Introduction to Composition 110

Laura Limesand . Fall 2015 . Beth Undem


When I started Introduction to Composition 110, I was not confident in my writing skills. I knew very little about the mechanics of writing essays. Since then, I have learned about the many different strategies that can be used to write a paper and about all the different types of essays. I have also found that I am a very opinionated writer. It is much easier for me to write about a subject that I am passionate about or a topic that interests me. I can now confidently write an essay within a couple days and can interpret corrections from my peers to improve that essay. Some of the essays were more difficult for me to write that others, but I am proud of each of the papers I completed. However, I still struggle with certain writing skills like maintaining a constant verb tense, but I have been working on refining that skill. In my portfolio, I will explain some of the most important skills I have learned and give examples from my own essays.

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Thesis Statement

A thesis statement is the most important point made about a topic. It is usually one and sometimes two sentences long. It is supposed to be a general statement about the basic idea of an essay so it can also apply to other works of literature. A thesis should never be stated as a question, and is usually found near the end of the first paragraph of an essay.

A good example of a thesis statement: "NASA's Apollo Project began the exploration of the moon and brought the idea of space to life."

This is a good thesis statement because it follows all the requirements. It is not stated as a question and is found at the end of the first paragraph of my research paper. It is only one sentence long, which is a good length, and it is also a general statement the could possibly be used in another person's essay about space travel. Also, it is the most important topic of my paper about the Apollo Project. I go on to explain what happened in each of the Apollo missions but the overall, the paper is about the how NASA was able to accomplish John F. Kennedy's dream of making America the first nation to successfully have a man walk on the moon.

Effective Summaries

To write an effective summary or to effectively paraphrase, a person must use their own words. It is not good enough to simply reorder a few words or use synonyms in place of the original words. I learned that taking notes and then writing an essay based on those notes instead of highlighting them can help prevent plagiarism. An effective summary is also shorter than the original version of the information; a summary longer than needed would lose focus on its point and would become purposeless. Summaries must also be true to their authors. For example, if a source of information reflects a certain opinion on a subject, the summary must also reflect that view of the subject. Along with that, transition words and phrases make it more evident to the reader that the following information is borrowed. Without transition phrases, putting such information in an essay does not give credit to the source whom a person go the information from and could be considered plagiarism. In my research paper, I effectively summarized information from each of my sources.

Referencing Sources

Using MLA format, and the MLA 7 style, I learned how to use parenthetical citations and complete a works cited page. Generally, the parenthetical citation is the last name of the author of the source put into parentheses. However, sometimes there may not be an author. In this case, the parenthetical citation should be the first word or phrase of the works cited entry. Parenthetical citations must be used any time that any borrowed information is presented. If a person uses a quotation, a statistic, or a summary, a citation is necessary. In the case of one of my citations, the title of the article was put in quotation marks inside of the parentheses because there was no author, as can be seen below.

However, John F. Kennedy, the thirty-fifth President of the United States of America, shocked the world in May of 1961 when he proclaimed, "I believe this nation should commit itself to achieve the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to Earth" ("Apollo 11").

The works cited page is a necessary element of any paper that requires research. The page must be found at the end and separated from the rest of the essay. According to the rules of MLA, it is to be in alphabetical order and double spaced. Each line after the initial line of an individual citation should have a hanging indent.

"The Apollo Missions." NASA. Ed. Sarah Loff. NASA, 30 July 2015. Web. 22 Nov. 2015.

Description Essay

One of the more difficult essays for me to write was the descriptive essay. A descriptive essay is just like it sounds; one must describe a particular event, place, person, or object with a plethora of expressive adjectives, adverbs, and imagery. The description should be complete enough for the reader to be able to form a picture in their head. For an especially detailed illustration, the essay should include words that involve each of the five senses. In class, we read several example essays that helped me understand the general idea. When trying to write my own, I struggled for a long time to find a topic that inspired me. My initial ideas were too broad to describe in a short essay or just weren't interesting enough. After a lot of thought, I finally decided to write about the magnificent clouds I saw the first time I was on an airplane. I then decided to compare my thoughts and views of the clouds to what I remembered seeing in clouds when I was much younger.

Comparison and Contrast

In comparison and contrast essay, two separate subjects are analyzed. Usually, an unfamiliar subject is compared to a more familiar one. Throughout the essay, the author should tell their readers how the subjects are alike and how they differ. There are two ways to write a comparison and contrast essay. The first way is to write it in a subject-by-subject pattern. This format usually works for shorter essays; the characteristics of one subject are told and then the characteristics of the other subject follow. The other way to write this type of essay is in a point-by-point pattern. It works much better for essays intended to be longer. It describes characteristics of both subjects at once, comparing certain points to each with a more in-depth analysis. At the end of the essay, one of the subjects is usually made to be superior or inferior to the other. In my comparison and contrast essay, I compared texting and talking on the phone.

My Best Work

I believe that my best work throughout this semester was my research paper. I put a lot of time and effort into the research and learned so much about the Apollo Project. I had always been curious about space travel and the moon walk, but I never had the chance to learn much about it before writing the essay. It took me a long time to put my research together and organize it to make sense. The process also taught me a lot about how to use parenthetical citations. I had never used them in an essay before, and didn't even know that they were necessary. The essay took several rough drafts, with corrections from myself and peer editors, before I was satisfied with the final product. When I read the essay now, I am very proud that I was able to write to such a well-developed, focused essay.

*(The research paper can be found above in Effective Summaries link.)


In conclusion, my writing skills have improved immensely over the course of this semester. I can express my thoughts and ideas into a work of literature in a way that I could not have before. I am also more confident that my sentences are grammatically correct and structurally sound. As far as strengths, I now know that I can write an acceptable essay on a topic that I am interested in. I can also reread my work and successfully notice my mistakes and correct them. Despite that, I still have troubles with sustaining the same verb tense, adding too many commas, and I also struggle if I have to write about anything I am less than enthused about. In the future, I hope that I can transform my writing weaknesses into strengths. In addition, my goals will be to learn even more about different types of writing and how to execute them properly.

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