Composing Social Identity: Profile of a Place
Project One gives you the opportunity to practice several important academic skills: analysis,data collection (through both primary and secondary research), and multimodal composing. This project will also allow you to investigate how identities are socially constructed.
To perform analysis on a specific subject, you break the whole down into its component parts, looking beneath the surface in order to discover more about its nature. Doing so allows you to learn things you otherwise wouldn’t know. Analysis is not a single skill, but rather requires a group of related skills. For example, observation is usually required. Most analyses have an informative function as well. Most professions and academic disciplines will expect you to undertake analysis in one form or another. Thus, we use Project One to practice the critical thinking and composing skills needed to learn to be thorough analysts, researchers, and multimodal composers – all while identifying and practicing effective writing habits.
The Assignment – Profile of a Space or Place:
In this assignment, you will compose a profile of a physical public place or space’s identity that allows readers to see this space in unexpected ways.Imagine that your profile will appear as a linear text in an online ‘zine or website. You must therefore include at least two visuals within your profile that contribute to the effectiveness of the profile.Your profile must also have an engaging, creativetitle.Student with registered visual disabilities may include audio tracks rather than visuals with instructor permission.
This profile should be between 1000-2500 words in length (double-spaced pages, 12-pt font). It should include APA in-text citations where appropriate as well as an APA-style References page (which does not count toward the expected length). The visuals you include do not count toward the expected length. Your Reference page should include at least one credible textual secondary source and the visuals you include; any interview material should be correctly cited within the profile as a personal communication.
Your profile should target an audience of external readers (like your classmates and your instructor) who have never been to the place/space you’re writing about. How can you make such readers care about the place you’ve selected? What meaningful takeaway can your profile provide them?
You’ve got a lot to think through as you carefully compose this project. First, consider the genre: a profile. Profiles (whether they are about a person, a place, or an event) accomplish the following:
- Provide some insight into the subject, taking readers behind the scenes to reveal key details that are not widely known.
- Include key details: describe the space/place, offering details that appeal to the senses as well as dialogue and often expert opinion.
- Hold readers’ interest while informing them about the space/place. How you choose to organize your profile contributes to how well it engages readers. So too do your creative choices, and what takeaway you’re crafting for readers.
It will help you compose the profile if you think about the space or place as a text that needs to be read critically and analyzed. As with any text, you will probably need to read it more than once to fully understand it. This means visiting the space/place and collecting primary research data (through observations and perhaps interviews).
So: what place or space will you select? Please select a physical place/space local to where you are right now, as you work through the stages of this writing project. You’ll likely need to visit the space more than once, so it is crucial that you have regular physical access to it to collect data. Do *not* pick the place where you are employed. You won’t be able to be critically objective enough to collect the data you need. Data collection requires all of your attention – which you can’t give if you’re also trying to work in that space at the same time.
It is also important that you think carefully about the scope/size of the space you select. Selecting an entire airport won’t work: it’s much too big. You can’t collect specific enough data over a space that size. Likewise, a tiny broom closet in a fast food restaurant is likely too small a space. Be strategic in selecting your space/place for this project: why does it fit our assignment well? Remember, the place you select needs to be public: the dining room in your house won’t work. Neither will your cubicle at the office work.
And of course, “identity” is a complex concept; each of us has many facets to our identities. Sex and gender contribute to individual identity; so too do race and ethnicity. Many other factors (like our age, religion, where we live, and what activities we enjoy) contribute to our felt sense of who we are. So: how can a place or space have an identity – or identities? Can you look beyond a space’s obvious, intended identity and uncover something unexpected? Has your space/place taken on an identity not connected to its original purpose and design?
This assignment is made more difficult by the fact that you must write the final draft in a reader-centered way rather than a writer-centered way while demonstrating your ability to employ accepted academic conventions. This means embracing content revision between the rough draft and final draft stages, carefully crafting an introduction and a conclusion to your drafts, working carefully on transitions between sentences and paragraphs, and editing and proofreading before the final draft deadline.
Here is a brief summary of the Project 1 requirements; please see the full Grading Rubric on the next page for a more detailed breakdown.
- Profile length: between 1000-2500 words
- Target audience: readers of an online ‘zine or a website
- Formatting: double-spacing, 12-pt. font
- 2 (or more) visuals integrated into the text of the profile
- 1 (or more) credible textual secondary source integrated into the text of the profile
- An engaging and creative title
- Reference page (APA style)
Rubric for Writing Project 1
- Note: This project’s final draft is worth 150 points.
|– Profile has a creative and relevant title
– Audience’s needs determined and addressed effectively
– Voice, tone, and diction is audience appropriate
|– Grabs readers’ attention effectively
– Introduction prepares readers for the content of the profile
|Incorporation of Primary Research (observational notes, interviews, etc.) (70 points)||– Provides specific sensory details so that readers can “see” the space sufficiently
-Does not stray from the significant point of the profile by including irrelevant or overly general details
-Outside of purely descriptive physical details, the draft informs readers about the space/place in substantial and relevant ways
-Other primary data collected (such as interviews) is incorporated effectively and is meaningful to the goal of the profile.
