Reflective and Critical Writing at Evergreen
Writing About Your Evergreen Education: An Introduction
Evergreen is unique as a college in that it uses a narrative system to assess student learning and achievement rather than letter grades. This narrative system features multiple formats for reflective writing. These formats are: Final Academic Statement, Annual Academic Statements, Self-Evaluations, Student Evaluations of Faculty, and Orientation Essay. They each have a specific audience, purpose, minimum and maximum length, and final deadline. All of the reflective writing you do at Evergreen will culminate in your Final Academic Statement, which is a final summary of your academic career at Evergreen.
Writing about your academic experiences will give you opportunities to gain self-awareness through reflecting on your learning. By writing reflectively about your academic interests, strengths, challenges, and triumphs—from your admissions process until you graduate—you will be able to document your evolution as a learner. And, while you build self-awareness through writing, your Faculty will also be able to gain insight into how to best offer you mentorship through reading your reflective writing on my.evergreen.edu.
Please refer to this table for quick answers to each document's purpose, intended audience, minimum and maximum length requirements, deadlines, and more. Reflective & Critical Writing for Undergraduates at Evergreen Table (PDF)
The Final Academic Statement
This statement of no more than 750 words must be turned in in order to graduate. The Final Academic Statement gives graduating seniors the opportunity to reflect on and communicate in writing their interpretation of their entire undergraduate education at Evergreen to an outside audience. This audience is comprised of anyone who requests your transcript, which can include future employers or graduate school admission boards. It is a formal document that should be written using a formal communication style—some look at it as the "cover letter" for you transcript as it is positioned after the College's description of itself as an institution and a listing of your course titles and credits, and before your Self- and Faculty-Evaluations. It is also a place for your readers to meet you, the subject of the rest of the transcript, in your own words.
Through reading your Academic Statement, your readers should be able to understand what was significant about your undergraduate education and in what ways you have grown through your academic experiences. Your readers should also be able to understand why you made the choices you made when you came to any important crossroads in your academic path. Some of your readers may not have read a narrative transcript before, and even if they have read them before, narrative transcripts are long and full of many details. Therefore, you might highlight connections between your programs that might not be obvious without special attention drawn to them.
Therefore, your Final Academic Statement should:
- explain the purpose and meaning of your learning experiences
- present a succinct overview of your educational experience and focus
- highlight important choices you've made and achievements you've accomplished
- describe yourself in the context of your academic focus (and the Six Expectations and Five Foci)
As in writing the Annual Academic Statement, in writing the Final Academic Statement you are encouraged to reflect on and communicate how you have navigated the choices presented by your undergraduate studies. You can draw on all of your previous reflective writing to support you in writing this summary. You will only turn in your Final Academic Statement once, by Friday, Week 10 of your graduating quarter.
To support students, Faculty in Fall Quarter programs of 8 credits or more offer 6 hours of in-class support in writing their annual revisions. Additionally, during Mentoring Day, hosted by the Mentor Council every Week 7, students can schedule one-on-one meetings with Faculty to review their Annual or Final Academic statements.
For more information about the Final Academic Statement’s requirements, process, and support, visit the Academic Statement website. For more on how to write your Final Academic Statement, visit Writing an Academic Statement. For information about how transcripts work at Evergreen, visit Registration and Records at Library 1101 at the Olympia Campus or read Hacking Your Transcript: How to Intentionally Shape Your Transcript So It Will Serve You - Caryn Dudley (former Writing Center tutor and administrator).
The Annual Academic Statement Revision
Annual Academic Statement Revisions give current students (first-year through Juniors) the opportunity to reflect on their learning over the course of the academic year. First-year, Sophomores, and Juniors are required to submit an the Annual Academic Statement once a year on Week 7 of Spring Quarter. (Seniors will submit a Final Academic Statement.) There is no minimum or maximum word limit.
