Unit Four Reflections – Self-Assessment

Key Takeaways from ENGL 301

ENGL 301 was an excellent course for developing technical writing skills. Through this course, I became proficient in preparing succinct professional documents following particular formats. I also became aware of the importance of considering the audience in writing. Keeping the audience in mind has become one of the first aspects I think of when I start to write. This has helped me write many drafts for different assignments as I gain a better sense of who my reader is. There are many genres of technical writing and recognizing the different formatting styles for each genre is an important part of learning how to become a professional technical writer.

Learning how to write emails, memorandums and business letters was helpful. Before ENGL 301, I had experience writing emails and business letters for my role as a sponsorship coordinator for non-profit organizations. However, I had never written any memorandums prior to taking this course. In the beginning, it was definitely a challenge to adjust to the writing style of memorandums. I felt that the first memorandums I prepared for this course needed improvements. I was not sure if I the memorandums were written in the correct format. In addition, I was slightly confused about the differences between emails and memorandums. Nonetheless, as I read more about memorandums in the Technical Communications textbook and the Instructor’s blog, I began to recognize the differences between emails and memorandums. It was helpful to learn that memorandum is a distinct genre of communication with the purpose of communicating official “in house” information using a clear and brief writing style. I have definitely gained a deeper appreciation for this genre of writing.

Incorporating the process of reviewing, refining and reflecting into my writing routine has always been a challenge for me. Often times, I would review and refine my writing and stop after these two steps. I always find the process of reflecting to be the most time consuming. Before this course, I admit that I never thoroughly went over these steps of the writing process. However, through ENGL 301, I began to spend more time in these processes of writing. The reflection blogs of this course have forced me to slow down and pause to think about the writing I just completed. In fact, the reflections blogs were crucial to improving my writing skills throughout the course. Additionally, the peer review assignments have allowed me to critically review others’ writing. This helped me in recognizing common problems that can occur in technical writing. As such, after reviewing my peers’ work, I found myself reviewing my own work again to refine areas that I came to realize needs improvement. Now, I believe that trusting the process of reviewing, refining and reflecting is essential to writing.

Beyond ENGL 301

Writing skills are crucial for any position requiring communication. As a scientist, strong technical writing skills can be particularly beneficial for preparing manuscripts and writing grants and applications. These documents often have word limits and strict format guidelines. Thus, my ability to write in a clear, organized and professional manner is important. Additionally, skills in reviewing, refining and reflecting are also critical for ensuring documents are prepared according to guidelines. Furthermore, my strengths in writing with an audience in mind may be useful when needing to communicate science to an audience with varying levels of scientific knowledge. I look forward to transferring the technical writing skills I acquired through ENGL 301 to my scientific career.

Unit Four Reflections – Process of Creating a Web Folio

There are certainly endless ways to showcase one’s web folio. I thoroughly enjoyed the open-ended nature of this assignment. With some web folio templates and styles better than others, the process of creating the web folio definitely challenged me to think of the best way to present my profile. In the end, I decided on simplicity. A website that clearly and professionally presented my profile was the goal. I chose the “Suits” theme on WordPress for the web folio as it was a clean design with easy to read pages. The neutral black, grey, and white background colours on the webpage compliment the simplistic approach. Before beginning to piece together the different pages of the web folio, creating a storyboard and outline also helped me visualize the web folio in which I wanted to create. Without a doubt, the process of developing a web folio allowed me to unleash my creativity.

In the beginning, I critically thought about the audience that would view my web folio. I decided to tailor my web folio to recruiters and professionals working in the life sciences field. Along with highlighting achievements, technical skills and research interests, I also wanted to customize my web folio to showcase my research experiences with a “Past Projects” page outlining research projects I have completed. Furthermore, to connect with colleagues, I included my Twitter handle along with my LinkedIn profile in the web folio.

