Diagnostic Essay

English 213 Diagnostic Essay: Technological Autobiography

(Worth 5% of your grade)


Read these instructions completely before you start writing. For your first assignment in English 213, I’d like you to compose an autobiographical essay, in which you describe the experiences you’ve had with computers and communication. You should trace some important aspect of your interaction with technology, as well as provide me with some idea of the current state of your computer skills.

As you begin drafting your document, you may want to use the following prompts to guide your discussion:

  • How would you rate yourself as a computer user?
  • What are your earliest memories of using a computer?
  • How has your use of computers changed or evolved since you first began using them?
  • What kind of computer system do you normally use (Mac, PC, Linux, etc.)? Why?
  • What do you normally use the computer for (writing papers, e-mail, Web, games, etc.)?
  • How much time do you spend in front of a computer in an average week?
  • What is your experience using the internet? What are your general impressions of the internet?
  • How often do you use E-mail and to whom do you normally write? family? friends? teachers?
  • Which word processor do you normally use to write papers? If you use Microsoft Word, have you ever or do you frequently define styles to use for formatting your work? Have you ever or do you frequently use the annotation or tracking functions for text editing or peer review in class?
  • Have you ever used PowerPoint? Photoshop? If so, for what sorts of things?
  • Have you ever used a document design program (like InDesign, Publisher, or Quark)? If so, for what task?
  • Have you ever created and published a web page? When? Why?
  • Why are you taking this class?

Assignment Details

Please answer the questions in paragraph style, using complete sentences, not as separate numbered or bulleted items. Be aware of the flow of your words as well as your content; make the text hang together like a real essay. Your essay does not need to answer all of the questions; in fact, your essay may be stronger if you focus on one or two ideas rather than trying to respond to everything. Most importantly, your essay should tell a story that engages the reader.

Your finished essay should be 2-3 pages (double-spaced). When you finish your essay, proofread it for grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors. Then save your document as “Full Name Diagnostic Essay.doc” (for instance, my file would be named “Quinn Warnick Diagnostic Essay.doc”) and upload it to the course website by midnight on Friday, August 29.

Evaluation Criteria

Your essay will be evaluated based on how well it:
  • follows a logical organizational pattern.
  • makes specific references to your personal experiences with technology.
  • engages the reader by telling a compelling story.
  • adheres to the conventions of standard written English (grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc.).