As you pursue your undergraduate degree, you will come to several points where you will be making decisions. In writing an Annual Academic Statement, you are encouraged to reflect on and describe the choices you've made over the year, as they relate to your achievements, goals, struggles, and triumphs. You are encouraged to highlight patterns and trends you see in yourself as a learner as they have emerged over multiple quarters and possibly multiple areas of study, and describe how are intending to adapt your plans for the future. Once you have been enrolled for multiple years, can start to weave in how you've grown since your first year at Evergreen, and write on themes in your education that are present or changing from year to year.
Your Annual Statements can be written as one continuous document, where the statement you wrote during your first year at Evergreen remains in the document and you add on subsequent statements for following years, or your Annual Statements can be submitted as completely new drafts. In either case, it is important to reflect on your earlier statements, or your Orientation Essay in order to gain some perspective on how you are progressing. You can then:
- evaluate your progress towards your goals (using the Six Expectations and Five Foci)
- analyze your previously stated goals—are they relevant to you now?
- adapt your plans and goals to what you learned through your analysis
- identify academic and co-curricular opportunities that will help you meet your goals
You can use your Annual Statement(s) to support you in writing your Final Statement. Your future Faculty will be able to access your your Annual Academic statement revisions via my.evergreen.edu. They will use it to understand how to best mentor you when you are a student in their programs.
To support students in writing their annual revisions, Faculty in Fall Quarter programs of 8 credits or more offer 6 hours of in-class support. During Mentoring Day, hosted by the Mentor Council Week 7 of every quarter, students can schedule one-on-one meetings with Faculty to review their Annual or Final Academic statements.
Self-Evaluations give current students the opportunity to reflect on their learning in a particular program or course. They are due to your faculty at the end of every quarter. The recommended length is one single-spaced page for a 16-credit program and half a page for an 8-credit program. You may also submit your Self-Evaluations to your transcript. If you choose to include them in your transcript, they will be positioned side-by-side with your Faculty's evaluation of you for each program.
In writing Self-Evaluations, you are encouraged to:
- assess your performance within the program
- describe the significance of your learning
- present connections and themes within the program as they relate to your academic focus
Because faculty require Self-Evaluations are at the close of every program (8 credits or more), Self-Evaluations serve as frequent check-in points for your educational story. Your Self-Evaluations reflect where you in your thinking and what you are focused on as you complete one set of studies and prepare for another. You can use your Self-Evaluations to help you write your Annual and Final Academic Statements. Self-Evaluations can also provide supplemental information that was not included in your Faculty's evaluation of you. For example, if you undertook an Independent Learning Contract and did a large quantity of self-directed work, you are the most informed person on what you were learning from day-to-day. You may want to describe that work and what you learned through doing it in your Self-Evaluation to give the readers of your transcript a more thorough understanding of your achievements.
Student Evaluations of Faculty
Student Evaluations of Faculty give current students the opportunity to reflect on the ability of their Faculty to facilitate their learning within a particular program or course. Your evaluation of their work can help Faculty understand how to improve their techniques, material selection, and more. Faculty-Evaluations are also used to provide student feedback when Faculty are renewed for their contracts.
In writing an evaluation of your faculty, you are encouraged to:
- describe your faculty's ability to provide you with access to material that furthered your growth
- assess your faculty's ability to lead you to find connections and themes within the program
- present in what ways your faculty was able to mentor you to become a more skilled learner, writer, and thinker, etc.
Your Transcript and Your Academic Story
By the time you graduate, you will have co-constructed a detailed report with Faculty members you worked with on how you approach your life in learning: you will have generated evaluations of yourself (Self-Evaluations) evaluations of your faculty (Student Evaluations of Faculty) and your Faculty will have generated evaluations of you. You will have reflected on yourself as a learner at the transition points between programs and at the end of each Academic year (Annual Academic Statement Revisions).
For your final transcript, you will confirm the submission of your Self Evaluations and your Final Academic Statement to highlight how you have grown and how your academic journey has impacted you over time. Your Self-Evaluations and your Final Academic Statement join the evaluations that your Faculty have written about you to comprise your transcript, which will tell the story of your Academic career at Evergreen.
Read Hacking Your Transcript: How to Intentionally Shape Your Transcript So It Will Serve You - Caryn Dudley (former Writing Center tutor and administrator).