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 Critical Thinking
 Critical Thinking
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Critical Thinking, Thoughtful Writing, Second Edition
John Chaffee et al.
Writing Projects
Chapter 2: An Experience that Affected a Belief

Write an essay telling of an experience that had an important impact on a belief that you held or hold. The belief might be about yourself, about another person involved in the experience, or about the issue that the experience illustrates. The experience may have helped form your belief, or it may have influenced you to change or revise it. Alternatively, you could describe an experience that deepened and strengthened an important belief of yours by testing it in trying circumstances.

You should explain your belief, of course, and describe the experience, reflecting on what happened as you tell of its effects. You will probably want to discuss the sources of the belief.


Audience: When you write about your experience, it is your job to make your reader feel as close to that experience as possible, even if it hasn't actually happened to him or her.

Subject: Your work will take the form of autobiographical narrative—that is, a story you write about yourself.

Writer: When you write about personal experience, remember that you are the authority and the expert, but remember to be clear as you write, since your reader will not be as close to the subject as you are.

Generating Ideas: Think about which of your personal experiences would be best to write about. Don't necessarily just choose the one that is most recent or that comes to mind first.

List here some personal experiences that you might write about, and indicate briefly how each one affected a belief. If you wish, e-mail the ideas to a classmate or the instructor for response.

Defining a Focus: In a few sentences, define the focus of your writing. A good practical tip is to write this focus on a 3 x 5 index card. Keep it within easy reference as you write. Every once in a while, take a look at your "Focus Card," and ask yourself whether you are still on topic. If you write at a computer, try taping the card to the side of the monitor.

Write out a possible focus here.

Organizing Ideas: Consider alternative ways to arrange the details you are going to use to narrate your experience. Remember that using chronological order is often, but not always, the most effective way to tell a story.

List a few different ways that you might organize your narrative.

Drafting: As you begin, make note of all your ideas. And keep writing, even if you aren't sure you will keep everything you get on paper. Revising and proofreading will come later. As you draft, consider how to best connect the "experience" part and the "belief" part of your narrative.

Revising: Peer review is a good way to get feedback on your work. Be sure to ask your peer reviewer whether they are understanding your experience in the way you had hoped. Revise accordingly.

Proofreading: Always proofread as the final step in the writing process. When you proofread, you are not exactly revising. Proofreading means looking for word, sentence and paragraph level errors in grammar and punctuation. Poor proofreading can have an very badly affect on your final wokr.

Submit your answers
Either print your answers out for submission or email them to your instructor.