My name is Brandon Low and I am a freshman at the University of Notre Dame with a major in engineering. This portfolio is an accumulation of all the work I created in my First Year Composition class. The main focus of this class was technology and how it shaped our lives. The class explored rhetoric, research, and writing in the digital culture. There were five major assignments in this class, which helped me further explore the new digital age. The assignments were a narrative essay, a rhetorical analysis, a research paper, a visual essay, and a collaborative project.
All my pieces present in this portfolio are different types of analytical writing and have various topics. My narrative essay allowed me to investigate my relationship with television. In my rhetorical analysis, I compared two articles about the effect of technology on society using the three rhetorical elements (ethos, pathos, and logos). My research paper required me to analyze the evidence I collected and look at effects of leaning with music. The visual essay focused on the importance of the Notre Dame marching band to school spirit and permitted me to investigate the creation of unity with music. The collaborative project also made me examine information about learning with technology at Notre Dame to put into our video.
The purpose of each assignment in this course was to allow me to explore today’s digital society whether it is through story telling, analysis, research, or creating with new media. They also helped me develop into a better writer and thinker. Each assignment got increasingly difficult during the course of the semester and built upon one another. In the narrative essay, I used examples in my life to display my relationship with technology. The rhetorical analysis taught me to critically read and understand what the authors are truly stating. I also had to use examples to support my point, but with articles instead of personal experiences. In the research paper, I learned how to efficiently research information to support my paper. Additionally, I read critically to understand the information I gathered like in the rhetorical analysis. Then in the following assignment (the visual essay), I was also required to find supporting information for my essay. Furthermore, I had to critically look at articles and images to include in the essay. Finally, on the collaborative project, I was part of the research team that found various facts about our topic. Here I gathered information from essays, images, and videos. So all the assignments were built upon one another and there was a certain mastery of skills that was needed before moving on to the next project.
This portfolio showcases my ability to compose a variety of “texts.” The first three assignments were print-based texts while the last two were new media texts. The first three projects were primarily essays I wrote. Organization, structure, and coherence were important elements in this type of text. The visual essay was image-based text where I created a PowerPoint with images, sounds, and little text to argue a point. The collaborative project was a video-based text. The class as a whole created a video that explained the importance of technology in learning though interviews and taped examples. I learned a lot about computer applications like PowerPoint and iMovie from the last two projects because I was able to play around with them while working on the project. In iMovie I learned how to cut clips and add music. In PowerPoint, I discovered how to add music across multiple slides and how to create animations. The print-based skills that I learned will help me write better and allow me to better present my ideas across on paper. The new media text skills will allow me to make better and more entertaining presentations and projects in the future.
This portfolio also demonstrates my ability to plan, execute, and revise prose. In order to create my great essays, I had to produce a plan to create, properly execute, and continually revise them to create the ideal paper. Some of projects I had to write proposals and exploratory drafts to help me develop a plan to approach the essay. The plan of the essay is very important to its structure and coherence to the readers. During the planning process, I also gather supporting points for my argument by researching in the library. After outlining out my approach with my research, I would execute my plan and begin developing the essay. My thoroughness of explaining points in my paper with supporting evidence is one way this portfolio displays my ability to execute prose. Additionally, in the execution process, I carefully positioned ideas correctly and I did everything in the piece for a reason. I place each paragraph, quote, and sentence in my paper with a purpose. The essay I produce following my execution is not perfect, so I go back and edit my piece to make it as clear and understandable as possible. Sometimes I would have to do more research because I do not have enough support facts or I would have to revise sentences that do not make sense. Over the course of the semester I have been to the writing center every week either working on or editing my pieces. The writing center has helped me understand where my problems are in the paper and gives me different perspective of the piece other than my own. I have also used the corrections my teacher commented on my papers to further revise them. So I have carefully edited all of my pieces and they will show my ability to revise prose. The culmination of all these elements is what helped me produce the pieces in this portfolio.
This portfolio demonstrates my mastery of these skills by having papers that are both very coherent due to both planning and executing and reliable with supporting points from my research. Also my mastery of revision can be seen through how clean and polished the pieces are in this portfolio. I have mastered the skills fairly well although there is always room for improvement. I think I need to work on getting my ideas down on paper. Everything makes sense in my head, but when it comes down on paper readers sometimes have a hard time following my train of thought. Overall, this portfolio displays my skills to plan, execute, and revise prose.
Additionally, this portfolio demonstrates my critical research, reading, writing, and thinking skills because it shows that I can find important quotes to place in my paper while reading and I can incorporate those quotes nicely into my paper. Critical research skills were crucial for my research paper, visual essay, and collaborative project. I was required to find information that supported the thesis for these papers. I also had to analyze the information to determine its credibility and interpret the ideas that the author is conveying as a critical reader. As a critical writer and thinker, I had to devise a plan to structure my paper. I also had to decide where were the most appropriate places in the paper to include my research. Research and critical reading played a significant role in my development as a writer. In order to support the claims I state in a paper, I needed to place evidence from reliable outside resources. This required me to do research in the library and online. I always end up with a lot of information, but as a writer I had to determine what information I would use. Using all these skills together I was able to produce the work presented in this portfolio.
Out of all the essays and projects I created in this class I am most proud of my rhetorical analysis. I really was able to make connections to both articles I was analyzing and I was able to organize my paper in a very logical fashion. I also was able to incorporate many quotes seamlessly in my paper, which helped bolster my argument. Some of the problems I have previously faced as a writer were making transitions and placing sentences in the right place. This essay highlights my growth as a writer because I was able to make smooth transitions between paragraphs and my sentences were more coherent. This work also highlights my strengths such as incorporating quotes seamlessly into my paper and creating an understandable structure.
Overall, this course has helped me become a greater researcher, writer, and thinker. I am very elated of all that I have accomplished in this class and will use all that I have learned in future writing and new media assignments, presentations, and projects. I hope you will enjoy my portfolio as much as I have.