Reflective Portfolio: Reflective Introduction

English 1101 Science in Public

From research papers published in prestigious outlets to Buzzfeed articles posted in Facebook, science is being communicated to the general public. How the media and publishers portray these facts affects the global audience’s perception of them. The English 1101 class that I attended this semester, focused in improving my skills as a communicator by teaching me to analyze, identify, deconstruct and reassemble different aspects in pieces of rhetorical scientific texts. Sometimes these texts would not be written at all. It is the stance of this course to deal into different types of communication, such as written, oral, verbal, electronic and non-verbal. Throughout the path of the class, I looked at science writing, wrote blog posts about them, transformed texts from a mode to another, built arguments directed to specific audiences and reflected about my finished work. I compiled all of it in a Wordpress website by the name “Carlo’s Jungle”. As the final evaluation for this course, I was asked to select three of the artifacts created by me during my time taking English 1101. These will be showcased later on in this portfolio together with an additional one, the artifact 0: Common First Week Video, to express what I have learned and how I have grown as a communicator.

Improvement cannot be possible without an antecedent. There is no way to track progress if you do not have a starting point. My original knowledge before being exposed to this English program is best represented by the first artifact I will present, the Common First Week Video. In this assignment, I was told to create a short film in which I should state a challenge relating to one of the WOVEN modes and how I planned to overcome it. I articulated about my fear of public speaking, relating to my oral communication, and which steps I would follow to surpass this barrier. In the video, a tiny amount of stuttering can be perceived accompanied by awkward body language gestures. Weird audio-visual transitions can also be noticeable. These attributes depict the condition of my oral, visual, electronic and non-verbal communication abilities at the time. This is my starting point. With the transition of the course, I was presented with more opportunities for public speaking, constant need to use audio-visual editing tools and class presentations. The continues exposure to verbal interaction between my professor and classmates stimulated continuous paced talking, extensive vocabulary and easy hand gestures. Several projects implied using computer programs, such as Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Premiere, to achieve a multimodal result. The outcome was additional training utilizing these platforms. The harvest from these experiences can be seen in my latest project and last artifact, the Value(s) of Science Project.

Attention to detail is crucial when analyzing science communication. The aptitude of pointing out the intention of the author is explored in almost any literature course, but using that same skill to craft a different argument using the previous as a base is what my last artifact intends. The outlines for the Value(s) of Science Project were to select a text assigned in class and another one that was not, analyze their elements (argument, audience, mode, etc.), build up a completely new argument towards a value visible in both texts, reflect on its importance, raise a question about the relationship of said value and a current science issue and finally answer that same question. Such project needed to be multimodal and comply with a minimum of a thousand words in its supported argument. I joined forces with another three students to elaborate this task. As a group, we decided to talk about the value of animal testing in lieu of human supremacy. To achieve this, we choose the article from the Jackson Laboratory by the name “Why Mouse Genetics?” and the article from the TIME magazine titled “Animals: She-Hound of Heaven”. We developed a script in form of a debate, filmed it and edited the footage to create a video-recap. My role included writing, filming and acting part of the script. Additionally, I was the sole editor of the film. A comparison between this artifact and the Common First Week Video can be drawn to highlight the severe improvements in my communication skills in concern to multiple modes. The final script and recap were the result of several drafts, takes and group discussion. As a bunch of students from different backgrounds we had to achieve harmony between our ideas, explore options and criticize constructively each other’s part of the work. We relied in the advice of our professor to tell us if we were in the right track and then pieced together the supported argument and we fashioned in a matter that would be engaging for the audience we were trying to reach. In this project, one of the mediums is a video. However, in previous assignments, I have constructed different visuals, like a poster, and transformed already existing texts from a medium to another one. My Artifact 2: Transforming Science at Tech Project illustrates this principle as the focus of the assignment.

All pieces of communication have an audience. It is the author’s obligation to make clear who that audience is. Sometimes only one change in one of the text’s elements can completely alter the expected viewers. You would not see a child who does not know how to read stop for a written piece of communication. However, a visual que with perhaps pictures would caught that kid’s attention. Transformation is necessary for a change to appear. My artifact number two, the Transforming Science at Tech Project, is a group effort in which me and my groupmates selected a specific article of science communication from a source at the Georgia Institute of Technology, identify its attributes and recreated the text with new medium, genre, purpose and audience. We choose an article about the GT-SORT telescope and the trimestral Astronomy Nights that the Department of Physics hosts. We transformed this primarily written text into a poster describing the telescope with an explicit announcement of the astronomical event that would happen in a few days. This group project posed many of the similar challenges the Artifact 3 had, like visual design and teamwork.

Journalists and bloggers directly respond to science communication. They receive data from scientists and use it to elaborate their pieces of writing. Whether the purpose is to inform the spectators or shine the light over a subject, they use these texts as the first building fragment of their new argument. In my Science in Public English 1101 class we had several readings throughout the course. Usually, after looking at and discussing them in class we would write a blog post that in some way talked about an issue brought up by the text. My artifact number one, Why Is It Important to Have Organizations Like the Union of Concerned Scientists?, is one of these posts. The UCS is a non-profit organization that conducts independent scientific research about world-wide problems, for example climate change. I elaborated a follow-up discussion in my blog augmenting the importance of independently conducted research. I also raised how the alternative method has had conflictive results in issues such as the health risks of tobacco and the industries’ response. I took advantage of my medium and wrote a couple of implicit jokes into my blog post to keep my audience entertained. My process while writing this piece was extremely similar to the one used for my last artifact. In the same fashion, I identified the purpose of the UCS website, highlighted its significance and raised a completely new issue that used this value. Thus, my progress refining this method can be clear while comparing these two artifacts.

I would summarize my experience in this class as highly effective in order to meliorate my capabilities as a communicator. I overcame the challenge I stated on my first week taking the course. My oral and non-verbal communication improved as a result. My greatest achievement, in the course of this class, is the dramatic quality improvement of my visual communication best described by my artifacts numbers 0, 2 and 3. In the future I would like to keep exploring and refining my written communication. I am confident that I have developed better understanding of the different elements that compose a rhetorical text and how to create my own works.

Artifact 0: Common First Week Video

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Artifact 1: Why is it important to have organizations like the Union of Concerned Scientists? (Blog Post)

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Artifact 2: Transforming Science at Tech Project (Poster)

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Artifact 3: The Value(s) of Science Project (Video-Recap)