Portfolio letter

Dear Portfolio Committee,

During the ten weeks of UWP study, I made big progresses in all aspects of reading and writing skills. Thanks to my instructor’s patience and careful teaching and instructing, I really gained a lot that is useful in all of my future studying. I used to be a problematic English writer. I had a lot of issues in both organization and grammar. I could not say I can do all things well now, but I can confirm that this class assisted me to develop a lot that I can do far better than I could do before.

It was difficult for me to write papers in different genres and keep interactions with my audiences. During this quarter’s lectures and practices of papers, I’m now familiar with a new genre: newspaper and know a little about how to write a simple research summary. I know clearly about how to organize different structures of different genres and change tones when I have distinctive audiences. The interactions with my audiences was actually a part I neglected in the past. In all the essays practice, my instructor’s emphasis of the audience brought me attention to this aspect. I started to keep this goal in my mind that made my paper more convincing and thorough.

Grammar is also an area that I improved a lot. Before I took this class, It was easy for me to make mistakes in verb tense, transition and sentence structure. These were my biggest problems that confused me for a long time. For example, my examples in other readings used to be full of verb tense mistakes that I wrote “ I saw two girls who are confused about my appearance.” These were the mistakes I knew how to correct, but hard to find out by myself in the first draft. Besides, I used to use “so, but” at the beginning of my sentences. I then found they were totally wrong after my instructor highlighted all my “so” in a paper. This class effectively reminded me of the importance of those transition words that I did not notice before. Time writing was the most useful project to improve my grammar, since it could always reflected our common mistakes and mistakes we most easily to make in the midterm and final. When my instructor highlighted those errors for me, I could check whether I made those kinds of mistakes unintentionally or I really did not know principle of that kind of grammar. I could then decide to ask my instructor how to correct or remember those errors in order not make same mistakes next time.

This class is extremely useful for me to utilize all the knowledge I learned from this in the future courses and studies. As an international student, writing essays in some academic areas is always the most difficult thing. I could not express all my thoughts in appropriate ways that made my essays become hard to understand. After the frequent and long time practices in writing and reading during this class, I can make some improvement in most of my courses. Like in a sociology class, it requires a large amount of reading. I can then use the ways that my instructor asked us to read articles and finish homework: raise some questions by myself before reading and carefully finding relevant answers. Summarizing a little will also assist me to save more time and catch all details. Besides, I can keep doing vocabulary journal when I read those articles where I could check all the words again and gain new vocabularies; the speed in reading will also be improved. Also when I am asked to write some research paper, I can effectively use the ways taught by UWP instructor about how to raise questions, interview a person effectively and make a thoroughly summary. I will no longer be unfamiliar with things that will be required in those major class.

I’m really appreciate ten weeks studies. Grammar is a part I have to improve more in my future study to reduce the errors in first drafts. Besides, I have to do more summaries that will make to easier to express my or others’ thoughts more concisely. As an writer, UWP 23 class effectively assisted me to become more comprehensive and skillful that I start to develop more own methods and thoughts when write an essay. I’m now become more confident and proficient when I am asked to write papers in my major classes. I hope you can see my progresses through my works and I am really appreciate your patient reading. Thank you so much.

Sincerely,

Wenjing Liu

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Final Exam

Wenjing liu

UWP 23

      Using Standardize Test to Value Teachers Reduces the Quality of Education?

Standardized tests are prevalent in today’s education to check out students’ performances during their studies. These tests seem equal and authorized that can represent precise results of student studies’ status, and more and more government and people start to use these tests’ results to judge whether a teacher is good or bad. The author Marcus Winter pointed out that the standardized test have “limitations” in “measure” students’ learning results and teacher’s full teaching qualities, but it still useful in evaluating teachers that it can reflect the drawbacks of their teaching to some extent. I disagree with the author. I think that the standardized test can not be used to value a teacher since all the contents of the tests can not always correspond with the knowledge teachers teach their students. Using these results to value teachers even push them to teach their students in a wrong way.

