English 3106 critical response topics, fall 2012

Note that critical response essays have a 200 word minimum and must be typed.

Format your response according to MLA guidelines for margins, spacing, name, date, etc., headers, etc. as outlined on my "simple stuff" page. Works cited pages are unnecessary for critical responses. Even without works cited pages, do still follow the MLA conventions for documenting quotations as explained in QD1-4 on my quotes and documentation page.

2.10 Due Monday, December 3: After reading Chapter 16, find two resumés anywhere on the Web and critique them: in terms of content, style, and formatting, what are the strengths and weaknesses of each? Include printouts of both resumés with your response.

On deck:

2.11 Due Wednesday, December 5: Scan back through Chapter 16 and discuss either a) your job searches in the past, or b) the next major job search you anticipate in your future.  In particular, consider what information you might add to what the authors advise about job searches and the employment process in our textbook.  What important information do they not cover—or at least not thoroughly enough?  You might also point out what our text does well at in this chapter, but your primary focus should be on constructive criticism.

3.1 Due with the final project: Explain how our textbook and the course as a whole helped you in preparing this portfolio. Being careful to consider your audience (of course!), you might also point out areas where the text and/or course as a whole may have been lacking: describe any hurdles you faced in the portfolio that required you to reach outside of course materials to bring it all together.

Previous critical response topics—no longer valid for submission.

1.1 Due Wednesday, August 22: In two or three paragraphs, explain how communication, both written and oral, if possible, is important in the career field you aim to pursue after college.  In what particular situations do significant problems arise when communication is not clear and effective in this field?  How do people who are excellent communicators have an advantage in your chosen field over those whose communication skills are either poor or average? Explain. . . .

1.2 Due Monday, August 27: Choose one; do not address both:
a) Think back over any workplace communications you have written in the past, or any sorts of professional or business correspondence more generally (an appeal of health insurance denial of coverage, or a letter of complaint about poor service for home repair, etc.), and explain how you did or did not consider your audience in composing the communication. Knowing what you know now, how might you have considered audience more carefully and effectively?  Explain.

b) What sorts of audience considerations would you do well to keep in mind if you were writing a former employer, teacher, or professor to request a three-page letter of recommendation supporting your application for either a) a full-ride scholarship to graduate school, or b) an audition for America's Got Talent?  Dig deep: think particularly of likely objections your audience may have (audience to the letter, that is), and explain how you might try to answer or mitigate the most significant of these objections.

1.3 Due Wednesday, August 29: In what sorts of workplace communications do you think an impersonal, professional, business-like tone is desirable or appropriate?  Explain.  Also explain how sometimes an impersonal, professional, business-like tone can be inappropriate and reflect badly on the writer.  Do you think workplace writing where you work (or desire to work) should be primarily formal and "professional"? Why, or why not?

1.4 Due Wednesday, September 5: Read my "on plagiarism" page and then discuss how plagiarism in the workplace, or in any non-academic professional environment, differs from plagiarism in academic arenas. More specifically, consider how plagiarism in the workplace is either more or less of a significant concern than it is in college coursework. Explain, giving concrete examples to illustrate your claims.

1.5 Due Monday, September 10: Comment on whatever strikes you as interesting, significant, or valuable in this day's reading assignment (Chapter 4, pp. 94-120).  Include at least two quotations, and if possible, give examples from your own experience to support your observations.

1.6 Due Monday, September 17: What are the pros and cons of working collaboratively on a specific assignment or project or task in the workplace (or in college classes if you have no concrete experience with this sort of collaboration in the workplace)? Explore both sides of the issue with at least one fully developed paragraph for each, positives and negatives.  If you were a supervisor in your workplace (or a college instructor), how would you ensure the most wholly effective collaborative work in your employees (or students)?

1.7 Due Wednesday, September 19: Complete Wednesday's reading assignment and then explain how Internet research is useful and reliable in your field (professional or academic) for some matters, but not others, where library research tends to be more necessary.

1.8 Due Wednesday, September 26: Complete writing assignment 5—see the assignment on our schedule page—then explain your process and all the layout decisions you made in creating the document for the exercise.  Explain where you got the "visuals," how you incorporated them into the document, why you made the choices in visuals, type font(s), font sizes, white space, headings, etc.  Lastly, also explain what you consider the document's greatest two or three strengths and greatest couple of weaknesses.

1.9 Due Monday, October 1: After completing the "group work" collaborative project we've been working on over the last couple of weeks (health club membership proposal, pro or con re: strip club opening in strip mall, etc.), comment on how well you thought the process worked.  Consider especially how well the group worked together, how well the work was distributed, what drawbacks, problems, or obstacles you and/or the group encountered, and overall, assess the strength of your group's final product. Please do not mention classmates by name in your response—should you need to refer to any particular individuals in the group, assign them fictitious names of your own choosing: "Bill," "Jane," "Sylvester," "Gladys," etc.

1.10 Due Wednesday, October 3: Comment on whatever strikes you as interesting, significant, or valuable in this day's reading assignment (Chapter 8, pp. 275-315).  Include at least three quotations, and if possible, give examples from your own experience to support your observations.

2.1 Due Monday, October 15: p. 383, question 1a-c.

2.2 Due Wednesday, October 17: p. 418, question 2. (Note that to describe the "scope" of a report you must describe to what extent you will delve into particular subjects or areas: how deep you will dig, how many sources will you explore, how many studies will be conducted, how minutely or specifically you would analyze costs, what level of detail will be included, etc.)

2.3 Due Monday, October 22: p. 444, question 1.

2.4 Due Monday, October 29: What information, tips, or advice in our first reading assignment in Chapter 13 do you find most useful or helpful?  What do you think it most important from this chapter that we should emphasize in class discussion? Explain.

2.5 Due Monday, November 5: What information, tips, or advice in our second reading assignment in Chapter 13 do you find most useful or helpful?  What do you think it most important from this chapter that we should emphasize in class discussion? Explain.

2.6 Due Wednesday, November 7: Read Chapter 14 and then discuss your experiences either a) conducting meetings, or b) giving oral presentations.  In particular, what obstacles, difficulties, or challenges did the experiences pose for you?  What lessons did you learn from them?  What advice would you offer peers about conducting meetings or giving oral presentations?

2.7 Due Monday, November 12: Review the portions of Chapter 14 treating public speaking, then write a candid and thoroughly "professional" evaluation of two of your current professors as "presenters" during their classes Thursday or Monday.  Please do not record the professors' actual names, assign them aliases!  Consider to what extent each professor follows practices recommended by our textbook, and in particular, consider whether our text's authors might do well to include commentary on any facets of your professors' methods of presenting material orally.

2.8 Due Wednesday, November 14: Glance again at all the chapters we have read in the Writing That Works text thus far and discuss a) the most valuable or useful chapter we have read, and b) the least useful chapter. What is so important about the most valuable, in your estimation, and explain why I should or should not eliminate the least valuable from the syllabus in future 3106 classes.

2.9 Due Monday, November 26: What lessons or information about writing for the web in Chapter 15 struck you as especially valuable?  Bring in two or three examples of existing websites that illustrate aspects of these lessons either positively or negatively (well-designed or poorly-designed websites) and include a works cited page with this response (see QD5w).