Category Archives: Assignment Instructions

ePortfolio Reflection

The final portfolio should not only include samples of your best work, but act as an opportunity for you to talk about that work and your writing in general. If it helps, imagine that you have been asked to submit a portfolio of your writing for an internship/job application, and you must explain the significance of the work you present. The following questions are designed to help you guide the audience through your work:

  1. What does it mean to be a writer in your discipline?
  2. What do you think your writing strengths are?
  3. How has your writing evolved (or not) over the semester?
  4. How have each of these pieces developed since the last draft submitted?
  5. What do you still need to work on, and how do you plan to address those weaknesses?

You can write about these questions in any order that you wish, but I expect them all to be addressed. You should feel free to write anything else that you feel you need to tell your audience about the enclosed works or you as a writer.

You might also think of it as the director’s commentary option on a DVD. It’s a place to talk about who you are as an artist/writer, why you have made the choices that you made, and how you want your work to impact the audience.

Please, do not use the reflection as a course evaluation. I love hearing your thoughts on how to improve my teaching, but there is a time and place for that, and the reflection is not it. Use the space as an introduction to your work. Help your reader see what you want them to see about your writing and who you are as a writer.


Note: There is no word minimum, but I’d have a really hard time believing you could fully develop your ideas with examples and analysis in less than two pages.



From the U C Davis Undergraduate Research website:

What should the abstract include?

Think of your abstract as a condensed version of your whole project. By reading it, the reader should understand the nature of your research question….Although the content will vary according to field and specific project, all abstracts, whether in the sciences or the humanities, convey the following information:

  • The purpose of the project identifying the area of study to which it belongs.
  • The research problem that motivates the project.
  • The methods used to address this research problem, documents or evidence analyzed.
  • The conclusions reached or, if the research is in progress, what the preliminary results of the investigation suggest, or what the research methods demonstrate.
  • The significance of the research project. Why are the results useful? What is new to our understanding as the result of your inquiry?

Whatever kind of research you are doing, your abstract should provide the reader with answers to the following questions: What are you asking? Why is it important? How will you study it? What will you use to demonstrate your conclusions? What are those conclusions? What do they mean?


Here are some other great resources for abstract writing:

UNC Chapel Hill Writing Center:

Purdue OWL:





Business and Technology:



Your abstract can simply go at the top of your research paper and should be between 100-300 words.

Research Presentations

Research Presentations

After doing nearly a month of work examining a single topic, it’s time to celebrate the awesome research you have done by presenting your findings to an audience. These presentations are focused on showcasing your work and giving you the opportunity to share your discoveries with others.

I am not evaluating your public speaking abilities, though I do think it’s important that you learn how to synthesize and concisely present your work to others. In the world beyond my class, this is a skill that really comes in handy, and I want you to have a low-stakes opportunity to practice it; consider this an “A for effort” type of activity.

Presentations should be 4-6 minutes long and should cover:

  • Key concepts
  • Interesting examples and insights
  • Your conclusions

You are welcome to use visual aids, such as Powerpoint, Prezis, posters, or videos, but they are not mandatory by any means.


Presentations will be held on April 29 and May 1. 11 presentations will be held each day, and spots will be signed up for in advance.



Extra credit opportunity:

To make up a late or missed minor assignment, you will have the option to write a blog post of 300+ words reflecting on one or more of the day’s presentations. You may discuss what you learned, how it relates to your own work, or what it helps you to consider in a new way.  If the post does not meet the word requirement and/or demonstrate in-depth thinking, it will not be counted.


Here is a link to a Word Document version of the information posted below:


The Final ePortfolio

The final ePortfolio is a place to showcase your best writing and all that you have learned this semester. Put together with Pace’s ePortfolio platform, it will feature 3 pieces of revised writing (possibly more if you choose) and a reflection.

What Makes Up a Final Portfolio?

Title: Your final portfolio must have a creative title. My/The Final Portfolio is not an acceptable title. Think about what you want readers to focus on in your work or something that describes the work that you are presenting in your portfolio to help you come up with one.

Table of Contents: If the order in which your reader should be reading the contents is unclear, please make a table of contents.

Reflection: (to be further discussed at a later time)This is one of the most important pieces of your portfolio. It is the place where you tell readers about your work and about who you are as a writer and as a member of your discipline. It also gives me insight into the ways that you have revised your pieces, since I may not be able to tell by simply looking at a piece. In fact, often times, an outstanding analytical reflection paper can help bolster weaker writing. You should use this as a place to talk about why you included specific pieces, how these pieces and your writing in general evolved (if you think it did), and your writing strengths and weaknesses at this stage in the game. Closer to the end of the semester, I will give you a list of questions to help prompt your thinking.

