This class has taught me to delve into subject matter being taught, and not just take things at face value. For example, the Stone Money assignment taught me to think about money, not just the paper money and coins I use every day, but the way other cultures determines the value of items we would just throw away, such as stones. I was able to see the importance of exploring the subjects we discussed in class, and looking at things from a different perspective. In my research paper, I was given guidance by my professor that helped me conceptualize and develop my thesis. His feedback enabled me to focus on the basic question raised in my research paper when I was wandering too far into areas not relevant to my work. My paper is still a work in progress, but one that is hopefully a successful culmination of all I have learned in this class.
Core Value II. My work demonstrates that I placed texts into conversation with one another to create meaning by synthesizing ideas from various discourse communities.
I learned how to use various sources in order to write a cohesive argument about social trust and its impact on the ability to self control. Many of the sources I read contained information that I questioned, so I sought other texts on that information to clarify the idea. I could then either accept the reasoning behind that information or reject it. In all my assignments in this class, I learned to look below the surface of the idea being presented. When I started to investigate the different perspectives of an assignment, I often found that the assignment was not what I was expecting at all. Looking at various sources of information, whether in books or articles, or on online sites such as google scholar, opened up a world of information at my literal fingertips.
Core Value III. My work demonstrates that I rhetorically analyzed the purpose, audience, and contexts of my own writing and other texts and visual arguments.
In the Safer Saws assignment, I was able to ascertain that the purpose of some of the texts I read where far different from other texts because of the lobbying efforts of the writer. For example, if the writers were representative of the saw manufacturers, then they would contain the argument that the free market would determine whether the Safer Saw would flourish as a business. I then read the purposeful writing of the consumer safety advocates, the injured plaintiffs, the customers, and other participants. I realized that every story has several sides, and that perspective is everything. I learned that writers often write their arguments tailored to their own purpose, and I could almost always find a written counterargument to any paper. I found the causal argument assignment and the rebuttal argument especially helpful in my writing, as it made me look at my thesis in a completely different way. Analyzing my writing this way definitely improved my paper.
Core Value IV: My work demonstrates that I have met the expectations of academic writing by locating, evaluating, and incorporating illustrations and evidence to support my own ideas and interpretations.
In my causal argument assignment, my first draft was more rhetorical writing than actual proof. My professor was quick to point that out, and I was able to then satisfy the expectations of academic writing by using the sources I had outlined in my proposal, and other sources I found as I worked on my essay. I rewrote my causal argument to contain evidence to back up my theory that social trust is essential to delay gratification, and that a child’s background and experience that lacks trust leads to a lack of self control. My research began with the Marshmallow Study, and that led to subsequent studies that disagreed with the original findings that self control was a unitary trait. It became relatively easy to find evidence to support my theory, and I was able to write my paper with claims supported by scientific studies.
Core Value V. My work demonstrates that I respect my ethical responsibility to represent complex ideas fairly and to the sources of my information with appropriate citation.
I believe that a writer has the responsibility to present a point of view as fairly as possible. For example, nothing turns me off quicker than a writer who derides anyone who disagrees with a position. Or a writer who skews actual science to try and support a weak position. Or a writer who obviously “dumbs down” complex ideas because there is a perception that the reader is stupid. There is also no excuse to blatantly copy another’s work and claim it as original. When writing my research paper, I made sure to properly cite my sources. This has a twofold purpose. It gives credit to the original researcher or writer, and it links the information if the reader wishes to explore further.