American Musical Theatre Freshman Inquiry Writing Seminar (fiqws) Fall 2016

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American Musical Theatre
Freshman Inquiry Writing Seminar (FIQWS)
Fall 2016

Course Details
Topic Section: Writing Section:

Aleksei Grinenko Nick Magliato

Class Time: TUE Class Time: FRI

11:00AM – 1:45PM 11:00AM – 1:45PM

Class Location: NAC 4/148 Class Location: NAC 6/329

Office Hours: Office Hours:

Immediately before and after class, M/ W 2PM-3PM

or by appointment Room 6/217C

FIQWS 10013 SEK3 #57727 FIQWS 10113 SEK3 #57769

Course Description and Trajectory
This course is designed to help you broaden your understanding of the American stage musical. You will examine its ever-changing formal characteristics (music, lyrics, dialogue, dance, staging, performance conventions) and thematic content. Our historical trajectory will stretch from the musical’s roots in minstrelsy, vaudeville, operetta and burlesque in the 19th century to the contemporary musical theatre scene.

Since inception, the American stage musical has maintained a vibrant dialogue with American social, political and cultural life. Sometimes this dialogue visibly informs the central action of the story, other times it is lurking in the subtext. In this course, you will assume the role of a cultural investigator; reading musicals closely for clues that will help you uncover their relationship to American social, political, and cultural history. Recognizing the Broadway musical to be an aesthetic medium and a site of social relations, we will focus on several important productions as case studies. These will provide content for your papers in the writing section of the course and serve as springboards for further “detective work” you will conduct via individual research projects and group activities. The central points of contact, exchange, and tension between the Broadway musical and its socio-cultural contexts will include race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, class, and mental health/disability. As we pursue these foci, we will examine and discuss the complex ways in which the Broadway musical has been able to reflect, critique, and re-imagine America.

Course Materials and Texts

  • Musical 1. Oklahoma!, 1943, O. Hammerstein and R. Rodgers, (see Blackboard)

  • Musical 2. West Side Story, 1957, J. Robbins, L. Bernstein, A. Laurents, and S. Sondheim (see Blackboard)

  • Musical 3. Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street, 1979, S. Sondheim and H. Wheeler (see Blackboard)

  • Musical 4 to be selected by you for your researched critical analysis paper

  • Assigned reading selections from musical theatre scholarship and theatre reviews will be made available on Blackboard or distributed in class

  • Some recommended supplementary readings will be made available on Blackboard. Others can be obtained through the CCNY library.

  • The Norton Field Guide to Writing 4th Edition by Richard Bullock, W.W. Norton & Company, 2013

Course Learning Outcomes

The FIQWS Topic section satisfies the “Creative Expression” category of Pathways. Students will

  • Gather, interpret, and assess information from a variety of sources and points of view

  • Evaluate evidence and arguments critically or analytically.

  • Produce well-reasoned written or oral arguments using evidence to support conclusions.

  • Articulate how meaning is created in the arts or communications and how experience is interpreted and conveyed.

  • Identify and apply the fundamental concepts and methods of a discipline or interdisciplinary field exploring creative expression, including, but not limited to, arts, communications, creative writing, media arts, music, and theater.

  • Analyze how arts from diverse cultures of the past serve as a foundation for those of the present, and describe the significance of works of art in the societies that created them.

The FIQWS Writing section satisfies the English composition requirement. Students will

  • Read and listen critically and analytically, including identifying an argument’s major assumptions and assertions and evaluating its supporting evidence.

  • Carry out essential steps in the writing process (note-taking, prewriting, organizing, composing, revising and proof-reading).

  • Write effectively using a number of rhetorical strategies and patterns, including argument, exposition, and comparison and contrast.

  • Demonstrate the ability to synthesize materials drawn from multiple sources using critical reflection and independent judgment.

  • Demonstrate an intermediate level of information literacy, including the ability to locate and critically evaluate relevant library and on-line resources and employ the conventions of ethical attribution and citation.

  • Demonstrate the ability to write a research paper of 2,500 words that develops a central thesis coherently and in detail.

