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Alex Madarang
RWS 280 Section 30
Lecturer Sager
28 April 2014

Reflection Essay: RWS 280
Throughout my academic career at San Diego State University, I have been required to
take a number of writing courses, from which I have learned many different skills and strategies
and have utilized them in many of my other classes over the past few years. In this essay, I will
recall the strategies I learned in the RWS classes I took during my freshman year, as well as the
areas in which I struggled, and reflect on how my experiences in Rhetoric and Writing Studies
100 and 200 affected my performance in future classes and the Writing Placement Assessment
(WPA). Afterwards, I will discuss the many different ways in which you, Lecturer Sager, have
helped me improve in areas that I still struggled with in addition to refreshing and enhancing the
skills I already acquired. Furthermore, I will consider how the improvement of my rhetoric and
writing skills will not only aide me in future classes, but have an impact on my life as whole.
During my freshman year at San Diego State University, I took two classes called RWS
100 and RWS 200. Throughout both courses, my professors provided me with the resources
necessary to learn and understand the rhetorical process of writing and analyzing a text. Ethos,
pathos, and logos were the foundation for those classes as it is for all Rhetoric and Writing
classes. Both of my professors taught me how to structure a rhetorical essay by starting with a
prcis and stating my thesis followed by three body paragraph that dissect the chosen text and
discuss the authors appeal to ethos, pathos, and logos. Although they were great professors, I
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felt as though the content chosen by these professors to be very dry and not something that I took
any joy in researching and writing about. For example, my professor in RWS 200 had the class
rhetorically analyze the Federalist Papers, as well as many other texts covering subjects from the
same time period, in which those documents were created. In retrospect, I think that if the subject
matter of those writing classes were different I would have been more engaged in class and
would have retain more.
As my freshman year came to a close, a couple of the things that I continued to struggle
with were my ability to put together a well written prcis and writing a clear thesis statement. I
feel as though my struggles with the prcis and thesis statement were often what led to my
papers being left disorganized, jumping from idea to idea with no real in-depth analysis of the
arguments presented in the chosen works. In the semesters leading up to the Writing Placement
Assessment, many of the essays required of me in other classes did not call for analyzing the
subject rhetorically, but instead were more research-based. As is the case with most things, I lost
many of the skills I acquired during my first RWS courses because I did not practice them on a
regular basis, or at all for that matter. In addition, the areas that I struggled with only worsened
over time. During the WPA, I can recall thinking to myself how easy the prompt was, but I
struggled with it because I could not remember the basic structure of a rhetorical essay, including
the prcis and thesis statement. After receiving a 6 on the WPA, I was required by the university
to take two writing courses: RWS 280 and RWS 305W.
Right from the start, your Rhetoric and Writing Studies 280 class refreshed my memory
with many of the things that I learned during my freshman year. While working on our first
project, things began to feel familiar as I worked on dissecting Selling in Minnesota, from
Barbara Ehrenreichs Nickel & Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America. After submitting my
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rough draft, I received a number of notes from you on things to consider when revising my
essay, including condensing certain ideas and sentences, avoiding slang terms, and restating a
persons title with each new paragraph, which was an issue that presented itself in a lot of my
essays during my earlier RWS classes. On the other hand, you commented on how nice certain
parts of my introduction and prcis were, which just goes to show how your teaching styles were
already more effective in helping me improve my writing skills. After receiving your notes, and
seeing how other students structure their papers during our workshop, I had a better
understanding of how to revise my paper. After submitting and receiving a grade back on my
final paper, I noticed that you made note of a couple sentence fragments throughout my paper, as
well as my tendency to jump between ideas, which affected the fluidity in some of my
paragraphs. If Im being honest with myself, the reason that things tend to get jumbled when I
write papers can be attributed to my tendency to procrastinate.
Although some of the same issues mentioned in Project 1 were still present in the
subsequent projects, I did feel as though I was struggling a little more with the second project. In
Project 2, you challenged us in a completely new and different way by requiring us to compare
Platos Allegory of the Cave, to a more modern representation of that same concept and
discuss the similarities and differences among the arguments presented in both of the texts. In
my opinion, Platos work, or any sort of philosophy for that matter, is a very difficult subject to
wrap my head around. Along with rhetorically analyzing a visual text, which was a skill that not
many people had acquired prior to your class, I found it very challenging to form a cohesive
essay that was an accurate representation of both writers texts and their arguments. Granted, I
do think that was partially due to my movie choice. Crash is a film that has many different twists
and turns, as well as many different points of views. Even though I had watched the film a few
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times prior to this project, I had a very hard time grasping the main points in this movie and,
therefore, had difficulty making clear and concise comparisons between the two texts. Towards
the end, I did realize I might have, as they say, bitten off more than I could swallow.
On the contrary, I do feel that by the time Project 3 came around the idea of breaking
down a visual text was no longer a completely foreign concept to me. I noticed that I used many
of the strategies and ways in which you encouraged us to think while analyzing visual texts. As
was the case with Crash, I noticed after re-watching Super Size Me a few times that I was
catching some things that I had not noticed before. Years ago, when I first watched the
documentary, I wasnt taking into consideration the directors main purpose or argument, or how
the creation of the film may have been a result of a much larger conversation that was already
taking place in our society and government. As a result, watching a film or documentary with
these things in mind allows you to get a better grasp of what a film is really about and you gain
more knowledge on the subjects presented in it.
As a whole, I feel that the skills that were built and strengthened during your class will be
valuable in my future as I approach the end of my undergraduate career and move on to building
a career for myself. The different ways you challenged us to break down texts provided me with
a different method of viewing and understanding certain things. Moving forward, as I encounter
new materials, whether they are audial, visual or textual, I will be able to understand and better
grasp the messages and ideas presented in different types of medias. In contrast, as mentioned in
previous paragraphs, I realize that many of the issues and errors I made in my essays could have
been avoided had I not procrastinated. Taking more time to focus on a paper allows you to be
more calm during the writing process and ultimately will result in a more cohesive, well-thought-
out essay with a clearer representation of the claims being made and the evidence to support
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them. Going forward, I will make it a goal of mine to work on my procrastination and hopefully,
as a result, my papers will show an improvement in regards to the organization and execution of
the ideas used throughout my essays.