My initial learning goal for this Popular Culture class was to learn how to communicate more effectively with others through my writing. I used to be that person where I would respond to comments and discussion posts with general comments and not actually give any sort of useful feedback. During week two discussions I had posted, “For me I think that writing would be one of my greatest strengths. To me writing is more effective because I have always been a quiet person, so being able to write things down is a great way for me to get out all of my opinions and ideas. As a person who likes to write things down rather than communicate verbally, I still feel that I am striving everyday to better my writing skills. Throughout this term I have the opportunity to work on improving my writing with the mirror essay and discussion posts. I feel that by improving my writing skills, it will help me effectively communicate with my classmates in discussions.” Even though I really like to write things down, I still find that I sometimes struggle with my writing. One of my biggest issues was coming up with a thesis for my mirror blog post but with the workshop that we did, it really helped me to be able to formulate a thesis statement easily.

During the week two discussion post, I had also said, “As for communication ground rules, I feel that constructive criticism/helpful feedback, clear and consistent communication is key to group work. General comments that agree or disagree should have something to back up and explain why you agree or not. Posts should also be clear and engaging, allowing readers to ask questions and give useful feedback.” I feel like everyone else in my group were following our ground rules that we had set. Everyone was providing helpful feedback and asking questions either during discussion posts or during our peer reviews. I found this to be incredible helpful to hear feedback, especially when writing up my mirror post draft. Throughout the term, I found that consistent communication with my group was one of my strengths that I’m beginning to develop. I can see this strength as something I can carry throughout my education. Clear and consistent communication and feedback I feel helps everyone in the group achieve great work whether it be in essays or in real life.

As for Challenges, I think for me in the beginning of the term I found it really easy for myself to stay on top of the lecture comments, Posting thoughtful comments on time. But as we neared the end of the term I found myself kind of slipping. I’ve been taking on a lot of things in my personal life, and things got pretty overwhelming. I noticed that I would wait until the late evening to even look at the lectures and post my comments. I found that my posts weren’t all that engaging and that I was just posting just for the sake of having a comment on the lecture. I also found that I wasn’t responding to other’s blog posts as well and it’s a bad feeling when I know I should’ve responded to comments with thoughtful responses and I didn’t.

A role that I improved in is the reviewer role. I used to be someone who would give nice reviews on other student’s essays because I was afraid of hurting feelings or because I felt like I wasn’t all that knowledgeable to give a proper review on that subject. With the two peer reviews that I did this term for Vanessa and Aubree, I felt I was prepared to give a review because Daneen had posted a peer review example and it helped me to write a good review with questions and clarifications for both my group members. For example, I had written in my review for Vanessa, “ A couple of questions came to mind as I was reading through your draft. First, Why do you think Asians are portrayed in this way? And why do you think that viewers are so easily influenced by these portrayals? Do you think it is because we rarely see Asians being represented in the media? Or do you think it is something else? I think that if you answered some of these questions in your draft, it would help you make a stronger point. In your first paragraph you stated, “As a second generation immigrant I always find myself lost of who am I, and what is my self-representation.” Could you elaborate more on this and give a few examples? There are some points in your draft where I get a bit lost and confused. I noticed that you mentioned the TV show All American Girl but then you don’t write anything more about it until the end of your draft. I think that if you had clear paragraphs analyzing each show like you did with Fresh Off The Boat, it would clear up some inconsistencies for your readers.” After writing reviews for Vanessa and Aubree, I now know that my reviews are helpful and thoughtful, not the typical “I liked reading your paper” with no questions or any other constructive criticism.

I had written on Aubree’s final post, “Hi Aubree! I really liked that to chose to write about how ballerinas are depicted in the media. I see this is something that is really important to you! I myself have fallen for the ballerina stereotype, I had grown up thinking that they are pretty, prim, and proper and that this is how all ballerinas acted. I had watched Black Swan before and had noticed that the film is sort of dark storyline wise, but also visually. After reading your post, I feel that this resonates a lot with the other depictions of ballerinas in the media. I feel that consumers of the media don’t know a whole lot about the other aspects of ballerinas, because this is all that they’re shown as. I really appreciate the fact that your post shows that there IS a different side, and that not all dancers are like that. Have a good summer!” I realize now that my reviews can be really helpful to someone who is revising their essay drafts and I will continue to have my reviews in the future be thoughtful and have helpful critiques.

Something I obtained from this course is the skill to critically think and analyze something that has been presented to me through the media. Prior to taking this course, I had not really paid attention to what was being presented to me in the media through things like ads in magazines and television, and how these messages that are being presented shape our culture. I also had not thought of how ads nowadays are getting harder and harder to spot, most of them being concealed as content on your social media timeline. I posted, “At first glance of this question, my initial reaction was “Oh heck yeah I’m aware of the difference between content and the ads I’m seeing”. But upon further thinking, I have come to realize that ads are slowly becoming harder to spot because they can be concealed as any other content in your Facebook newsfeed, etc. For example, Instagram now does something sneaky and has ads that are integrated seamlessly into your feed, disguised as any other post making it harder to spot the ad unless you’re actually paying attention and not mindlessly scrolling through your Instagram. Sometimes I notice it and sometimes I don’t.” The week four lecture had helped me open my eyes on how to spot the difference between what is actually content and what are ads. I think the skill to be able to think critically and analyze a problem to situation that presents itself in the future is something that I will definitely apply to my future work as a physician when coming up with a diagnosis for my patients.