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Student Reflection and Critical Thinking: A Rhetorical Analysis of 88 Portfolio Cover Letters

Laurel L. Bower
Journal of Basic Writing
Vol. 22, No. 2 (FALL 2003), pp. 47-66
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/43443774
Page Count: 20
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Student Reflection and Critical Thinking: A Rhetorical Analysis of 88 Portfolio Cover Letters
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Abstract

This research is an analysis of 88 first-year portfolio cover letters from the Spring 2000 English 102 Program Assessment at the University of Nevada, Reno. This analysis focuses on what these students viewed as the rhetorical purposes of cover letters. The goal of this study was to apply the theories of Aristotle, Toulmin, and Burke to these letters to analyze their appellate, argumentative, and performative nature. The results of the study suggest that, while a majority of the student writers reviewed what they had learned, offered support for portfolio choices, and supplied information about learning, they did not often reach a level that demonstrated metacognitive ability by examining assumptions about writing and thinking. It is possible that the genre of the portfolio cover letter and its role in reflection need to be reexamined and redefined.

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