About the Learning Record
This course utilizes the Learning Record (LR). You will determine your grade by monitoring your progress against the criteria below over the course of the semester, and documenting your development and achievements in a portfolio of work, frequent self-assessments, and a formal reflection on your work at midterm and the end of the semester. The portfolio and observations will provide the evidence from which you will build an argument about your performance in the class. After reviewing your argument, I will either agree with or revise your self-assessment based on the evidence provided in your Learning Record. We will discuss grades at midterm and the end of semester, but you are welcome to meet me in office hours anytime to brainstorm strategies for success in the course.
You’ll assess your work and progress within five Course Strands (broad-level goals that cover a variety of skills) and you’ll gauge your experience across five Dimensions of Learning (measures that are common to many different learning experiences for many ‘kinds’ of learners).
Your Learning Record reflections will discuss how your work measures on those dimensions in terms of the Course Strands. We’ll discuss the Learning Record in detail at the beginning of the semester, and we’ll have various conversations about compiling your portfolio as the semester progresses.
Composition. You will compose writing and other rhetorical artifacts that participate in a conversation. Good compositions respond to and analyze what has been said before and invite others to join the conversation as they advance their own argument.
Argumentation. You will learn how to use symbols (including language) to induce cooperation from a target audience. In short, you will learn how to make a persuasive argument.
Research. You will find, analyze, and integrate into your argument primary and secondary sources from a variety of registers—both high and low.
Visual literacy. You will expand upon your prior knowledge of visual conventions, genres, and communication patterns. Like all forms of literacy, visual literacy requires rigorous and regular critical thinking.
Digital literacy. Like visual literacy, digital literacy requires regular interaction with and analysis of communication that happens in digital spaces. We will also explore how to use digital tools to create your own digital work.
Dimensions of Learning
Learning is a organic process that unfolds in complex ways according to its own pace and rhythm. All students learn in different ways, and any course will accommodate each student differently. The Learning Record requires students to pay attention to their own learning styles, and it enables students to document evidence of their own development in multiple areas. We’ll call these areas the Dimensions of Learning.
The six dimensions that follow can’t really be separated out from one another; rather, these dimensions cut across one another. Our Course Goals are designed to encourage student development across multiple dimensions. Using the Learning Record helps you measure your progress throughout the semester, picturing your learning as a trajectory across the course.
When you compose your Learning Record evaluations, you will use the Dimensions of Learning to help you analyze how and what you have learned. Read and re-read these descriptions carefully (especially while you write your evaluations): you will likely cite from these descriptions as you craft your argument.
Confidence and independence Learning should make you feel more confident, but more confidence alone is not necessarily a sign of deeper learning. Too much confidence and independence can keep you from seeking help when facing an obstacle; it can force you to rely on faulty or underdeveloped skills and strategies. Learning requires you to extend yourself beyond your existing comfort zone, but that zone should also expand along with your abilities, knowledge, experience, and reflectiveness, preparing you to meet new challenges on your own.
Skills and strategies Skills and strategies are ways of approaching problems or topics, and they should help you respond successfully to challenges. Some students might start their work with research, casting a wide net and taking in possibilities. Others might talk things through with peers, friends, or teachers, coming up with questions about an assignment. You probably have skills and strategies that work well for you in lots of learning environments, but you should try out alternatives and evaluate how well they work for you.
Knowledge and understanding Knowledge and understanding describes what you probably already think of as the object of learning. What do you know now that you didn’t know before our class? This “content knowledge” is usually specific to the discipline of a learning environment, including topics; research methods; disciplinary theories, concepts, and practices; and so on.
Use of prior and emerging experience What can you draw on from your own experience and how can you connect it to your current work? Making use of your prior experience (or of your emerging/ongoing experiences) is a crucial dimension of learning. It’s important to think about how you use your experience in the context of time (say, over the course of a semester). Prior experience can help you scaffold your way to developing new skills or deepening your understanding.
Reflection Reflection is at the heart of the Learning Record. College students especially should develop the ability to step back and consider their situations critically and analytically, drawing on insights into their own learning processes. Learning theorists call this metacognition, or thinking about your thinking. In order to use what you are learning in other contexts than our classroom, you’ll need to practice reflecting on how you learn.
Creativity and Imagination Building on the above dimensions of learning, engaged students often become more playful, experimental, and creative in their work. The value of creativity and imagination in a class like ours is hard to overstate: students who take pleasure in their learning can often spread their enthusiasm to others. Imagination requires you to connect your coursework to other issues and insights. Even when the final result of a creative risk you take may not turn out as you’d hoped, it may still pay off in what you learn from it.
A Represents outstanding participation in all course activities; all assigned work completed, with very high quality in all work produced for the course. Evidence of significant development across the five dimensions of learning. The Learning Record at this level demonstrates activity that goes significantly beyond the required course work in one or more course strands. All work must be submitted in a timely fashion.
B Represents excellent participation in all course activities; all assigned work completed, with consistently high quality in course work. Evidence of marked development across the five dimensions of learning.
C Represents good participation in all course activities; all assigned work completed, with generally good quality overall in course work. Evidence of some development across the five dimensions of learning.
D Represents uneven participation in course activities; some gaps in assigned work completed, with inconsistent quality in course work. Evidence of development across the five dimensions of learning is partial or unclear.
F Represents minimal participation in course activities; serious gaps in assigned work completed, or very low quality in course work. Evidence of development is not available.
