This is a stretch FYC course; it is the first of two.
Visual Rhetoric Paper
I have taught the visual analysis paper extremely well in at least two different iterations of FYC. However, for this semester it was a struggle.
In the first section we looked at book covers, movie posters, and album covers. Some students did compare/contrast examinations of, for example, the visual rhetoric of Patrick Rothfuss’ US, UK, and world covers of the same book. This class did well on the visual rhetoric papers.
Then in the second section, we looked at images as art. There was some examination of book covers, but it was not the majority of the work. Instead we worked more with actual explanations of choices in art, to give students the vocabulary necessary. That class did a peer feedback section which was AWESOME, but, unfortunately, I cannot find the questions I asked.
Update 5/15: While I still have not found the questions, I did find that class’ answers. I am attempting to work backwards from the answers to the questions. I think it is worth the effort because the students and I all felt that it was a successful student-to-student learning experience.
Perhaps part of the issue was that I did not direct the choices as much for these students. We looked at specific photographs, but, even though we talked about the historicity of the photographs and why those were so unique, the students often chose photos that were personal. That was not necessarily a problem, as I had students do that before in FYC.
I had conferences for the image analysis paper for two reasons:
1. The pre-writing showed less mastery of the ideas.
2. Students were only talking about the event, not the image.
Even with the conferences, and with me basically outlining exactly how a paper could be done in two different ways using two different students’ images, I still had about five students who were totally lost and did not come up with a decent paper. That was very disappointing. On the other hand, there were some that were incredible. (Why is it easier to remember the problems?)
I could simply go back to the commercials. This is a fun project, though I think it is more fun in FYC, when the students analyze a commercial and then create a digital composition discussing the commercial’s analysis.
Because 106 uses the digital composition as a bridge assignment, an introduction into the theory of writing, with the additions of something fun (videos!) and something that lightens the extrinsic load (their own personal experiences with learning in the past, a successful experience), I could give commercial analysis, but I would not feel it was appropriate to ask for a second digital composition.
Another alternative is to require that students write on book covers, album covers, and movie posters. There are millions of books and there are a lot of different ways students could go.
Despite my feeling that students connected less with this visual rhetoric paper than classes in the past, many students chose the visual rhetoric question on the final. Their answers were solid, on target, and interesting.
I suppose that means that we succeeded. Even if they did not learn how to analyze visual rhetoric well to start with, many of them analyzed it well by the final.
There is little connection with grammar education and improvement in student writing. Students don’t easily make the cognitive leap from practice in the simplified environment of one or two grammar issues per section to application in their own works.
Despite this, or perhaps because the testing is still basically that simplified environment, the students overall have done very well on the grammar tests. In fact, more students have grammar as their highest grade than have daily work as their highest grades. (Daily work tends to be high in my classes because I require so much of it and they figure out what I am looking for and give it to me. The more they write the better they get, so their scores should go up.)
I like this class. I like teaching this class. I wish the visual rhetoric papers had turned out as well as some of the FYC, but some of them were still phenomenal. I will just have to work on that next time.