*You will be assigned the same final grade for both sections. It will reflect the average of your two section grades, each calculated, respectively, as follows:

Punctuality and Participation 10%

Literacy Narrative 15%

Summary/Response 10%

Exploratory Essay 15%

Researched Critical Analysis Paper 25%

Creative Collaboration Project 15%

Discussion Board Posts/ Quizzes 10%

Punctuality and Participation 10%

Literacy Narrative 15%

Summary / Response 10%

Exploratory Essay 15%

Researched Critical Analysis Essay 25%

Final Portfolio 15%

Blog Posts / Quizzes 10%

We will use a modified version of the General Education Rubric to evaluate your essays. A handout of this rubric will be provided in class and is available via Blackboard.

Literacy Narrative

You will engage in critical examinations of your own history and background, analyzing through artifacts and experiences how musical theater, or another form of art, has shaped you and vice versa.

Summary and Response

To inform the work you’ll do for the Research Paper, you will write a critical summary of one of our course texts, focusing on the text’s rhetorical features and functions (what the text does, how and why), rather than just repeating its content (what it says), and formulating your opinion on a chosen aspect of the show.

Exploratory Essay

In this essay, you will critically engage with, summarize, and synthesize the arguments made in critical academic literature. To support the work you’ll do for the Researched Critical Analysis Essay, you will use the genre of the annotated bibliography to compile critical summaries and standard citations for four outside sources (i.e. not our course texts). You will write about two sources from the pool of academic essays provided by the instructors and two sources that you will need to find using CCNY library collections and databases. These sources will be academic articles and/or book chapters, meticulously selected and carefully evaluated.

Researched Critical Analysis Essay

For the research paper, you are tasked to effectively employ summary, synthesis, analysis, argument within your essay. In doing so, you will demonstrate your ability to craft a cohesive, effectively supported, complex paper guided by an intricate thesis and substantial research.

Final Portfolio

(Writing Section)

See final portfolio handout.

Creative Collaboration Project

(Topic Section)

For this assignment, you will be assigned to a group of six or seven to develop a 25-30 minute presentation on one of the three musicals we have studied together. Each student will take up a specific role (i.e. designer, director, dramaturg, actor, etc.) and present his/her contribution to the creative process. The quality of your individual work is as important here as your collaboration with others. The topic section instructor will consider both factors when calculating your final grade for this project.

Weekly Schedule

Topic Class w/ Alosha

Tuesdays 11:00am—1:45pm

Composition Class w/ Nick

Fridays 11:00am—1:45pm

Week 1

Friday, August 26th

• Course Introductions and Greetings // Syllabus // Free write questions

• Introducing the Literacy Narrative and Final Portfolio project

• What is Rhetoric? (State Farm commercial viewing)

• Read article “Trump May Sound Like a Clown, but He is a Rhetoric Pro like Cicero” by Gene Puska

• Performing one-act plays: John Patrick Shanley “Lonely Impulse of Delight” & Ato Essandoh’s “Black Thang”

• “Someday I’ll Love Ocean Vuong” -- Ocean Vuong

• Reading: excerpts from Joe Brainard

• Write fifteen lines that each begin with “I remember”

• Assign groups for weekly discussion. Exchange contact information and email addresses.
For Next Class:

“Shitty First Drafts” -- Anne Lamott

“Me Talk Pretty One Day” -- David Sedaris

“Aria” – Richard Rodriguez

“Mother Tongue” -- Amy Tan

“What is a Literacy Narrative?” –Cynthia Selfe

1. Write a one-page letter addressed to me.

Tell me about yourself:

How to you see yourself as a writer and as a student? What do you want to accomplish this semester?
2. Write a 250-500-word response to the readings. Post on Blackboard under Assignments: Reading response #1

Print this response out and bring for next class. Consider: How does each author present their story to their audience? What is their message? Which is most effective?

3. Post your letter of introduction on Blackboard by under Assignments: Letter of Introduction.
4. Create a WordPress account.
5. Purchase Norton Field Guide to Writing (NFGW)
6. Read Part 2 in NFGW: “Rhetorical Situations”

Week 2

Tuesday, August 30th

Friday, September 2nd

Topic Section Introduction
Defining American Musical Theatre

For Next Class:
Read, watch, and listen to Oklahoma! (for all homework assignments, unless otherwise notified, see Blackboard)


Discussion of Lamott, Rodriguez, Tan, Selfe, and Sedaris. Be prepared with your printed response for a discussion.
Write fifteen more lines that begin with “I remember”
Read sample Literacy Narrative. What did you like? What was effective? How would you improve it?
Brainstorm ideas for your literacy narrative

Map and outline your narrative

The Writing Process

Discuss peer-review for next class

For Next Class:
Class Reading:
“Getting Started” by Anne Lammot for inspiration with your narrative.
“Writing a Literacy Narrative” pp. 79-93 in NFGW for reference.
Write a full first draft of your literacy narrative for Tuesday, Sept. 6th
Group 1 Reading: Chapters 25, 27, 28, 29, 30 & 31 in NFGW. Rest of class: skim this chapter.