The “Best Works” page was the most meaningful in reflecting my learning from ENGL 301. As I compared my assignments from the beginning of the course to the end of the course, I absolutely noticed some changes to my writing. This was especially apparent when I reviewed my peer reviews. I aimed to minimize the use of imperative verbs to make my writing more precise and concise throughout the term. I can say that I have made some progress in this area. Reviewing, refining and reflecting on all the assignments on the “Best Works” page was a great way to conclude my technical writing learning journey in ENGL 301.

Creating websites have always been a passion of mine. I have always wanted to create a web folio showcasing my past projects and background. It was wonderful to be able to combine my interests for designing websites with technical writing. The opportunity to create a web folio to cumulate technical writing skills I have gained through ENGL 301 was one of the highlights of the course.

Unit Three Reflections – Drafting Formal Report

Unit three was critical for learning the practice of writing with “you” attitude, preparing the formal report and peer editing a draft formal report. Here are my reflections for the unit:

Formal Report Research

The research process of the formal report was critical in establishing the foundation of the formal report. For my report on “Enhancing Participation of Educators in the Greater Vancouver Regional Science Fair Committee”, secondary resources can be difficult to find. Beyond the information regarding the purpose of science fairs and brief background on history of the regional fair, statistics of educator science fair participation was not available. As a result, this made primary sources for the research extremely critical. Notably, I found the gathering of survey responses a challenge in the research process. Specifically, response rates were low for the number of educators the surveys were sent to. Despite this limitation to the research process, I proceeded to navigate through this obstacle by exploring other feasible methods of gathering meaningful data. This included finding educators from outside Vancouver to conduct an in-depth interview regarding educator participation on science fair committees outside Greater Vancouver. Surprisingly, I learned that other regions from across the province and outside BC are also exploring ways to increase educator participation on the committee or have successfully implemented strategies to attract more educators. Interviews with educators proved to be an effective way in gathering comprehensive information for my report. The research I completed regarding educator participation on science fair committees are novel findings that will potentially have a huge impact on how the Greater Vancouver Regional Science Fair will proceed in the next round of volunteer recruitment.

Organizing the Formal Report

Following the research, organizing the information gathered for the report was a lengthy process. As many of the questions on the surveys utilized the Likert Scale, determining the frequency distribution for each value on the scale required creating an organized spreadsheet of all the data gathered. Organizing the information from interviews also needed good organization. After all results were analyzed, the next step was planning the most effective way to present the main findings. To begin, I compared the responses from the two interviews and highlighted points that were mentioned in both interviews. There was an unexpected amount of overlap between the interviews but also key differences that were helpful in formulating recommendations for the report. These overlaps formed the subheadings under the results section for surveys. Next, for the numerical data gathered from surveys, I formulated a brief sentence summarizing the conclusion that can be drawn from the results for each survey question. Through this method, I created informative subheadings for the report. In organizing interview and survey responses, I learned that summarizing results for a report is a great exercise in practicing conciseness in writing.

Writing the Formal Report

From thoroughly organizing the survey and interview data, the writing process of the formal report was straight forward. Using the formal report outline I had written earlier, I was able to write in an organized and concise manner. The outline served as a compass for preparing the draft of my formal report. I learned that the outline did not necessarily form the final layout for the report. After the primary research was completed, I recognized there were some gaps in the outline that needed to be filled in. As such, this required changes to the organization of the formal report to ensure that the ideas were presented logically and clearly. Subsequent editing of the draft of the formal report will be critical in polishing the writing ahead of the final submission. I look forward to editing my draft formal report and submitting my best work by the end of the term.

Peer Reviewing

By reviewing my peer’s draft formal report, I was able to practice writing with a “you” attitude. I focused on avoiding the use of imperative verbs and minimizing the use of pronouns and “you’s” in my peer review. Through being more conscious about my word choices in the peer review, I believe that my writing has become more precise and concise. Additionally, through reading my peer’s work, I learned about the various ways in which the sections of the formal report can be organized and presented. I noticed that reviewing for writing style and grammar, including sentence structures and verb tenses, were especially important for learning how to write in ways that can be easily understood by readers. Furthermore, the peer review process helped me learn about the necessity of providing details and writing in an engaging active voice. The writing becomes clearer when details and active voice are utilized. Overall, peer reviewing my peer’s draft formal report was a great way to improve my formal report writing skills.