The reflection letter is NOT a course evaluation. Don’t mistake talking about your growth (or lack thereof) as a writer with talking about the awesomeness/awfulness of this class. Saying “Professor P. was a terrible teacher” won’t really help an audience understand who you feel you are as a writer or what you think your portfolio offers readers.

And since students always ask, I will tell you in advance that there is no page minimum technically, but I’d find it hard to believe that anyone could do a sufficient job in less than 2 pages. If you’re really thinking about the “why” and “how,” odds are that you will need several pages, and I am willing to read as much as you’d like to write.

You can place the reflection anywhere in your portfolio that you so choose– beginning, end, middle—as long as you’ve given thought to why that place is the right place for it. You might also choose to write a large whole-portfolio reflection and a smaller reflection on each piece of writing.

Contents: The contents of the portfolio should be pieces of writing that reflect your best work and/or the work that means the most to you. All pieces must be revised from the last drafts turned in, as well. Use the ePortfolio to display who you have become as a writer.



There are some basic guidelines to follow, however. You must include:

  • Cover letter
  • Abstract of research paper
  • Research Paper
  • Choice of: Rhetorical Analysis or Twitter Observation paper
  • Optional: anything else that you have written in this course that you want to include. Your choice to include extra work or not will not harm your grade in any way.

Again, everything in your portfolio must be significantly revised from the last draft that you turned in, and it should be polished for an audience.


What Does a Final Portfolio Look Like?

For this class, you will need to create a portfolio page using ePortfolio, which can be found on Blackboard. You will also need to set the “sharing” or “privacy” settings to “Logged In Users” or “Public” in order for me to see it. If it is not correctly set, then I will have to assume you didn’t turn it in, and you will fail the class. We will review the ePortfolio system in class. The best way to learn how to put them together, however, is to simply play around on the site.



Additional information about ePortfolios can be found on this site:



The Interview: Instructions


The Interview

Interviews are a great way to get first-hand accounts and information straight from the source. For this interview, you should select someone to whom you have access who can help you explore possible answers to your research questions.


  1.        You should write a brief introduction to your interview. Tell us a bit about the person that you interviewed. What is her/his name, title, job description, relationship to the community, etc.? Then tell us why you thought that person was the best person to interview to learn about your field.


  1.       Describe the interview settings. Where did the interview take place? How long did it last? Was the location a good one? Do you think it impacted the interview in any way?


  1.       Your interview should include at least 15 questions. Prepare beforehand by having a list of questions ready and having a focus. Do allow yourself to improvise. Don’t ignore something interesting that you think might help your project just because it doesn’t “fit” with your draft of questions.


  1.       You can post the interview as a video or audio clip or offer a written transcript. Make sure to receive permission from your interview subject first. They may not want their name or face used publicly.


  1.       Reflect on the interview. Did it go well? How did the interviewee respond to you? Is there anything you wish you asked more about?


The final complete interview (transcribed or shared as a media file), along with these 5 other criteria above, will be due Thursday, April 10. Post to blog. The post may be password-protected.


Some tips for success:

  •          You may want to record it with a cell phone, video camera, or webcam. It is easier to transcribe after the interview than attempt to write a person’s responses word-for-word as he/she speaks.
  •          Make sure that you explain to the interviewee before you begin the interview that it is for school, that you will be posting the interview to your blog, and that it may end up, in whole or in part, in your final project. They may want to remain anonymous, or they may choose not to participate. That is their right.
  •          Ask open ended questions. Yes/no questions will get you short answers that won’t reveal much.
  •          If a person seems uncomfortable with a question, do not push the question on them.
  •          You are welcome to use quotes from your interview in your research paper. It would count towards your 8 sources.

The Research Review Post

Research is a critical part of academic writing, but it is also just a great way to learn more and be able to think about things from new perspectives. Research review posts are a way to capture and reflect on what you learn during the research process. Each research review post is a single 250+ word blog post that addresses the following criteria:

  • Choose an outside source that may help you to consider your research topic, and read/watch it. This might be a newspaper article, a scholarly journal (check the Pace library databases), a credible website, a documentary, or any number of primary and secondary sources. If you aren’t sure if it is appropriate, ask.
  • Briefly summarize the main points of a single piece of research you may include in your project.
  • Why is this piece credible? Consider the CRAAP test. Think about why and how it is credible. Perhaps, parts are credible, and other parts are not. Perhaps, there is an explicit bias, but if used the right way, the information is still useful.
  • Critique the piece: How well was it written? Is the argument convincing? Is anything missing?
  • Is the piece useful to your research? How and why? Or why not? If the piece is not useful for your purposes, what are the purposes for which it would be useful?
  • Use MLA or APA style citations! At the very least, I expect a works cited/reference page entry for each source.

