In the process of completing this course, I have improved on many areas of my reading, writing and research skills, honing my ability to read critically and write thoughtfully and creatively. In particular, however, I feel this course has taught me to improve the focus, rigor and presentation of my writing work by helping me to understand writing and research processes, broaden my writing perspective, and improve my analysis and application of rhetorical situations.
A key way in which this course has helped me to improve my writing ability is through helping me to understand how to develop and maintain a controlling thesis for my work, regardless of which genre and subject I am writing in. While I understood before taking this course how to formulate a clear thesis, I have often had difficulty in knowing how to ensure that different genres of my writing stayed focused on that thesis; through its focus on planning and writing structure, however, this course has helped me to realise the importance of using a thesis idea to focus an entire piece of academic writing. At the same time, understanding the different processes involved in writing and research has made the task of developing a thesis idea and keeping my research focused seem less daunting.
While improving the structure and processes I utilise for writing projects has enabled me to master the basics of academic writing, I also feel that this course has assisted me in developing my writing beyond basic competence, enabling me to be more creative in my choice of topics and rhetorical strategies. In particular, it has taught me how to recognise the deliberate choices and strategies employed by all writers in order to suit their intended audience and achieve their intended purpose. Understanding the difference between ethos, pathos, and logos, for example, has improved the objectivity of my writing, making it more academically rigorous. The examination and analysis of examples of academic writing enabled me to more clearly understand my own options and decisions as a writer, helping me to craft my papers more deliberately and skilfully. I also found that this skill has helped me to understand the planning and research processes more fully, as an understanding of my own audience and purpose has helped to give structure to my writing and research endeavours.
As a result of my greater awareness of rhetorical situations and strategies, I have furthermore learned how to recognise culturally diverse perspectives, and incorporate them into my own writing. Learning to be more aware of the multiplicity of perspectives which might affect even a small and locally-circulated piece of writing has broadened my understanding of genre and audience, again helping me to make deliberate and considered rhetorical choices. As a result of this aspect of the course, I now recognise my own cultural biases as a writer, and the ways in which a particular cultural heritage can affect tone, lexis, syntax, and even objectivity. These are factors I now consider in my own writing, working more carefully to consider the needs and opinions of my audience. In doing so, I feel that my writing has been improved by being more culturally aware and socially responsible, thereby enhancing other aspects of my academic career.
Overall, therefore, I feel that this course has significantly improved my composition skills, enabling me to move beyond simplistic constructions of arguments to complex and creative writing. By demystifying the underlying concepts that form the foundations of planning, research, and writing, this course has improved both my confidence and my ability to tackle writing projects within my own subject and in many different genres.