Reading other student’s I-search papers was one of the biggest inspirations in my (short) writing process. Before we started the papers, I wasn’t sure what an I-search paper should look like. After reading the papers posted to WordPress by previous students Erinn and Brian, I got a much better idea of what was expected of me. Both papers incorporated research with a strong narrative; they were both informative, and entertaining. Their papers also helped me let go of the idea that my I-search paper should look and sound like a traditional research paper.
Talking through the assignment with classmates was also a huge help. During one of our peer editing sessions, my classmates suggested various ways for me to improve my research question. One classmate suggested that make my question would not yield a paper long enough to meet the word requirement of the I-search paper. I was really discouraged by this and thought intently about how I could expand on my questions. After having no luck in reworking my questions, I decided to pursue another topic altogether. If my classmate had never provided their feedback, I would not have known the question I chose was not solid.
Being a learner in a composition classroom means many things. For one, it’s important to have patience. Learning to adapt to different writing styles and experimenting with different formatting has been frustrating but I know that it is imperative to improve the breadth of my writing capabilities. Being a learner also means not being afraid to ask questions. I have never been afraid to ask questions when I am confused about material or when I need clarification on how to edit my papers. Asking questions helps provide a fresh perspective whenever I am writing. I noticed that whenever I am confused about what an assignment should be comprised of, I stay after class to ask questions. I would rather wait a few minutes to discuss a simple issue than to continue on blindly, trying to figure the assignment out. I have noticed that my patience with writing has improved tremendously in this composition course. Academic writing sometimes makes me nervous and being nervous causes me to have extreme writer’s block. This class has taught me to take writing one paragraph at a time and to just let the writing flow. Also, reflecting on the writing process has been beneficial in recognizing mistakes I have made in previous assignments and acknowledging ways I can improve them, as well as helping me find what writing conditions I am most successful in.
After reviewing the corrections on my I-search paper I was a bit confused, so I spoke with Prof. Jankens. I was expecting more feedback on my paper. I had literally completed it just before class, so I assumed it was one of the worst papers I had ever written. Her feedback was astounding. I had only to think about moving a paragraph around, restating my thesis more articulately, and reworking my conclusion. I really thought by not including actually quotes I was going to do poorly on my I-search. When I spoke after class with Prof. Jankens, I was reassured that it was not a requirement for the assignment. She could think of no other changes I could focus my editing on. I felt confident about my writing after that class. I finally felt like I was making progress!
Prof. Jankens comment about moving a paragraph around made me realize that I still have a lot of work to do when it comes to organizing my paper. I started a new paragraph to discuss my writing process instead of connecting it to a previous related though. Organizing my writing is something I must work diligently at. I seem to struggle with it, to some extent, with each assignment.
The I-search paper has helped me complete various learning objectives, of which writing and reflecting seem to be the most important. The paper required me to not only reflect on what to write, but on how I felt and what I thought as I wrote. I was able to reflect on what I thought I knew in writing about Research Assistants and upon completing my research, I was able to reflect on what I learned. Writing contributed to the process by documenting each step with thoughtful precision.