Remember, the complete post should be 250+ words, posted to your blog before class. Full credit requires that you meet all the criteria and post on time.

The Purdue OWL (Online Writing Lab) is a great place to find more information about writing research papers and using MLA style citations or APA style citations.

Conference Assignment

Conferences are short, so to help us get quickly to the important stuff, I’d like you to answer these questions as completely as possible. If you think you will lose the document, feel free to hand it to me or email to me before you leave class today.

  1. How do you feel about the writing that you have produced in this class thus far?
  2. How do you feel about your ability to hand in work that meets the given criteria on time?
  3. Do you have any questions about the feedback you’ve received on your writing this semester?
  4. Are there any obstacles keeping you from achieving your writing goals?
  5. What is one question you have for me about writing?

Answer those questions, and bring the answers with you to the conference.

Research Paper Instructions

Rhetorical Analysis Essay

This assignment asks you to perform rhetorical analysis, which you read a bit about in Laura Bolin Carroll’s “Backpacks vs. Briefcases: Steps Toward Rhetorical Analysis.” It goes a step beyond, however, in asking you to analyze a debate rather than a single text.

Here’s what you should be doing:

  1. Sketch out the debate. What is the debate? Where did it come from?
  2. Introduce your pieces. Who are the key players? What are the key ideas? Where did it come from?
  3. Evaluate the effectiveness of each argument. This is different than simply whether or not you agree with their position. Someone can create an effective argument that is (1) faulty or (2) completely in opposition to your own views. Someone can create a cruddy argument to support a view you agree with. Again, you are evaluating the effectiveness, not whether or not you agree.
  4. Compare and contrast. Where do the articles converge? Where do they diverge? Think about vocabulary, purposes, appeals, etc.
  5. The rhetoric of the debate. Using what you’ve learned through your analysis, try to come up with the “bigger picture.” How do people discuss this issue? What kinds of rhetoric and rhetorical appeals are necessary to this debate?

You do not have to address these five criteria in any specific order. The questions that follow are to prompt your thinking. You might not answer all of them. You might address more than is asked.

The complete draft of this paper should be 1000+ words with MLA style in-text citations and a works cited page.


1st Draft – due Tuesday, February 25:

  • 500+ words
  • Post to blog
  • Bring copy (print or electronic) to class to workshop with peers

2nd Draft – due Tuesday, March 4

  • 750+ words
  • Revised
  • Attempt at MLA style citations and Works Cited page
  • Post to blog
  • Bring copy (print or electronic) to class to workshop with peers

3rd Draft//Complete – due Tuesday, March 11

  • 1000+ words
  • MLA style in-text citations and Works Cited page – correctly formatted
  • Revised
  • Post to blog
  • Bring copy (print or electronic) to class to workshop with peers


Twitter Observation Paper Assignment Instructions

Pretend that you are going out on the job market. Your goal is to learn about how people in the field communicate, what they value in discourse, and what conventions are considered “industry standard” before going on interviews. To do this, since you’re short on time to go out searching the world, you turn to Twitter. You examine the accounts of 1 professional organization and 1 member of your discipline to help you figure out what you should be doing and thinking about. Tell me about what you learn.

*Make sure you choose profiles that active. If someone tweeted once, you aren’t going to learn very much from them.

You will need to consider a few things:

  • What do you see when you look at the profiles? Help me see what you see.
    • You might want to think about the images they use, the links they share, who they “retweet,” and what’s going on in their biography. But there also might be more for consideration.
    • What do you learn about your discipline from these profiles and the tweets that they share?
    • What do you learn about interacting as a member of your discipline from these profiles and the tweets that they share?
    • Does what you see in the profile of the individual member of your field speak back to what you learn about the industry from the professional organization? How so, or why not?
    • How does this field define “professional” and/or “professionalism”?
    • What does it mean to be part of __________ culture?

Please don’t feel you need to directly answer all of the questions, and don’t treat it like a question and answer session. These are the things you should consider and develop within your paragraphs. Remember, it’s not enough to just say “I see this.” You have to tell your readers why and how they should think about what you’re showing them.



  • First draft – 600+ words with MLA style Works Cited page and hyperlinks
  • Due Tuesday, February 11.
    • Post draft to blog by class time.
    • Bring draft to class to workshop.
  • Complete draft – 1000+ words with all requirements
  • Due Thursday, February 18.
    • Post draft to blog by class time.