Primary Goal/Objective 1: Effective writing must rest on a foundation of proper grammar and mechanics. Therefore, I sought improvement in areas such as punctuation, spelling, and sentence structure.
Degree of Success: My grammar has improved substantially through understanding gained in this course. Prior to this semester, I often made errors in punctuation, particularly with commas and semicolons. However, a careful study of the sentence structures requiring such punctuation gave me better understanding of proper grammar.
In particular, the grammar pre-test given at the beginning of the semester helped me pinpoint issues which needed my attention. For example, one of the questions asked which three specific places a comma should be used. Gaining this information—as well as information on semicolons, apostrophes, and so forth—allowed me to apply these rules in my own writing.
Exercise 32-4, which focuses on comma use, demonstrates my improvement in grammar.
I answered each question correctly, and I applied all of the necessary rules which I learned in the pre-test and subsequent readings. For example, in the first sentence (“Cricket, which originated in England, is also popular in Australia, Africa, and India”), I successfully employed two major comma rules: “use commas for three or more words….in a series” and “use commas after introductory material.”
Likewise, Exercise 22-1 (Grammatical Sentences) illustrates my enhanced understanding of proper sentence mechanics. This assignment aided us with complete sentence structure. We were forced to consider a wide range of issues, including punctuation, clauses, and whether the given information constituted a complete sentence. While my general grasp of sentence structure was adequate prior to this course, I still occasionally encountered a sentence which made me unsure of its “completeness.” Yet when I completed this exercise with no errors, I felt more confident that I had overcome these doubts. The longer and more complex structures in sentences 2, 3, and 4 challenged me in particular. However, I was able to master these structures, and thereby validate my substantial grammar/mechanics improvement.
Primary Goal/Objective 2: Research is another important cornerstone of successful writing. Successful research capabilities demonstrate solid use of various technologies and sources, analytical skills (synthesizing the information), and an ability to follow directions and organization.
Degree of Success: My researching skills have improved, but still need more shaping. At times, I still have trouble distinguishing credible from discredited sources, particularly on the Internet. However, I have learned to look for certain aspects of a document which establish credibility. The exercise in which we located a source for use in our paper really helped me with this skill. I chose the selected source because it came from a reputable publication (The Chronicle of
Higher Education) that was relevant to my topic (online education). In addition, the source cited recent statistics and outlined the methods used to gain these statistics. Such efforts by the author help give a source validity.
One research-related area which requires particular emphasis for me is citation. Before this course, I somewhat believed that only directly quoted material required a full citation. Now, I realize that any paraphrased information needs credit for the source. I also had trouble smoothly incorporating information into a paper without directly quoting every piece of information. The source citation exercise demonstrates this problem, as I directly quoted the survey results rather than simply summarizing them. My recognition of this problem—a recognition gained by this course—should help me in correcting it in the future.
Finally, I shall focus more on memorizing the reference page requirements of both APA and MLA styles. I still must frequently use a “cheat sheet” for my reference page, but I would like to memorize these requirements to a degree that they become almost second nature.