Intro to self-assessments:

Over the course of the semester, you will complete 6 self-assessments (total grade for all 6 = 10%). These are short, informal pieces of writing where you are expected to reflect on your own progress in this class. These are exploratory pieces of writing. This means that you don’t have to have a clear idea of what you’re trying to say when you sit down to write. The value in these pieces of writing in lies in the practice of doing it. Hopefully, in the writing of them, insight about your own relationship to your work will be illuminated.

There is only one stipulation in these pieces: be honest. Just be yourself and write as truly as possible. As long as you’re doing that, you’re completing the task correctly. Do not attempt to write in essay format. I won’t be grading spelling or grammar (but read it over once, just to make sure everything is clear).

These exercises are valuable for many reasons. The most important is for you to gain greater understanding of what you are doing here, in this class. It’s crucial for you to have perspective on your own work. The only opinion about your work that matters is your own. That can feel untrue in a setting like this where your work is being evaluated by your teacher. But, eventually, school will end, and you’ll be on your own. At a certain point, your work ceases to be graded.

Which brings me to the next valuable purpose of these exercises: for me to get to know you better. I have 43 strangers to get to know very quickly. Each one of you has a different writing style, a different way of reading, a different way of seeing the world. Some of you love reading, some of you hate reading. Some of you feel great about your work, some of you may lack confidence. All of this is important. Really important. The way I read your work, and (to a certain extent) the way I grade your work will be influenced by these self-assessments. These assessments are a way to hopefully level the playing field in this class. Instead of trying to achieve some external standard, you will set your own goals for this class, and you will evaluate yourself against these standards. That’s how real life works. It helps to practice.

For the first assessment, I would like you to complete the following tasks:

  1. Print out the Self-Assessment Survey. Fill it out.
  2. Respond to the following questions. You can answer in paragraph format. Once again, the only important thing is to be honest. Don’t tell me what you think I probably want to hear. Barf. Just be honest. If you have trouble answering the question, that’s fine. Explain why you can’t really answer it.
  • How do you feel about your own writing skills?
  • What do you hope to get out of this class? What are your goals for this class (besides getting a good grade)?
  • Judging by the course syllabus and what Jeff has explained so far, how do you feel about the work you’re going to be asked to complete? Are you excited, scared, nervous, intimidated, inspired, (or anything else) by the challenges of this class? Explain your answer.
  • Broadly speaking, what do you think the point of a College English class is? If you feel that there’s no real point (that’s okay!), then what should the point be? In other words, if you feel that English class is not really useful, then what can you do to make it more useful to yourself?

Your response should be about two-pages, double-spaced. You must respond to each of these questions. You don’t have to spend equal space discussing each. You can spend more time on one question, if you have more to say about it.

Print out your response and the survey, and hand them in on September 7. Please format the written response according to MLA format (see this Sample Essay for a model). You must attend class on Sept. 7 in order to submit this assignment. I will not accept any late submissions.