|University writing course
|Final portfolio A2
|Sources / references
|Description / paper instructions
This is the instruction for the final portfolio (revision essay). You should revise my editorial essay to improve the grade for at least one full letter grade with all these useful feedbacks (B- to A-). Please read it carefully and follow the instruction of guidelines for final portfolio revision, and see my instructor’s comments and follow all her suggestions for revision all in the editorial final file. This final project is very very important and please write what the instructor wants to see, I will be greatly appreciated and tip you a lot if you really put efforts to write this revision to an A- range essay. Other than revising the writing assignment #2, you should write the description of changes as marginal notes to illustrate why you do these changes (only major changes needed to be mentioned). This file "guidelines for final portfolio revisions" also includes a sample gradeA description of changes, so follow the sample. Thank you!
Do Not Murder What You Love
“So Gemma, what course are you taking?” I asked my roommate from Miami. We were both participating in the Pre-Baccalaureate Program at Brown University the summer before going to the college.
She answered with a big, bright smile, “Oh, it’s physics. I’m a big fan of physics.”
Another genius, I thought. “So you must be very good at physics!”
“No, no, … I’m not. My high school grades on physics averaged B.”
“What???” I was completely shocked.
I had difficulty understanding why a student, who is not good at physics, and whose grades on this subject were far from good, would insist on studying it for college credit during the summer school. Ever since I was little, I was told to be #1 in class. What is the point of participating in a competition if there is no chance of winning? I asked why she chose to study the subject that she is not so good at. Wouldn’t she worry that this might have a negative impact on her overall grades, and ultimately hurt her college application? She looked at me, confused, “Why should I choose a class based on my previous performance? Shouldn’t I study a subject that I truly like? I may not be good at physics, but I enjoy the logical reasoning in solving problems so much and I’ll definitely try my best because it’s so attractive. Isn’t it amazing to see a simple formula that can be used to explain so many things in this universe?”
At the time, I was taking an Economics class. Before choosing the course, I checked out the syllabus and saw most of the materials had already been covered in my high school courses in China. Because I already knew the subject well, I was certain to receive an A in the class, which would help my college application. I couldn’t forget how happy I was when I found this course and immediately registered for the class.
Herwords made me couldn’t help thinking about my decision. I started to wonder what the ultimate purpose is for study. Growing up in China, we were told to work hard, to get good grades, to get into top schools, and finally, to find a good job with a high salary. This goal is the commonly success I have learnt from childhood. I know how important success is, but when pursuing it excessively, we never have the opportunity to ask ourselves where our interests lie. Yet, I remember my roommate’s face lighting up when she talked about physics, and how happy she was later when she received a A- in the course. This encounter haunts me later whenever I take decisions for whether take challenges that interests me or keep safe option that I dislikes just to ensure a good result. Then I think about those who have two common things in life, one is passion and second is profession, so success is more related to our interests because one can be proficient in those areas where he finds himself comfortable and can be more proficient at. This thing keeps me going on and making me choose challenges in life that are extremely superb but attracting for me. When I got into college here to explore myself, I started to understand the true pleasure oflearning what I’m interested. Even though I am an international student whose native language is not English, I love the feeling when I read and am lectured in history. I feel like I’m alive when I’m doing what I like because it allows me to pursue my passions, to develop my gifts, delve into my potential, and push me to become better. The joy of studying something one truly loves can be just overwhelming.
Yes, I can relate now that success has its true meanings when it is achieved after having a taste of enjoyment. Do I have to be particular in making decisions when I think or talk about success? I start to rethink about the definition of success, it should also include something that belongs to my inner satisfaction that I get when I perform those actions which are lied inside me. I should not merely pursue for an excellent grade but neglect focusing on the things that are interesting to me, and I will keep chasing them because they are exciting for me. Success can also be achieved with all the things that are purely amazing for us. We can work on those things, on the improvement of those areas and we can bring success. Whenever I make a comparison of those actions which I perform because of my passion or love and those which I do not like but can be easily achieved, I realize that what I gain is far more in doing things that I’m interest in. I start with my own choice and my own will.
