When you create an annotation, you become the middle person who creates a way for the source material to be discovered and found by a broader public. You make decisions about what is most important about the author’s argument and how it helps you think about your own developing critical apparatus in a particular area of rhetorical history/theory/criticism. By the time you turn in your final project, you will have engaged in peer review as well. The reflective essay is an opportunity for you to explain how you became that middle person when you wrote your annotations–how did you make decisions as you summarized? What was most important to include and why? What did you struggle with in your writing and how did it help you learn something about yourself as a writer, a reader, a scholar of history of rhetoric or rhetorical theory/criticism? – what choices did you make and why did you make them? As a peer reviewer of someone else’s reflective essay, you aim to provide constructive feedback on whether they’ve explained this thinking and writing process well.
A strong reflective essay makes an argument about what the student learned from the the process of developing a research question, conducting research, and writing the annoations. A very strong essay connects the choices the student made to larger questions about information access and/or rhetorical history, or rhetorical theory and criticism. Excellent reflective essays explain and reflect on why you make the choices you do and how you navigated these choices , while also connecting what you’ve learned about information access, scholarly interpretation, the difficulty of summary to the ethical and research questions a student is exploring in other classes or his or her home discipline.
Excellent reflective essays make a case for what the student has learned, and why this learning is important. Students support their claims about their own learning with evidence (either specific examples of the choices they made in summarizing, researching, writing), and they quote from and/or include specific anecdotal examples from their experience of researching/summarizing to support their claim. What is most important in a self-reflection essay is admittedly reflection (the ability to look at one’s actions with a critical eye) and insight. Excellent essays connect what the students learn about interpretation and research through the final project for this class back to what they’re learning about research and interpretation in other classes? Feel free to offer sentence level feedback about syntax, style, and general proofreading, but make sure you answer the larger questions above first.