Week 3

Tuesday, September 6th

Friday, September 9th

Due: First Draft of Literacy Narrative
Group 1 presentation. Class discussion to follow.
What it means to revise and rework your first draft.
Graded in-class peer review
• Grammar // Mechanics // Usage
For Next Class:

Revise, rework, and write a full final draft of your literacy narrative

Group 2 Reading: Chapters 2 and 3 in NFGW: “Reading in Academic Contexts” and “Summarizing and Responding”

And the land we belong to is grand…”

For Next Class (Sept 13th):

  1. Read W. Hoffman, “Who You Calling White?” (pages 20-24) and “Playing Cowboys and Indians” (pages 55-66)

  2. Contribute a response to Discussion Forum on Blackboard

Week 4

Tuesday, September 13th

Friday, September 16th

Whose America is it on stage?

W. Hoffman, “Who You Calling White?” (pages 20-24) and “Playing Cowboys and Indians” (pages 55-66)

For Next Class:
Worksheet “Why Do They Sing and Dance?”

Administrative note: Sep 14th is the last day to drop classes without the grade of “W.” “WD” will be assigned to students who drop class before or on this day.

Due: Final Draft of Literacy Narrative

*Post on Blackboard under Assignments: Literacy Narrative Final Draft

Group 2 presentation: Summary Writing.

Twenty-minute in-class guided reflection on the process of writing your Literacy Narrative
What is a rhetorical précis?
Summary writing exercise. Read “Course Requirement: Extortion” by Michael Granof pp. 235-237 in NFGW and summarize in groups.
For Next Class:
Type up notes from reflection; compose 1-2 page polished reflection. Post on Blackboard under Assignments: Literacy Narrative Reflection. Post to your Wordpress account, too.
Class Reading:
1. Chapter 2 from They Say/I Say “Her Point Is”
2. “A World without Mosquitoes” by Janet Fang
3. “Limiting Sugary Drinks to Reduce Obesity—Who Decides?” by Wendy Mariner.
Compose a rhetorical précis entry for each. Post this on Blackboard under Assignments: Rhetorical Precis. Print out and bring to next class.
Group 3 reading: Chapter 11 in NFGW: “Analyzing Texts”

Week 5

Tuesday, September 20th

Friday, September 23rd

Genealogies of Musical Theatre

The “Golden Age,” the “Integrated Musical,” and other problems.
For Next Class:
Complete your Summary and Response Essay. Due in no later than noon, Tuesday Sept 27th.

Group 3 will lead discussion on Analyzing Texts.
Analyzing a visual text: UNICEF Ad
Discuss articles by Fang and Mariner.
Exercise on making claims and how to support them.
Effective Thesis Statements and “evolving theses”
Class Reading: Introduction and Chapter 1 from They Say/I Say
Group 4 reading: Chapter 47, 48, 49, 50 in NFGW.

Week 6

Tuesday, September 27th

Friday, September 30th

Due electronically: Summary and Response Essay
11:00-12:15, Library Session
12:30 to 1:45, Room 4/148
For Next Topic Class (Oct 14th):
Read, watch and listen to West Side Story

Group 5 will lead discussion.
Introduce Exploratory Essay and assign articles.
Introducing Quotations exercise. Paraphrasing workshop.
For Next Class:
Write an annotated bibliography entry for each of the assigned articles. Post each online under Assignments: Annotated Bibliography by October 7th
Class Reading:
Chapter 12 and 16 in NFGW “Reporting Information” and “Evaluations”
Chapter 4 in They Say/I Say: “Yes, No, Okay—But”

Week 7

Tuesday, October 4th

Friday, October 7th

Tuesday, October 4th


For Next Class:
Write a full first draft of your Exploratory Essay. Post this on Blackboard under Assignments: Exploratory Essay First Draft. By October 14th, conduct an online peer-review with a classmate. This is a graded assignment. Then, for October 21st, revise and rework your essay and post this on Blackboard under Assignments: Exploratory Essay Second Draft

Week 8

Tuesday, October 11th

Friday, October 14th


Friday, Oct 14th, Room 4/148
Immigrant goes to America…”


For Next Class:

  1. Reading Selection TBA

  2. Contribute Response to Discussion Forum

No Writing Class. Classes follow a Tuesday Schedule.

