Portfolio Self Assessment

Mirbahar Rafid

English 110

Kyle Hoehne


                    In this self-assessment, I will be talking about the three different essays that I had to write for my freshman composition class and what I learned and how I improved as I moved from one essay to the next. The three essays are a literacy narrative, an exploratory essay, and a critical analysis essay.

                  In my literacy narrative, I decided to talk about my love for reading as I grew up and how that shaped me as a person. I talked about the different books I had read as I was growing up and how they spawned my love for literacy and reading. There was nothing very significant in my childhood that dealt with literacy that had affected me so I had limited options as to what to write about so I decided to talk about what books I had read, such as Harry Potter, by process of elimination. Although I felt that I explained thoroughly what effect that these books had had on my love for literacy and how they helped me to become more articulate, I still feel as though it was rushed and I could’ve done better by taking my time and explaining more as to how I was affected by what I read as a child. I focused mostly on purpose in this essay since it was something personal and didn’t really take into account the other rhetorical items we discussed in class and the other course learning outcomes.

                 My exploratory essay dealt with methods of communication and the barriers that exist that keep people from properly expressing their feelings and emotions to one another, particularly how we as human beings fail to listen to one another and try to understand where another person’s views are coming from. I am honestly not that happy with this essay and feel I could’ve done a lot better in explaining my thoughts in it. I focused mostly on stance in this essay since it was about a topic that interested me and that I had to defend using research. Although listening was my main focus in this essay, I feel as though I spent too much time talking about that instead of other barriers that hinder communication, which is the main focus of the essay.

              The final essay that I had to write was the critical analysis essay, and I feel that I had improved a lot on this compared to my exploratory essay. My first draft for this essay wasn’t that great, however after meeting with my professor, I was able to see the flaws in it and how I could improve it. My essay was about which method of communication was more effective, phone calls or text messages. I incorporated more evidence from scholarly sources into this essay and instead of talking mostly about the cons of text messaging, I focused more on the pros of which phone calls. In this essay, I had to use more exigence in addition to purpose and stance since I’m comparing one thing to another and explaining why my position is correct. I used a lot more digital sources in this essay and incorporated better MLA citations in this essay, however, I neglected to use in text citations which I completely forgot about.

Critical Analysis Essay

Mirbahar Rafid

English 110

Kyle Hoehne


            In this new digital age, texting has usurped phone calls as the primary medium of communication, however, a phone call is still the more useful tool in talking to someone over complex issues and having a conversation with more depth. Texting is a pretty fun method of communication that has recently been popularized. It has come a long way from pressing the same button on a flip phone multiple times to get just one letter you want to write, to what it is now. Texting has evolved along with smartphones in how much smoother, easier, and convenient it is to use. Regardless of how widely it is used and how popular it is with the younger generation, texting has its cons that reflect an overall generational shift, as well as many social issues that are prominent among younger people.

             Texting is a pretty informal method of communication and fails to give off the sense of urgency that one may get from a phone call. In a study conducted by BMC Health Services Research, patients were divided into two groups and one group was given text message reminders of upcoming doctor’s appointments, while the other group was given phone call reminders of upcoming appointments. In terms of missed monthly appointments, the telephone group had a lower percentage of missed appointments as compared to the text message reminder group. Phone calls convey that sense of urgency due to being able to hear the voice of another human being and being able to read the urgency in their voice. Reading a text message is usually an emotionless encounter, with a lack of important feelings. The human voice contains cues that allows us to interpret the important message it contains, such as urgency, making it the more functional medium when sending an important message.

               Phone calls are also better in helping build personal rapport. Telemarketers call people on the phone and engage them in a conversation in order to try to sell them their product. Although you may get promotions via email or text message, a salesperson is more likely to be successful in their endeavor by calling someone on the phone rather than leaving them an ad via text message that they’ll probably never notice. According to Forbes magazine, some firms are hiring consultants to help Millennial employees become more comfortable on the phone when dealing with customers as well as developing customer profiles to determine which customers are better to call and who’s better to email or text, because sometimes to send fast straight-forward messages, phone calls are unnecessary and texting is the way to go.

              Texting has lead to quite a few social issues among younger people. Due to textings quick, straight to the point method of communication, people tend to become shy and awkward in real life, and stray away from face-to-face conversation. According to the article “How Texting Changes Communication”, texting also creates meaningless friendships due to a lack of meaningful conversation because text message conversation is usually extremely surface level and primarily consists of just small talk. According to the University of Missouri Journal of Undergraduate Writing, texting, although it does help kids learn to multitask, makes them prone to simple distractions, shortening their attention spans.

            Phone calls, although not as good as in-person, is a good alternative to texting when having truly meaningful, thoughtful conversation with depth and complexity. Texting is too monotonous and easy for misinterpretation when trying to have a serious conversation. Texting is good when you need to say something short and  straight to the point. The problem is that people have become too accustomed to texting that they use it for every type of conversation, which leads to them having problems in real life social situations.



