8 December 2010
To: Leah Stahl
English Dept., SAC 312B
Alma, MI 48801
RE: My performance and progress in English 101.07
Dear Ms. Stahl:
When I signed up for this class, I was nervous, at first, about the transition I would have to make from high school English classes to college English classes. I believed that I would have a difficult time making my writing good enough to satisfy any expectations that were never brought to my attention before. However, I found that this class was able to take me from where my other teachers had left off and provide me with new skills that have improved my writing. My writing has become more focused and I am now better educated on different types of papers that I could present to describe what I wish to say about certain topics or articles. I chose three of my strongest papers and one of my weakest to discuss how I have achieved the course goals and how I can use these new skills later on during my career at Alma and in life.
Of the papers I wrote over the semester, I consider my definition essay to be one of my three strongest. This paper shows my passion for the subject I chose of deforestation. In preparation for this essay, I had to learn about the basics of persuasive writing – logos, pathos, and ethos. By using these three things, I was able to portray to my audience that my definition of deforestation was logical and fit the evidence I gave. My logos showed that I had researched, if only briefly, my word and I used that knowledge along with information I already knew to give my readers the sense that I understood what I was writing and wasn’t trying to lead them astray. My pathos was shown through a story I used to make my readers feel what the characters – a family of squirrels – felt when they watched their home crash to the ground. My ethos was a little harder to find but, by looking at my words and knowing a little about me, my readers could find me credible in facts and just enough use of emotion.
The second paper I chose as one of my strongest was my rhetorical analysis of “The Campaign for Healthier Eating in America” by Jeffrey M. Smith. This paper demonstrates my critical reading and thinking skills as I tried to pick apart and find not only the argument but the flaws within this article. The assignment of analyzing an article furthermore helped to strengthen my knowledge of logos, pathos, and ethos because these three basics were what I used as a foundation for most of my analysis. I was required to pick out the use of these three things throughout the article and use them to make my own decision as to whether the author was successful in giving his readers a strong argument.
The third paper I chose as one of my strongest pieces of writing was my research paper that discussed the topic of wind energy. In this paper alone, I achieved many of the course goals. Before starting to write, I learned how to research and to incorporate my writing along with the information I found from many different sources including library books and online databases. I was able to support my findings with in-text citations that would let readers find where the information had come from by checking the works cited page and verifying it for themselves. I also used my original research question to focus my writing and give my paper a clear purpose as to what I really wanted to discuss specifically.
I determined my weakest paper to be the in-class midterm essay I wrote concerning the article “The Speech the Graduates Didn’t Hear” by Jacob Neusner. This paper may seem well written at first but, when read closely, it isn’t very well organized and I didn’t explain the quotes that I gave throughout the paper very well. There was a choice of three different topics my classmates and I could choose from. I picked the topic that asked whether I agreed with what the author said and had to support my answer with quotes and my own ideas. In my essay, my use of the author’s words outweighed my own explanations in most of the paragraphs. I felt as if I rushed through it and didn’t give myself enough time to think of good explanations for what the author said. My organization of the essay could be described as scattered and I seemed to jump from one part of the paper to another. If I had been given more time or picked a different topic, I believe I could have written a much better paper.
Overall, I believe I met most, if not all, of the course goals. Many of them had to do with the research paper, including learning how to research effectively and understanding what I found well enough to incorporate the information with my own thoughts. I learned about logos, pathos, and ethos through my definition essay and my rhetorical analysis and balanced them so that I wouldn’t overwhelm my audience. For each of my three strongest papers, I learned how to read critically and give constructive criticism to help my peers make their own papers stronger. Through a combination of the different types of papers I wrote and participation in class, I can easily say that each paper was designed to meet specific goals and I was able to demonstrate each of them.
I genuinely hope to remember many of the things I learned in this class. They will help me later on in my career as a college student and perhaps even an employee. I tried my hardest to understand the concepts so that I would be able to use them later. I want to be able to remember what logos, pathos, and ethos are. These three things are the basis of all persuasive writing and I know that there will come a time when I will have to use them in papers I write for other classes. I also hope to remember all that had to do with the research paper. Currently, my career goal is to become a researcher in the science or medical field. The skills I learned for writing a research paper through this class will be useful in writing the many papers that I might one day publish for my findings and help me find information that I can use to support my own ideas.