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Midterm Learning Reflection Essay

Introduction.

You should print this out, although you may also use it as a template to type over. You will be writing two reflections this term: a midterm reflection and a final reflection. The final reflection is the one you want to have ultimately on your portfolio. Both your midterm and final learning reflections must be 700 to 1000 words, which is approximately two to three MLA-formatted pages. You can check your word count by going to Tools/Word Count on the menu bar.

Style and Format.

The writing style of the learning reflection is primarily expressive, but will also contain narrative elements. You do not need a Works Cited page unless you cite something. So, if, for example, you cite song lyrics, one of our texts, a poem, or even a work of art, then you need a Works Cited page. I’ve included one here to serve you for formatting purposes. File formats. We are going to be learning how to convert Word documents to pdf format so that they load more easily in a browser window. If you can, please practice with one or both of the following two methods, which are what I use (they are free).

1. Install a free pdf converter.

These are not truly “free” in that they either force you to look at some advertising or they add a line on each page advertising the manufacturer of the software. I don’t have a problem with either of these and gladly suffer through the free advertising every time I convert a file to pdf, which I do all the time. The one I use to create all the pdf files for my classes is at http://www.pdf995.com/download.html. Download both the Pdf995 Printer Driver and the Free Converter (they are both free; they are required to work together, but for some reason, they are two separate downloads). After you go through the download and installation process, every time you want to create a pdf file from Word, all you need to do is select File/Print and then chose PDF995, which will show up as a “printer.”

When you initiate this process of creating a pdf file, you will be prompted for a place to save the file, as well as a file name. Be careful to save the file to your H: drive or, if to your C: drive, to ftp (transfer) it over to your H: drive later. You will notice that some advertisements come up as the conversion process occurs. That’s the “price” you pay for the free conversion software. 2. The other pdf-conversion method I like is to use the free OpenOffice word processing software.

This software should be in our labs. You can also download it for free on your own computer, from http://www.openoffice.org/.

This is basically an open-source version of Microsoft Office. Once you’ve installed it (it’s large and takes a while to install), you can open any Word document with the OpenOffice word processing program (Open Document). Some of the original Word formatting may be lost – especially the header information with your last name and page number. You will need to add that back in; be sure you do it correctly. When you’re satisfied with the format, there is a little pdf icon on the toolbar that you can click, and that will automatically convert the document to pdf format.

Learning Reflection Content.

What should you discuss in your reflection? In general, you discuss what you’ve learned, what you’ve done especially well, what you’ve enjoyed – and the challenges you’ve encountered and how you might make changes in the future. Here are some suggestions for what to write about: • Your experience transitioning from high school (or wherever you were previously) to a freshman in college, focusing on how you have grown as an individual and an independent student. • Your experience in this particular course – your year-long freshman inquiry. In this regard, you should probably focus on the University Studies goals and the ways in which you have grown and developed with respect to those goals. I would expect that other courses have also contributed to the goal areas, so you might want to highlight any that have been particularly useful in that regard.

• Other experiences as a student here at Portland State. Portland State University’s mission is “Let Knowledge Serve the City,” which reflects the fact that we are an urban university. What have you learned with respect to community, diversity, and the connection between a learning community (the university) and the city in which it is located? Keep in mind that you may have acquired valuable experiences outside of the classroom, but still connected to your identity as a student. o Perhaps you have learned important lessons about discipline and time management as a student athlete, which may serve you well when you enter the workforce.

o Maybe your involvement in activities with other students – such as taking dance classes or playing in the band or spending hours in an art studio or toughing out chemistry and physics labs – has improved your personal skills and brought to light new areas of interest, which you’ve pursued in your free time. o Or perhaps you’ve found out that you are a loner, that you haven’t connected very well with a lot of the people in your classes. As you reflect on this (or any other conclusions that some – maybe you – might consider, well, depressing), think of this is an opportunity to think of ways to make some changes in the future. • A reflection, in other words, should include a self-assessment element as well as thinking along the lines of “What could I do better or differently in the future?” Consider the challenges you’ve faced, how you’ve overcome them, or how you’d like to overcome them in the future.

Conclusion.

Your reflection should end in a way that gives the reader the sense that you are closing up a chapter in your life and ready to move on, with some ideas in mind of what you might do differently. My suggestion is that you do not spend a lot of time critiquing the world around you; after all, you can’t change that very much. Confine your reflection to you and what you have learned and experienced. Dwelling on what you don’t like about a given course or program is not a reflection about you, but about something else.

Works Cited

Eakin, Paul John. How Our Lives Become Stories: Making Selves. Ithaca and
London: Cornell UP, 1999. Fiske, John. “Popular Culture.” Critical Terms for Literary Study. Ed. Frank Lentricchia and Thomas McLaughlin. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995. 321 – 335. Harrison, Claire. “Hypertext Links: Whither Thou Goest, and Why.” First Monday. 7 Oct. 2002. 10 Feb. 2004 .


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