The Learning Record

Student Exemplars


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Part A: Background

Part A provides information about the student's experiences and background in reading, writing, speaking and listening, and technology prior to the class. This information comes from two sources: an interview with the student's parent, past teacher, or other person who knows the student well (Part A.1), and the student him or herself (Part A.2). Typically this part of the record is assigned and completed within the first week or two of class. This helps establish the student's "starting point" for development over the course of the class. The two sections of part A should be brief summaries, rather than long narrative accounts, no more than one-half to one page each. Here are some examples:

Part A.1

Example 1: Interview with mother:

L. does not have a very diverse background when it comes to reading, but he does have his favorites. He enjoys books made from movies, such as 'Jurassic Park'. He also enjoys horror by Stephen King and Dean Koontz. At his bartending job, he loves to read up on beer trivia and tastes, in order to benefit his guests. L. does not enjoy writing that much but he has shown me that he can write very well when he tries. From small poems and letters to past assignments and creative writing, he can do some very nice things on paper. Here is L's forte. He is very interested in technology and its advancements. From basic electronics to high-tech computers, L. knows something about it, if not everything about it. He enjoys to show and teach his friends and coworkers the thing that modern man is doing in today's world.

Example 2:

INTERVIEW WITH M. M. (my father)

I have lived in three different countries; Pakistan, Libya and America. Therefore, I have come across people of different cultures and have seen the social system of various places ,which has given me a broad exposure.

I started going to Pakistani school in Libya. I started learning English as a second language from first grade. Literature taught in English classes was primarily British. I grew up reading Gulliver's adventures, Tom Sawyer etc. However, starting from sixth grade I got interested in Urdu (native language of Pakistan) literature and almost completely gave up English. In addition to English, I also learned to read and write Arabic for religious purposes, But don't really understand it.

In eighth grade I moved back to Pakistan, and lived there for about three years.English literature taught in Pakistan was very basic and therefore wasn't very helpful in developing my skills as English reader or writer.

First time I was exposed to American literature was when I moved to America during the Gulf War and started going to high school. In terms of reading and writing I didn't have significant problems but speaking English was a major problem because I had never spoken English before. Last five years, while studying in America should have affected the way I think and perceive things the most. Education system here is pretty good. That has given me a good start to acquire necessary skills in reading and writing and making opinions about the issues . However, my exposure to things other than course work e.g. religious studies, magazines and newspaper about current affairs etc., is limited. To improve myself: I should find time to study beyond the required class work, try to be aware of the changing trends both in my professional and social surroundings around me. I should regularly follow issues of my interest through news papers, through latest books, and through discussion in broadcast media.

Part A.2

I was always the one in the family who knew how to program the VCR and set its clock; consequently, my dad thought that I was a technological genius, and urged me down the path to nerdness at every turn. Our first computer was a Texas Instruments. I forget the model number. I would write 100-line monsters in BASIC and cry when I had to turn off the computer, because it didn't have a disk drive. Then we got an Apple IIc. I'd sit around typing in AppleSoft BASIC programs when my dad was around, and play Pinball Construction Set and Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy when he wasn't. By high school that computer wasn't sexy anymore, and we bought a 386. This was a brilliant purchase, because it had something the previous two computers did not--a modem. We got a Prodigy account, and soon I was spending every afternoon on the music boards discussing indie rock and building friendships with faceless strangers all over the country. When I came to UT in the fall of 1993, I was eager to get internet access. One of the first things I did when I figured out SLIP was to download Doom--I forgot about the internet for a while. Doom eventually got old, and I began to familiarize myself with various aspects of the internet: usenet, the worldwide web, e-mail, and mailing lists. I've used IRC once, also; I spent the time antagonizing the chatters on #limbaugh. It was good, malicious fun, but I don't generally like to hurt people's feelings.

Despite my appreciation of the computer, my main interests are in liberal arts, specifically literature and creative writing. I'm an avid, albeit slow, reader, and I love to write, albeit slowly. I spent some time writing for my high school newspaper, and English teachers loved me and I loved them. Had I followed my non-technological interests from the onset of college, my GPA might be more impressive today, but my dad somehow convinced me that it was in my interest to someday have a job. I spent a year in electrical engineering and a semester in computer science. The classes varied from painfully dull to woefully confusing, and most disconcertingly, so were my classmates. Every CS major I met loved They Might Be Giants. I hate They Might Be Giants. I just do. During my semester in CS, the only A I made was in E316K: Masterworks of British Literature. I knew plenty of English majors with reasonably good taste in music. These two factors made it clear what I had to do, and I changed my major to English. And here I am.

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