English Senior Exercises

Senior Exercises (ENGL 405) is a one-credit capstone course English majors take the spring semester of their senior year. Designed to allow graduating seniors to demonstrate their mastery of foundational concepts and skills in the major, English 405 includes the following "exercises":

  1. Preparation of the Senior E-Portfolio
  2. An oral presentation at the Senior Symposium
  3. The Senior Assessment Survey (to be completed in the final two weeks of the course - ungraded)
  4. Completion of the Colloquium Requirement: Attendance at two colloquia is required by the end of spring semester senior year. Students who fail to attend two colloquia will have their ENGL 405 grade dropped a third of a grade for each colloquium short of the requirement. Check in with Christina Reynolds, the English Department’s administrative assistant, at any time about your current number of credits.

Course outcomes for English Senior Exercises
Students completing ENGL 405 will:

  • Reflect on their experience in the major and articulate how they can most usefully frame this experience for their future endeavors (Portfolio)
  • Explain how they achieved departmental learning outcomes (Portfolio)
  • Assess their own learning achievements and outcomes (Portfolio/Senior Survey)
  • Present their senior tutorial or honors thesis research and be able to answer questions about this directed research from faculty and student attendees (Senior Symposium Presentation)
  • Offer advice to the department on the major as a whole - what's working, what changes might help students better achieve our goals (Senior Survey)

Class meetings are scheduled by the instructor: Spring 2024 instructor is Dr. Cynthia Richards.

The E-Portfolio

The Senior E-Portfolio will include the following:

  • A brief (2-3 pages) description of the portfolio, including a list of the English courses you have taken (number, title, semester, professor) and an explanation of why you chose each of the pieces you have included.
  • Vita or resume (we will have a workshop to help you shape this)
  • A paper from an English class that best demonstrates your critical thinking and research skills
  • A paper from an English class that best demonstrates historical and social context skills
    • N.B. You must identify one of the above two papers to represent your close-reading skills. Be sure to identify which one you wish to be assessed on this criterion and which passages you wish the reader to specifically attend to.
  • A paper, preferably from an English class, that best demonstrates your ability to write in varied forms and for varied audiences
  • Letter (2-3 pages) describing the value of the major. This letter can take a variety of forms and can be addressed to a variety of audiences. The following are some examples of the direction you can take in this letter, by addressing it to:
    • a future employer - identify skills and aptitudes acquired in the major
    • a graduate school - identify courses that have prepared you for further study
    • your parents - identify why the English major was the right major for you
    • a prospective English major - identify what they will learn in the major and its value

The portfolio will be submitted and stored electronically for purposes of departmental assessment and for future reference as needed (future letters of recommendation, for instance).

The Senior Symposium

On Friday, April 19, 2024 in Blair 101, senior English majors will each give a 20-minute oral presentation based on either their thesis in progress in ENGL 404 or their honors thesis. The audience for each presentation will be a panel of three Wittenberg English professors, at least two other seniors who are also presenting during their session, and any other Wittenberg students who would like to attend. We assume that all senior English majors will be in attendance at panels other than their own. Majors can earn up to two colloquium credits for attending full sessions, one for each session of three presentations attended.

The faculty panel will have a chance to ask questions after the presentation and discuss ideas and reactions with the student presenter before assigning a grade. 


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