Some people suggest that “ Standardized tests monitor how well the process [ of teaching and learning] going on” (Strauss, 2014). It seems correct, but “standardized achievement tests will always contain many items that are not aligned with what’s emphasized instructionally in a particular setting” (Popham, 1999). These difference will them largely affect the qualities of results of the tests. Different teachers may have different “ preferences” and curriculum settings during their teaching process. School in different areas and nations also set different subjects and distribute distinctive textbooks, but the standardize tests are always same to everyone. As a result, students who receive relative curriculum will then do better job than students whose teachers do not have emphasis in this area do.

For example, I used to study in a foreign languages primary school, which set more English classes than other common primary schools did. We had more difficult English textbooks, spent more time on practicing our English skills and had Native American teachers to teach. These were the things that had never happened in a Chinese normal primary school before. There were also some primary schools did not set English class at that time in my city since they thought English course was not necessary. As a result, our performances in English tests were always the first in ranking; those students who did not have English courses had poor performances. Did this results precisely reflected those teachers quality and effectiveness? The answer is definitely not. It can only show that teachers’ ways and contents of curriculums changed when schools had different requirements of various courses, it the led the results changed since students receive distinctive eductions. However, it can not show whether these teachers are valuable or not.

Winters also asserted that “we should use [standardized tests] to improve our terribly flawed system for evaluating teachers”. (Winters, 2012).He suggested these results could effectively reflect teachers’ drawbacks of their teaching and then, they can make efforts to develop. However, in my opinion this function is useless. The prevalence of standardize test evaluation gives teachers too much pressure that push them to teacher just in order to create a better score. Instead of making efforts to develop a interesting and high quality education, teachers pay more attention to “simply guessing what’s probably going to be on the test” (Strauss, 2014).

For example, when I prepared TOFLE test in China, I found a lot of predictions of the tests’ contents by my teachers. Most of the curriculums were about topics and examples would probably appear in the test. We recited those examples and topics and skillfully used them in the tests. Finally we received high scores, but knowledge we received from our teachers did not really improve my English skills. That is because those teachers have too much expectations of our scores since the most important thing to value them is our scores. Teachers who had a student that had a higher score in those tests will more likely to be hired and receive higher salaries, so they all blindly try efforts to increase the score under this pressure, but miss the part that are really precious and useful for students.

Way to evaluate a teacher is still a part that we have to do more to find out, but it will never correct to use standardize test. There are too many reasons that will affect the results. The correspondence of teachers’ curriculum preferences and test content is the biggest part to affect it , but not the only. If governments and people continue to evaluating a teacher like this, they will loose more and more valuable teachers. The qualities of educations will also reduced.

Paper 4 Final Draft

Wenjing Liu

Plan For College

University life is a new start for students. During the process of freshmen fitting into this new environment, they will definitely face a lot of problems and troubles. Unlike when they were in high schools, they will have more courses to choose and take, more decisions to consider, and more skills to develop. When freshmen experience these things, most of them are excited and feel competent. However, the results are not always what they expect. They will gradually find their lives are in chaos since they lack different kinds of plans. As a freshman at UC Davis, I have learned that the lack of long-term studying plans causes students to choose courses blindly and waste precious time and the absence of short-term plans affects their work and exam performance.

Freshmen often take unnecessary courses in the first year when they do not consider long-term study plans. This trivial choice of courses will then affect their whole coursework and career progress to some extent. One common phenomenon is that some students would like to blindly choose courses just to follow their friends since they are lost from the various choices. They do not have long-term goals for four years, sometimes because they are not sure about their majors. Although it is correct for students to explore their true interests in the first year, and even the second year, “many students find themselves [wanting to obtain] two college majors, a minor, or a certificate that may help them later in their careers” (Webb, n. d.), but they should at least have a range of subjects and orientations about what majors to choose when they register for classes, otherwise, they will waste time and have difficulties obtaining their career goal.

For example, a sophomore at UC Davis pouted and said, “The most regretful thing in these two years was I did not do a study plan earlier” when I asked her the importance of a long-term plan for freshmen. Hu decided to double major in both Computer Science and Managerial Economics just in the second quarter of her sophomore year. As I mentioned before, most students think it is normal and not late to choose majors in the second year. However, this affected Hu a lot because the courses she has to take for her double major are too many to finish just in the next three years, even if she takes summer sessions. She said: “I wasted too much time and chances in the first year. If I thought about these kinds of questions earlier, I would have enough time to double major.” Also, the courses she has to take for each quarter are over her ability, so she cannot guarantee a high GPA. She is burdened this quarter and finally decided to take one more year to realize her object. This example shows you will face a severe situation if you do not consider a long term goal earlier. 

