Self Monitoring/Self Observation (Jen)

Observation essay

For this essay you will write about yourself and your writing and learning processes. You will observe yourself for a brief period of time, and turn those observations into an essay about your learning and/or writing process. To prepare for the essay, and to generate material on yourself, you are required to keep a daily log for 10 days beginning Jan 27 or 28 (depending on when your class meets). Your final entry will be after the essay draft has been peer reviewed. Essentially, you are writing about your own writing and thinking process. You are analyzing your work habits, strengths and weaknesses. This is called metacognition – thinking about thinking.

To support this essay we will be reading about issues in higher education, some of the issues that complicate student’s lives, and concerns with graduation rates. We will cover aspects of higher education that connect to learning and college success. You can use any of these ideas generated in class discussions in your own essay.

1. Print or download the log from BB. Write in it every day. You may write in list format, or paragraphs – whatever you are comfortable with. You may write by hand, or keep the log online in a word file. I will be checking the logs periodically over the next ten days. Keeping the log up to date is part of the grade requirement for the essay.

2. You are keeping track of yourself - how are you spending your time (both for this class, and for your other classes). Monitor the amount of time you spend reading for class, studying, writing, etc.
Also keep track of the time you spend on other activities such as your sports and exercise, socializing, time online (social media), job, commutes, etc. Anything that impacts your school work should be monitored.
Be honest. This assignment only works if you are truthful.

3. As your log builds you are generating material for the four page paper you will write. I will check the logs each class during this essay cycle. Logs will be turned in along with the final essay.

Typed, approximately 4 pages
MLA style format including the correct header, margins, typeface (see pg 95 in the MU Handbook)
Participation in peer review (+/- 2)
Compliance with log check and submission of log (+/-3)

Calendar of relevant due dates:

Jan 23/24 [Thu/Fri] Essay is assigned

Jan 27/28 [Mo/Tu] Summary essay due (log check 3 or 4 days)
Jan 30/31 [Thu/Fri] Summary essay returned (log check 3 days)

Feb 3/4 [Mo/Tu] Observation essay peer review (log check 4 days)
Feb 6/7 [Thu/Fri] Observation essay due (log check 2 days)

Creating a thesis: The thesis is the point you will be making about your working habits – or study skills, or learning strategies or college success, or….. Your thesis will then “drive” the essay – all paragraphs will connect to support your thesis. You may learn something new about yourself, or you may resolve to change something, or you may try a new strategy and learn if it works for you.

The shape of the essay
Your introduction (which could be 1-2 paragraphs) could introduce us to who you are as a student, give us a sense of your goals and expectations, and state your thesis for the essay.

Your body could be organized in many ways – you could chunk the essay into time blocks (morning, day, night) and discuss challenges. Or you could organize the essay by challenges, or you could organize the essay by past/present (what were your expectations of yourself before you came to college and what’s new or different?). You could organize the essay by activity (reading, studying, writing, participating in class) or by characteristics such as motivation, ability to concentrate, beliefs about learning.

Some other questions to consider:

1. Why do graduation rates matter? What does it mean for you?
2. How do you define college success?
3. What is most important to you about college? How actively do you participate in acquiring knowledge (are you a passive learner – prof transmits knowledge? Or an active learner – speak up and participate in the creation of knowledge and perspectives?)
4. If something other than learning is more important to you, what is that? And how do you engage with it?
5. How do you spend the bulk of your time? What implications does that have for learning?
6. Consider how you used to work (in high school) – what adjustments have you had to make in college? – connect your past with the present
7. Did you feel at any point during the last few weeks that you were not in control of your time?
8. What motivates you to stay on top of your school work? What do you do when you fall behind?
9. How comfortable/willing are you about going to see a professor about an assignment?
10. How have your strategies worked during the first semester? What was your GPA? What changes might you have to make this semester to do even better?
11. Have you noticed any patterns in your ability to do school work?
12. Conclude the essay strongly (a call to change, a recommendation for you or someone else, a look into the future)
13. Self-evaluate

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