Reflective Writing

This assignment was adapted from an assignment written by Emily Hall. 

Objective

Three times throughout the semester I will ask you to turn in 1-2 pages of reflective writing or journaling in which you’ll explore what you’re learning–from your experiences as a Writing Fellow, from class discussions, and from course readings.  In your journal entries, you’ll have opportunities to evaluate your work as a Fellow, share new insights, synthesize points from different readings, debate issues, disagree with accepted wisdom, and reflect on your growth as a Fellow.  One of the many purposes of the journal is to give you occasions to slow down your thinking, to reflect on what you’re learning and what you’re doing.  Reading your journal will also give me further insight into your thoughts about your development as a Fellow and your thoughts about the course and course material.

Reflection means taking some time to examine your own thoughts, beliefs, values, attitudes and assumptions about your understanding of a topic, a situation or a problem. When you reflect, you think about your own experiences and knowledge and how you arrived at that understanding. . . . There is no absolute right or wrong way with reflective thinking. But the key questions in reflective thinking are how? and why? rather than what?

The Genre

You are free to choose the specific topic of your journal entry; however, I do want your entries to focus on your experiences as a Writing Fellow and/or on issues we’re talking about and exploring in 403.  What I care about most is that you write a focused entry–in other words, that you take up a particular issue and explore it in some depth.  Show me that you’re thinking critically about your experiences as a Fellow and about what we’re doing in class and synthesizing those experiences in a coherent, thoughtful way.

Please make sure your entries are sufficiently thoughtful, inquisitive, critical, and substantive. Do not look at this as a record of what you observed, what you did, and what you plan to do. It should go deeper than that—with meaningful questions, conclusions, logic, emotions, reactions, information from readings, hypotheses, etc.  Through the journal you should be arriving at new avenues of thought or a deeper level of understanding.

Getting Started

Some options for entries (an entry with a ** is highly recommended)

What questions do you want your study in this course to answer?  What are your personal goals for this course?

What are your goals for yourself as a Writing Fellow?

Explore some of the emotions you’re experiencing as a Writing Fellow.

**Sit in on a conference of another Fellow’s and describe what you learned from the experience.

**Sit in on a conference at the Writing Center and describe what you learned from the experience.

**Bring a paper (from any class) to the Writing Center. Compare your tutor’s . . . to  your training. What did you learn? Anything you would do differently?

React to a point in our class discussion.  Say what you didn’t have a chance to say.  Make a better argument than you had a chance to in class.  Clarify what you said in class (or meant to say in class).  Respond to what someone else said.

As you think about helping students with their writing this semester, what’s special or advantageous about your role as a fellow undergraduate, as a peer?

What do you think student writers want from you?  How does that compare with what the published literature says about the value of WFs?

After you’ve met with the professor in the course you’re assigned to, what have you learned? What was helpful about that conversation?  What questions do you still have?

What are your goals for improving your own writing this semester?  How can you, your WF colleagues, and I help you achieve them?

Write about a conference that went well.  Describe it in some detail.  What made it go well?

**Write about a conference that didn’t go well.  Describe it in some detail.  Why do you think it didn’t go very well?  What, if anything, can you learn from this experience?  What more do you need to learn to do better in this kind of situation in the future?  What questions are you left with?

Summarize your experience responding to a particular student’s paper.  What did you learn from this?

What kind of writing issues do you find yourself helping students with the most?  Why?

**What kind of writing issues do you find it hardest to help a student with?

What are you learning about writing from the professor you’re working with?

What have you learned about writing from a student you’ve worked with this semester?

Write about a student you’ve worked with who’s improved over the semester.

React to one or a few points from one of the readings.  Why are you persuaded that point is right?  Or wrong?  What’s left out?  How does it apply to the work you’re doing as a Fellow? Juxtapose it with a point from a similar reading and explore the comparison.

There are many more options.  Please remember that this journal is intended to help you learn from your experiences and your readings.  For that to happen, you need to care about it, invest time and energy in it, and decide how to fashion it.

Audience/Voice

I want you to feel comfortable writing in this journal, to write honestly–to share successes and accomplishments, to take pride in your work, to feel free to disagree with me or with your classmates or with yourself, to be willing to raise questions you can’t answer, to admit doubts and failures.  That’s OK!  A journal should be a place to take some intellectual and emotional risks, to wrestle with and explore ideas, arguments, and implications thoroughly and thoughtfully.

On occasion, I may ask you to read something from your journal in class.  I may also share a written copy (anonymously and with your permission) of a particularly thought-provoking entry with the whole class or to save one to use in a future class (or in the WF handbook!).

How I’ll respond to and Evaluation Your Journal

I will not have time to respond to everything you write, but I will write comments on and raise questions about selected entries.  If you keep current with the journal, write at least the minimum number of entries, and take this assignment seriously–that is, you write thoughtful, engaged entries–you’ll receive full credit for this portion of your final grade.

Logistics:

You are required to write 3 entries total for the semester–due dates are on the course calendar.

Please submit entries to the appropriate dropbox folder on our Learn@UW course page.