As we near the end of our semester together, I wanted to share with you three lessons that I hope you take away from this class. Clearly my goal for this writing class was to help you become better writers, but if my own work as a writer and as a scholar of writing studies has taught me anything it is that you – and you alone – can make this happen. I cannot make you a better writer and I cannot teach you how to be a better writer, but I can give you experiences that will shape you into a writer. Hopefully I did so this semester.
First, and foremost, I hope that you have become a more reflective writer over the course of this semester. Research, my own and that of other experts, shows that reflecting at a meta level about your writing is the key to your growth and development as a writer. This is why I asked you to reflect after each writing assignment as well as at the end of the semester. Hopefully this reflection will help solidify the lessons you learned this semester and hopefully what I am telling you now will help you realize that continuing this reflection after you leave this class will be useful to you as a developing writer.
An important part of our work this semester has been your immersion into a new discourse community – that of the profession you intend to join after earning your degree. You read professional literature produced in and for this field as well as interviewed professionals in preparation for your own writing. I hope this has not only taught you about the ways your professional peers communicate, but also how they value that communication. In addition, I hope that this process has also taught you how you can develop an understanding of other discourse communities that you encounter throughout your life as a writer.
Finally, although we have not spent a great deal of time specifically talking about genre – the form and structure writing takes – our study of the various discourse communities that you are striving to join has exposed you to the way that the discourse community shapes the genre. While in the future you cannot count on someone giving you an assignment sheet and scoring guide, you should now understand how studying the work of others in this same discourse community attempting similar tasks can inform your writing and teach you the specifics of the genre. Hopefully this study will allow you to generate your own internal checklist for future projects.
While you may have had different goals for your success this semester, ultimately that is what I hope you gained from this class: an understanding of the importance of reflection, an understanding of how to learn about and join a discourse community, and an understanding of how discourse community shapes the genres of writing it produces.
Good luck with your continuing journey to become a better writer and I am so glad we had a chance to work together this semester.