Draft formal report can be found here: 301_Janice Pang_Formal Report_Draft.

Unit Two Reflections – LinkedIn and Developing a Report Proposal

Building a LinkedIn Profile

Establishing a LinkedIn profile was an important step for reflecting on experiences and creating an organized online resume. The process of creating a LinkedIn profile was a great opportunity to review my volunteer and work experiences as well as the honours and awards. While creating the profile, I thought about how each experience have helped me learn new skills and knowledge. Notably, I aimed to write with a specific audience in mind – scientists in my network. To begin creating the profile, a list of all my research and volunteer positions was generated and organized in reverse chronological order. Then I proceeded to brainstorm the responsibilities and skills acquired for each experience. Subsequently, I consolidated my list of experiences through ensuring the use of accomplishment statements for each position mentioned. This included ensuring that both an action and the resulting impact of the action was stated for each statement. Soft skills were also highlighted through describing collaborations and projects I was involved in for each position. Moreover, I listed relevant honours and awards received and made an organized list of projects and courses relevant to my field. Recognizing the potential that readers may not be familiar with the award listed, a brief award criteria description for each award was included. Collectively, while creating a LinkedIn profile, I strived to be as specific and organized as possible to highlight to myself as the ideal candidate for employers. Writing for a specific reader in mind was a crucial for this assignment.

Learning about LinkedIn

Creating the LinkedIn profile was an important exercise in learning how to establish an online professional network. The ‘Best Practices on LinkedIn’ memo was an especially good exercise to begin learning about LinkedIn and thinking about ways to fully leverage the advantages of the online networking platform. Specifically, I learned about the importance of showcasing examples of my work such as past research projects. In addition, I discovered the impact of regularly updating status and posting on LinkedIn to stay active within my network. This motivated me to develop a plan to start thinking about posting about articles, news and other updates related to life sciences research. Perhaps, the greatest challenge to start creating a professional network on LinkedIn has been writing an effective and attractive introductory summary for my profile. It was difficult to brainstorm opening sentences that would uniquely draw the attention of readers. In the end, I began by mentioning my top interests in the life sciences. I look forward to connecting with more colleagues while refining and updating details of my profile,

Writing the Report Proposal and Composing a Report Outline

Preparing the formal report proposal was comparatively more challenging than creating a LinkedIn profile. Brainstorming a feasible topic connected to a workplace, the community, or the classroom was challenging. Since I am currently away on a work term, it immediately eliminated ideas for investigations on UBC campus. Thus, assessing my current work situation and recognizing the timeframe for completing the report, I elected to conduct a study connected to the organization I volunteer with, the Greater Vancouver Regional Science Fair. After narrowing down the topic to “Enhancing Participation of Educators in the Greater Vancouver Regional Science Fair Committee”, it was easy to identify a problem and propose a study to be conducted. Thus, writing the report proposal was relatively straight forward. In addition, the formal report outline was important in organizing the study proposed. By outlining the items that will be covered in the report, I was able to determine the tasks that need to be done ahead of drafting a report. Regardless of whether the outline was assigned, I would have proceeded to create an outline to have an organized schedule and checklist for the project. I greatly anticipate the responses from educators for this investigation.

Potential Challenges of the Formal Report

In progressing through the timeline established for the report, I am confident in producing a professional report of my casual study. The outline, background research and interviews for the report are ahead of schedule. However, I am concerned about the data collection aspect of the assignment. Specifically, I am most nervous about response rates of my survey as that is a huge limiting factor of my investigation. To navigate through this obstacle, surveys have been distributed to a wider audience, including both locally in the Lower Mainland, across BC and other provinces. Surveys for both educators and science fair alumni allow for recommendations to be drawn from different perspectives of the problem being investigated. By beginning data collection early, I hope to maximize response rates and be able to draw meaningful conclusions from the study to enhance educator participation on the science fair committee.

