Imagine an average person without sophisticated culinary skills spending a day in the kitchen of a master chef. The individual is shown the exact step-by-step process for preparing a signature dish and is provided with all the essential tools and ingredients a standard kitchen needs every day. No matter how hard or how keen the novice cook tries to follow the prescribed process, there is a high probability of failing because of a lack of basic knowledge and skills required to perform this task. The same scenario applies to persuasive academic writing, as one may observe the same process as an exceptional writer. Still, the person can produce a precise, concise, and coherent work only if one has mastered the necessary mechanics of proper essay construction. Although I have mastered how to implement critical thinking strategies effectively and apply the recursive writing process, I need to learn how to use grammar and mechanics properly to become an expert in academic writing. This reflective paper demonstrates how I have mastered the necessary mechanics of constructing a standard college-level essay.
implementing critical thinking strategies is one of the core skills I have honed in this course. During this term, I sharpened my ability to comprehend, summarize, infer, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate claims and information and how I come to conclusions. I use credible evidence to support and strengthen my arguments. I often reflect, analyze, critique, and compare ideas with others to determine their credibility. This strength is evidenced by Professor Decker’s remarks: “This paper is purposeful, well-organized, and exceptionally detailed” (Ariani, “The Important Lessons My Failed Marriage Taught Me” 3). The positive evaluations can be attributed to my tendency to ask fundamental questions concerning my arguments before completing a given task. Have I taken into account all possible opinions? Have I analyzed them properly? Have I owned up to or justified all the claims and assumptions incorporated in my writing? Have I presented or evaluated counterarguments in a fair, objective, and accurate manner? Finding answers to these questions allows me to clearly articulate my ideas in different academic contexts and thoughtfully engage with scholarly work.
Furthermore, I have gained competence in the writing process, particularly applying the recursive writing process. This model of writing has proved to be effective in producing coherent college-level essays. For instance, prewriting allows me to think critically and reflect on what I will implement before I begin writing. Abas and Abd Aziz argue that this step will enable writers “to develop ideas, strategies, information, and approaches in writing” (369). In practice, I brainstorm, talk to other people, take notes, and gather relevant information through interviews and library, and online research. These practices allow me to generate ideas that will be refined throughout the writing process.
Moreover, outlining helps me structure my papers coherently and organize multiple thoughts about a given subject matter. For example, in my previous essays, I placed strong thesis statements at the beginning, listed significant points that support the central argument, and highlighted supporting ideas for each major issue. Sketching these elements helped me prepare drafts by putting ideas into well-organized sentences and paragraphs. As depicted in previous evaluations, my first drafts were not as flawless as they harbored several grammatical, punctuation, and citation errors. According to Abas and Abd Aziz, “students should realize that initial drafts are not necessarily well organized” (370). Revising creates an opportunity to relate ideas to the paper and improve sentence structure and punctuation.
Thinking more deeply about the learning outcomes and the target audience’s expectations helps me find new ideas and evidence to convince my readers. For example, after reconsidering my initial views, I strengthened my argumentative thesis. The new argument read: “While Stephen Spielberg’s vision of Jurassic Park is timeless, Michael Crichton’s novel surpasses the director’s achievement with masterful writing that brings his characters to life, arrests readers…” (Ariani, “The Defeated Girl but Hero” 4). Therefore, revisiting my work helps refine my prose, make each sentence and paragraph as concise and accurate as possible, and improve grammar, mechanics, and spelling.
Despite having these strengths, I need to work on how I use grammar and the mechanics of proper essay construction. I am considerably weak on this particular learning objective as my previous assignments had numerous errors. Some of the major concerns in my earlier papers include consistently using vague pronoun references such as “this,” weak verbs, and incorrect redundant commas, as well as unclear phrasing. For example, about the consistent use of vague pronouns, Professor Decker noted, “This is not a personal essay, so you need to remove all instances of personal pronouns” (Ariani, “The Defeated Girl but Hero” 3). In another instance, the instructor observed that “less is always more. If you can compose a sentence or phrase in fewer words, you should” (Ariani, “The Important Lessons My Failed Marriage Taught Me” 3). These mistakes compromise the clarity of my arguments, sentences, and paragraphs, consequently lowering the overall quality and effectiveness of my essays. These missteps illuminate a strong need to tweak my grammar and mechanics to create cleaner, coherent, and more concise academic writing.
I have taken several steps to help improve the clarity and precision of my work. Notably, I am committed to reading actively, paying considerable attention to grammar and mechanics conventions. I hope to learn where experienced writers place commas, what punctuation marks they use to separate ideas and sentences, how they incorporate quotations in their papers, and how they cite and reference their work. The more I focus my attention on these issues when reading, the more I will be able to detect possible missteps and adopt proper use of grammar and mechanics. In addition to active reading, I dedicated my free time to learning effective proofreading strategies. One of the most effective techniques is reading my sentences out loud. These tactics help me recognize and correct awkward sentence constructions or instances where I may need to revise my punctuation or grammar. Finally, I have also considered reading my writing in backward order and using spelling and grammar checking tools in my word processor to help me focus keenly on each sentence to identify ad rectify possible missteps. Overall, these strategies will enhance clarity and precision in communicating ideas, arguments, evidence, and findings.
In conclusion, meeting the demands and expectations of college-level academic writing is challenging. The ability to deliver persuasive college writing requires students to think beyond completing assignments and adhering to standard grammar and mechanics rules. We are expected to learn and understand how to conduct good research, think critically, and present articulated ideas and adequately supported arguments in well-written and well-organized papers. Developing the ability to comprehend, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate ideas provides me with alternative perspectives and reliable evidence to support my arguments. Equally, an enhanced ability to apply the recursive writing process allows me to create clear and concise papers with a logical structure. I need to work on my grammar and mechanics, particularly parts of speech and sentence-level editing, to hone my academic writing. Although it might take significant years of exposure to develop and sharpen my critical thinking and academic writing skills, extensive research and persistent practice will help refine them.
Abas, Imelda Hermilinda, and Noor Hashima, Abd Aziz. “Classification of L2 Writing Process and Writing Strategies.” Proceedings of the ICECRS, vol. 1, no. 1, 2017, pp. 367-380.
Ariani, Goli. “The Defeated Girl but Hero.” Short Work Review, 2020.