University of Massachusetts at Boston
College of Advancing and Professional Studies
Critical and Creative Thinking Program

Synthesis of Theory & Practice

CrCrTh 694
Spring 2013 Syllabus

Instructor: Peter Taylor, Critical & Creative Thinking Program
Email:; Phone: 617-287-7636
Office: Wheatley 2nd flr 157
Session Place & Time: W-2-157 or using WIMBA or skype for online students, Tuesdays--7-8pm (or at other time TBA) Writing support meetings with peers and/or participation in activities with CrCrTh692 course; 8.15-9.15pm, Writing workshop
Office Hours:, or by arrangement

Course description

This seminar provides participants with an opportunity to review and reflect on their work in their Master's program and its impact on their current and future professional and personal lives, through a final project that demonstrates knowledge and integration of skills, processes, and strategies of critical and creative thinking and reflective practice. To facilitate the formulation of a project and the synthesis of ideas, students meet weekly as a writing workshop as well as in small support groups to reflect and get feedback on their plans and writing. A project proposal must be approved before the semester starts. All projects are presented during the last three weeks.
(If you are a CCT or LTET student, the project is your capstone. Your paper and presentation will be evaluated by a reader from your program in addition to the CCT694 instructor.)

Prerequisites:Proposal for synthesis project submitted and approved before the semester starts.
For CCT students-Completion of CCT 692, Processes of Research and Engagement; No more than one incomplete left and not on academic probation.
For students from Learning, Teaching, and Educational Transformation (LTET) or other programs-Permission of the instructor.

Course webpages and bookmarks

bookmark these on the browser of each computer you use Table of Contents-sections to follow in syllabus:

Pointers about the preparation assumed for this course

Through your previous courses, you should have a toolbox of practices for research and writing, ranging from freewriting to annotated bibliographies (see list) and have established other research and study competencies. (Students not in CCT: consider taking CCT692 instead of 694 if your toolbox needs more development.) Through courses and other personal and professional experience you should have defined an issue that you now want to write about in a way that synthesizes theory and practice (both your own and that of other people). (Your understanding of the issue will evolve during your research and writing; that's expected and OK.)


Everyone has a voice that should be heard. Everyone can clarify and develop their thoughts through writing. Everyone needs support to express their voice in writing. Finding voice, clarifying and developing thoughts, and expressing voice in writing are on-going, lifelong endeavors. Nevertheless, preparing a completed synthesis-for-now to meet a defined target date is worthwhile, even when the product is much smaller in scope than originally envisaged. That is what we work on together in CCT694 for five months. We do this through the following frameworks and creative habits (explained later in the syllabus):

Frameworks Creative Habits [Omitted for Winter 2013: In order to complete the capstone by the end of the semester, students are expected to undertake at least six weeks of Daily writing and Weekly writing support meetings before the semester starts (as arranged in an initial class at the end of the previous semester). Short versions of Weekly writing workshops (by phone/skype conference call) and One-on-one conferences may also be arranged during that period.]

In addition, each student should establish personal support systems, which include: In case you need pressure to get you to establish creative habits and personal support systems, take note of the following procedures, deadlines, and consequences:

Course Objectives

Framework 1. By the end of the semester, the goal of the course is that you no longer need the input of an instructor or the structure of a course to initiate, plan, and carry through projects in your life involving research, writing, and outreach. You will have come to "take yourself seriously"-not in the sense of without humor, but in the sense of not relying on external directions to motivate or reward you. Such inner-directedness is described in the text by Palmer as "letting your life speak" or finding or acknowledging your vocation-but it is recognized that this goal may take more than one semester to achieve!

On a more prosaic level, by the end of the semester, for each of the goals listed below, students will be able to identify The goals are divided into two sets:
Framework 2. "My Project Product Shows That..."
(based on the Phases of Research and Engagement) Framework 3. Developing as a Reflective Practitioner, Including Taking Initiatives in and Through Relationships
(see also "Teaching/Learning for Reflective Practice")


Required: Recommended:


Project Options

The Synthesis project can take many forms, from the development of a traditional theoretical paper to a curriculum or professional development series, to the creation of a web site. One component of each option is a 20-40 page (4500-9000 word) paper. Grade for CCT694:
50% on the instructor's evaluation of the synthesis (incl. final capstone product, presentation, and self-assessment); 50% on the student's process, participation, and peer support efforts along the way.
(Note: Grade for the course is not the same as evaluation of the synthesis.)