Time in the university is really short and precious. You have to carefully consider the goal you want to reach. “A study plan is an effective way to help you navigate through your college education in an organized way” (Create a Study Plan, n. d.). If you have a barricade in setting a long-term goal, such as you are confused about the majors, you need to at least choose one or two areas and take relatively basic courses since you have limited time to try different courses and make a decision. If you are not sure if you want to study in Nutrition or Food Science, you can take Chemistry courses first since Chemistry is the required basic course for both majors. Also, plan a deadline to decide on your major and then, reconsider your plan seriously.

Most students face a serious problem with managing their time when they lack short-term study plans. College requires students to have strong abilities of studying because of different due days of homework and exams. When some freshmen first use this new system, it is hard for them to manage their time and easily get left behind. Some mistakes will lead to serious results, such as leaving the professor with a bad impression and getting low scores on tests and assignments; Some students do assignments just several hours before the due date, which largely decreases the quality of work and sometimes even makes students miss some assignments. Some students will then fail courses when this bad habit forms. I experienced this severe problem last quarter that I failed one course because I was late on two major assignments. Life in the first quarter is really fast that it was over my expectations. There were so many midterms and papers that crashed on me that made me could not breathe. I did not find how serious these due days were until I was late on one major assignment, which then reduced twenty percent of my total score. Since I did not do any plan for every day or week work, I tried to keep all the schedule work in my mind, but I usually missed some of them since there was no reminder.

At this time, short-term study plans are especially crucial for students’ daily study. “One goal is to help yourself become aware of how you use your times as one resource in organizing, prioritizing, and succeeding in your studies” (Time Management, n. d.). Here are some solutions mentioned by one of my interviewers Kristine. She is a freshman at UC Davis who had a 4.0 GPA in the first quarter. She told me the most helpful thing to stay in a good academic status is keeping set weekly plans. There are only two steps for setting a plan. Firstly, set a rough plan for this week by checking the syllabus and courses’ calendars. You could know some crucial tasks in this week, such as midterms and major papers’ due dates. You can then plan enough time to prepare for these tasks. Secondly, update the plan every day when you find some changes. These changes could be the changes of original tasks and new tasks need to be added. After you keep doing this every week, you can easily keep your study progress in control every time. All things you have to do in the correct time will be clearly shown in your plan view.

The lack of plans is a really a big and serious problem that leads students to wrongly choose course and manage time. This problem seems small and usual, but will affect freshman a lot. When you are in the first year at UC Davis, you have to pay a lot of attention to your plans at the beginning of first quarter. Your blind choices of majors will slow your whole coursework progress or even more serious that you have to spend more time to realize your goal. Your feeble capability of managing time will also makes your life in chaos. After you read this article, make a plan as early as you can and persistently follow your plan during the whole study life, then you will find your study life is perfectly well-organized and you will feel at ease even when you are facing a lot of work.

Reference Page

“Create a Study Plan.” (n. d.). Retrieved from: http://www.howtostudy.com/create-a-study-plan/

“Time Management.” (n. d.). Retrieved from: http://www.studygs.net/timman.htm

Trisha, Webb. (n. d.). “To Declare or Not to Declare…That Is the Question.” Retrieved from: http://www.collegeview.com/articles/article/to-declare-or-not-to-declare-that-is-the-question

paper 1 final draft

Wenjing liu

Multiple Intelligences theory in Chinese educational system: More Possibilities?

Multiple Intelligences theory is a theory introduced by Howard Gardner that people should be valued by multiple intelligences rather than a single intelligence, since he believes everyone is smart, but that is smart reflected in various intelligence areas: Logical-mathematical, Linguistic, Musical, Spatial, Kinesthetic, Naturalistic, Existential, Interpersonal and Intrapersonal. This theory is widely utilized in a lot of American schools in recent years. Now, it is also crucial for China to incorporate it in Chinese educational system.

