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Foundations for Academic Success Track

Ainsley Mandell, “The Commonplace Book”


Ainsley Mandell is being recognized for her skill in reflective writing. Students in FASTrack writing courses create a reflective blog, called their commonplace book, where they think about their experiences reading, writing, and researching, connecting writing class with both their academic and personal lives. In her commonplace book, Mandell consistently writes about her insight regarding how to apply learning from one experience to another seemingly disparate experience. She makes connections with her experiences and frequently expresses how she can apply concepts from one class to another class and even extends this further by connecting her past and future selves. These connections reveal a student in the process of constructing a strong identity as a college-educated individual.

In this entry, Mandell reflects on connections:

Daily Write #10: Connect Your World April 21st, 2017

I think a lot of times in this class we reflect on our assignments and see what we could have done better or notice what we did well. This has connected to my other classes and my life in general because it has made me more willing to stop and look back at all of my other assignments in my classes and see how they could have been improved and what I did well. For example, in my philosophy class we have writing assignments due almost every week and because I am used to reflecting on my assignments in this class, I tend to read over my writing assignments when I get them back in philosophy and see what I could have done better to get a better grade. I also reflect back on my tests in biology and see the questions I got wrong and try and figure out why I put the answer that I did and how I could have prepared myself better for the test so that I would get a better grade. Overall, having to reflect on our papers and assignments in this class has carried over to my other classes and made me think about how I could be a better student and how I could improve my grades in all of my classes.

Here Mandell reflects on her critical thinking skills:

Critical Thinking and You

A situation in which I demonstrated critical thinking was when I had a conversation with a friend from high school. I went to high school in Texas, which I have noticed since coming to school here, that my high school was more diverse than Ole Miss. One of my friends was telling me about how her parents came to the United States illegally and that they still don’t have their citizenship. When we were talking about where we wanted to go to college she told me that she considered going to school in Mexico once we graduated. For me, that didn’t make any sense because the idea of going somewhere out of the country for school never even crossed my mind. But after I thought about it from her point of view I was able to understand her reasoning. Her mom had gone to school in Mexico and she had several family members that were still living in Mexico. At first, understanding what she was thinking about was difficult but after putting myself in her shoes, I was able to see her point of view on the whole situation.

On the other hand, another situation in which I failed to think critically was when my friend from home said that her parents would not let her go to college out of state. I didn’t understand why her parents would say no to something that could expand her horizons and allow her to see a different part of the country. I was unable to see her parents point of view on the situation because my mom always told me that I shouldn’t be influenced by her opinion of schools and that I should do what I believed was best for me. In my opinion, going out of state and far away from home was going to make me grow up and become more mature, so it seemed like the best option. I never really took the time to think about the fact that her parents might not want her to go out of state due to financial issues. In the future I would definitely look at things differently. I would take time to think about all of the different reasons why going to an in state school made the most sense for her family.