Rubric for evaluation of the synthesis

For each item marked ... instructor and reader indicate: ** = "fulfilled very well"; * = "did an OK job, but room for more development/attention"; or - = "this needed a lot more development/attention"
30- to 60-minute oral presentation demonstrates how the student
... has, through a project in an area of their special interest, synthesized their practical and theoretical learning in critical thinking, creative thinking, and reflective practice.
... is able to facilitate new avenues of classroom, workplace, and public participation.
Written synthesis-technical matters
... Appropriate length (20-40 pages; 4500-9000 words).
... References complete, correct, and in a consistent format.
... Professionally presented, making no, or very few, errors in spelling and format.
Written synthesis shows that the student
... can convey clearly who they want to influence/affect concerning what (i.e., Subject, Audience, Purpose).
... knows what others have done before, either in the form of writing or action, that informs and connects with their project, and knows what others are doing now (i.e., "incorporates... references to relevant scholarly [and other] work in its field").
... has gained direct information, models, and experience not readily available from other sources.
... has clarified the overall progression or argument underlying their research and the written product (i.e., "incorporates an appropriate theoretical/conceptual framework").
... writes in a way that Grabs the attention of the readers/audience, Orients them, moves them along in Steps, so they appreciate the Position they've led them to.
... has facilitated new avenues of classroom, workplace, and public participation.
... has, in order to feed into their future learning and other work, taken stock of what has been working well and what needs changing.
... has integrated knowledge and perspectives from CCT and other courses into their own inquiry and engagement in social, educational, personal, or professional change (i.e., "demonstrates knowledge and integration of critical and creative thinking skills, processes and strategies").
... has also integrated into their own inquiry and engagement the processes, experiences, and struggles of previous courses.
Exit self-assessment shows
... student has noted for each of the 20 goals "a) something that reflects what you have achieved well related to this goal, and b) something you have struggled with/ need more help on/ want to work further on."
... deep reflection on student's development through the synthesis project and Program as a whole.

Count the number of stars and take the average for the two readers.
Pass with Distinction = 28 stars or more; Pass = 21-27 stars; Low Pass = 16-20 stars; Needs to be revised = less than 16 stars.

Multiply these stars by 50/32 to get points for first half of CCT694 grade. Second half of grade comes from:

Process, participation, and peer support efforts along the way

1 point for each Weekly update with 5-7 Daily writing sessions of 15-20 minutes each session
1 point for each Weekly writing meeting for support and feedback in groups of 3
1 point for each Submission of an installment every three weeks
1 point for each Weekly writing workshop attended
1 point for each One-on-one conference with the instructor, at least every three weeks.
1 point for each work-in-progress or practice presentation in front of peers
1 point for keeping track of these points and submitting the record during the last session
Sum * 9/8, up to a maximum of 50 points

Overall points are converted to letter grades as follows: The minimum grade for A is 95 points, for A- is 87.5, for B+ is 80, for B is 72.5; for B- is 65; for C+ is 57.5; and for C is 50 points.

ACCOMMODATIONS: Sections 504 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 offer guidelines for curriculum modifications and adaptations for students with documented disabilities. If applicable, students may obtain adaptation recommendations from the Ross Center (287-7430). The student must present these recommendations to each professor within a reasonable period, preferably by the end of the Drop/Add period.

Students are advised to retain a copy of this syllabus in their personal files.

This syllabus is subject to change, but workload expectations will not be increased after the semester starts.
Version 30 Jan. '13


For each session (or week) the meetings consist of: (If the Weekly writing support-feedback group meeting is not during the 7-8pm period, it may be arranged by students to follow directly after or before the Weekly workshop.)
At the same time, students are expected to do Daily writing 5-7 days per week.
[Not implemented in Winter 2013: In order to complete the capstone by the end of the semester, students are expected to get going on daily writing and weekly buddy trio writing meetings for at least 6 weeks before the semester starts. Short versions of the weekly writing workshop (by phone/skype conference call) and one-on-one conferences may also be arranged during that period.]

