In this activity, best assigned within the first 2-3 days of the semester, students think about their past writing experiences and set goals for themselves for the coming semester. Instructors should think of this assignment as setting the tone for a semester of active metacognition, and as a precursor to the final portfolio or final reflective essay at the end of the semester. While all CAS WR classes, from WR 111 to WR 15x, should include some kind of a self-assessment at the beginning of the semester, instructors are free to vary this assignment to best suit their level, course topic, and teaching approch. 


To reflect on your past writing experiences; to practice metacognition (thinking about your learning process), which can help you deepen your understanding about what you’ve learned in the past; to set goals for yourself in this course; to prepare you for the reflection activities you’ll complete throughout the semester and the final portfolio or final reflective essay.

Key Terms

metacognition; reflections; self-assessment; goals


  • Reflect on your experiences and aspirations as a writer (approximately 250 words).
    1. Cite particular writing experiences you had before coming to this class.
    2. ​​​​Include passages from paper(s) or other example(s) of your writing before this class and refer to them in your self-assessment.
    3. Consider these questions, among others:
      • What positive writing experiences have you had, and what made them stand out?
      • What challenges have you faced as a reader and writer? 
  • Use your reflection on those past writing experiences to set goals for yourself in this course (approximately 100 words).
    1. What do you want to learn this semester, and why?
    2. How, specifically, do you expect to accomplish your goals?
    3. How do you think you’ll use writing skills in your academic and non-academic experiences beyond this class?


Instructors should feel free to take creative approaches to this assignment:

  • Some instructors require that this assignment be composed in a specific genre, perhaps one that students will be reading/interacting with and/or writing themselves later in the semester.
  • Other instructors (particularly, though not exclusively, at the WR 111/WR 112 level), ask that this assignment be submitted to them as an email, so that students can review or practice standard email conventions (appropriate greetings/signatures, informative subject headers, etc.) early on in the semester.
  • Some instructors use a pre- or post-writing discussion of the topics of the self-assessment in class, in pairs or small groups, by way of an icebreaker activity and to foreground the idea that the class will involve discussion of writing, as well as actual writing.

Many instructors do not provide the same level of feedback on this assignment as on major assignments in the course. Some instructors choose to discuss the self-assessment when conferencing with students on their first paper draft, while others might write brief content-based comments in the margins in order to begin a conversation with students about their writing.