                                                       Self- Reflection


This critical analysis was an argumentative essay in order to persuade the reader on which is the more effective method of communication in today’s digital world in the context of the situation. This essay is specifically aimed at Millennials and younger generations who frequently use their cell phones to keep in touch with one another. Many young people have gotten some form of addiction towards their phones which affects their communication skills in real life. I was hoping to persuade my audience on the benefits of phone calls as compared to texting, because although texting is a good medium when sending quick, straight-forward messages, phone calls are more useful in having long, meaningful conversations. I, myself text more than I use phone calls, however, I hope that through this essay that I can convince even myself to use phone calls more than send text messages.


Exploratory Essay

Mirbahar Rafid

Kyle Hoehne

English 110

15 October 2017


                      Human beings have been able to advance so far as a civilization due to our ability to communicate with each other. All the accomplishments that human beings share are a result of communicating and working together to make amazing things in science and technology come to life. Proper communication skills are also the key to bringing about peace in society. If people were to talk to each other logically with both sides understanding where the other is coming from and what struggles they have been through, we would be able to put aside any false misconceptions or prejudices that we have against other people, and come together and live in peace with one another.

                                  In order to create change on a larger scale, we must start small and learn how to communicate well with the people we are around on a daily basis. The end goal of communication isn’t to just listen to the other person, but understand them, according to Effective Communication Leads to Understanding. A good leader must facilitate discussions in order to listen to the exchange of ideas between his followers and understand what each person has to say and what they bring to the table.

                       One cannot merely just hear what another person has to say in order to listen to them. Through this method, you may be able to “listen” to what another person has to say, however, you won’t be able to achieve the end goal, which is to understand them. In order to truly listen and understand what another person has to say, you must engage in active listening. In Developing Effective Communication Skills, active listening is defined as listening with all senses. You do not merely use your ears to hear what’s coming out of a person’s mouth, you must pay attention to their tone of voice and their body language. In order to let the other person know that they are being listened to, you must give them positive reinforcement. When they are speaking, make sure not to interrupt or interject them when they are speaking, and keep eye contact with the other person so they understand that they are being heard.

                            Active listening is becoming more difficult to do due to the low attention spans that people have due to social media platforms in which people attempt to have multiple conversations with different individual people at once. Sadly, it is even affecting our family lives. In Does social media kill communication skills?, it says With social media consuming so much of our time, conversing with one another face to face has suffered. The busyness of our lives and over scheduling also takes a toll on the family. The percentage of families that sit down together to share dinner is steadily declining.”.  Sometimes a person may have different conversations with the same person at the same time through different social media platforms. Although this may pose a challenge to developing effective communication skills, it can be a great tool. Social media is a great technological advancement that can bring people from all around the world together in one place where they can have meaningful discussions. Sadly, through overuse, people have become addicted to these platforms and forgotten how to actively engage with another human being in real life. Although this may pose a problem to effective communication, through active listening can a person break out of this and truly understand one another.



Literacy Narrative

                            Literacy has always been an important part of my identity. Although I haven’t gotten to it recently, I used to read a lot as a child. I was pretty shy growing up so it was always easier to just spend time reading a book than it was to talk to other people, although I didn’t really have that big of a problem socially. Books always provided an escape from a mundane reality to a world that always had something of interest. My fluency in reading and understanding what I read was always something I was proud of and something that made me feel special since most of my peers didn’t really enjoy reading as much as I did.

                        As a child, I would always be in the library, looking through shelves for good material to read. I always picked something that would catch my attention in the first few words, because if it didn’t, I would just put it away and never look in its general direction again. I enjoyed adventure books because I was pretty bored as a child and adventure books provided an escape from my mundane reality into a world filled with amazing things around every corner that would keep me from ever being bored. Boredom can’t only be killed by escapism, but also through laughter. One of my favorite book series of all time is Captain Underpants, which I thought was absolutely hilarious back in the day. When I was in 6th grade, my older cousin who was a big Harry Potter fan suggested that I start reading as well. Reading that series showed me how enjoyable novels were and increased my love for reading. Before reading Harry Potter it would always take me quite some time to finish reading a long book. After reading it however, not only did the voice in my head have a British accent every time I read a different book afterwards for a few months, but my fluency in reading increased and it would take me a lot less time, allowing me to breeze through a 5-700 page book in less than a week. After a while, I got lazy and decided reading that many words is too much work so I shifted my interests towards graphic novels. I loved reading manga like Naruto and One Piece, and even though I hated drawing, I admired the artwork. I enjoy normal American comics as well; the artwork always helps to tell the story better, and that’s what I pay attention to most when reading something, the story, the underlying meaning takes a back seat as I engross myself into the plot of whatever I pick up to read.

          Literacy helps to connect with other people who may have similar tastes in genres, which is much needed since many people who do love books are somewhat shy. Literacy will forever remain an integral part of myself and I hope it continues to grow and flourish along with me.


 Self Reflection


                           My essay was a narrative on how literacy has affected and played into my life. It was hard for me to start this essay because it took me a while to realize the relationship I had with literacy. I looked back at my childhood to see what level of impact literacy had on me, and I realized that it has always been an integral part of who I am. I hope that writing this brings me closer to mastering literacy even further and that anyone who reads this that is currently struggling to find their relationship with literacy, can realize what their relationship is as well. Of the Course Learning Outcomes, I’ve learned to explore and analyze different genres and rhetorical situations, as well as integrate my stance well.