On second side of coin, one might argue that getting a good grade is the ultimate purpose of studying in university, since after getting graduated, one will be facing finding a job that might be difficult in such a situation when grades will be not good enough just because one had taken college life just for the sake of enjoyment. There are tons of students out there who have chosen those “easy A” courses that they are not interested in or even dislike. However, what have they learnt from those courses at the end? They haven’t gain any fulfillment from learning process and not achieved “real success” for themselves as there is no enjoyment but only torment and perfunctory performance. Also, pursuing passion doesn’t mean abandoning commonly defined success such as fighting for good grades, high salary, and insurance on basic needs. We need to find balance without sacrificing what we love.
Also, family and reality burden is always brought up into the discussion, but why should we involve someone else in our self-recognized successes? What I lean is to chalk out a roadmap where I can take responsibility and initiate an action plan for chasing my success, and only take others’ opinion and support as reference because I’m depicting my own life. On a whole, I am self-accountable to myself and I am solely responsible for any successes or failures. For I know, I am more than honest to myself and can put all my efforts to make a good deal of success. That is whyI plan to choose to keep my favorite things and will never give up because boredom is no more on the list when it comes to have love and passion in life. If I fail any time, I am content because there is no one to blame for the failure. However, if one is doing something he really loves, the dedication and efforts driven by his own heart will basically keep him on track and avoid an unsatisfying result. I take the responsibility for all my actions and this is so valuable for me because I have learnt that not others’ decisions can make us unstable but we ourselves can as well.
Now, whenever I need to make a decision — be it the courses I take, the schools I apply to, or even the path I take down the road — there is a little voice inside asking: is this something you love?
Feedback from our instructor (very very important, your revision should all follow her comments and instructions):
I think this such an important editorial to write, and I can definitely see a place for it in any college newspaper, and I can see many students—not necessarily just international students from China—benefitting from reading it. In this way, your op-ed has the added benefit of speaking both to a primary and a secondary audience (i.e. international students and also any student who feels the pressure of grades or family pressures as she moves through college). There are some fine stylistic flourishes here, and the story of your conversation for Gemma provides a nice entry-point into the self-reflections you share in subsequent paragraphs. There’s a lot of potential there.
This op-ed doesn’t demonstrate enough control over your anecdotes, though, Nikki. There’s too much sprawl here, and the piece reads too much like a personal essay than an op-ed that’s tailored to a specific audience. In revision, I’d suggest that you limit the scope of your story (i.e. shorten the Gemma story and also shorten your personal reflections on your own life) and do more on the page that will feel relevant and carefully tailored to your audience. What might they be going through? What questions about life and majors and futures might they be facing with some trepidation? What are some potential details of their own definitions of “success” that might be worth highlighting here—so as to illustrate to them that they, too, getting caught in the trap of letting parents and fear of the future dictate their current decisions? Also, Nikki: what evidence is there in academic or popular literature that international students (especially ones from China) do indeed tend towards making academic choices based on what their parents want rather than making them based on personal interests? Considering some empirical research here might actually help you to better, more convincingly establish the problem (of lack of personal motivation in choosing college classes or of making bigger decisions about life). As it stands, you do too much to just illustrate your own personal battle with this.
In all, you’ll want to do more to make this piece more focused on your audience—and I think for this op-ed to truly make an impact, you should conceive of your audience as being less friendly and even slightly hostile to your argument. If, for instance, someone says, “But my parents would kill me if I tried to change my major?” or “Economic projections for the future are bleak. What if I can’t find work once I change my major?” or “I just don’t think I’m strong enough to do what you say I should do,” how would you respond? How might you persuade this skeptical audience? What kinds of reasoning/examples/details might win them over? Considering questions like these may help you to better flesh out your central argument and push to persuade a less amenable audience.
