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Writer’s Reflection

Dear Jane,

This reflection represents not only the end of this course, but also the end of my first year of college, and I simply can’t believe it.  It feels as though I was in highschool just last week.  It feels as though I was a 16 year old boy taking the bus home from school just yesterday.  It feels as though I was just applying to college a month ago.  Time has a funny way of working – when you focus on nothing but the goals you want to accomplish in life, it has a tendency to slip from your mind, and return only when you have reached a milestone in your journey.  At that point, and at that point only, do you realize how far you have come.  As I write this reflection, I am realizing how far I have come.  I am realizing how much I have changed as a person, as a student and more specifically, as a writer.  I’ll have to admit, I didn’t choose to take Writing For The Sciences because I wanted to, I took it because it was a first year requirement of the Sophie Davis program I am a part of.  To be frank, I saw this course as another useless english class that I would have to get through to pass the year.  Truly, I was planning on showing up to class just to get the credits and the boost for my GPA.  But Writing For The Sciences was no english class – at least not yours, Jane.  Your class was as comfortable as a highschool lunch period, yet as informative as a college panel.  Your class was as relaxed as a family dinner, yet as professional as a business conference.  Your class was as straightforward as a crossword puzzle, yet as involved as a lifelong research project.  Throughout the semester, I felt as though you truly cared about your students and the goals they had in mind.  I felt that you truly wanted us to learn while sitting in that small room in Shepard Hall, rather than just show up for attendance and get the easy grade.  I believe that is why I gained so much from this course, and I thank so endlessly for my success.

Course Objectives

I see much of my success in the fulfillment of several of the course objectives that were presented to us at the beginning of the semester.  There were certain objectives that I believe I could have focused on harder, and I will keep this in mind as I continue to write in the future.

  • Acknowledge your classmates’ and your own language differences as a resource – practice ways to cooperate with one another to improve and develop your writing skills.

Peer Review From Samhitha 

I believe that a perfect example of how I completed this course objective was through peer review.  Students who come from similar environments still have a tendency to adopt different forms of writing, and that is why everyone has their own unique writing style.  Students who come from completely different backgrounds could have writing styles entirely different from what another student may be accustomed to.  Through peer review, one can have their work examined under a new lense, and oftentimes this enhances the original work.  In my personal experience, peer review has led me to adopt forms of writing and language usage that I previously had not used.

  • Improve your approach to reading, drafting, revising, editing and self-reflection

First Draft of Rhetorical Analysis Paper Lacking The “Three Moves”

First Draft of Rhetorical Analysis Paper Lacking Key Rhetorical Strategies

This learning objective was fulfilled on numerous occasions, though I certainly feel as though I became more efficient with it as the semester progressed.  Every time a paper was assigned, we had a peer review session to get a second opinion on our work.  As you would always stress, Jane, one may easily skip over the mistakes in their work simply because the influence of bias is present.  An outside perspective will be able to more easily spot flaws in the writing – a fact which stresses the importance of peer reviewing.  In the images above, I provided two examples of how my rhetorical analysis paper was not up to par in the initial draft.  It was missing the “three move analysis” and the rhetorical strategies of ethos and pathos, all of which were key components of the assignment.  My peer review partner brought this to my attention, and I was able to include the missing components in my final draft.  

  • Determine your own writing goals. Develop and strengthen an appreciation for different audiences. Identify the audiences who will read your writing — and work to understand them. 

Questionnaire Assignment (Early Semester)

Early in the semester, we were asked to complete a questionnaire assignment so as to introduce ourselves.  In the questionnaire, I blatantly stated what my goals as a scientific writer were (between questions 2 and 3).  Of course, these goals were stated at the beginning of the semester and have proceeded to change with every assignment that we received in class.  My primary goal of mastering scientific writing so as to be a successful physician still holds, however.

The target audience was definitely a factor in this course that was extremely novel.  Prior to this course, I was always used to writing for the teacher, regardless of the subject.  In your class, Jane, the target audience was always changing.  The Powers of Observation assignment had a target audience of 8th graders.  In the Rhetorical Analysis paper, you asked us to identify the target audience of the researchers who wrote the article we chose to analyze.  For me, that target audience consisted of professors in graduate programs, psychological researchers, etc.  The point is, whether you asked us to write for a specific audience, or identify a specific audience, the task was entirely novel for me.  At the beginning, this certainly impacted my grade (as evident from the low score I received on the Powers of Observation assignment); however, I improved immensely by the end of the semester.

  • Define Rhetorical Situation, Tone and Purpose, Genre, and Stance in your own words via class discussions, assigned readings, and writing exercises. Formulate and articulate a stance through and in your writing.  

Rhetorical Situation – Involves the audience and the particular topic of discussion.  A rhetorical situation also requires a purpose.

Tone – The attitude that an author maintains in his or her work.  The tone that an author uses can change throughout a paper.

Purpose – The purpose is essentially the goal one has in mind while writing a piece.  It is the reason for writing the piece.

Genre – The genre is simply the category of writing.

Stance – A particular view or perspective one maintains in their paper.

I fulfilled this course objective in several assignments.  One assignment in particular that comes to mind is the Scientific Controversy paper, in which I discuss the benefits and drawbacks of using either fossil fuels or nuclear power.  In the paper, I initially take a neutral stance and just list the advantages and disadvantages of both; however, I end with my particular opinion on the matter.  My own perspective was that a combination of nuclear power and fossil fuels should continue to be utilized; however, the switch to cleaner energy should be one we continue to make slowly.  This means relying more on solar, wind, and water generated energy.  

