4341 Self-Assessment Letter + Semester Project Revisions

DUE DATE: May 5, 2014 @ 11:15 am


Following other researchers and theorists, I define self-assessment as “the processes that allow a learner to know his or her own work—both in process and product—and to critique it such that the work can be enhanced” (Yancey and Smith 170). In all of my courses, one goal is for you to gain both declarative and procedural knowledge about writing, rhetoric, new media, and literacy studies; I want you to have a writer’s vocabulary and flexibility of practice. You will be writing Self-Assessment Letter to accompany a revision of your semester project because being able to judge your own work and products is an important part of learning. This practice of self-assessment is also “a method for assigning both responsibility and authority to [you as] a learner” (170).

For the purposes of this letter, I want you to embody your role as a writer, and in this document, my expectation is that you will begin to know your learning and researching in such a way that you show your expertise and authority: “authority about processes, about texts, about [yourself as] the writer” (172). To do this, you’re likely going to have to do some reflection because reflection is “a critical component of learning and of writing specifically” and because “articulating what we have learned for ourselves is a key process in that learning” (Yancey, On Reflection 7).

I ask for this reflective work because I want you contextualizing your learning within the course goals and learning outcomes. Institutional and departmental requirements demand that I assess what you have and have not learned throughout the course. That said, I am not trying to turn you into mimicking robots, non-thinkers who simply replicate our ideas and the work that we do as writing studies scholars. Instead, as Yancey and Brown have suggested,

The hope for self-assessment . . . is that the student–perhaps even before becoming enculturated [into “academic” writing]–goes beyond our standards to his or her own, talks back to us, and begins to negotiate the terms that will govern a text . . . . One  way of  understanding how efficacious self-assessment is, then, is to understand to what extent it encourages this kind of communication, this kind of meaning making, this kind of rhetorically effective resistance to institutional textual values. (173)

This is why I ask you to include the Self-Assessment Letter as your final contribution to the class. I want you talking about what I value as a faculty members at St. Edward’s, but I don’t pretend that all you read and write occurs in my class. This is also why the letter may combines private thoughts about your learning within the class with more public discussions about what you’re applying outside the boundaries of the campus.

I cannot anticipate all the writing situations you’ll encounter in your remaining time at St. Ed’s (assuming you have any time left here after our time together); I don’t know how involved your colleagues and professors will or will not be in the research you do, the writing you produce. To that end, you need to have your own assessment abilities to complete and revise texts. I  also want you to understand and made adjustments to  your  own  private reading and writing practices, and a key part of these adjustments will be your ability to articulate what you have learned and what you still need to learn. Thus, your self-assessment letter asks you to assess your writing as a means of assessing yourself-as-writer, -as-reader, -as-researcher, and -as-learner.


Required Sections and Headings

To begin this process of reflection, which I imagine will continue well past the time when your ENGW degree is complete, I want you to write a letter helping me understand how the intellectual work of the course—the reading and writing assignments coupled with your own research investigation—did and did not push you to grow as a writer, a reader, and a learner. Imagine that you are telling me your story of ENGW 4341. Where did you begin? Where have you ended up? What happened along the way? To do this, you will need to study the work you’ve done for the class. What do you see there? Look back at my goals for us in the class if you need inspiration. Here are also some questions you can think about as you reflect on your experience:

  • What do you know about key theories and theorists in contemporary rhetoric and composition before this class? What do you know now?
  • How, if at all, has your understanding of multimodal texts and different modes of communication changed? How do you see these options affecting, influencing, or challenging your work with authorship, audiences, and reading practices?
  • How has your understanding of research changed, grown, remained the same? In what ways (if at all) do you feel more prepared to acknowledge and explicate the nuances of complex theories and pedagogies?
  • What, if anything, helped you compose arguments that persuasively articulate your positions on theoretical, methodological, and pedagogical issues related to rhetoric and composition?
  • What strategies have you learned to use to make your writing more effective?
  • What were and/or have been the important questions for you? Where do you see glimmers of understanding? What do you still need to work out in your mind?
  • Where do you see yourself not being able to say/do what you wanted to? What were the things that helped you learn? that didn’t help you learn? What were the challenges you faced this semester? How did you deal with those challenges?

Your primary audience for this will be me since I will be using it as a guide to reading your research project and for making adjustments to the class design. Your letter will offer me a way of reading the work of your work and, by extension, the outcomes of the class.



Explanation of Learning

How effectively does the letter

  • discuss the learning that occurred throughout semester, and
  • support discussions of that learning supported with evidence from class and writings and connected to course goals?


How effectively does the letter order, arrange, and present findings so that they are

  • internally consistent and
  • equally and fully developed?

Voice, Style, and Tone

  • Does the letter sound like educated speech?
  • Is the letter easy to read aloud (or does the reader run out of breath)?
  • Does the letter construct the reader as an equal that the writer wants to show something interesting?

 Nuts and Bolts (15%)

  • Follows Formatting guidelines
  • Turn it in on Google Docs; shared using “Can Edit” option
  • About 1000-1200 words
  • Standard Edited English, proofread meticulously and consistent with what should be expected of advanced ENGW major (please visit my “Style in Writing” page and also give serious thought to buying the Garner text)

Possible Grades

90-100%: Excellent performance overall
80-89%: Strong performance overall
70-79%: Fair/adequate performance overall
60-69%: Weak/problematic performance overall
<60%: Failing, uh-oh


Yancey, Kathleen Blake and Jane Bowman Smith, eds. “Reflections on Self-Assessment.” Self-
Assessment and Development in Writing: A Collaborative Inquiry. Cresskill, New Jersey: Hampton Press, 2000. 169-176. Print.

Yancey, Kathleen Blake. Reflection in the Writing Classroom. Logan, UT: Utah State Press, 1998.

NOTE: This assignment was designed with Laurence Dambreville (The University of Texas-Pan American).