In addition to creating a better balance between your own anecdotes and the larger argument you want to make here, you’ll also want to keep working on your voice. The language doesn’t yet reads as carefully planned and controlled, and you don’t yet paint a vivid, specific enough image of your life and your family background (or of your interior, thinking self). I’d first suggest aiming to streamline/shorten the way you lay out some of your ideas. Then, identify which ideas your reader might have the hardest time accepting and work on crafting strong rhetorical appeals for those. Look for places where you can really revise at the sentence-level to heighten your appeals and the imagery you’re trying to evoke for your reader. Where might you use a simile or metaphor, for instance? Where might you shorten a long sentence by instead using some sentence fragments? What are the more unique, surprising details from some of the memories here that you think might end up making this editorial more memorable/powerful for your reader?
Editor’s notes from my classmate: I think it would be helpful to make a clear choice about who your audience is. Are you trying to convince parents to accept their children’s desire to pursue their own path? Are you trying to persuade fellow students with rigid understandings of success to think outside the box? Once you can come up with who you are writing to, you can better form your argument and find a clear voice. The way you would write to a student is different than how you would write to a parent, so find that audience and let that guide you.
another thing that might be interesting is to compare and contrast the worldview of rigidity and freedom with success and education. If you’re able to do this, then I think it will better convince people to see the problems with one worldview and become attracted to the other.
Bringing up a counterargument will also help your argument. I think you mention the security of following a fixed path where you know you will succeed, perhaps elaborate on that and then argue how predictability takes away from an authentic life experience.
P.S. To better explain how the instructorreached the letter grade here, she’s indicated below how this paper fares on each of the six grading criteria for Writing assignments. Please see the below and also the margin notes embedded in the essay.
ADDRESSING THE ISSUES
The extent to which the paper explores the issues set forth in the assignment in sufficient depth, and with suitable scope and complexity. Superior essays address all aspects of the writing task, including the professional, public, or academic implications of that task. The best papers also display a cognizance of audience and genre.
A: Undertake a sophisticated exploration of the issues set forth in the assignment. Exhibit a distinct appreciation of the academic, professional, and public issues that attend to composition within disciplines, majors, and career fields. The author is able to negotiate the complexities of the issues raised in a provocative, controlled manner. The author fully responds to the writing task, demonstrating a mature knowledge about the subject and a judicious sense of audience.
B: Demonstrate strong and purposeful engagement with the issues set forth in the assignment. Exhibit an appreciation of the academic, professional, and public issues that attend to composition within disciplines, majors, and career fields. The author is able to negotiate the complexities of the issues raised with maturity and authority. The author fully responds to the writing task, demonstrating a reliable knowledge about the subject and a good sense of audience.
C: Fully address and explore the issues set forth in the assignment. The paper fully responds to the writing task and explores the complexities of the issues raised. The author demonstrates reliable knowledge about the subject and effectively conveys this to his or her audience. Conscientiously acknowledge the significance of academic, professional, and public issues attending to different majors, disciplines, and career fields. Upper-division writing is not composed in a vacuum but, rather, attempts to comply with the standards for discourse within specific majors, minors, and career fields as well as those for interdisciplinary audiences.
D: Address the issues set forth in the assignment in a limited fashion. While the paper attempts to explore the complexities of the issues raised in the assignment, it treats them simplistically.
F: Not address the issues set forth in the assignment seriously or sufficiently.Fail to pay attention to the importance of the academic, professional, or public issues that apply to writing within different disciplines and career fields. The paper treats the issues simplistically; the argument/analysis repeatedly overlooks the complexity of the issues raised. The author, in addition, may fail to respond to all aspects of the writing task.
ARGUMENTATIVE FORCE & COHERENCE
The insight, cogency, and strength of analysis, all in service to the paper’s thesis. Good essays clearly, consistently engage an argument or theme, and not simply through repetition or stridency of tone. (Argumentative force is not tantamount to raising one’s “voice” on the page.)
A:Present a decidedly cogent and insightful argument and analysis. The writer responds to the assigned topic in a consistently forceful manner that is not only thoughtful but also thought-provoking and well-articulated.
B: Present a clear and thoughtful argument and analysis. The writer responds to the assigned topic in a manner that is thoughtful and strongly articulated; the paper demonstrates a strong and often compelling point of view.