Plus and minus grading will be employed when a student falls between these criteria.
What Evaluate your development as a learner to date in each of the Course Goals. You will give yourself a grade in each area and explain why you deserve that grade.
Why This assignment will familiarize you with the Learning Record, and it will establish the starting point for your progress in this class.
- You should start by carefully reading each of the pages linked under the Learning Record tab on the class website.
- For each Course Goal, write at least a paragraph explaining what you’ve learned about it so far. Mention important events or people who have shaped your learning about each Course Goal.
- Revise and extend what you wrote about each Course Goal with the Dimensions of Learning in mind. You may already have written about some of these dimensions, so call specific attention to any references you already made.
- Finally, for each Course Goal, give yourself a letter grade for your learning so far. Using the Grade Criteria, explain why you awarded each grade.
* Remember, these grades won’t hurt you. For example, if you know zip/zero about composition right now, it’s okay to give yourself an F.
What You will keep a weekly journal of reflections about what you are learning, and how you are learning, in this class.
Why Once at the midterm and once for your final, the Learning Record requires you to submit an essay justifying your grade request. These essays should analyze your experience in our class in terms of the course goals and the dimensions of learning, and your grade request should be based on the grade criteria. So where do you get the evidence for this analysis? Your Learning Record reflections, written throughout the semester while your experience is still fresh in mind.
How By midnight on Sunday of each week, submit your reflections of at least 250 words to the “Reflection” assignment in Canvas. You will always upload your assignments to this tab, but don’t worry, it won’t overwrite your previous submissions. However, as with all LR assignments, you should also save them in a secure place on your computer. Please use standard formatting (12 pt TNR or Cambria, 1” margins, double-spacing).
What Evaluate your development as a learner to date in each of the Course Goals. Rather than grade yourself in each area, you will request one grade based on your overall evaluation.
Why The midterm not only marks a halfway point in your progress through the semester, but it familiarizes you with the writing assignment you will complete for your final.
You’ll compose a persuasive essay that documents your improvement as a student by explaining both what you learned and how you learned it. In other words, you’ll both explain and exercise your rhetorical skills.
How Your LR Midterm will have two parts. In Part 1, you will analyze your papers, your in-class exercises, your blog posts, your annotations, and LR reflections as evidence of what you have learned in each of the Course Goals. You will also use the Dimensions of Learning to explain how you are learning.
In Part 2, you will explain which Grade Criteria most closely describe your performance in the class to date. You may mix criteria from different grade ranges, but you will conclude by requesting a single grade. You may use a plus or minus.
Part 1 will have four sections, one for each Course Goal. You might want to start inventing by selecting passages from your work (and from the feedback you have received) and organizing them into these four sections.
What do these passages say about what you have learned? Answer this question explicitly. Feel free to quote from the Course Goals themselves to explain what you feel you have learned.
What kind of learning has been the most important for you? For example: Maybe you started the semester feeling like you knew nothing about rhetoric. Now, you feel your knowledge and understanding has grown, which has made you more confident and independent as a rhetorician. Try to weave one or two Dimensions of Learning into your analysis of each Course Goal.
Start Part 2 only after you have mostly completed Part 1. In Part 2, you should cite the Grade Criteria you feel is warranted by your analysis in Part 1. You should explain why you think the grade you are requesting is justified. State your request clearly.
N.B. on Grades: Remember, the grade you ask for at the midterm is only between you and me. It does not factor into your grade for the course. You thus do yourself a service by being honest with yourself about what grade you think you have earned. When you receive my comments on your LR Midterm, I will either agree with or revise your grade request.
You should include a PS sharing how you plan to improve by the end of the semester. If you aspire to do your reading earlier, participate more in class discussions, see me for more help in office hours, etc., here is the place to say so. You may include any other comments you’d like me to see at this time.
What Evaluate your development as a learner this semester in each of the Course Strands. Rather than grade yourself in each area, you will request one grade based on your overall evaluation.
Why This course culminates in the LR Final so that you have a chance to both explain and exercise the rhetorical skills you’ve developed over the semester. Your essay should be a persuasive demonstration of both what you’ve learned and how you’ve learned it, and it should justify the grade you request for the course.
How Your LR Final will have two parts. In Part 1, you will analyze your short and long compositions (discussion questions, blog posts, annotations, capstone projects 1, 2 & 3), your in-class contributions, your LR reflections, and feedback you’ve received from me as evidence of what you have learned in each of the Course Goals. You will also use the Dimensions of Learning to explain how you are learning.
In Part 2, you will explain which Grade Criteria most closely describe your performance in the class. You may mix criteria from different grade ranges, but you will conclude by requesting a single grade. You may use a plus or minus. Finally, you may include any other comments you’d like me to see at this time.
NB on Grades: Remember, your midterm grade does not mathematically factor into the grade you request on the final. However, you should consider the comments and grade you received on the midterm when you calculate your request for the final. How much have you improved? How specifically have you learned and improved between the midterm and the final? I will either agree with or revise your grade request.
Be you! I want to see you choose and execute a personal style in this document that reflects what you’ve learned by working through the canons of rhetoric in different media. If you think that a combo of text and image would help make your point, feel free to execute that, but be sure to show me your style!
Submission: Submit your Final Learning Record as a .doc or .docx file on Canvas by Sunday, 5/15 at 11:59 PM.