Topic Session, Room 4/148

Immigrant goes to America…”



For Next Class:

  1. Reading Selection TBA

  2. Contribute Response to Discussion Forum

Week 9

Tuesday, October 18th

Friday, October 21st

Who lives, who dies, who tells the story?”


Late 1950s-1960s: Fragmentation of Popular Music, Tastes, and Musicals

For Next Class:

Read, Watch, and Listen to Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Due: Second Draft of Exploratory Essay
In-class peer-review.
For Next Class:
Revise, edit, and proofread your Exploratory Essay.
Group 6 Reading: Chapter 36 in NFGW: “Arguing”

Week 10

Tuesday, October 25th

Friday, October 28th

There is a hole in the world…”

READING, VIEWING AND LISTENING DUE: Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Researched Critical Analysis Essay introduced.
Production Process on Broadway: Collaboration
For Next Class:

  1. Reading TBA

  2. Contribute to Discussion Forum

Due: Final Draft of Exploratory Essay
Group 6 will present.
In-class reflection on the process of writing the exploratory essay.

For Next Class:
Write a proposal for research
Class Reading: New York Times article “Deeper Ties for Corporate Cash for Doubtful Climate Researcher”
Be prepared with notes.
Chapters 45 & 46 in NFGW “Developing a Research Plan” and “Finding Sources”

Week 11

Tuesday, November 1st

Friday, November 4th

“… and it goes by the name of London.”
Discussion of Sweeney Todd continued.

Formulating a Social Hypothesis and Contextualizing

Creative Collaboration Projects to be introduced today and groups/topics to be assigned.
For Next Class:

TBA, Each student reads a relevant section from The Theatre Experience.

Class debate and discussion based on NYTimes article
Proposal Writing and discussion of Critical Analysis Essay and Goals
For Next Class:
Read: Chapter 20 in NFGW: “Proposals”
Type up your reflection notes and post a polished reflection to Blackboard.
Write a detailed proposal for your Researched Critical Analysis Essay. Post this on Blackboard under Assignments: Proposal

Week 12

Tuesday, November 8th

Friday, November 11th

Presenting and Refining Theses for Final Research Papers
1980s-Present: The Megamusical, Disneyfication of Times Square, and the Contemporary Scene

READING DUE TBA (from The Theatre Experience)

Developing Creative Collaboration Projects
Administrative Note: Course Withdrawal period ends on November 10th. That is the last day to withdraw from a class with the grade of “W.”

Meet in Computer Lab
Conduct initial research
Locate at least 3 peer-reviewed articles for your Critical Analysis.
For Next Class:
Write the first draft of your Critical Analysis.

Week 13

Tuesday, November 15th

Friday, November 18th

Original Production Versus Revival
Reading Critical Reviews
Developing Creative Collaboration Projects
For Next Class:

Creative Collaboration Projects

Due: Critical Analysis First Draft
Meet in Computer lab to work on digital portfolios.
In-class peer review
For Next Class:
Write the final draft of your critical analysis.

Week 14

Tuesday, November 22nd

Friday, November 25th

Feedback on First Drafts
Creative Collaboration Projects

For Next Class:
Reading TBA

No Class: Thanksgiving Break

Week 15

Tuesday, November 30th

Friday, December 2nd

Wrapping up course themes
Developing Creative Collaboration Projects

For Next Class:
Creative Collaboration Projects

Due: Critical Analysis Final Draft
Meet in Computer Lab to work on Digital Portfolios
In-class reflection on the process of writing the critical analysis.
For Next Class:

Type up notes and submit a polished reflection to Blackboard.

Continue to work on digital portfolios.

