Oklahoma State University, ENGL 1113: Composition I–Profile

Below appears an authoritative version of the guidelines for the Profile, superseding any previously published information regarding the assignment.


The First-Year Composition Program at Oklahoma State University describes the Profile as seeking “To continue to develop the ability to select and organize details in order to reveal an interesting topic, present a particular angle, and define a topic’s significance through the profile genre. To practice and develop interview and observation skills as appropriate research methodology. [sic].”

The program stipulates for the Profile that “students will select an individual, group, place, or event to observe and/or interview as appropriate to the assignment in order to write a 4-6 page profile. They will research appropriate background or context and develop the skills of selecting appropriate and interesting details. The essay will follow MLA conventions for font, page numbering, margins and title.”

Sections of the course taught by Prof. Elliott will need to complete a number of individual tasks to negotiate the assignment successfully:

Information about each follows, along with a copy of the grading rubric and notes.

Coordinate with and Interview the Subject

To help streamline the process of composing the Profile, the subject of the paper is being assigned. Tables 1 through 4 (the Fall 2015 versions of which have since been deleted to preserve student privacy against future terms), lay out, by section, who will be the subject of whose paper.

It will be necessary to meet with the assigned subject, as effective writing requires knowledge of the materials treated. Coordinate with the subject to establish appropriate meeting times; it is not likely that class time will be devoted to completion of the assignment, as other concerns will necessarily occupy assigned instructional time.

After an initial meeting, a potential angle—an overall impression to create about the subject—should begin to emerge. Draft a series of interview questions to elicit information from the subject that can be used to demonstrate that angle. A combination of closed-ended and open-ended questions will be of benefit, the former because of ease of interpretation, and the latter for the provision of additional—and sometimes unexpected—information. More specific questions will be of greater benefit than less specific, as their answers will tend to require less interpretive work than will broader questions. Asking after demographic data is a good beginning; other questions should point towards the angle being pursued in the paper.

Begin on the interviewing as soon as can be done. Early beginnings allow more time for completion, as well as more time for reflection and revision; each conduces to better performance on assigned tasks, which translates into better grades.

It may also be of benefit to interview others who have knowledge of the subject, although this is entirely optional. Observing the subject, however, is highly recommended; opportunities to do so outside of class time should be coordinated with the subject.

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Compose the Profile PV

After conducting the preliminary work to identify and gather information about the subject, draft an initial version of the Profile. Thinking of it as an essay with the angle as its thesis may be of help in the composition.

While the paper may follow any number of structures, it will benefit from opening with a name and description of the subject. Discussing the context in which the subject was encountered will likely be of benefit, as doing so will help the reader to understand the approach being taken towards the work. It may also lend itself towards an easy statement of the angle; again, thinking of the angle as a thesis to be proven in the rest of the essay may be of benefit.

The Profile that follows can be primarily narrative or primarily descriptive. A narrative approach will benefit from adhering to chronological order, recounting the process by which the writer learns enough about the subject to inform the angle and providing evidence along the way that supports that angle, explaining along the way. A descriptive approach will benefit from breaking the angle into component parts, offering evidence that conduces to each of those component parts, and explaining how it does so.

The Profile will also do well to conclude with some indication of what can be done now that the reader has the information provided. While moralization is not likely to be effective, some indication of what has been gained through carrying out the work of the Profile is likely to be of help.

It is not strictly necessary that the draft be the full required length of the Profile FV (four to six full pages, formatted appropriately, equivalent to some 1,400 to 2,100 words); it is assumed that the work is in progress. That said, a more complete draft is more desirable than a less complete one, largely in that it eases the later work that must be done and offers more opportunity for concrete improvement to the writing that is done. Please note also that the text composed in the draft may well need to change; keep in mind that it cannot get better without changing, and that all writing can be improved.

Please type the draft, either initially or as a later stage of composition, prior to class time on 18 September 2015. Please bring a typed and printed copy of that draft to class as the Profile PV on that day; class that day will concern itself with peer review, with students reading and commenting on one another’s papers. (Guidelines for how to do so will be provided.) This will allow students 1) access to other readers to help ensure comprehensibility of their narratives and 2) practice in reading and assessing written work, which they may then apply to their own writing moving forward.

A holistic minor assignment grade will be taken from the presence or absence of your Profile PV in class that day; the instructor will call for student drafts while peer review is in session during class that day. A reasonably complete or complete draft for the Profile PV will receive an A. One mostly in place but still lacking one or two major components will receive a B. One perhaps half-done will receive a C. One that lacks several major components will receive a D. One that is barely sketched-out will receive an F. Students who arrive in class without drafts will receive a zero for the minor assignment grade, as will those who fail to attend class that day (excepting those covered under class attendance policies expressed in the syllabus and detailed during class discussions).

