Midterm Portfolio Reflection
The purpose of this portfolio of works is to demonstrate how the Social Utopias FYS class has helped me to read for stronger comprehension, make connections between works, and to write concisely and with textual evidence to support my claims. Every assignment, whether reading, writing, or other, was designed to challenge me in a new and unique way. Even though at the time of the assignment, the overarching purpose may not always have been clear to me, upon reflection, I can see why the assignments were structured the way that they were. The best way to demonstrate the importance of each assignment is to include them all in the portfolio and discuss some of the aspects that made them critical to our seminar-style classroom environment. Due to the progressive nature of my works, I have included them all in order of due date.
The first assignment was a simple five hundred word response paper that further demonstrated what our personal ideas of a social utopia would be. I think the purpose of this assignment was two-fold: to give us all a low-stake assignment for our first college paper and to let us show a little of our creative and idealistic sides. With that under our belts, we were assigned our first analytical paper about the Socratic dialogue used in Plato’s Republic. I completely missed the point of this assignment, but on reflection, I see that the intention was for us to learn read critically to understand more than the surface content of the readings and then translate that into claims that we could support with relevant textual evidence. The third response paper had to do with connecting different portions of the book in order to summarize and analyze how Plato arrived at his conclusion regarding philosopher-kings. Whereas the second response paper was designed for us to analyze style, the third was designed for us to analyze content.
The fourth and fifth response papers were based on the utilization of entirely different skills. The fourth paper was designed to teach us how to identify and follow and argument in an academic article. This paper was quite challenging for me because of the variety of points made within the article. I think the challenge of the fourth paper helped me during the completion fifth because I found that it was easier for me to identify the arguments and main points in that exhibit source. Consequently, I think the pairing of those two exhibit source assignments was intentional and ultimately beneficial.
In contrast to the five response papers, our essay was not rooted in other sources or a specific question. I thought the most challenging part of writing the essay was determining what exactly was being asked of us. It was difficult to find the perfect balance between argument, counterargument, plot summarization, and opinion. Therefore, I think that the essay assignment, aside from the obvious purpose of evaluating our skill in crafting a cohesive argument, was intended to see how well we could interpret a difficult and open-ended topic. In addition, we were required to visit the writing center, which is another secondary purpose to the essay assignment, because it introduced us to that helpful resource.
Overall, I realized that every single assignment, whether written or otherwise, had a specific skill set that was required for successful completion. I admit there were many times when I misinterpreted the assignment and therefore turned in a response that missed the mark. Upon reflection, I also realize that I tend to make the same mistakes in my writing: imprecise interpretations, unsupported claims, and sometimes run-on sentences. These are mistakes that I can focus on as I write my next papers now that I am aware of their precedence in my writing.