Peer Reviewing Report Proposal

The peer review process continues to be an avenue by which I consciously incorporate reviewing and editing to my writing routine. Peer reviewing my partner’s report proposal was a good glimpse into how ideas for a proposed study could be conveyed in a variety of ways. Indeed, my partner’s writing style for the report proposal was fairly different than my own. Nonetheless, I strived to create a concise and organized peer review, to ensure my partner received an informative feedback of their work. While writing the peer review, I was learning to replace imperative verbs with ‘ing’ verbs. This continues to be an area in which I aim to improve by end of term. In addition, I was cognizant of eliminating pronouns while writing. In addition, it was a refreshing to be able to create a peer review template for the review of our colleague’s LinkedIn profile. I enjoyed designing the template for peer review as it helped me determine the necessities of a LinkedIn profile. It served as a checklist for how to create a complete LinkedIn profile and allowed for assessment of how my writing team members have approached the assignment. I was not surprised to find out that are indeed multiple ways to write a good summary for a LinkedIn profile. By reviewing the LinkedIn profiles of all my team members, I recognized the unique ways in which work or volunteer experiences can be presented to a specific audience. Peer reviewing solidified that writing with a specific audience in mind is key.

Overall Impression of the Peer Review Process

Throughout unit two, I enjoyed reviewing my writing team’s work on the writing forum. I am surprised by the effectiveness and benefits of peer reviewing. I am certainly noticing changes in my colleagues’ writing throughout the term. Overall, I am learning a tremendous amount from my colleagues’ work in regard to diction and organization of ideas. In addition, through reading others’ work, I recognize that my own writing could potentially be more concise. There are several areas of technical writing that I am continuously trying to improve, and I am open to more suggestions in future peer reviews.

Revised Report Proposal can be found here: 301 Janice Pang_ Formal Report Proposal_revised

Peer review of Report Proposal can be found here.

Unit One Reflections – Recognizing the Importance of Audience in Writing Technical Definitions & Beginning of Peer Reviews

Technical Definitions Assignment

In unit one, the technical definitions assignment focused on the importance of learning how to write definitions for a specific audience that may have limited knowledge on the term being defined. Through this assignment, I learned about how audience and purpose can determine the way in which a definition is written. For example, as a biochemist, writing for a fellow biochemist can be far different than writing for a high school student with introductory biology knowledge. The way I communicate technically with colleagues may be filled with technical terms that are common amongst biochemists and completely foreign to others. Hence, while writing a technical definition for the term, polymerase chain reaction (PCR), for the assignment, I learned to be cognizant of the vocabulary used to explain the term. My goal for the technical definition was to eliminate jargon that could potentially make the explanation of the term difficult to comprehend. Additionally, I recognized that expanded definitions of terms could easily be verbose. Thus, my other objective was to be as clear and concise as possible when formulating the definition of PCR. Ultimately, the goal was to make difficult science terms more comprehensible to anyone regardless of their scientific background.

Peer Reviewing the Technical Definitions Assignment

Peer reviewing was a good opportunity to review my peer’s work and my own work. It was an important step toward incorporating the practice of reviewing and editing into my writing routine. In the peer review process, I read my peer’s definition several times, taking breaks in between and coming back to review it again. I broke down the review into small sections, noting positives in each section and then suggesting improvements. From reviewing my peer’s work, I gained perspective on the effect different writing styles can have on formulating definitions. Notably, organization is key to easy understanding of difficult technical terms. Organization can concern sentence structure. For example, certain sentence structures may make it harder to follow an explanation that is crucial in understanding the difficult term being defined. By noticing common mistakes that may occur in the writing of technical definitions during peer review, I was able to refer back to my definition and ensure that I have not committed the same errors. Overall, the process of peer review was mutually beneficial.

The peer review report was an important exercise in learning how to provide constructive criticism and feedback to others. As I read through the guidelines for peer review reports in the textbook, I was able to gain a better sense of the items I need to include in a solid report to my peers. Through preparing the peer review report, I learned a great deal about how to write tactfully. It was important to be able to convey both an encouraging and critical tone in the report so that my writing team member is able to receive helpful feedback that includes comments about areas of weakness as well as strength. Moreover, the peer review report provided an opportunity to revisit the significance of organization and clarity in writing. Peer review reports are forms of technical writing that I wish to have more practice in.