C: Present a clear argument or analysis. The writer responds to the assigned topic in a direct, usually thoughtful, and sometimes forceful manner; the paper demonstrates a consistent point of view.
D: Offer a competent but severely limited argument/analysis in response to the assignment topic. While the argument or analysis may be plausible, fairly clear, and generally consistent, it fails to exhibit the careful thinking and overall cogency necessary for “C” writing.
F: Exhibit an implausible, unclear, incomplete, or inconsistent analysis/argument. The paper lacks the cogency and purpose necessary for competent college-level writing; the essay consistently fails to exhibit careful thinking.
ORGANIZATION & STRUCTURE
The lucid arrangement of the paper, both in terms of its overall structure and flow and of its individual paragraphs and the transitions between them. The best essays marshal their arguments in logical fashion, and the resulting sense of order is as apparent to the reader as it is to the writer.
A: Develop its argument or analysis with organizational clarity and logical force. The author directs the writer-reader transaction masterfully and convincingly.
B: Develop its argument or analysis with organizational coherence and logical force. The author controls the writer-reader transaction purposefully and effectively.
C: Display strong organization, paragraph development, and logical transition. The author demonstrates a good sense of structural control; the paper’s form directly contributes to its purpose; transitions are mostly effective.
D: Display baseline competence in overall organization, paragraph development, and logical transition, even if it still exhibits organizational or analytic/argumentative weaknesses. The author demonstrates marginal structural control in that the reader can discern the direction that the writer is taking, and why he or she is doing so.
F: Display flaws in organization, paragraph development, or logical transition. The essay lacks structural fluency: organizational flaws cause a lack of overall coherence, undermining the paper’s purposes. The reader is too often puzzled by the course the essay takes, or the essay relies too exclusively on formulaic organization, thereby becoming stilted and predictable.
SUPPORT & DEVELOPMENT
The extent to which the paper’s assertions are sustained with compelling examples, evidence, and reasoning that are appropriate for the intended audience — whether it be one of peers and colleagues familiar with the discipline or a lay audience or both — in those assignments that stipulate the need for sources. A facility for selecting and working with both primary and secondary sources is also an attribute of strong support and development.
A: Provide compelling support for the overall argument and analysis. The author includes a strong balance of extremely well-chosen materials to emphatically support what he or she is trying to do. The writer displays both facility and confidence in the use of primary and secondary materials, and employs them to further his or her own authority and point of view, citing them fully and in appropriate fashion.
B: Provide effective support for the overall argument and analysis. The author includes a good balance of well-chosen materials to support what he or she is trying to do. The writer displays facility in the use of primary and secondary materials, and employs them to further his or her own authority and point of view, citing them fully and in appropriate fashion.
C: Use effective support and reasoning to bring about the overall project. The argument or analysis receives relevant support; the author includes enough well-chosen material to sustain what he or she is trying to do. The writer incorporates references and sources appropriately, distinguishes between primary and secondary sources, and employs a recognized scholarly apparatus.
D: Incorporate at least minimally appropriate support and references — properly cited — to sustain the overall argument/analysis. The analysis or argument is supported by some credible evidence, but often the support is inadequate, unconvincing, or overly derivative. In addition, an appropriate scholarly apparatus is attempted.
F: Contain inadequate, unconvincing, irrelevant, or derivative support. The essay accumulates derivative and/or anecdotal examples without integrating them into a focused analysis or argument. The writer relies on inappropriate or weak sources and reasoning to sustain the overall discussion. The author may not include enough material to support the purposes of the paper. Often, too, such writing fails adequately to acknowledge sources.
STYLE & TONE
The effectiveness of the paper’s sentence structure, word choice, fluency, and manner of expression in terms of its purpose and audience. Superior tone and style compel the reader’s attention and assist his or her comprehension. Still, they are never contrived or a conceit; nor do they assume a cleverness that overshadows the text itself. In fact, they work best when they are nearly invisible, except to the discerning reading eye.
