Posted on May 3, 2019
Before I enrolled in Writing 102, I had a good understand of the topics of rhetoric, academic writing, and research because of the AP writing classes I took in high school. I was very skeptical of this course because I felt like my writing was already strong and there was nothing I could learn to improve it. When the class started, I learned that this was not the case. Although we reiterated some topics I already learned, I also was introduced to new aspects of rhetoric, academic writing, and research that I had never considered before.
In high school, I learned the basic aspects of rhetoric which are the appeals to ethos, pathos, and logos which writers use throughout their pieces to show credibility, evoke emotions, and demonstrate logical reasoning. We did go over this again in Writing 102, but we also put emphasis on considering the audience as part of rhetoric. In high school, our audience was always the College Board readers so our papers were always written very formally. In this class, I learned that the way you write your paper should depend on your audience. For example, if you are writing a more personal story geared towards the average reader, you should write with a more informal tone so readers can relate and sympathize with your story. If you are presenting research to an academic audience, you should write with a more formal tone so readers will take your research seriously.
Before taking Writing 102, I thought academic writing was just another way of saying “write formally.” In the course, I learned that this is not always the case. Similar to rhetoric, I learned that academic writing means considering your audience and writing appropriately according to them. For example in the Literacy Narrative we wrote, I learned that readers would want many personal anecdotes throughout the essay to be able to understand and sympathize with my feelings. Similarly, in the Researched Argument essay, I learned that readers would want a lot of evidence to support the claims that were presented.
Lastly, in high school I wrote a research paper every year which always had the same steps of picking a topic, doing research through databases, and forming three claims based on my position on the topic. In Writing 102 we did use these steps but, I was also introduced to the I-Search essay which was different from any research essay I had ever wrote. This was because we were told to write about the actual research process along with the research we found. This seemed very odd to me at first but after I began writing it, I enjoyed being able to show readers my thought process during my research and express my own opinion on the sources I found.
Overall, Writing 102 has taught me new aspects of rhetoric, academic writing, and research that I had never considered in high school. Although I was skeptical before entering this course, I believe this course has made me a better writer by allowing me to appropriately address the audience of my writing. Due to this, I was also able to express my voice in my writing which I felt was previously lost through my formal high school writing.