FYEP 101 Common Assignment
When asked to reflect on my writing from this past semester and chose a paper that demonstrated how my writing had improved I struggled. Not because the teacher is bad and I did not learn anything but because I have a love-hate relationship with my writing. I have often felt that I do not write well no matter how much effort I put into a paper. One thing that I have come to terms with this year is that the grade does not mean that the paper is really bad it just means that there is still things that can be improved on. Changing how I write a paper, the process, will improve these things overtime and help me appreciate my writing more. When I finally chose a paper to use as my evidence paper I chose the most recent essay from my writing class about the definition of marriage in which I have been able to show the most improvement of my writing. Some things I have specifically improved on in my writing over the semester are my organization, use of evidence, and my analysis which enable me to effectively communicate the point I am trying to make in my paper.
The organization of my papers has improved over the course of the semester, which helps the reader understand the paper better. Something I struggled with at the beginning of the year was my organization in my essays; there was a roadmap the the reader could expect to follow but the order of the ‘roadmap’ did not always make sense. Over the course of the semester I worked to improve this and the thesis from my evidence paper clearly demonstrates this. The thesis is, “Marriage is a socially constructed union that is used to enforce racism, perpetuate the patriarchy, is a symbol of status showing economic stability but also promotes psychological health.” From this thesis the reader can clearly see the course that the essay will run, first talking about racism, then the patriarchy, how marriage is a status symbol and lastly how it is beneficial to those involved. The uncomplicated road map that is laid out in the thesis gives the reader an idea of what will be talked about and argued in the essay. This skill of organization that I have obtained from this class will continue to all of my future writings and help me on longer papers to keep a clear focus.
Evidence is an important part of any successful essay, and through the year I have improved my use of sources in my essays so they are stronger and support my argument. In the final essay for my writing 101 class we defined what marriage meant to us. In this essay I effectively used evidence to support the argument that I was making. For example in paragraph 5 of my essay Marriage: Not all it’s Cracked up to be I am arguing that marriage was created to showcase a higher social standing and quote Andrew Cherlin a sociologist at Johns Hopkins, from his article The Deinstitutionalization of American Marriage; “[h]aving the wherewithal to throw a ‘big’ wedding is a vivid display that the couple has achieved enough financial security to do more than live from paycheck to paycheck.’’ (Cherlin 10). This quote is saying that when people get married their ability to provide a wedding for family and friends shows that they have moved up a rung on the social ladder because they are able to provide for themselves and have money to spare. This evidence proves that marriage is viewed as a symbol of social status because of its use of ‘financial security’ which is associated with people who do not have to scrimp and save for everything in life. The use of this quote is effective in communicating my point that marriage is a sign of higher social standing because it shows how people associate getting married with money and higher social status. This is a good use of evidence because it supports my claim. At the beginning of the year I would have struggled to find evidence that truly and fully supports my claim but now I had no trouble finding and using this quote that supports my argument. This shows the improvements I have made in my writing over the course of the semester in utilizing evidence in my papers.
Improving my analysis in my writing was my main goal for the semester and I worked to improve this in my writing during this writing course. Analysis is something that I have always struggled to do well and this semester I worked really hard to improve my skills in analyzing evidence in a paper. For example in my evidence paper in paragraph three I analyze a quote from Stephanie Coontz regarding the aftereffects of horses and guns being introduced to Native Americans and how it changed marriage. The introduction of horses and guns to the Native tribes changed how they hunted for buffalo from being an activity for the entire tribe to being an activity only for men. This changed how marriage worked within these societies because the women were now only needed to clean and prepare the meat and hide of the aminal. The men, with guns and horses, were able to kill more buffalo and needed more women to take care of the meat and thus men started to take more than one wife because it meant they could kill more buffalo to trade with the Europeans. I took a quote that does not seem to directly relate to marriage and was able to analyze how marriage changed based on new technologies people got access to. At the beginning of the year I would have more or less just repeated what my evidence had said in a few different ways and called that analyzing, but over the year I have expanded my ability to analyze evidence. This has allowed me to improve my essays overall and help me to communicate my ideas in a clear concise manner. While I still need to improve my analysis of evidence I have greatly improved my analysis over the course of the semester and will continue to over the course of my academic career.
Some goals that I still have for the rest of my academic career include improving my analysis, grammar and timeline for a paper. In a previous paragraph I spoke about how my analysis has improved over the course of the semester but I still feel that I could improve my analysis through continuing to write and utilizing resources available to me such as the writing center, peers and professors. This will help me improve my writing overall and my ability to analyze evidence. My second goal is to improve my grammar, mostly I fragment sentences sometimes and focusing on improving this will help me convey my ideas in a clearer manner. By doing this my writing will make more sense to the readers which is one of the most important parts of writing. Lastly I am going to focus on improving my personal timeline for writing my papers. I often wait to the last minute and ‘speed’ write entire papers. This does not create a good paper and breaking up the paper over a period of time will enable me to create a better paper overall. Being able to create a timeline for myself will also enable me to not stress out as much because I will be prepared to finish papers without speed writing and staying up to all hours of the night.
All in all this semester has proven to be very educational. It challenged me to improve my writing specifically my organization in my essays, the power of my evidence has also been refined. Finally the analysis in my papers has been enhanced through this writing class. Continuing through my college education I will improve my writing by further improving my analysis in a paper, the grammar, reducing fragmented sentences and comma splices and planning out when I will write my papers so they are not just written last minute and have more thought put behind them to create a better overall product
Radford, Elizabeth. “Marriage: Not all it’s Cracked up to be.” December 5, 2016. Writing 101, Pacific Lutheran University.