-Interview material (if present) is presented rhetorically, with careful consideration of when to paraphrase, summarize, or directly quote
-Provides a meaningful takeaway for readers who aren’t familiar with/haven’t visited the space/place being profiled
-Profile convinces readers to see the place in a surprising or unexpected way
-It is clear the writer spent meaningful and sufficient time collecting data at their chosen place/space
|Incorporation of Secondary Research (written sources, visuals, audio files, etc.)
|– Credible sources selected
-Written sources provide meaningful and relevant insight into the place/space or the analysis of the place/space
-Written sources are effectively placed within the text
-Written sources are effectively connected to the author’s surrounding text
-Visuals/audio files are effectively chosen, enhancing the profile in meaningful ways
-Visuals/audio files are effectively placed within the text, enhancing the profile’s effectiveness
-The secondary sources supplement, not dominate, the profile
|– Provides closure to the profile
– Reinforces the specific takeaway of the profile
– Leaves a strong final impression on readers
|Citation and Documentation
|– Sources summarized, paraphrased, or quoted appropriately for APA in-text citation guidelines
– References page adheres to APA guidelines
|Final Draft Preparation
|– Transitions used effectively between sentences and between paragraphs
– Free of grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors
– Organized effectively
-Clear evidence of sufficient time spent editing and proofreading
Major Project Steps:
Step 1: Select the Place/Space for your Profile
See the above suggestions/cautions to help you make your selection. Review the conversations you’ve had with your Instructor in the Project 1 invention assignments as well.
Step 2: ConductPrimary Research
Go and collect data at the space you’ve chosen. Take detailed and organized observational notes (this process work will be required as we move through this project’s steps). Multiple trips to your space/place will likely be needed to collect data. Perhaps you’ll want to conduct interviews with those who use the place. It’s up to you – it depends on how you want readers to “see” your chosen space, and what takeaway you’re hoping for. Remember, your profile seeks to create new knowledge and rethink what is known about your chosen space, the people who spend time there, and what it all means for the space’s surprising identity.
Step 3: Conduct Secondary Research
To uncover a surprising identity for your place/space, you’ll need to know about its intended identity. This means researching the history of the place. Local or national newspapers, websites, magazines, scholarly journal articles, and more: all might help provide contextual information to aid your research (and the drafting of your profile). Use secondary sources to provide social, historical, and cultural context for your readers on the particular place you’re profiling.
Step 4: Compose a Draft of your Profile
Before you begin drafting, compose a clear thesis statement for yourself: what is your profile trying to accomplish? What is the surprising takeaway you’re trying to *show* readers? Even though you may not feel you’ve exactly figured out the takeaway for readers, or what aspect of the place you’re focusing on that will surprise readers, it is important to articulate what you think this will be, and then compose a rough draft – a full length rough draft. The very process of composing the draft will force you to organize your thoughts; it will also produce new thinking about the space. A first, writer-centered rough draft is a crucial step in the writing process. You should include at least two visuals in this rough draft as well – it is just as important to get feedback on these selections as it is on your writing. Most writers need to write a draft for themselves first before writing a more external reader-centered draft.
Step 5: Provide and Obtain Written Feedback on the Profile Rough Draft
You should receive written feedback from two of your classmates to deepen your understanding of the assignment and to learn how informed external readers respond to your writing. You will also provide your own written feedback on two of the Project 1 drafts of your classmates. The critical thinking skills required to respond to your classmates’ rough drafts are the same skills you need to revise your own writing. Through the peer review process, everyone’s understanding of Project 1 improves.
Step 6: Conduct More Primary Research
For many writers, a first draft reveals what the writer *really* wants to write about (or needs to write about). Based on the feedback you receive on your Profile rough draft, many of you will likely need to return to your space/place and collect more data (which might be sensory details, interviews, or notes on how the space is used at different times of the day). You should have a better sense of what data you need now, allowing you to really hone in on this round of data collection.
Step 7 (optional): Conduct More Secondary Research
Based on the feedback you received on your rough draft and your own new data collection, you might need to locate additional secondary sources that will help your readers engage with your profile and its intended takeaway. You might also need to locate new visuals to include in your profile.
Step 8: Compose a New Draft of your Profile
Based on the feedback you received on your Profile rough draft, and the new research you’ve done, revise the draft into a more compelling and effective Profile (given our assignment grading criteria). Before you revise, craft a new thesis statement for yourself, articulating the surprising takeaway you’re trying to show readers. Even as this thesis statement might not appear within your profile, use it guide all your revision decisions. Remember, to “revise” means to re-see, to re-imagine, the content of your writing. Revision is much more than changing a word here and there, or working on transitions between paragraphs. That’s editing. True revision is substantial work, and often means adding new sections to your project, deleting old sections, and rearranging existing sections.
Step 9: Submit your Work
After completing Project 1, you will need to submit your work in multiple ways. First, you should submit a Word-compatible version of your profile to Blackboard through the Assignment submission link in the appropriate Weekly module. Next, you need to embed all drafts in your Digication digital portfolio. Include any feedback (such as peer reviews and instructor commentary) in the Project 1 area of your digital portfolio as well.
Step 10: Reflect on Your Work
Upon completion of Project 1, you should reflect on your learning experience. For some ideas about how to frame your reflections, review the digital portfolio portions in each Weekly area of our Blackboard site. You should reflect on all of the WPA Outcomes and Habits of Mind (HOM) in relationship to what you learned while completing Project 1. In this meta-reflection, reflect generally about the process of working through the stages of Project 1 as well. Outside of the HOM and WPA Outcomes, what did you learn in Project 1? What was hardest? Why? What did you like best? Why? What didn’t you learn that you hoped to? Why? Use these questions to get your thinking started for this Project 1 meta-reflection, but don’t limit yourself to just these questions.
Remember, all course reflections (meta-reflections, HOMs, WPA Outcomes, etc.) take place within your digital portfolio in Digication. For tips on how to format and edit your digital portfolio, refer to the information in the digital portfolio modules in the course Blackboard site.
Please see the Calendar and Weekly content areas in our Blackboard site.