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Heather's Intake Assignment

I actually used an intake assignment similar to this on the first day of class this year. Pamela (I think - perhaps it was someone else) said something about moving beyond the "get to know you" idea. That actually is one of my goals in this assignment. I think that freshman comp is one of the few classes in which my students really get to know their instructors, and their instructors them. I want my students to feel comfortable coming to me with questions, and I find that knowing a bit more about them helps me to make that personal connection.

This assignment elicits a 5-paragraph type response - but that's also part of what I want. I don't specifically tell them to do that, but I think if they've been trained in Amercan-style essay writing, the prompt will lead them to organize that way. Many of my students don't typically follow a thesis-driven rhetorical style, and some may not even really be familiar with it. Of course I want them to get beyond that, but I think they do need to learn it - and it helps for me to see right off the bat how many of them are familiar with that pattern. Here's the assignment:

To give me a better sense of your strengths as writers, as well as the areas in which there is room for improvement, please complete the following assignment by Thursday, January 19th. As you write, think of me – your instructor – as your audience. Organize your answer as you would an essay for a standardized test, such as the TOEFL.

In 1 – 2 pages (typed, double-spaced, 12-point font), please respond to ONE of the following prompts. In addition to providing me with a sample of your writing, your response will help me get to know you a bit as an individual.

You will not be graded on the assignment, but I will respond with comments that should help as you work on future assignments in this course.

1. How are the expectations you had of the United States prior to coming here similar to or different from your experiences in the country?

2. What is your major, and how did you choose it? If you have not yet declared a major, what are some of the options you are considering, and why?