All students are born with own intelligences. They are all in distinctive personalities that have different interests and special ways to study. Therefore, A lot of American Schools develop methods to improve students’ various intelligences, such as set special classes for students dominate intelligences that are discovered by schools, trained professional teachers to develop all of those intelligences to make students become more comprehensive, or diversified ways to teach that allow students to develop the most suitable habit to learn. Compared with this kind of education, education in China is more inflexible and narrow. Chinese teachers are more inclined to force students to study in the same ways since there are too many students. However, these blind actions kill students’ multiple intelligences to some extent that make students miss their best study habits and become lost to find right positions in the future. Therefore putting MI theory into practices in Chinese educational system is definitely a good way to assist children in China to have more possibilities in different areas.

According to Howard Gardner intelligence decide people’s ways to deal with things, including the preference of studying. Hundreds of students may have hundreds of different proportions of these nine intelligences, so the preferences of learning undoubtedly will not be the same as others’. In this situation, children can only find their most suitable ways to learn that can exploit their advantages in the full extent. However Chinese teachers try to make their students to do the things they think are the best ways to study, but overlook individuals’ needs and distinctions, and this will probably make the students become uncomfortable and anxious of the class. The efficiencies and capabilities will also reduce at this time. Some of their intelligences will also be concealed.

For example, let’s look at the different attitudes between an American teacher and one of my Chinese teachers when they both asked students to write the outline of a paper. In reading “Inclusion and the Multiple Intelligences”, the author Jennifer Borek incorporated the multiple intelligences theory in her classes. She encouraged her students to choose their own ways to write an outline. The linguistic intelligence students could write poems, the spatial intelligence students could draw a picture to assist with writing, and the musical intelligence students could use lyrics to construct the essay. Consequently, those children might transfer their advantages in a special area into the works assigned by teachers, also daily works in the future.

However, my Chinese teacher always told us all the requirements and steps, even the model to write an outline before we started to do it, and everyone must follow those steps. Unfortunately, the teacher’s way was always not the most suitable way for all students since we all had distinctive intelligences. As a consequence, some original thoughts in our minds actually lost chances to develop when we used the teacher’s way. I could not write a good outline in the teacher’s way even though I made efforts, so I drew a picture on the sheet to assist me in considering the questions. My teacher immediately gave me a serious penalty and thought I was not hardworking when he found out I was drawing. However, the truth was this teacher did not understand my strong spatial intelligence. The only result was that I gradually lost this intelligence and became the same as other.

Therefore, in order to decrease the frequency of these kinds of mistakes in China, teachers need to change the stereotypes that value a student only in one intelligence. They should deeply know the MI theory and rationally use it in their own teaching system. After they could recognize and accept students’ own intelligences, students will more likely to form their habit in study and have better performance in study since they are utilize own goodness in maximum.

Additionally, the incorporation of MI theory in some primary or secondary schools will help students to find out their intelligence areas and interests earlier. The earlier they know their intelligences, the better they can develop in the future years. Also there are more possibilities to succeed. In China, most students learn knowledge, do homework and train only for tests. Not matter how smart they are, no matter how huge capacity their brains are, they think the only way to be successful is to get a high score. They also always feel lost when choose the majors and career to pursue. Myself is the best example that when I entered the university, I was confused about my major. Since I did not explore my intelligences before, I did not know things I was good at.

Are Chinese students born to have thoughts like these? The answer is definitely no! This miserable situation is caused by the ways teachers teach and the stiff Chinese educational system. If the teachers try to assist students in finding out their intelligences in their young ages, students will have opportunities to choose what they would like to do in the future. Instead of only studying for the tests, they can have larger achievement by combining their intelligences and useful efforts. They will not feel confused about the future since they know things they are good at and interested in.

The incorporation of the MI theory in the Chinese educational system is a big issue that Chinese teachers and Educational workers have to consider thoroughly. The fact that Chinese students lack comprehensive education makes the application of MI theory in China especially useful and crucial. Though it is a long road to go, it will finally have an actual and profound influence to the whole Chinese educational system and country. Students can form a variety of suitable methods to learn and test by their teachers’ incorporating the multi-intelligences into diverse curriculum and police. They will no longer just study for the test but have more aim to pursue.