Week 16

Tuesday, December 6th

Friday, December 9th

Last Class Meeting
Presentation of Creative Collaboration Projects
Wrapping up course themes

Last Class Meeting
Wrapping up and reflections.

Week 17

Tuesday, December 13th

Friday, December 16th



Course Assignment Due Dates:
Both 1st and Final Drafts must be uploaded to Blackboard by 11am on the day that the assignment is due

1st Draft

Final Draft

Literacy Narrative

Tuesday, September 6th

Friday, September 16th

Summary and Response


September 27th


Friday, October 14th

Friday, November 28th

Critical Analysis

Friday, November 18th

Friday, December 2nd

Final Digital Portfolio


Friday, December 16th

Note: This semester, researchers at CCNY will be collecting first and second drafts of each of the four major essays to assess students’ revision practices. Because of this study, you will be asked to submit your essays following specific formatting conventions. Once collected, your work will be stripped of identifying metadata.
Course Policies, Procedures, and Pertinent Information
Coursework: Your instructors will review coursework assignments on a regular basis.

These smaller assignments will be graded on a ✓+, ✓, and ✓- system. You will get a zero for coursework you do not complete or that you do not submit on time. All homework and in-class activities are important and will have an impact on your development and success as academic writers. You will devote time, thought, and energy to a variety of informal and formal reading and writing practices. During the course you might be asked to annotate readings, keep a record of ideas, jot down observations, complete in-class assignments, take notes on class discussions, collaborate with your classmates, and engage in a variety of research, drafting, and revision assignments. The course texts will provide you with ideas and arguments, facts and statistics. They will prompt thought as you agree or disagree, qualify or extend their knowledge. They enlarge the context for our class discussion, and they illustrate choices other writes have made as they composed. Writing and reading are interdependent practices, and you will move between the two regularly throughout the course. Be prepared to write about (or be quizzed on) all assigned readings. If you experience extenuating circumstances (e.g., medical or other emergencies) and can’t complete the coursework, please contact us so that we can arrange a time to talk.

