Throughout this course I feel like my writing has improved immensely. At the start of the quarter I was unsure how I felt about the extra freedom and creativity we were given as writers. I took comfort in past courses where I could follow the grading rubric and guidelines while I was writing, checking off requirements as I went along. The idea of having a grading contract and such influence over the direction we wanted our papers to go was all new to me, and initially it was intimidating. When we were given our first assignment (Writing Project One) the task was to select a form of text, written or visual, and rhetorically analyze it. There were no constraints, we could choose anything we wanted and there was no specific process of analysis we needed to use. The idea that I had complete creative freedom over this project scared me, I had no idea about how to approach this task. When I finally decided on a topic I wanted to analyze, Katy Perry’s song “Chained to the Rhythm,” I was so overwhelmed with the idea of the assignment it took me a while to start it. To satisfy my anxiety about not having a rubric to follow I created my own; I wrote down what I wanted to accomplish by completing the project and what different elements I wanted to include in every section. I also created a very detailed MindMap regarding the song, the music video and my thoughts on it (See WP1 MindMap). Once everything was out in the open I felt much better about the project. Before I submitted my paper for peer review, I went back and double checked that I discussed all my main points and I passed my makeshift rubric. Overall, I think that by listing my requirements for myself it strengthened my self-knowledge about analysis and my fortes within that category of writing. By writing about what was important to me and creating an outline based on my initial thoughts on the topic, I believe I have a stronger insight into how my writing and thought processes function.
Another aspect of this class that I found intriguing was reading about Threshold Concepts. It was very beneficial to me to read Naming What We Know as it helped me to identify many concepts I acknowledge in daily life but finally have a name for. Often as I would begin to read a concept I would immediately think of when I have encountered the same thing. Learning more about each concept, and reading about the vast information involved with each one helped me to understand how to approach writing when I encounter these concepts. Many of the threshold concepts I originally felt were common sense or very simple, but when I read about them further, I realized that there was always more to each concept than I initially thought. One concept that stuck with me was “Writing is a Knowledge-Making Activity”, written by Heidi Estrem. This discusses the idea that by writing you are actually creating new information. Much like scientific research, writing can be considered an experimental branch of learning. I experienced this threshold concept firsthand with both of my writing projects. For writing project two, the act of coding and creating categories of meaning help you to shape your data and create new ideas based off the rhetoric. A lot of writing went into my analysis of each article and the discussion (See the Discussion Tab in WP2) in my final product. In other words, it took a lot of writing to produce my main ideas and generate an answer to my research question. This also happened during writing project one, though I was less aware of it at the time. By creating my own structured plan and mapping out every detail of my topic, I was also participating in a knowledge-making activity. Having to reshape the assignment into something that make sense to me gave me a personal connection to it and I created new ideas about the topic based on my connections. The substantial amount of writing I did this quarter allowed me form new thoughts about writing as a discipline and eliminate the doubts I had regarding my writing style.