Daily writing: a practice of writing 15-30 minutes 5-7 days/week, logging time spent and number of new words written, and writing down, at the end, possible topics for future Daily writing. The logging should be reported weekly. (Note: posting of the actual writing is not expected.) New words is important--editing, revising, and filling in citations can be done at another time in the day. (Indeed, daily writing should lead to a release of energy for other research and writing work entailed by your synthesis project.) Start daily writing at the very start of your project; the words you write need not ever end up in the final paper, so it does not matter if your project is unclear at the start or changes as you go on. (For more background to this creative habit, see Tara Gray's popularization of Robert Boice's work.)

Weekly writing meetings for support and feedback in groups of 3 (buddy trios): Three people find a meeting time each week that they can protect from all other distractions. (Online students will meet by skype or WIMBA.) You commit to taking turns once every three weeks to receive feedback on the latest installment of your synthesis writing, which must be posted 48 hours before the meeting (on the share wikipage) along with a note about the kind of feedback desired (see Elbow's suggestions.) The trios should also work together on the activities listed for each session (see schedule below) and may establish additional forms of support beyond feedback.

Weekly writing workshop with the whole class for checking in on progress and reflection in relation to the three frameworks: Phases of Research and Engagement, Developing as a Reflective Practitioner, and Taking yourself seriously/ Finding your Vocation. Each workshop last for an hour (at a time arranged so that all online students can participate) and has five stages: One-on-one conferences with the instructor at least once every three weeks. (For online sections, these conferences happen by skype or phone. For face-to-face sections, they will generally be scheduled directly following the Writing Workshop.) Students must post the latest installment of their synthesis writing 48 hours before the meeting (on the share wikipage).


In order to pace your work, the goals of the various Phases of Research and Engagement will be reviewed or revisited at the appropriate times before and during the semester.

Session 0 (December '12 [didn't happen, but included here to indicate the ideal situation going into the semester])
Vision for your projects
Phase A. Overall vision; Goal: "I can convey who I want to influence/affect concerning what (Subject, Audience, Purpose)."
Free writing (Who do you want to reach? What do you want to convey to them? Why do you want to address them about that? What obstacles do you see ahead?)
Governing question for project
Verbal report on scope of intended project
Review of new arrangements for completion during one semester
Introduction to the idea of Daily writing
Establish buddy trio and arrange time for Weekly meetings
(Time permitting) Review of CCT Reflective Practitioner's Portfolios

After session 0, during break:

Session 1 (1/29)
Checking your vision for the project
(Phase A continued)
EITHER joining with and perhaps coaching the CCT692 students OR with your Writing Support Group
Activities include Writing workshop after one hour (irrespective of when it is listed), so other activities not undertaken during the first hour should be completed outside the class meetings
Verbal reports on progress during winter break
Peer exchange on project title, Governing question and Paragraph overview of project (Check that it's clear: Who do you want to reach? What do you want to convey to them? Why do you want to address them about that? What steps are needed to do so? How will you set the stage for readers to understand why you have chosen this topic?)
Writing workshop
Confirm or adjust schedule for one-on-one conferences.
Arrange essential reading list with instructor and any outside specialist advisors you arrange; include in bibliography with next installment submitted.
Start looking for a copy-editor.

Session 2 (2/5)
Supplement your sources of information and informants
(Phases B & F continued)
Review on-line tutorial or the library wikipage for the related course, CCT692.
Peer assistance with library databases
Writing workshop
Peer review on bibliography (Check formatting and coverage in relation to Governing Question)
Read guides to conducting and writing literature reviews, 1, 2. Plan your own strategies and the form in which you will demonstrate your knowledge of the literature.
Fair use of text, images, and other work of others

Session 3 (2/12)
a. Models of engagement; b. Organizing and processing research materials
Review materials from CrCrTh692
Writing workshop

**Deadline approaching** for application to graduate form to be submitted to the Registrar by March 15. Commencement fee will be charged after the application is approved.