Tone was something I certainly made use of in the Scientific Controversy paper as well.  For the most part, I maintained a rather informative tone; however, I also utilized a tone of worry to emphasize the significance and the danger of the issue of energy obtainment and environmental damage.

  • Collaborate with your classmates on writing projects: in-class group prompts, peer reviews.

Peer Review By Faris

This learning objective was fulfilled through the many peer reviews we completed throughout the semester.  I included a peer review from Samhitha above, and as evident from the photographs, this one was not as informative.  Of course, this is completely normal and acceptable, as not everyone can provide the feedback you are looking for in a particular assignment.  This goes back to the idea that everyone has different writing styles.  Due to the fact that everyone writes differently, there are elements of a paper that may seem flawed from one perspective, and yet perfect and cohesive from another.  This emphasizes the necessity of obtaining multiple opinions on one’s work.  Regardless, the collaboration aspect of the course objective was most definitely fulfilled.

  • Study and practice various genres and modes of expression (visual and oral, included) to explore strong writing across science contexts and beyond.

Political Cartoon From Scientific Controversy Paper

The course objective was fulfilled also on multiple occasions; however, I believe this is my best example of that.  In my scientific controversy paper, I included a political cartoon which depicted an extremely large creature being led by a small man who is claiming that the creature will not bite.  The creature is representative of nuclear energy, and the man in front of the creature is meant to emphasize how human beings have no control over such powerful energy.  If that beast wanted to bite, it would.  If nuclear energy wants to go wrong, it will.  This was what the political cartoon was showing, and in a way, it emphasized the message in a way that words could not.  That is why I decided to incorporate it into my paper.  The truth is that I am not used to including any sort of images in my work, and doing so in this course was something very novel.  However, I am glad that I am beginning to see the effectiveness of incorporating visual stimulation in my papers.

  • Use CCNY’s library resources and online databases/the Internet to locate sources appropriate to your writing projects. 

I fulfilled this particular course objective throughout the semester.  Multiple assignments required us to research on the internet and on CCNY’s library databases.  The New York Times articles required research on the NYT website.  The Scientific Controversy paper required popular media sources and peer reviewed sources, many of which I got from the CCNY databases.

  • Practice and strengthen summarizing, paraphrasing, quoting, analyzing, synthesizing, and citing sources by completing assignments, readings and in-class exercises.

Summary of “Shitty First Drafts”

Reflection On The Power Of Manipulation

I achieved this course objective several times in class when we were asked to summarize a particular article or reflect on a topic discussed in class.  The first image depicts my summary of Lamott’s “Shitty First Drafts”.  The second image depicts my reflection on the power of manipulation, which discusses how I personally used manipulation to convince my friends to come to a class with me.

  • Create a digital portfolio.

This was certainly something very novel for me, although I very much so appreciate it.  Keeping digital portfolios of my work is something I may very likely have to do in my future, and thus it is good I begin saving my work in this manner now.

RESPICE, ADSPICE, PROSPICE:

Today, I am a new writer because of this course.  Every day that I write, I become a new writer, and every day that I do not write, I become a new writer.  We are always evolving our styles of writing because we come into contact with more aspects of the world.  As we learn, our knowledge base expands, and this is reflected in our writing.  As mentioned earlier, at the beginning of the semester, I was not at all interested in taking this course.  I considered myself a very avid writer and I was confident in my writing ability.  Over the course of the first 2-3 weeks, I realized that there were several holes in my writing ability.  This was brought to my attention when I failed to target a specific audience (such as the 8th graders in the Powers of Observation assignment).  What was also made clear to me was that my summarizing skills were also not up to par.  In the first few New York Times assignments, I got points off for not looking at the articles from a broader perspective.  Sure, a summary should summarize the article at hand; however, it should also expand on the main idea of that article in a reflective manner.  These are just a few of the flaws in my writing that I discovered throughout the semester.  Of course, a lot changed when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and what I like to call the “age of quarantine” began.  Trapped in my home for months on end, I honestly felt as though writing was one of my few escapes from the reality that I was living.  I looked forward to the assignments that were given to us on a weekly basis, and I most definitely looked forward to the diary entries that were required of us.  Even my parents enjoyed the idea of logging our personal experiences, whether that be by writing them down, or by video recording.  The pandemic shaped my writing in a way that made it very reflective and complex.  I felt as the age of quarantine dragged along, I became much more creative and imaginative with my writing.  I incorporated so much more imagery into my pieces, so much so, that I felt as though I was experiencing the outside world through my own writing.  As horrible as the pandemic has been, I always like to maintain positivity, and thus I will say that I feel as though I have become a much more talented writer as a result of being locked up for an extended period of time.  Pictured below is an example of how I adopted a creative style of writing during this pandemic.

April 29th Diary Entry

I truly enjoyed this course, and I can say with 100% confidence that it was my favorite one of my first year in college.  There is so much that I have learned about myself and my potential as a writer.  I know that with the new tools I have under my belt, I will proceed to be an extremely successful physician and scientific writer in the near future.  Thank you Jane, truly!

Sincerely,

George Tyler Tavares

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