NMSU English Department

English 111 G/H Rhetoric and Composition
Essay 5
Syllabus Policies Bibliography Portfolio
Score Sheet Learning Log

E1 | E2 | E3 | E4 | E5

See an Example Essay 5: Example 1 | Example 2

For your final ENGL 111 essay, you will create an argument about the value of what you have learned, drawing evidence from your experience in the class by doing reflective self-assessment. This entails reviewing all the work you’ve done this semester in order to explain what you have learned about writing, reading, critical thinking, and researching; how you learned it; and how you plan to use it in your college, professional, and personal lives. As is the case in all rhetorical situations, the ethos you create will influence your credibility and persuasiveness.

All the course work you did was designed to help you meet the course objectives. Now you can explain what you have learned and discuss its significance. To help you prepare, you may want to think about writing to someone other than your instructor. When you write to an unfamiliar audience, you know that you need to slow down, explain, give details, and elaborate, because this audience will not already know what you have experienced.

In general, you will answer the following questions:

  • What did I learn? What have I learned about writing, reading, critical thinking, and researching in this class, and how will what I’ve learned play a part in my academic, professional, and personal lives?
  • How did I learn it? How did the activities—reading and critical thinking exercises, in- and out-of-class writing assignments, library work, essays and research projects, group work, class discussions, conferences, and so on—contribute to what I have learned in this course? How can I show that I have learned this? What examples can illustrate that I have learned what I claim?
  • Why is it important? What have I learned about the role writing will play in my future? What will I be able to do as a result of doing the work of this course?
  • How will I apply it? What specific skills and strategies from this course will I use when writing in the future? What are my strengths and weaknesses as a writer? What do I do well? What do I still need to work on, and what skills can I work on to develop as a writer?

You must defend all your assertions with specific examples of the work you did in the course. For example, if you believe that reading and writing about education taught you something important, then explain what you learned, how you learned it, and how it is important in the most specific terms you can. Do the same for all the reading and writing assignments you choose to discuss. Make specific references to the work you did in the course to prove your claims about learning. Move from the general claim to the specific example that shows the validity of that claim.

Example: I learned that I can strengthen my essays by taking the suggestions of my readers because they are an unfamiliar audience. For example, in my first draft of E2, I used a lot of engineering jargon. My peer critiquers told me they didn’t understand, and since I had decided I was writing to high school seniors who would be interested in possibly majoring in engineering, I knew I had to explain more clearly. I then cut down on the use of jargon and used more familiar words instead. I used this same approach in my editorial by tailoring my word choice to the target publication I specified.

Consider all you’ve done during the semester and evaluate how the parts fit together into a whole. Think of your reflective self-assessment as an essay that covers and explains what important work someone would find in your portfolio. Consider how you can convince a reader that you have mastered the course objectives.

Remember that you must write a coherent and well-developed essay. Listing and answering questions is not enough. Your essay must demonstrate that you have learned the desired skills of the course and can argue and write clearly and effectively. Make sure that your essay is clear, well organized, fully developed and argued, and well written in terms of style, grammar, and mechanics.

One way to start is by reviewing the course objectives, which are listed on the syllabus and reprinted here:

Through a sequence of directed practice, you will:

  • become familiar with the composing process and learn to adjust it to accomplish various writing tasks,
  • understand the use of writing as an aid to learning,
  • develop analytical reading and critical thinking skills,
  • develop expository and argumentative writing skills,
  • develop research skills, and
  • understand collaborative learning and its use in various contexts.

There is no specified length; it has to be as long as it has to be to get the job done. Do write enough to make and effectively argue a position about your learning in this course, its value, how you will use it, what you will do to keep learning to be an effective writer and thinker. The reflective self-assessment will be worth a maximum of 20 points of the 60 points you can earn through your portfolio.

E5 due date: ___/___


Evaluation criteria
Use the following questions about the main elements of an essay to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of your essay. Use these questions when reading each others’ essays for peer critiquing. Your instructor will be using these criteria when evaluating your essay.

Course and performance review

  • Does the writer have a thesis/enthymeme about the significance of what he or she has learned about writing, reading, critical thinking, and other areas?
  • Where does the writer need more specific details/evidence to support the thesis/enthymeme and other claims?
  • Does the writer discuss his or her strengths and weaknesses in writing?
  • Does the writer accommodate an unfamiliar audience?


General characteristics of effective essays
Evaluate your essay against the course goals for English 111. An effective essay will demonstrate these characteristics.

Critical thinking: Essay demonstrates control over conceiving and defending a statement about a topic, including defining and limiting a topic. Makes a clear and arguable statement about topic, developing statements logically and adequately. Recognizes complications or alternative viewpoints. Paragraphs are sequenced and clearly developed.

Argument, structure, and development: Essay makes an argument to an audience. Essay is structured around a controlling idea or thesis statement. Evidence illustrates or argues the controlling idea. Evidence is appropriate to topic and purpose. Evidence is sufficient. Audience is defined implicitly or explicitly and accommodated through essay. Whole paper structure supports controlling idea.

Standard edited English awareness: Language use contributes to success of essay. Vocabulary and syntax are appropriate to purpose and occasion. Sentences vary to reinforce logic of essay. Essay demonstrates understanding of standard English conventions, including sentence boundaries and completeness, concord, appropriate modification, and mechanics, including spelling, punctuation, and manuscript conventions.

Copyright 1997 Department of English
New Mexico State University
Use only with permission

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