Your final course reflection should be ~1400 words long and cover the ENTIRE COURSE. You will make an argument for what letter grade you should get for the course and justify it by explaining what you’ve learned and the effort you put into the course.
The goal here is to describe your learning EXPERIENCE and to provide SPECIFIC EXAMPLES of what you’ve learned throughout the course, and why that justifies a particular grade. Big picture questions to keep in mind: How is your sense of food history different? How has your perspective on food changed? What kinds of questions might you continue to think about when it comes to food choice, identity, politics, etc.
To describe your learning experience is NOT THE SAME as summarizing or paraphrasing the syllabus. Illustrating how your awareness about food and food history has changed or describing why the readings failed to make an impact is much more personal and shows a much greater depth of learning than simply listing topics possibly can.
If you are describing your EXPERIENCE with the readings and the course overall, you’ll end up including plenty of information from the course. If all you do is summarize readings without including your reaction to them, describing how it changed your thinking, or why it didn’t (again, either is fine), I can only assume that you didn’t put in very much effort to learn anything.
This isn’t a writing class so you’re not getting evaluated on elegant prose. BUT, your writing must be clear enough that I can follow the thread of your argument. Your final reflection should be well thought out and carefully written, not a stream of consciousness off-the-cuff here’s-what-I-remember type thing. The quality of your final essay should be reflective of your effort to learn in the course. Even if you’re going for a C, this is your last chance to make sure you get at least that. You should invest a few hours time skimming through the readings again—not re-reading them—to remind yourself what you did, or maybe reading a little more of something you totally skimmed.
A ridiculously skeletal example (condensing a whole essay into a paragraph):
I think I earned a B+. I learned to think about X more carefully because of E. I realized I hadn’t ever thought about Y in terms of F before, but that it’s important because of Z. Those issues are also relevant to F and G, because of H and J. I also was really interested in reading about Q because of T; I liked how the reading on R made me think about U differently, even though that was contradicted by S. I enjoyed the readings A, B, and C because of X and Y, as they made me question assumptions M and N that I had initially. I disagreed with the D reading because of O and S. I disagreed with the B reading because of X, but liked how it described Z. I would have liked to spend more time with some of the topics, such as P, Q, and R, but I had to pick up extra shifts at work, so some of my reflections were a little thin on those days. I had a hard time following the lecture on F, so my quiz score was low, but I thought it was interesting how A and B from the lecture connected with M and N from the C and D readings. I thought the readings on J had some good ideas but I found the writing hard to follow (for example when the author discusses G), and so I didn’t incorporate them into my reflections. But I was really into J and K, and thought I wrote some of the more interesting posts of the class, particularly my analysis of G and H. I thought it was interesting how topics L and M from the first week intersected with T and U from the third week in the sense of P and Q.
Obviously you’ll have SIGNIFICANTLY more depth to your description in the sense that all the letters above will be well-explained and specific examples from the readings—and they won’t all be crammed into a single paragraph as I have done. What is one sentence above should be a whole paragraph in your reflection.
This is what separates excellent from mediocre reflections. To say that “I learned to think more critically about authenticity” is fine AS LONG AS you provide several SPECIFIC EXAMPLES of the issues that you think are important to think critically about and WHY. But if you just make a vague statement that you learned about a topic on the syllabus, and don’t provide any examples from the readings, I can only assume it’s because you didn’t read or learn very much.
The more you can tie themes together and speak about the course as a whole (while giving specific examples from the readings), the higher your score will be. You should absolutely use the quizzes and reflections to remind you of what you were thinking. But you need to go beyond these as well to reflect on the course as a whole.