Summer Reflection Part I: Examining Our Academic Writing Processes


Wednesday, July 3, 2019

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Maybe you are taking an alternative summer break and doing community service in a remote pacific village, and taking time in between to soak in the clear ocean air. Or maybe you have accepted an internship position with a financial consulting firm in New York City. Or maybe you have joined a summer co-op opportunity with a technology start-up firm in the CA bay area. Or maybe you are back at your childhood home, getting re-acquainted with your town and civic organizations. Wherever you may be this summer, and however you may have chosen to spend your time, we hope that you will carve out a little time for academic reflection. Here’s a simple framework for reflecting, and doing some meta-cognitive self-assessment so that you can reap the benefits of lessons learned and start your Fall semester in gear:

Reflecting and analyzing your writing

It’s so easy to dust our hands off, catalogue our papers away, and turn a new page. And it’s completely natural and understandable to do that since you’ve just spent so much time intensively researching, drafting and revising your paper. You did your best, submitted your paper, and accepted your grade. Well done, and do step away; however, be intentional about scheduling time to return and assess the product of your labor:

  • What type of feedback have you received from your teaching team or peers? What was helpful? Are there areas for further development? Would it be helpful to schedule a follow up appointment/call with your professor during the summer or in the fall?
  • Was the process of conceptualizing your ideas, thesis and argument coherent for you? How close did you stay to your original plan or how far did you depart from it? Looking back, was the initial scope of your main thesis realistic? What can we learn about zooming in or out in our scope given the requirements of the project?
  • Which resources were most helpful? Are there integral literary sources that have become a critical part of your interpretive lens and you know you will be returning to? Are there new journals, research or professional organizations that you will be utilizing more henceforth? Is there a new theory, practice or research/data analysis instrument that you have adopted?
  • Have you shifted your thinking in any way? Have you added a complementary perspective that helped further stratify or nuance your thinking? Have you developed a deeper understanding of your guiding principles? Have you moved away from your prior positionality to think in a new mode or from a different perspective?

Journal, journal, journal! Keep a writing reflection journal. I know that writing may be the last thing that you may want to do during your summer break, but you may be pleasantly surprised to realize later in the new academic year that these reflections have planted seeds that will germinate new ideas for your forthcoming papers. And most importantly, through reflection, we grow as writers and analysts!

Wishing you a Happy Summer, speckled with opportunities to reflect on your academic writing!

By Staff Writer: Min Derry, Learning Fellow