A: Employ a style that elevates the paper’s effectiveness and furthers its purposes in terms of its intended context.
B: Employ a style that reinforces the paper’s effectiveness and supports its purposes in terms of its intended context.
C: Use a style and tone that is appropriate to the purpose. The language used supports the author’s purposes and is suited to the particular audience — public, professional, or academic.
D: Use a style and tone intended to be appropriate to the purpose. The language used at least partially supports the author’s purposes and is suited to the particular audience — public, professional, or academic.
F: Use an inappropriate style or tone. The manner of expression detracts from the purposes of the essay or is inappropriate to its intended audience.
SYNTAX & FORMAT
The quality of the paper at the micro-, or sentence, level: mechanics, grammar, spelling, punctuation, and effective use of an accepted scholarly apparatus (method of citation), where one is employed. Good syntax and format permit the reader to quickly and clearly read a text without stumbling over the surface-level elements and thus losing sight of meaning.
A: Display professional maturity in syntax. Surface errors are virtually non-existent; the reader is left free simply to enjoy the author’s style and tone as well as the intellectual force of the writing.
B: Display maturity in syntax. Surface errors rarely appear and are inconsequential: the reader is hardly ever distracted by surface matters, and the author’s meaning is always clear.
C: Display college-level competence in syntax. Minor surface errors don’t seriously detract from the paper’s purposes or interfere with the reader’s comprehension of the essay.
D: Display rudimentary competence in syntax. Existing surface errors don’t seriously detract from the paper’s purposes or radically interfere with the reader’s comprehension of the essay. Indicate some cognizance of the academic, professional, and public issues attending to majors, disciplines, and professions.
F: Contain notable flaws in syntax. Mechanical errors detract from the paper’s purposes or interfere with the reader’s comprehension. Significant problems in grammar make the writing unclear and confusing.
Objectives:For this second major writing assignment, you will be asked to write an opinion piece for a popular audience.(Just as you chose your own CFP for A1, for A2 you will pick your own venue for publication.) The primary purpose of this assignment is to encourage you to treat persuasion as an act that requires strategizing and planning. To that end, before you even begin writing, you will be asked to assess the rhetorical situation you find yourself in.Furthermore, you will aim to investigate the power of the personal narrative when crafting an argument and find ways to avoid the landmines that abound when we set out to argue from a personal perspective.You are still being asked to treat writing as a process, and during this assignment cycle, we will focus especially on rhetorical analysis of published editorials and works-in-progress, both to learn about the conventions of the genre and to practice giving valuable, constructive feedback to fellow writers.
Background:While the blurring of the line between the news and editorial has been a problem in much of today’s media, that does not take away from the importance of editorials in mainstream media outlets. Editorials (or “op-eds”) are often written by professional columnists (such as Nicholas Kristof), but newspaper editors curating editorial pages are increasingly interested in the voices and perspectives of everyday people with expert knowledge and/or experience. As Trish Hall writes in “Op-Ed and You,” a paper like The New York Times is “interested in everything, if it’s opinionated and we believe our readers will find it worth reading.”
What this means is that any person who has a meaningful argument to make and has a desire to shape public opinion has an opportunity to try and publish their commentary on the issues of the day—includingpolitical events, contentious public policies, dominant social practices and recent cultural trends. What this also means is that readers of a given publication have an opportunity to hear from those who ordinarily might not have a viable public platform and who might shape the conversation in surprising ways due to their own subjective positions.
Your Job:You will be crafting an op-ed piece for a respectable news outlet (such as The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, or even a local outlet like Daily Trojan). Specifically, I would like to you approach this task from the perspective of yourself as a member of a particular group. Drawing on your experiences, expertise andskills (including research, if you wish), as well as your knowledge of current issues, you should create an argumentthat utilizes elements of the personal narrative as a viable tool in persuasion.
Writing Task:After choosing a publication and using invention to move towards a meaningful argument about a contentious—or neglected—topic, write an editorial of1000-1500 that aims toengage and enlighten the readers of your news outlet. As you write, ask these questions: What insight is your audience missing about your chosen topic?How can you use your membership in a group and your skill at personal writing to convey that insight?
