Writing About Learning

Writing About Learning

Learning Goals

By completing this assignment, you will: develop a control idea/thesis for a personal narrative essay

use anecdotes from your personal experience to support, develop, clarify, or extend the focus of your essay practice using common formats and conventions (e.g., structure, tone, mechanics) for a personal narrative essay


This unit, you read, analyzed, and discussed several narratives about learning, including David Sedaris’s humorous essay “Me Talk Pretty One Day,” Annie Dillard’s “An American Childhood,” Jenee Desmond-Harris’s “Tupac and My Non-Thug Life,” Plato’s famous “The Allegory of the Cave,” and others. All of these narratives tell a story about the nature of learning. To complete this writing assignment, you will add to this genre by creating a learning narrative of your own.

Create an essay, between 500 and 1,000 words, that illustrates your perspective on learning by telling a true story from your experience. Your learning narrative should be aimed at a general audience. Assume that your readers are interested in your ideas about learning, and are hoping to read an engaging, personal, thought-provoking essay.

You may choose from many acceptable approaches to this assignment, including:

Telling a story about a particular time that you learned an important lesson

Describing a relationship you had with an important teacher or mentor

Discussing an experience in which you overcame significant challenges to learning

Developing an analogy, metaphor, or allegory that illustrates your beliefs about learning

Whatever approach you choose, remember that your goal is to teach your readers about your experiences with learning. Keep the focus on your own experiences and ideas, while also telling a story. If you would like, you may emulate some of the development strategies used by the authors we have read. In addition to development, your assignment should show signs of revision, editing, and proofreading.

Remember that you may use any of the material from your Writer’s Journal as a starting point for this assignment.

Cover Letter

When you submit this assignment, include a brief cover letter (no more than 300 words) that answers the following questions:

What is your purpose in this assignment? What is it you are trying to do or say in this piece of writing?

What are you proud of about this assignment?

What challenges did you face while completing this assignment?

What sorts of feedback do you want from your instructor on this assignment?

Include your cover letter as a comment on your uploaded document — not as a separate file. Your cover letter will not count for or against your grade, but will help your instructor respond best to your writing.

Length, Design, & Formatting

Your learning narrative should be between 500 and 1,000 words. More important than length is quality. Make sure to fully tell your story, using development strategies that help you support, clarify, or extend your focus.

Use MLA guidelines for document design. This includes using 1-inch margins, double-spaced type, a page number in the upper right corner, and a Works Cited page (if applicable). For details on designing documents according to MLA guidelines, see Chapter 41 in Easy Writer, especially the section labeled “Following MLA manuscript format.”

Give your work a unique title —

To allow your instructor the ability to post marginal commentary, you must submit this assignment as a .doc or .docx file. You can save files in these formats with most word processors, including Web-based programs like Google Docs, Word Online, and Open Office. If you are using a web-based file storage system like Google Drive (Links to an external site.) or Dropbox (Links to an external site.), be sure to learn exactly how to transfer files from your storage system to Canvas.

A Note About Sources

Your major “source” for this assignment should be your own experience. For this assignment, do not conduct outside research. If you feel that quoting our class readings would help you achieve your goal in this assignment, please cite them using MLA in-text and end-of-text citations. This includes placing the quoted material in quotation marks, clearly indicating the author of the work, and providing a page number for the quotation, if applicable. For each source that you quote or discuss in your writing, include an end-of-text citation that follows MLA guidelines. For examples and discussion of how to work with sources in writing, see the Easy Writer chapters on “Quotation Marks” and “Integrating Sources and Avoiding Plagiarism.” You will also begin to practice using sources later in the course.

Instructor Response & Grading

You can expect your instructor to provide substantive response and feedback to your assignment within 6 days of the deadline. Please review all instructor feedback, including marginal commentary, which you can access by clicking “View Feedback” once your assignment has been graded. You should use your instructor’s feedback to as a guide to revision and improvement for your future writing assignments.

Your assignment will be graded using a rubric derived from the rubric used to grade your final portfolio. Please note that the rubric for this assignment places importance on thoughtfulness, insight, focus, and development.