Students are encouraged to consult with the instructor and with tutors in the Writing Center during the process of composing the Profile PV. No extra credit will be afforded to the project for doing so, but doing so is likely to improve the grade received and will likely be considered positively in the Prof score awarded at the end of the term.

It is possible to write a humorous or satirical Profile. This should not be done without the approval of the subject; s/he should know s/he will be a figure of fun in the project. The same overall guidelines otherwise apply.

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Revise the Profile PV into the Profile RV

Following peer review of the Profile PV, you are strongly encouraged to revise your draft in light of the comments made by your peer reviewer/s. Work from global issues—including clarity of the angle and effective support for it—to more local issues—such as how best to transition between each major part, how to transition from paragraph to paragraph and sentence to sentence, and how best to phrase for concision and emphasis. Only after all of that is done should there be any thought of checking and amending as appropriate the surface-level features of formatting, spelling, punctuation, and the like.

The draft that results from that process of revision, the Profile RV, should still have clear indications of the subject and the angle of approach, as well as well-explained evidence supporting the latter and a conclusion motioning toward implications of the supported angle. It does need to be at the full length of the assignment (four to six full pages, formatted appropriately, equivalent to some 1,400 to 2,100 words); even though it is still a work in progress, it should be nearing completion. It may still need to change, however, as all writing can be improved.

It is to the end of improving it yet further that the Profile RV is to be submitted to the instructor via D2L before the beginning of class time on 25 September 2015. It needs to be a .doc, .docx, or .rtf document, so that comments may be appended to it. A version of the form that will be returned to students along with the reviewed Profile RV appears below; assessment standards are outlined more thoroughly thereupon. A minor assignment grade will be taken therefrom. Ideally, the grade and comments will serve to motivate further improvement in advance of the final submission detailed below.

Students are encouraged to consult with the instructor and with tutors in the Writing Center during the process of developing the Profile RV. No extra credit will be afforded to the project for doing so, but doing so is likely to improve the grade received and will likely be considered positively in the Prof score awarded at the end of the term.

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Revise the Profile RV into the Profile FV

Once the Profile RV is returned—which will be via email through the D2L classlist—you are strongly encouraged to revise it in light of the comments made on it by the instructor. As with revising the Profile PV into the Profile RV, work from global issues—including clarity of the angle and effective support for it—to more local issues—such as how best to transition between each major part, how to transition from paragraph to paragraph and sentence to sentence, and how best to phrase for concision and emphasis. Only after all of that is done should there be any thought of checking and amending as appropriate the surface-level features of formatting, spelling, punctuation, and the like.

The draft that results from that process of revision, the Profile FV, should still have clear indications of the subject and the angle of approach, as well as well-explained evidence supporting the latter and a conclusion motioning toward implications of the supported angle. It does need to be at the full length of the assignment (four to six full pages, formatted appropriately, equivalent to some 1,400 to 2,100 words), since it is the final submission of the Profile project. While all writing can be improved, there comes a point at which the task of developing a piece of writing must be set aside in favor of other concerns; the Profile FV is that point for the Profile project.

It is in the interests of providing feedback with which to develop other writing that the Profile FV is to be submitted to the instructor via D2L before the beginning of class time on 2 October 2015. It needs to be a .doc, .docx, or .rtf document, so that comments may be appended to it. A version of the form that will be returned to students along with the reviewed Profile FV appears below; assessment standards are outlined more thoroughly thereupon. A major assignment grade worth 15% of the total course grade will be taken therefrom.

Students are encouraged to consult with the instructor and with tutors in the Writing Center during the process of developing the Profile FV. No extra credit will be afforded to the project for doing so, but doing so is likely to improve the grade received and will likely be considered positively in the Prof score awarded at the end of the term.

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Grading Rubric

Please find a copy of the grading rubric that will be applied to the Profile RV and the Profile FV here. Grading of the Profile PV is detailed above.

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Notes

Since the Profile will focus on another member of the class, it is possible that student withdrawals will prevent the original subject of the assignment from being treated. If your subject drops the class or is otherwise uncooperative, please inform the instructor so that appropriate other measures may be taken.

Aside from the examples of such pieces and similar pieces provided in the Norton, many examples of the kind of work to be done for the Profile project can be found among obituaries published by newspapers, as well as in the kinds of speeches given to introduce recipients of high awards. Examples can also be found through the instructor’s website, specifically http://goo.gl/z6yvWh, as well as at http://goo.gl/0yHzEe and here. Review of them is encouraged, as having models to follow tends to make work easier to do.

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Geoffrey B. Elliott
11 December 2015

Edited to remove student information at the conclusion of the Fall 2015 instructional term.

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