Dear future students,
I have finally completed my Spring 2022 semester, and Writing for Engineering is one of the first English courses I’ve taken in college. This course is easily distinguishable when compared to Freshman Composition, Speech, and all other previous classes I’ve taken, due to its specialty in Engineering writing genres and deep dive into genre analysis. Although I did not have high expectations going into the school year, I was pleasantly surprised by the challenging and intriguing experience that this class rewarded.
To what extent have I achieved the course learning objectives?
I feel that I’ve achieved a considerable understanding of the course learning objectives throughout this course. In fact, with every assignment, the course learning objectives were exercised once again. There were four major assignments in total: the Memo, the Technical Description, the Lab Report, and the Engineering Proposal. With each assignment, there was a repeated process: analyzing the genre structure and sample content, examining effective and ineffective techniques applied by previous students, and critically thinking about how rhetorical elements pertained to our own projects. Then, we would research information using online libraries, find credible sources, create rough drafts, peer review with our classmates, and go into the editing, revising, and finalizing process. Paraphrasing and crediting our sources by citing was also a huge part of each assignment. Even the reflection required at the end of each paper allowed me to think back on what course learning objectives I was practicing and refining, which helped me achieve them even more.
In what ways have my perceptions on what writing is and does evolved this semester?
My previous perception on writing was that it was a creative form. I knew that writing can have many different purposes, such as persuading, informing, inspiring, teaching, or simply expressing emotion. In the past, I’ve analyzed speeches made by Presidents during elections, letters written to military generals in times of war, memoirs, poems, novels, scientific essays, and much more. But all of those genres fit into a certain box for me, I still considered writing as something expressive, because somehow, every piece of writing is always selling a narrative. However, this semester my perception on writing truly broadened. I never considered the technical side of writing, or even the fact that writing guidebooks, instructions, proposals, memos, and other pieces required skill and practice. Instructions and memos, they all seem self explanatory at first glance, especially because they are so common and widely used. However, every genre has a specific structure and conduct that should be followed, and it’s not as easy as it looks. They are fulfilling some sort of purpose, such as gaining the approval of a project, fixing an inconvenience, or receiving funding. These are all things I never really thought about. To elaborate, my perception on writing was previously very narrow. For me, English and STEM were two separate fields. Now, I’m more open minded and I understand that writing skills are essential in every single subject, including engineering.
How does the audience impact the content and purpose of text?
The content and purpose of a text is heavily dependent on the audience. This is because in order to achieve your purpose, you must cater towards your audience’s preferences, accessibility, and beliefs, which causes your content to change. For example, if the purpose of my memo is to persuade my audience, which is Professor Carr, to reconsider a grade for my assignment, then I must speak professionally and respectfully, while also giving valid reasons. If I’m overly casual or aggressive, it may come across as entitled and disrespectful, which will not help me achieve my purpose. Additionally, my content must be clear, straight to the point, and supplied with reasons why I deserve a better grade. Another example is the balloon powered car instructions my group, group 6, wrote and presented. Our audience ranged from middle schoolers to adults. Thus, our content was kid/teen friendly, while also being sophisticated and mature enough for parents or teachers.
Was there a challenge in writing across genres and addressing specific audiences?
I think my biggest challenge was my unfamiliarity with the genres. The engineering proposal had a lot of aspects that I’ve never considered before, like creating a budget and estimating how much we would pay employees, the costs of supplies and materials, etc. The lab report was also difficult for me to start, because I wasn’t sure how to approach an abstract, discussion, and results section. I don’t think I’ve ever done any of these writing pieces before. Understanding the audience took some critical thinking because you needed to understand the other rhetorical elements thoroughly as well in order to find the audience. I needed time to realize who my audiences were.
What happens to the other rhetorical elements when you change one of the elements within the situation? for example, when you change media, do the other elements change?
The other rhetorical elements shift drastically when one of the elements are changed. If the media is changed, the audience changes as well. The purpose and genre can also change. For instance, an advertisement shown in a printed newspaper has a different audience than one shown in an online website.
Now that we have returned to the traditional teaching/learning in our “appropriate” environment of the classroom. discuss how the shift back to the classroom has affected your educational experience, conduction group work, student life, which do you prefer and discuss your transition/experience.
After almost two years of online learning, the traditional in person classroom system was very enjoyable for me. I’m someone who has a difficult time concentrating, especially when there’s so many distractions around me, like my phone or my family members. If my class is online, I am more prone to slacking, giving myself breaks during class, and not being able to pay attention. I was also less motivated to learn and rarely excited to go to class, because I was just waking up, opening my laptop, and looking at a powerpoint screen on Zoom. Every day was repetitive and sometimes even depressing.
Going to classes in person, however, changed a lot of that for me. The class itself was a breath of fresh air, because I was interacting with people directly and we would have intellectual discussions about the topic at hand. When Professor Carr spoke, I felt compelled to listen and take notes. I loved listening to my classmates debate, and I was actually interested in the dialogue. I was also not afraid to voice my own opinion. I felt safe to politely disagree with my peers without being ostracized. My group mates were all kind, helpful, and easy to work with. Presentations were a bit nerve wracking at first, but eventually they became much easier, and I definitely improved my public speaking skills. Additionally, although most people don’t really think about this, the classroom environment itself has a big impact on my learning experience. Since the classroom was bright, decently spaced, and had fun swivel desks, I was more alert and eager to learn. However, there were different challenges I had to face, such as getting to school on time despite the unreliable, dangerous commute, and my irregular sleeping schedule. Overall, I prefer in person learning and this class helped me transition better.