Portfolio Reflective Statement

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.

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Visual essay examples

natural disaster
air pollution

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Visual Argument Example


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Summary for “Cheating In College Is Widespread — But Why?”

In the article “Cheating in College is Widespread — But Why?” the Nation Public radio expressed how the internet is causing more students to cheat in order to get a high GPA. Don McCable, a professor at Rutgers University found that at least two-thirds of the university’s students said to have cheated on test, homework, and other assignments. McCable explained that “students say they don’t always understand that they’re doing is against the rules.”

Kirk Hanson, an executive director of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, claims that cheating is caused by the heavy course load of college. Also this habit does not only apply for school, but can carry down for life.

McCable and Hanson discovered that the students that cheat the most are the one on the top and bottom of the class. The top students are trying to do better, while the bottom students are using cheating to get through the class. The middle students are least likely to cheat because they are content with their grades and production in the class.

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Summary for “Author, 17, Says It’s ‘Mixing”

In the article “Author, 17, Says It’s ‘Mixing,’ Not Plagiarism.,” Nicholas Kulish describes an incident Helene Hegemann, an up and coming 17 year old book writer, had with plagiarism in her new novel “Axolotl Roadkill.” A blogger discovered similarities between Kulish’s book and the novel “Strobo” by Airen. The plagiarism was so extensive that even a whole page was copied from “Strobo.” People still praised the book for being a master piece, but other dismiss the novel because of Hegemann improper use of “Strobo.” Hegemann defended herself saying that in this new generation there is a mixture of old and new ideas. She explains that “There’s no such thing as originality anyway, just authenticity.” So as we use sources in this day and age we put remember to cite them or acknowledge them so that we culprits of plagiarism.

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2 Sources for my Research Argument Paper

The sources I have discovered so far for my Research Argument Paper are ‘I Sing the Body Electric’: Music and Technology in the 20th Century  by Hans-Joachim Braun and “Randomized crossover trial studying the effect of music on examination anxiety” by Hui-Ling Lai, Pin-Wen Chen, Chia-Jung Chen, Hui-Kuan Chang, Tai-Chu Peng and Fwu-Mei Chang.

“‘I Sing the Body Electric’: Music and Technology in the 20th Century” is about how technology has affect the way music is being developed like by electronic instruments instead of actual ones. Many types of modern music have used in music such as the electric guitar and distortions in notes. Recording engineers are now on the rise while actual musicians are being used less and less.  I will use this information to help define how music has been changing with technology and maybe discover the role recent technology has on current music and if that benefits studying.

In the article “Randomized crossover trial studying the effect of music on examination anxiety,” researchers executed an experiment  on the effects music has during an examination using Taiwanese nursing college students. The researchers decided to use Taiwanese people because their “lives are greatly influenced by examination performance.” The students took a 40 minute test consisting of 80 items. In one room students were given a 40-minute-group –based music intervention whereas the other held a regular standardized exam with no music. After the testing, the students answered some questions from the researchers. Some of the surprising facts that were found in their answers were that they “would like to have further situations accompanied by music.” The scientist collected various samples from the students such as finger temperature and respiratory rate. They discovered that “lento music is effective at anxiety reduction. I plan to use the information from this article to provide evidence that music helps people with tests.

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Writing as Technology Summary

In the article “Writing as Technology,” Jay Bolter begins by telling the history of producing written work from manuscripts to printing presses to type writers to computers. He explains that the root word of technology is techne, which means the art of craft in Greek. Writing and oral speech are techne as well.

People still uses different mediums and tools to write such as papyrus, stone, paper, and computer. Although there are many types of mediums, no one technology dominates writing. Sometimes it is easier to do things in one medium than the other or it serves better for a purpose. For example stone is still in use since it can be preserved for a longer period of time rather than paper, which disintegrates. However, the computer is changing writing because you can do many things on it such as create a calendar of events, a notepad, or a copier.

There are also hard and soft structures of writing. Hard structures are tangible features such as a book or the pages. Soft structure is what is put into the hard structure like pictures, drawing, and words. There are many forms of soft structure such as paragraphs and chapter. Newspapers and magazines have found an artistic way of using the space provided in hard structures.

Text is stored in different ways. There is magnetic disk where information is burned onto them. Computers are great for storing text because it can be retrieved at any given time when it is saved in the memory. The only downside is that one needs an electronic device to view the text that was produced by the computer.

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“The Internet: Foe of Democracy?” summary

In the article “The Internet: Foe of Democracy?” by Jonathan Stewart, he analyzes Cass Sustein’s argument that “the internet undermines the constructive dialogue that promotes progress in democracies.” This is because the internet has little of diverse opinions. Also online filtered content to fit your interests and needs such as Google News and Amazon is limiting freedom of speech and the various viewpoints and information that a newspaper would offer.

Sunstien also performed several studies that supported his claim. His first experiment consisted of liberal minded and conservatives who were suppose to discuss different issues like same-sex civil unions, and green house gases.  After the discussion the “the diversity of views on all three issues dropped precipitously.”

Sunstien also discovered something almost identical with juries where “the split between Democratic- or Republican-appointed judges or increased from 10 percent on a mixed panels to 30 percent on panels exclusively of single-party appointees.”

His finding was that free speech and the encounter of diverse opinions and topics promotes a healthy democracy. Although Sunstien scrutinizes the internet has a foe against democracy, he does believe that technology can benefit our society. Sunstien desires a digital place in the 21st century where diverse people are able to congregate and discuss opinions and information.

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“Iran Protests: Twitter, the Medium of the Movement” summary

In the article “Iran Protests: Twitter, the Medium of the Movement” by Lev Grossman, he explains how Twitter has become more than a means of communication in life, it can have a serious political effect as well as seen in the Iranian presidential elections. Twitter “flattened the world of social media” by allowing everyone have a say in the media and many diverse issues. The Iran officials even requested twitter to delay an upgrade in the best interest of the presidential election.

Twitter is so successful because it is built to relay information quickly and rapidly. Tweeters even use hash tags so they can be found more easily during a search. Tweets go out on the Internet and SMS, so twitter is also very portable and broadcasts to a very wide range of audience. Anybody with some sort of technology hooked up to these networks can get tweets anywhere in the world.

Iranian tweeters try to get around the government’s censorship by setting up “proxies” that allow people to  tweet through network addresses that are not blocked by the government. However once the government discovers these proxies they shut them down immediately. The Iranian government has the power to censor tweets and  block IP addresses. They even use twitter to manipulate tweeters. Such as retweeting “DO NOT RT anything U read from “NEW” tweeters, gvmt spreading misinfo” 200 times.

Twitter did not begin the protests in Iran, it bolstered protestors by providing them with a sense of confirmation from others that they were doing the right thing and that they were not by themselves. Uniting Iran under one cause and relaying it to the world.

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Back up education summary

In the article “Backup Education” by Marc Prensky,  he describes the flaws in our education system. We are teaching students the fundamentals such as add and divide when there is always calculator present that you never have to do math again. He goes further by asking why we teach kids to write neat cursive when there is IM and the computer to write everything for you. Prensky believes teachers should be teaching the youth useful information like what to do when something breaks down that would be more applicable in today’s society. Teachers do not want to change their style of teaching because this is how they have been teaching for many years and they believed it has been successful. Prensky describes this education as “back up education.” We need to meet our children’s needs in this society and teach them things that would be relevant in their lives.

I do notice some fallacies on Prensky’s argument such as not having evidence that not having a “back up education” is effective and saying you are either with me or against the children’s future. So although he does provide a convincing argument there are some areas he needs to work on to be a valid argeument.

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