Your final reflection for the course is a bit different from previous reading reflections.
I’d like you to write a ~800-word description of YOUR LEARNING EXPERIENCE for the course as a whole. Which topics or ideas will stick with you? Which were not worth the trouble? What did you get interested in that we didn’t do enough with? When were you most and least excited about the material? How might you use the skills and approaches we learned in the course outside of anything related to history? Or do you think that’s impossible?
These are highly subjective essays and that’s precisely the point—I want to know about YOUR learning experience, not what you think the Standard Learning Experience should have been. Please DO NOT provide a recitation of course topics and themes—I already know what we covered—I want to know what the course was like for you.
This assignment serves three purposes that I see as equally important.
One is rooted in a desire to get a better understanding of what you’re taking away from the course outside your previous reflections—and to help boost your grade accordingly (see grading section below). Your historiographical essays hint at this as well, but those are obviously more directed toward a specific topic and don’t allow you to fully show off what you’ve learned from the course as a whole.
Another is rooted in my belief that there is real educational value in thinking back through an entire course and articulating your experience with it (obviously the Metahistory assignment is more about content than experience).
The last is rooted in a selfish effort to improve the course. I’m well aware that some topics/readings/assignments/discussions worked reasonably well and others not so much. Explaining WHY certain aspects of the course did did or did not work for YOU is great way of doing well on this last reflection. But please be sure you’re being as specific as possible, and not just saying you liked or didn’t like something (since that doesn’t suggest what kind of changes to the course might be useful).
This final reflection, however you decide to write it, is one last opportunity for a grade boost. In reality, your grade is mostly determined at this point in the semester, so this last assignment is more a grade tweak than anything else.
Basically, if you’re on the bubble between two grades (usually A / A- or B+ / A-), a thoughtful reflection gets you the higher grade. A fairly superficial reflection, but clearly with some effort behind it, doesn’t really affect your grade one way or the other. Not doing the assignment or making an obviously minimal effort can lower your grade one notch (A to A-).
In short, a reasonable effort ensures that you at least keep whatever grade you have, and a strong effort makes an argument why you should go up to the next grade. Students have raised their grade from solid A to an A+ with a strong final reflection.