what type of writing style and format I should follow. I found out that Mr. Bokor expected us to use signposts which give the reader an easier layout to follow. I decided to break my ideas up by utilizing bullet points. I usually find myself trying to explain my thoughts using long sentences and too many words. When I received teacher comments on my first draft, I realized my instructor thought so also. I sent in another draft after I fixed all the mistakes found within my paper. I received an A- on the overall project and I was pleased with that.
The next big project we had to conquer was our Resume and Cover letter. I would have to say this was the project that posed the most difficulties for me. This project demanded so many specific writing styles. Some new things I had to learn to complete this project were as follows:
level one, level two and level three headings
chunking my cover letter paragraphs
filtering out important information for resume
I turned in my rough draft copy to my peer group and then to Mr. Bokor. I received many comments in regards to my format. I was also having trouble deciphering what information to include in each paragraph for my cover letter. Mr. Bokor taught me that employers like to follow an organized document with each paragraph including similar information. For example, one paragraph should include information about the education, one about previous experience and one containing job qualifications. I revised my drafts and turned them in a couple more times. Mr. Bokor helped me overcome all the problems I was having in completing this documents.
Throughout my English 145.13 course we learned how to summarize long documents into short and to the point paragraphs. At first, I was having problems with the assignments referred to as Executive summaries. We were instructed to read a document and then condense the main point into a shorter document only 5% of the original. As I stated before, I have problems with excessive wordiness so of course these assignments were a struggle. I experienced troubles such as:
pin pointing the main ideas
filtering out the unnecessary content
summarizing without missing pertinent information
After discussing these concerns with my peer group and my instructor, I managed to create a rough draft. I made sure that my document looked only 5% as long as the original one. After receiving the feedback, I was pleased to see that I had in fact mastered the concept of creating a summary.
Since this course was set up so differently than all of my other English courses, I had to set up strategies in order to keep up. As discussed earlier, the learning contract was one of our most important projects. We were asked to make a list of strategies to follow throughout the course. I think everyone enrolled in a new course should set goals and list strategies to help achieve them.
I expected these strategies to help me stay focused. When I would start to feel overwhelmed with the coursework, I would think back to my strategies and apply them. Therefore, the strategies I used in English 145.13 include:
Getting everything done as it is assigned and not procrastinate
Reading through peer revisions multiple times
Brainstorming more thoroughly
Revising documents multiple times
The strategy that I focused the most on was staying organized. Throughout the course, we had so many drafts to keep track of. Each document required a first draft, peer draft, teacher draft and then final copy. Sometimes it was difficult to keep everything all together, but my organizational skills benefitted me. I used my strategy to revise my documents multiple times to make sure each final copy was completely correct. Also, brainstorming helped me start each document off with ease. These strategies aided in my success throughout English 145.13 this semester.
Things I Learned
First of all, I would like to state that I have grown so much as a writer since the beginning of this fall 2007 semester. I came into this course not knowing what to expect. I had to adjust to the technical form of business writing required in this Language & Composition II: Writing Business & Government Orgs course. I learned something new with each document I completed. I jumped into this new style of writing as soon as the class began. We adapted to new ways of including items such as:
I had always been used to a specific style of writing in all of my other English courses. After the first assignment, I realized that Mr. Bokor conducted his class differently. I was comfortable placing my headings on the left of the page, but Mr. Bokor introduced a new way. He taught us that centering the heading makes the document look more organized and put together. I was also used to double spacing everything, but this coursework demanded a new style. We were taught to chunk ideas using single spaces. The documents required more obvious spaces to separate each paragraphs. It seemed that every project forced us to adapt to a new concept in writing. Each project taught me the following:
This project taught me that contracts don’t have to look formal with small print and double spaces. I became familiar with how to use bullet points to convey my thoughts.
These documents taught me what the proper formats for these documents should look like. The cover letter forced me to list important things about myself in 3-4 short paragraphs. Along with that, the resume document taught me what information should be included. These will help me be prepared when I need to recreate these documents for the real workforce.
These short assignments taught me how to quickly find the main point of a condensed document. Then I learned how to convey this main point into a much shorter document. I learned that the purpose of writing summaries is to make it easy for busy readers to see the main point without having to read an entire document.
After completing each one of these memos, I learned that thoughts are easily conveyed using bullet points. I learned that wordiness is frowned upon especially when the document is a short memo.
This project taught me the importance of through research. I learned about necessary segments such as “Review of literature” and “Methods of research.” I was also introduced to the proper way to construct an introduction. Cori, Brandon and I agreed to write equal portions of the paper. After reviewing our first draft of this project, I realized that this document looked more complete after we incorporated pictures along with captions. The peer editing was conducted in the same manor as all the preceding projects. We were assigned another group to exchange projects with. Individually, we had to edit the other group’s entire draft. The feedback our group received from our peer group didn’t provide any new direction for our paper to follow. They corrected a few grammatical errors but nothing substantial. Therefore, I feel that we had to work extra hard on self editing our next draft before we had to turn it into our instructor. Cori was a great group member and she always made the necessary corrections to her portion of the paper. Brandon did edit the portion he wrote, but sometimes it seemed as though he didn’t do a through job. However, the final draft of our research project on drug trafficking turned out well. Mr. Bokor left us with comments which if followed, could improve our paper even more.
I am glad that each assignment I completed for English145.13 taught me something new. I feel that I have expanded my horizons and opened my eyes to new writing techniques.
My Thoughts and Opinions
English 145.13 lasted an entire semester. I dedicated a lot of time to the coursework and assignments. Since Mr. Michael Bokor was very involved, I spent much quality time with him. I have stated my thoughts and opinions on the course itself, the assignments, my instructor and they are as follows:
I like the way this course was set up. I was excited that Mr. Bokor had a web site for the course. The web site was extremely organized and it helped me stay on track during the course. I felt comfortable with the amount of time we spent going over the requirements for each assignments. I also feel that the size of the class created a beneficial learning environment.
Initially, I was beginning to feel overwhelmed with the many drafts that were required for each document. Nonetheless, as the semester carried on I began to appreciate all the practice we would get before we turned in the final copy. Sometimes it is difficult for me begin a document, so the rough drafts were a struggle. I enjoyed working in our peer groups and editing each others’ papers. As I stated previously, each assignment taught me something new about writing. I didn’t think that any of the assignments we had in this course were too demanding. I also think that each assignment was significant in improving our writing.
Mr. Michael J. Bokor was a unique instructor. He portrayed a real interest for the subject matter as well as his students. I appreciated how he walked around the classroom and gave us advice on how to improve our writing. He made a real impact on me when I learned how much he was willing to help us succeed in his class. He would constantly encourage us to revise our drafts in order to receive a better advisory grade. Mr. Bokor was diligent in returning e-mails promptly. He also allowed us to come into his office for extra help during his office hours. My professor would always come to class with a smile and great work ethic. I am thankful that I experienced this new type of English course with such a great teacher.
When this Language & Composition II: Writing Business & Government Orgs course began in the fall 2007semester, I wasn’t sure what it would include. However, as soon as the course took off, I knew I was about to experience a whole new writing experience. I had questions about what to expect in this course. With any new course, certain problems and struggles will arise. I learned to follow the strategies I set for myself in order to gain as much from the course as I could. I feel that this course has given me the confidence to engage in business and professional style writing. I know that the new skills I learned in English 145.13 will benefit me in future English courses. I am thankful that I have completed all the required coursework and I am happy about my success in my English 145.13 course this fall 2007 semester.