Feedback from Peer Reviews

The feedback I received for my technical definition was helpful in guiding my revisions. It was useful to receive comments on parts of my extended definition that may be removed for conciseness of the definition. This helped me in refining my definition so that it became less wordy. I learned to consolidate my writing through the comments I received identifying the areas of my definition that contains potential jargons or lack clarity. These were areas in which I may otherwise not have noticed without the peer review. While revising my definitions, I reminded myself of my initial goals for the assignment. I wanted to ensure that I met my expectation of formulating a definition that was easily understood and concise. After completing all revisions following peer review, I feel that I have met my goals to the best of my ability. Since the process of reviewing and editing is ongoing, I hope to revisit this assignment throughout the term as I learn new technical writing techniques to make further edits that will enhance the definition.

Please see revised technical definitions assignment here: 301 Janice Pang Technical Definitions_revised.

My peer’s review of the assignment can be found here: http://blogs.ubc.ca/engl301-99a-2019wa/2019/09/24/63182/.

Email to Perspective Writing Team Member (3)

Subject:                     Re: English 301 Writing Team
Date:                          Friday, September 20, 2019 at 5:22 pm
From:                         janice.pang@alumni.ubc.ca
To:                               jennyzhang_@hotmail.com
Attachments:          301_Janice Pang_Application Letter

Hello Jenny,

Thank you for reaching out to me regarding forming a writing team for ENGL 301. I reviewed your letter of application and agree that we would make a well-balanced writing team for the term. For your reference, I have also attached my letter of application to this email.

I noticed that you have previous experiences in preparing research papers, essays and presentations from your English and economics courses, which I believe will be beneficial to the team as we work through the different assignments in the course. In addition, your strong time management skills will be an important asset to the team. It also parallels my strengths in forming work schedules for tasks ahead of deadlines. Further, our learning philosophies are complementary in that we believe in learning through collaboration. We can definitely come together to learn from each other’s strengths and help each other improve weaknesses in the course of learning technical communication.

I am thrilled for the opportunity to work with you and look forward to a great semester in ENGL 301.

Sincerely,
Janice


Janice Pang 
Undergraduate Student 
Integrated Sciences
University of British Columbia
janice.pang@alumni.ubc.ca

Email to Perspective Writing Team Member (2)

Subject:                    Re: ENGL 301 Professional Writing Team Application
Date:                          Sunday, September 15, 2019 at 2:13 pm
From:                         janice.pang@alumni.ubc.ca
To:                              emilyjasmine25@gmail.com
Attachments:          301_Janice Pang_Application Letter

Hello Emily,

Thank you for reaching out to form a writing team for ENGL 301. I took some time to review your letter of application and believe that we will work great together in a writing team. For your reference, I have also attached my letter of application to this email.

I am most impressed by your time management skills in meeting deadlines for tasks. This complements my desire to always establish work schedules ahead of time for my classes. Time management will be valuable as we work through the different assignments in the class. I noticed that you also have experiences in creative writing and literature-based classes which definitely complements my background in English literature and creative writing. In addition, I believe your close attention to writing for specific audiences will positively contribute to the writing team.

I am thrilled for the opportunity to work with you and look forward to a great semester ahead in ENGL 301.

Sincerely,
Janice


Janice Pang 
Undergraduate Student 
Integrated Sciences
University of British Columbia
janice.pang@alumni.ubc.ca

Email to Perspective Writing Team Member (1)

Subject:                   Re: ENGL 301–Professional Writing Team Application
Date:                         Sunday, September 15, 2019 at 2:11 pm
From:                       janice.pang@alumni.ubc.ca
To:                             m.rosenberg@alumni.ubc.ca
Attachments:         301_Janice Pang_Application Letter

Hello Meagan,

Thank you for reaching out to me regarding forming a writing team for ENGL 301. I took some time to review your letter of application and I agree that we would make a great writing team for the semester. For your reference, I have also attached my letter of application to this email.

