Sunday, February 28, 2010

Final Assessment

I had mixed emotions going into this class. I had just finished my Capstone Research Project and had a bit of senioritis. I was expecting English 240 to be just a last minute, easy class I just needed to get through in order to graduate. I soon found out I was wrong. I wish I would have taken this class earlier in my college career. I have spent the last two years trying to sound educated and fill my papers with wordy explanations in order to fill page requirements. I had never heard of inductive and deductive arguments though looking back I have been working with both the entire time.

My initial expectation for this class was that I would breeze through it with little effort. I couldn’t imagine what I could possibly learn from a lower level class after completing all my higher level requirements. After week one I changed my attitude toward the class and really became engaged in the assignments. I was surprisingly excited about researching and writing about a topic other than history. I expected to not learn much or find much enjoyment out of the class but after writing my paper and completing the assignments I found a new respect for finding credible sources in unconventional places as well as not needing to be wordy in order to sound educated.

If I had a chance to take the class again, the only change I would make would be to take it earlier in my college career. I did not notice that I needed this class until I met with my advisor after my first year at NU. By then I had a full schedule and no place to put a missing class except at the end of my schedule. I would definitely look for sources in unconventional places. I have been schooled to look at highly credible academic journals and primary sources and to dismiss everything else. I used newspaper articles, magazine articles and blogs for the first time in research and found they do have their place in the academic world.

Asking me what grade I think I have earned is a tricky question. If you look at completing all the weekly assignments on time as well as constructing a final research paper according to the instructions I would have to say I have earned an “A”. If you compare my work to others in the class I would also say I have earned an “A”. We had a very interactive class this month and everyone was very involved and helpful with each other’s work. Also, going into the final days of the class I had an “A” in the class without the grade for the final paper, the blog and the discussion boards so I am fairly confident that I should receive a low to mid “A” for a final grade.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Week 4

Our final blog assignment asks us if we think Dr. King's Letter from Birmingham Jail would work today as a blog entry. Since we are asking specifically about it being a blog I would have to say no, I do not think it would work. I admit, I am limited in blogging experience, but I believe Dr. King's letter is beyond the league of bloggers. A majority of what I have seen in blogs have been emotionally charged, opinionated, individual responses to issues. Most have little, if any, educated experience behind them. Dr. King's letter contained numerous examples of his education as well as experience with the subject he was writing about. He explained himself beautifully when describing the hardship the black people in Alabama had gone through as well as the many references he made to historical figures and their relevance to the issue at hand. He was able to communicate his objection to the views of the eight whit clergymen while at the same time showing compassion and understanding to their situation. He told them they were wrong in their views but then apologized in case he offended any of them. Dr. King captures the reader and draws them into his argument, which is a strong point in a blog today, but that is the only similar comparison I can make.

Though I hold a slightly higher opinion of the credibility of blogs since taking this class, I still do not give them the same amount of credibility as certain other sources of information. If Dr. King's letter had been first viewed in a blog I do not believe it would have been taken as seriously as it did in it's own time. I do not think a blog would have been the right place for such a serious piece of literature.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Week 3

I am now only one week from graduating. In the past two years I have written at least one major paper per month...a few classes required two papers! In those years I have become more comfortable with MLA documentation over APA. I don't know why...most professors accepted either format. I guess I must have started with MLA and just kept it throughout each class. I believe formatting and documenting academic papers give the paper the credibility needed at this level as well as makes reading the paper standardized. Being a History major I believe I will be using the APA format going forward so reacquainting myself it will be good. Documentation is vital to research papers because there is no way to validate and duplicate the findings without the reader being able to study and test the same evidence the writer used.

I have less than a week and a half and I haven't began writing my paper. I don't even have an outline. One positive is that I have plenty of research under my belt and believe the paper should come together pretty easy.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Week 2...already!

Week 1 of the last class in my undergraduate career is over...3 weeks to go!!! Coming off of the Capstone Project I am feeling much less stress but am amazed at how much I am learning...things I wish I would have known prior to the Capstone!!! I am extremely excited to start researching my paper topic this weekend. I have studied nothing but history for the last two years and find it refreshing to be working on a current topic. The travel industry, cruises specifically, resuming normal schedules in Haiti when the area is still recovering from the recent earthquake is a very controversial topic. Other than what I have read in the news I haven't had a chance to dig much deeper into the topic.

The assignment we completed last night on Orwell was fascinating. I have spent the last 2 years of my college life trying to sound educated in my writing only to find out that, according to Orwell, what I have been striving for is actually a continuation of the destruction of the English language!!! Go figure!!

Another thing I am trying to get used to with this class is the number of students. Professor had mentioned there were 28 of us in the class. I don't think I've had this many people in a class since before NU!! The last few classes had around Capstone, I believe had 10-12! I guess that's what happens as the classes get more specialized. Not everyone is required to take the higher level history classes but everyone needs to complete English 240!!! I still wish I would have taken this class earlier....I probably could have eliminated a lot of frustration with my first few papers!!!