Session 4 (2/19)
Clarifying your synthesis formulation and Governing Question
Phase C. Possible directions and priorities; Goal: "I have teased out my vision, so as to expand my view of issues associated with the project, expose possible new directions, clarify direction/scope within the larger set of issues, decide most important direction expressed in revised Governing Question."
Identify areas and priorities for research through Map-making. Map then probed by peers. Refine Governing Q.
Writing workshop

Session 5 (2/26)
Clarifying your Component Arguments
Phase D. Propositions, Counter-Propositions, Counter-Counter-Propositions...; Goal: "I have identified the premises and propositions that my project depends on, and can state counter-propositions. I have taken stock of the thinking and research I need to do to counter those counter-propositions or to revise my own propositions."
Identify areas and priorities for research by Summarizing the different sub-arguments for your topic and positions regarding each. Summary then probed by peers. Separate key arguments from subordinate or dispensable ones.
Writing workshop

Session 6 (3/5)
Design of Remaining Research and Writing
Phase E. Design of further research and engagement; Goal: "I have clear objectives with respect to product, both written and practice, and process, including personal development as a reflective practitioner. I have arranged my work in a sequence to realize these objectives."
Draft/update research & writing timetable in light of sessions 0-5, and/or
Strategic personal planning
Writing workshop

Session 7 (3/12)
Preparation for Presentations on Work-in-Progress
Phase G. Clarification through communication; Goal: "I have clarified the overall progression or argument underlying my research and the written reports I am starting to prepare."
Using preparation of visual aids to aid your on-going clarification of the structure of your overall argument
Writing workshop
Before session 8: Practice presentation in front of classmates or other friends and upload visual aids to site for posting work shared with whole class.
Use preparation of work-in-progress presentation to revise your writing plan (both the overall flow and the timeline)
**Target date for submission of draft introduction and text that positions your project in relation to published literature: start of this coming session

Session 8 (3/26)
Presentations on Work-in-Progress
(Phase G continued)
Presentations to peers (15 minutes each student + 10 minutes discussion + 5 minutes stock-taking)
Writing workshop (time permitting)

Session 9 (4/2)
Getting and Using Feedback on Writing
Phase H. Compelling communication; Goal: "My writing and other products Grab the attention of the readers/audience, Orient them, move them along in Steps, so they appreciate the Position I've led them to."
Reread Elbow, p. 141 to end of chapter 13.
Elbow's variety of forms of feedback
Peer sharing/editing
Writing workshop

No meeting 4/9
**Target date for submission of complete draft, this coming week.

Session 10 (4/16)
Revision: "Now that I'm finished, I can see what I want to say"
(Phase H continued)
Reverse outlining of drafted chapters and text-clarify the topic of each chapter, section, and paragraph; clarify their connection one to the next and to the whole of which they are a part.
Assessing whether the writing "GOSPs" (see Goal H)
Tools to problem-solve overall flow/sequencing within and among chapters, sections, paragraphs, e.g., SCAMPER
Peer sharing/editing (continued)
Writing workshop (perhaps without instructor)

Session 11 (4/23)
"Concluding" synthesis by looking ahead to outreach and further directions
Phase I. Engagement with others; Goal: "I have facilitated new avenues of classroom, workplace, and public participation."
Prepare and practice before classmates the opening 5-10 minutes of a workshop presentation, e.g., for CCT Network Open Houses
Sketch a final chapter on outreach and/or further directions to pursue
Writing workshop

Session 12 (4/30)
Preparation of Public Presentations
(Phases H & I)
Prepare and practice your public presentation in front of your classmates or buddy trio
Writing workshop (time permitting)

Session 13 (5/6 *Note: Monday meeting, Campus Center)
Public Presentations as part of the CCT Network series (4.15-9.15)
(Phase H continued)
No writing workshop this session.
Presentations (45 minutes minutes [standard]-90 [workshop])

**Due by start of session 14**: Electronic submission of one copy of Synthesis for evaluation by instructor and reader
Submission by student of their record of the process, participation, peer support points

Session 14 (5/14)
Taking Stock of the Course & Program: Where to go from here?
Phase J. Taking stock; Goal: " To feed into my future learning and other work, I have taken stock of what has been working well and what needs changing."
Writing workshop
Draft exit self-assessment (word version; examples: 1, 2)
Sharing ideas about Self-assessment
CCT evaluation process (evaluation that starts with a self-evaluation, to be administered by survey gizmo).

**Due One week after last Session**: Electronic submission of exit self-assessment.
**Due to one week after receiving a pass or pass with distinction evaluation of capstone** (CCT students only): Abstract and synthesis code(s) for the online abstract. (See abstracts from past CCT syn/theses)