Breakdown of A2 grade:
Companion essay: 5%
*The companion essay will require you to answer a series of questions about your op-ed once you’ve written it. Essentially, you will be asked to do rhetorical analysis of your own work, to explain the writerly choices you’ve made and to reflect on your writing process and on your progress as an argumentative writer.
“A Farm Boy Reflects” by Nicholas Kristof
“Fellow Asian-Americans, Back Off of Affirmative Action” by Elyse Pham
“Op-Ed and You” by Trish Hall
“My New Vagina Won’t Make Me Happy” by Andrea Long Chu
Optional: “Our favorite Washington Post op-eds of 2018”
Optional: “So you want to get out of your bubble: try reading these conservative websites” by Jason Wilson
Tips for Writing Successfully:
Final Portfolio Revisions
Due Friday, April 26 OR Wednesday, May 1
(by midnight) on Blackboard
“Re-vision—the act of looking back, of seeing with fresh eyes,
of entering an old text from a new critical direction…” – Adrienne Rich
The Nobel Laureate William Faulkner died still contemplating how he might revise his critically and commercially acclaimed novel The Sound and the Fury. He described the book as the one “that [he] anguished the most over, that [he] worked the hardest at” and also called it his “most splendid failure.”
This example, as extreme as it surely is, indicates a kind of writerly ethos that I would like you to inhabit for this upcoming revision assignment. Try to mull over in your mind the idea that writing can always be improved, that it is not ultimately about a grade or about approval from others but about achieving a kind of integrity to the argument and to the prose that is matched in spirit by the integrity of the author and their desire to become better at the craft of writing. This assignment will give you the opportunity to fully invest in the revision stage of the writing process by asking you to start from what were once final drafts. It will ask you to not only make revisions but to keep track of your changes and encourage you to take ownership of your work and justify the writing choices you’ve made.
Choose two of your previous assignments and revise them: To demonstrate your revision skills, you’ll need to select two that allow room for improvement. A1, A2 and A3 are all eligible for the final portfolio, but use caution if choosing A3. (Because you only just finished writing A3, you may not yet have enough critical distance to approach it with fresh eyes. Note, also, that I won’t have time to give you margin notes on A3, so you’ll have to make do with just my end comments.) If you originally got an A- on an assignment, but you still want to revise it for the final portfolio, please be aware that all features of the text, including the language, will be held to the highest standard. (And, no, you will not have to re-do any companion essays or ancillary materials for this assignment.)
Type two separate “Description of Changes” documents, one for each revised piece: Along with the final copy of each revision, please include a document that describes and justifies the major changes you made. What did you change and why? Make sure you explain where the revision came from—whether it was self-motivated or inspired by a comment from a peer or from me. If you decide not to make a significant revision that I suggested in my comments on the original draft, that’s fine; note what you didn’t change and explain why. When describing minor sentence-level changes involving grammar or style, just summarize them briefly.
Keep in mind that revision does not simply entail making surface changes or merely implementing the changes that I suggested. Revisions should be dramatic and self-motivated. This is your opportunity to put your rhetorical judgment to work in deciding what are the best ways of improving your paper, be it advice from a peer, from your professor or from your own inner editor.
Grading Rubric: (worth 30%)
A The revision demonstrates excellent rhetorical judgment and application of feedback.
B The revision demonstrates above average rhetorical judgment and application of feedback.
C The revision demonstrates average rhetorical judgment and application of feedback.
D The revision demonstrates below average rhetorical judgment and application of feedback.
F The revision demonstrates poor rhetorical judgment and application of feedback.
SAMPLE DESCRIPTION OF CHANGES
Page 1: N/A
 If you choose to turn in your A4 on April 26, your final portfolio revisions will be due on May 1. (Or if you choose to turn in your final portfolio on April 26, your A4 will be due on May 1.)
 Description of Changes borrowed from Professor Yance Wyatt’s Portfolio Revision activity