Participation and Attendance: Your presence and participation in class is mandatory. Absences and lack of preparation for class will affect you classmates’ work as well as your own. Arrive a few minutes before our start time (so that we can begin promptly), be prepared with all readings, and bring all texts under investigation. You must bring your own copy of the texts to every class. It must be a hard copy of the assigned text (a print-out or a physical book), not a digital copy on an electronic device such as your mobile phone. You are not permitted to walk around or step outside of class unless you have sought and received our permission in advance. You are allowed to two (2) classes in the writing section and two (2) classes in the topic section for any reason. If you miss three class periods in the writing or topic section, you will fail the course. Arriving late to class three times will be considered one absence. Attending only one half of a class meeting will be considered one absence. If you miss a class, you are still responsible for submitting any work on time (in person or by email). You are also responsible for asking your classmates about any changes made to the syllabus, calendar, and assignments. Students will not be penalized for religious or pregnancy or childbirth-related absences. Absences for these reasons will not be counted toward the allowed number of absences in this course. Please inform the instructor about absences related to pregnancy, childbirth, or religious observation.
Late Policy on Major Assignments: 5% of the assignment grade will be automatically deducted for all late major assignments turned in within 3 days of the missed deadline. If you submit your late assignment after the three-day lateness period, an additional 5% will be deducted (for a total of 10%). No late assignments will be accepted after one week has passed since the original due date. Example: If you miss the deadline for your Literacy Narrative (due on September 16th), you can still submit it by Monday, Oct 19th but 5% will be deducted from your assignment grade. If you submit this assignment after Monday, Oct 19th but no later than Friday, Oct 23, we will accept your paper, but you will automatically lose 10% of the assignment grade. We will not accept this essay after Oct 23, and you will receive 0% for this assignment. This policy applies whether or not you’re absent, so you should still attend class even if you have not completed an assignment! If you do not submit a major assignment within 7 days of its due date, you are required to schedule a meeting with us so that we can discuss how to proceed and whether you need to drop the course. And, again, if there are extenuating circumstances, please contact us immediately.
In-class Expectations: For the courtesy of your fellow classmates, please turn off all cell phones, iPods, IM’s, iPhones, etc. Laptops must be used in way relevant to our class (no outside coursework or surfing.) Texting is not permitted during class. Be courteous, polite, and considerate to all members of the class at all times. We will have different perspectives voiced in class, so our comments should be shared and responded to respectfully.
Feedback and Use of Student Writing: All texts written in the course are generally public. You may be asked to share with a peer, the class, or with me during classroom activities of for homework. You will also receive many different kinds of feedback during this course. Some will come from fellow students and some will come from your instructors. Both are important; they tell you in various ways how your readers are responding to your writing. This feedback will also help you learn how to assess your own work. Finally, you will also meet with one or both of your instructors between weeks 6-8 to discuss your progress, and you may be asked, encouraged, or required to seek additional feedback from tutors at the Writing Center.
Computer Use and Assignment Format: All written assignment must be word-processed, using Microsoft Word, OpenOffice, or Google Docs. Use an easily readable font, size 11 or 12, and double-space all work. Include one-inch margins and follow the page layout used by the MLA format described in your handbook. Computers, as you know, are susceptible to crashing and freezing. Problems with computers/printers/Internet are not excuses for late work. Save your work frequently, back up your files. Don’t wait until the last minute to print, and plan your projects with extra time allowed for inevitable glitches.
Contacting Your Instructors: We encourage you to contact us (your instructors) and visit during our respective office hours. We expect you to accept a responsible role as a communicator in the class and to keep us informed about your work, your progress, your questions, and your problems. Please do not hesitate to meet with us to talk about your work throughout the semester, preferably before your grade is the central concern. Do not hesitate to email us to ask questions or send us important reminders.
Blackboard & Email: Our course will be loaded on Blackboard, CCNY’s on-line teaching support system. We expect you to be able to locate, download, and link to a range of course materials with some regularity throughout the semester. Assignments will sometimes be handed in during class (as a printed hard copy) or submitted electronically (to Blackboard or, in some cases, via email. Assignments due online are due thirty minutes before our regular class time (i.e., if our class meets at 12:00am, assignments due that day must be submitted by 11:30am). We will also contact you regularly via the Blackboard course student email listserv. Please check your CCNY and personal emails at least once daily throughout the semester.
The Writing Center: The CCNY Writing Center provides a supportive learning environment where students can have one-on-one tutoring sessions with experienced writing consultants. The Writing Center is located on the third floor of the North Academic Center (NAC). Students can schedule an appointment either by going to the Center in person, or by calling (212) 650-8104. This is a free resource available to all students and recommended for all writing assigned in this class. The Center also has a computer lab open to students where students can use computers and printers during operating hours (up to 15 pages a day). For more information on hours, location and services, please visit the official website of the CCNY Writing Center:
Special Needs and Accommodations: There are several Student Support Services available for CCNY students. You can check this website for a complete list and for more information: If you believe that you need accommodations for a disability, please contact CCNY’s AccessAbility Center (Student Disability Services) located in NAC Room 1/218, or call (212) 650-5913 for an appointment to discuss your needs and the process for requesting accommodations. Since accommodations may require early planning and generally are not provided retroactively, please contact the Center as soon as possible. CCNY and we as your instructors are committed to your success and to supporting Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. This means that in general no individual who is otherwise qualified shall be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity, solely by reason of having a disability. You are also welcome to contact either of us privately to discuss your academic needs, although you’ll want to contact the Center direct to arrange for disability-related accommodations as we cannot do so on your behalf.
Academic Integrity: All writing submitted for this course is understood to be your own original work. In cases where we detect academic dishonesty (the fraudulent submission of another’s work, in whole or part, as your own), you may be subject to a failing grade for the project or the course, and in the worst case, to academic probation or expulsion. For a more detailed description of the guidelines for adhering to academic integrity, see CCNY’s Policy on Academic Integrity on the college website:‐ Integrity‐Policy.pdf. As part of this course, we will discuss strategies for adhering to standard conventions for responsible source use and for maintaining academic integrity.

CCNY Quick Links and Other Resources:
• Blackboard sign up:

• List of computer labs (including those with printers) at CCNY:

• Library:

• Online databases:

• Writing Center:

• Bookstore:

• Purdue Online Writing Lab:

Final Portfolio and Self-Assessment Assignment

The portfolio and self-assessment are in many ways the most important documents that you’ll create for this class. Assembling the portfolio will help you to see your progress as a writer over the course of the semester; the self-assessment will give you the chance to evaluate that work based on your own criteria as well as the course learning outcomes.

