Exploring Conventions: Genres of Writing

Rather than writing every single paper to MLA standards, Composition 250 gave students the opportunity to branch out and learn the conventions of other genres of writing.

Business Letters

A ton of focus was put on writing effective and professional business letters this semester. I took advantage of every opportunity to gain skill in composing these highly useful documents. At the beginning of the semester, I found writing these letters to be very difficult and uncomfortable, yet with the last one I could see that it was becoming more natural to me. Writing in a professional tone is not the easiest thing to master, but I have seen myself become more proficient with it. In order to illustrate my improvement, I have included the first and the last business letters that I wrote in Composition 250. Notice that the first has no letterhead, too much spacing, and poorly formatted margins. All of those errors have been worked out with the last written letter.

First Letter (Agreement to Syllabus terms)

Last Letter (Composition Research Forum)

Peer Critiques

From day one, Mangrum told our class that we were there to help each other learn and grow. He told us that we aren’t there to pat our peers on the back and tell them that they did a good job all day long, because that is not helping anyone grow. Having the ability to critique what others are doing will allow me to take leadership in the future. I am no longer afraid to push people to do better, even when it feels uncomfortable to do so.


The ability to honestly assess your own performance is a vital skill for the workforce. The Fort Lewis College history department requires students to complete a yearly self-assessment in order to look back upon the progress and the shortcomings of the year. My skills at developing a rigorous analysis of my own behavior have exponentially increased over the 2014/15 school year, considering I have had the chance now to practice them in two of Mangrum’s classes. I have again included an example of an early Composition 150 self-assessment to show where I started to what I have built with this self-assessment.

Composition 150 Final Self-Assessment

Transference of Skills

None of the writings that I had to do in class felt like they were wasting my time, because I knew that the skills I was practicing would help me in other areas of school and in life in general. Composition 250 has allowed me to transfer useful skills to other classes as well as my working life. For the first time in my life this year I used correctly formatted images to help get my point across in history papers, and I ended up getting good grades on them all. This just goes to show that you have to be willing to take risks and implement the information that you learn during class to other areas.

Due to the fact that I want to be a Resident Assistant for Fort Lewis College again next fall, I am already needing to use the skills that I have learned from writing to all of these different genres. I am in the process of drafting a letter to the head of the Housing department that combines the three genres detailed above. I have to convince the department that I am a suitable candidate to hire back for next year, so I am combining elements of each kind of writing that we have practiced in class. I have used the self-assessment genre to detail my accomplishments and shortcomings. The peer critique comes in hand to build off of ideas that coworkers have had, allowing me to help develop a better program. Lastly, I am polishing the letter and addressing it to the RA Selection Committee in a professional business letter format.

Blogging/Webpage Design

I see the most useful convention we learned being the blogging and web design. I have previously argued for the importance of a positive online presence in the academic and professional world, and I have had the opportunity to develop those skills in this class. I believe that I was the only Composition 250 scholar to utilize the blog for my research project and my self assessment. Next semester, I look forward to seeing what I can do with the blog in Composition 350, and I hope to look to my peers for fresh ideas and methods of creating amazing texts!

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