I believe that your skills in time management, critical thinking and peer review definitely complements my work ethics and writing strengths, which will be greatly beneficial as we work together throughout the term to discuss, review and refine our writing. In addition, your learning philosophy of staying motivated by wanting to know more definitely parallels my desire to continuously learn. Furthermore, I am also impressed by the breadth of work you have completed within the healthcare industry and your achievements within the dental hygiene program. It would be wonderful to learn more from you about the healthcare industry.

I am thrilled for the opportunity to work with you and look forward to a great semester in ENGL 301.

Sincerely,
Janice


Janice Pang 
Undergraduate Student 
Integrated Sciences
University of British Columbia
janice.pang@alumni.ubc.ca

Email Memorandum – Letter of Application

MEMORANDUM

To:          Dr. Erika Paterson, Instructor, ENGL 301
From:     Janice Pang, Student, ENGL 301,
Date:      September 12, 2019
Subject: Letter of Application Posted

As requested in the instructions for Assignment 1:2, I am writing to inform you that my letter of application for the 301 Technical Writing class writing team posting is now posted on my blog.

My letter of application highlights the following:

      • Strong writing skills developed through extensive coursework in English literature and creative writing
      • Solid verbal communications skills acquired through experiences working as a research student at SickKids and co-op student at Amgen
      • Experiences in leading fundraising campaigns and building partnerships with sponsors as the treasurer of the Greater Vancouver Regional Science Fair
      • Goal to incorporate the process of reviewing, refining, and reflecting into my learning

I look forward to hearing from my ENGL 301 classmates to form a writing team for the term.

Thank you.

Enclosure: 301 Janice Pang Application Letter

Letter of Application

2978 Whisper Way
Coquitlam, BC V3E 3R8
janice.pang@alumni.ubc.ca

September 12, 2019

ENGL 301 99A: Technical Writing
University of British Columbia
1873 East Mall
Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z1

Dear English 301 Classmate:

As a fourth-year Bachelor of Science student with a passion for technical communications, I am interested in applying for a position on your professional writing team for the 301 Technical Writing class as posted on the English 301 99A Blog. Given my background in English literature and creative writing, and strong communication and leadership skills, I am confident that I will be able to positively contribute as a member of your professional writing team for the 301 Technical Writing class.

Recognizing the importance of writing in fostering an ability to explain and refine ideas to an audience, I completed extensive coursework in English literature and creative writing focused on approaches to literature, poetry, and new media. I acquired solid writing skills through examining literary elements in fictional works and developing and supporting argumentative positions. Although analyzing literature has been my central focus, I worked hard on developing an ability to write in different genres by writing original short stories, poetry and podcast scripts in my creative writing courses.

Through my experiences as an undergraduate summer student researcher at SickKids and co-op student at Amgen, I developed solid verbal communication skills through collaborating with scientists in my department and presenting my work in group meetings and conferences. Notably, during my term at SickKids, I was among the top seven students in the SickKids Summer Research Program selected for oral presentations at the SickKids Summer Research Symposium Day.

Furthermore, in my volunteer role as a committee member of the Greater Vancouver Regional Science Fair (GVRSF), I worked extensively to lead fundraising campaigns and build solid partnerships with sponsors to raise over $50,000 to support the annual regional science fair. In close collaboration with other committee members of GVRSF and UBC Faculty of Science Office of the Dean administration staff, I also assisted in coordinating student activities and UBC Lab Tours for over 300 students attending GVRSF.

I highly believe in learning in a collaborative environment. At the core of learning is the process of reviewing, refining and reflecting, which are areas I often overlook and aim to improve on. With my English and creative writing background and proven communication and leadership skills, I believe that I will be able to work effectively in your professional writing team in developing technical writing skills.

Thank you so much for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Sincerely,

Janice Pang

Enclosure: 301 Janice Pang Application Letter