The Self-Assessment will provide you with an opportunity to demonstrate that you’ve understood the rhetorical terms that we’ve been working with all semester—rhetorical situation, purpose, audience, genre, stance, media/design, and exigence—and an introduction to your portfolio. The portfolio should include, at a minimum, the Literacy Narrative, the Exploratory Essay, and the researched critical analysis. Feel free to add additional documents to the portfolio, depending on what you need to demonstrate that you’ve understood the rhetorical terms and met the course learning outcomes. You might want to include drafts of essays, examples of your discussion board posts, your peer reviews, or something else not listed here. The Self-Assessment allows you to evaluate your work based not only on your own criteria but also on your learning outcomes. Here are the Course Learning Outcomes:

  • Explore and analyze, in writing and reading, a variety of genres and rhetorical situations.

  • Develop strategies for reading, drafting, collaborating, revising, and editing.

  • Recognize and practice key rhetorical terms and strategies when engaged in writing situations.

  • Engage in the collaborative and social aspects of writing processes.

  • Understand and use print and digital technologies to address a range of audiences.

  • Locate research sources (including academic journal articles, magazine and newspaper articles) in the library’s databases or archives and on the Internet and evaluate them for credibility, accuracy, timeliness, and bias.

  • Compose texts that integrate your stance with appropriate sources using strategies such as summary, critical analysis, interpretation, synthesis, and argumentation.

  • Practice systematic application of citation conventions.

In the self-assessment, you’ll demonstrate to me and to anyone else who looks at your portfolio that you have (or have not) understood the rhetorical terms and achieved these goals. The portfolio will not be evaluated on whether or not you have achieved the goals, but on how well you demonstrate your understanding of the rhetorical concepts and the goals that you have understood and achieved and your thoughts about the goals that you have not achieved.

To demonstrate that you have developed “reading, drafting, collaborating, revising, and editing,” you would want to include, perhaps, annotations from your bibliography (rhetorical précis) or copies of the notes you took while reading to demonstrate that you have developed flexible strategies for reading. To demonstrate that your drafting process has changed, you might want to include (and refer to in your Self-Assessment) a draft from an early and a late assignment that demonstrate changes in your drafting process. To demonstrate that you have engaged in the collaborative and social aspects of writing, you might include in your portfolio a peer review that you wrote and one that you received. You would then describe these reviews, and their significance, in your Self-Assessment. Use this same approach for all of the Course Learning Outcomes. The Self-Assessment is a kind of research paper. Your development as a writer is the subject and the writing itself is your evidence. As you write your Self-Assessment, you’ll be referring to the works you’ve included in your portfolio.
Your discussion of the rhetorical terms will be up to you. You might want to devote a section of your self-assessment to this subject alone, or you might want to weave individual concepts—audience, for example—into a discussion of one of your essays that strongly demonstrates the concept.
The portfolio will be housed on a WordPress site. Be sure to make your portfolio private, accessible only by password. If you are concerned about privacy, consider creating an email account that you can use exclusively for course work. It will be read by me, some members of the class, and other CCNY faculty and administrators. You are, of course, free to share your portfolio with anyone else, but do not make it freely available. If you would like to opt out of creating a WordPress site, please let me know and we will arrange for you to make a portfolio in Blackboard. While the arrangement of the portfolio is up to you, it should be easy to navigate. As with any Web site, you want to be able to find what you’re looking for without any interference. This might mean scanning handwritten notes, taking screenshots of annotated Web sites, and turning your essays into .PDFs or Web texts.
Assessment Rubric
While you won’t be asked to assess your own Self-Assessment, you should be aware of the criteria that I’ll use when I assess it.

  • Have you addressed all of the course learning outcomes, even those that you feel you did not spend enough time working on?

  • Have you provided evidence, in the form of your own writing, that you have developed as a writer? Are you able to identify areas in which you have not progressed, either because you didn’t spend enough time with them or you feel that you had a strong start in those areas?

  • Have you edited the Self-Assessment for typographical and grammatical errors?

  • In your portfolio design, have you maintained consistency from one page to the next?

  • Is your portfolio design simple and easy to navigate?

  • Have you used color and contrast to make things simple for your reader?

  • Have you considered font and page layout to create a neat, easy to read text?

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