Special Topics doctoral-level course, Fall 2007:
Pathways of Development and Disease: Epidemiological Thinking For Non-Specialists
Geron/ PPol G/ Nursng/ HighEd 797, Fall 2007
NOTES ON TEACHING/LEARNING INTERACTIONS
including guidelines for assignments (8/27/07)
Written assignments and presentations
Each assignment will count as complete if marked OK/RNR (= Revision-reflection-resubmission Not Requested) meaning you have met almost all of the guidelines for the assignment. Revision and Resubmission will be requested if you have not. Comments made as part of "Dialogue around written work" (see below) provide guidance tailored to each student's specific interests and needs.
In addition to the specific guidelines for each assignment, the following General Expectations apply:
Unless otherwise stated, two copies of written assignments must be turned in during class typed on standard 8.5" x 11" paper, using at least 1" margins, a standard 10- or 12-point font such as Times or Helvetica, and (preferably) one and half line spacing. (I want to give you one back with my comments so you have it when you read them. I keep the other plus a carbon copy of my comments in a portfolio that I can refer back to.)
Do not submit work by email unless requested in the syllabus or specifically arranged with the instructor. Before attaching work to send by email, you MUST rename your file so it begins with 797 then your initials.
Your name, course number, assignment name, and date of writing or revising must appear on the first page at the top right. Subsequent pages must contain your name and the page number. Do not use a cover page.
Proofread your work for spelling, grammar, punctuation, and coherence of paragraphs. (Each paragraph should have one clear topic that is supported and/or developed by what is in it.) If writing is difficult for you, arrange assistance from a fellow student, the Graduate writing center (S-1-03, 287-5708) or a professional editor -- do not expect the instructor to be your writing teacher.
- as guides to writing and revising: Elbow, P. Writing with Power, Oxford U.P.; Daniel, et al. Take Charge of Your Writing; Kanar, "Improving your paragraph skills"; Conlin, "The basics of writing" (on electronic reserve at http://docutek.lib.umb.edu/ (path: Electronic reserves and Course Materials | select crcrth698, enter password provided by instructor)
- as a guide on technical matters of writing scholarly papers, e.g., Turabian, A Manual For Writers (in library's reference section).
a. Substantive statements (once or twice = 1-2 assignments)
b. Response to substantive statements (once or twice = 1-2 assignments)
c. Annotated additional references submitted for a minimum of 6 classes (counts for 2 assignments)
d. Final prospectus for further research, writing, and practice (3000 words; revised in response to comments on complete draft; due one week after classes end)
For the report to be counted as final, you must have revised in response to comments from instructor and peers on complete draft. Allow time for the additional investigation and thinking that may be entailed.
e. initial project description [due session 8]
The prospectus project should not be seen as a "term paper," but as a process of development that involves i) dialogue with the instructor (see below) and other students and ii) revision (re-seeing) in light of that dialogue. To facilitate that process, a sequence of four assignments and peer commentary is required. The goals of each stage are described below.
This initial overview may end up setting the scene in the introduction of your project -- or it may get substantially revised as your explore who has done what in the area/case/issue where you plan to pursue further research, writing, or changes in practice. In one-two prose paragraphs (not disconnected points a.k.a. "bullets"), an overview should convey subject, audience, and your reason for proposing to work in this area. (Whether or not you actually do the project presented in the prospectus is not important for this project.)
f. notes on work in progress [session 11]
Pull together notes on your reading and your thinking and present it in a form organized so it can elicit useful comments from a reader (in this case, me). To show your planning, you should submit an updated overview and an outline. To show that you are finding out what others have been doing in your area of interest, you should include annotated bibliography of readings done or planned. Record the full citations for your sources, including those from the WWW. I recommend using a bibliographic database-Endnote can be downloaded for a 30 day trial from http://www.endnote.com -or RefWorks available through the Healey library
g. work-in-progress presentation [session 11]
Preparing presentations, hearing yourself deliver them, and getting feedback usually leads to self-clarification of the overall direction of your project and of your priorities for further work. In this spirit, 10-15 minute presentations of your work-in-progress are scheduled well before the end of the semester - they are necessarily on work in progress. Convey the important features of work you have already done and, to elicit useful feedback during 3-5 minutes of Q&A, indicate also where additional investigation or advice are needed and where you think that might lead you.
h. complete draft [session 13]
The draft must get to the end to count for this assignment, even if some sections along the way are only sketches.
Participation and contribution to the class process (at least 18 of the 22 items), 1/3 of course grade
i. Prepared participation in class meetings (=15 items)
Prepared participation and punctual attendance at class meetings are expected, but allowance is made for other priorities in your life. I do not require you to give excuses for absence, lateness, or lack of preparation. Simply make up the 80% of participation items in other ways (j-l below).
j. Minimum of three in-office or phone conferences on your projects and discussion leading (= 3 items)
one before Columbus day; at least one more before Thanksgiving
k. Discussion leading and assisting (3 times = 3 items)
(feel free to experiment based on experience of what worked well and what could have been improved in previous sessions or courses)
l. Work with another student commenting on each other's draft prospectus
After the draft prospectus is completed, you should comment on another student's draft. Send me a copy by email. Ask the other person what they want you to focus on. (In the past I made lots of specific suggestions for clarification and change in the margins, but in my experience, such suggestions led only a minority of students beyond touching up into re-thinking and revising their ideas and writing. On the other hand, I believe that all writers value comments that reassure them that they have been listened to and their voice, however uncertain, has been heard.)
Dialogue around written work
I try to create a dialogue with each student around written work, that is, around your writing, my responses, and your responses in turn. Central to this teaching/learning interaction are requests to "Revise and Resubmit." The idea is not that you make changes to please me the teacher or to meet some unstated standard, but that as a writer you use the eye of others to develop your own thinking and make it work better on readers. I may continue to request revision when I judge that the interaction can still yield significant learning. Such a request does not mean your (re)submission was "bad"-even when the first submissions of written assignments are excellent, angles for learning through dialogue are always opened up.
In my comments I try to capture where the writer was taking me and make suggestions for how to clarify and extend the impact on readers of what was written. After letting my comments sink in, you may conclude that I have missed the point. In this case, my misreading should stimulate you to revise so as to help readers avoid mistaking the intended point. If you do not understand the directions I saw in your work or those I suggest for the revision, a face-to-face or phone conversation is the obvious next step-written comments have definite limitations when writers and readers want to appreciate and learn from what each other is saying and thinking. Please talk to me immediately if you do not see how you are benefiting from the "Revise and resubmit" process. I am still learning how to engage students in this in ways that take into account your various backgrounds and dispositions and my own.
Rationale for the Assessment system
The rationale for grading the different assignments simply OK or R&R (revise & resubmit) and granting an automatic B+ for 80% satisfactory completion is to keep the focus of our teaching/learning interactions on your developing through the semester. It allows more space for students and instructor to appreciate and learn from what each other is saying and thinking. My goal is to work with everyone to achieve the 80% satisfactory completion level. Students who progress steadily towards that goal during the semester usually end up producing work that meets the criteria for a higher grade than a B+ (see Rubrics in syllabus). You are free to do more than 80% of the assignments and fulfill more than 80% of the participation items, but it does not hurt your grade to choose strategically to miss some in light of your other work and life happenings. Ask for clarification if needed to get clear and comfortable with this system.