Assignments

Purpose

We will have an unspecified number of assignments that require students to engage with the readings in various ways, or to practice with the concepts and techniques discussed in class. These exercises will often have additional purposes such as preparing students for productive class discussions, giving students an opportunity for self-assessment of their own learning progress, or helping students to prepare for other assignments. A variety of formats may be used.

Reading Assignments

Many, if not all readings in this course come with assigned questions or a similar, study-based assignment. These assignments are designed to help students navigate the reading and to focus on what, for purposes of the class, will be the most important parts. They should be completed prior to coming to class on the day the reading is assigned. Ideally, students should do the reading once, then do the assignment for the reading, and then re-read the assignment from start to finish. Past experience suggests that the more work a student puts into these assignments, the better the student's results on tests and other assignments tend to be. Students are forewarned that minimal work or doing things such as simply paraphrasing or copying passages of the reading down word for word as answers tends to be counter-productive, insufficient to produce real understanding and generally a waste of time. Assignments will be collected at random intervals throughout the term from each student. Collection will not be announced until the end of class. Be prepared at every class, just in case!

What follows are the instructions for all reading assignments:

Write answers to the questions before you come to class and be prepared to discuss them. Do no research apart from the reading, and do not answer with copied passages of text from the reading. Instead, answer in your own words in complete, well-formed sentences of English. Note the page numbers, if any, on which you find the passages that contain or that are key to your answers. Type or print your answers out on regular white paper in an ordinary, 12 point font like Arial or Times New Roman. Handwritten work is never acceptable, but you may (and should!) take notes on your print-outs. Make your answers substantive and be prepared to defend your answers in class discussion.

Evaluated and Credit/No Credit Assignments

Some of our assignments will be the subject of detailed evaluation and some will simply be checked for sufficient completion. The former will be called "evaluated" assignments and the latter will be called "credit/no credit" assignments. Some assignments, potentially including at least some reading assignments of the sort described above will be evaluated. Other assignments will not. For simplicity's sake students should assume that an assignment is going to be of the evaluated type unless the course plan explicitly says otherwise. Credit/no credit assignments frequently deal primarily with personal opinion or reflection. When collected, answers receiving credit will be marked with a check mark and those receiving no credit will be marked with an "X". Evaluated assignments will be assessed according to the rubric at the bottom of this page.

Collaborative Work

Students are encouraged to study together outside of class. That said, it is NOT permissible for students to copy verbatim, share, or in any way "re-mix" each others' answers. Doing so is cheating. Keep in mind that the academic honesty policy of Marygrove College strictly forbids cheating and plagiarism, and will apply to every assignment in this class regardless of type. Violations of this policy will result in automatic failure of the course.

Sharing answers is counterproductive too. On the tests and other assignments students will be independently responsible for all aspects of their answers. Those who deprive themselves of a chance to hone their skills on the assignments will find themselves exponentially less-prepared for higher-stakes assignments in this class.

General Guidelines

Guidelines for assignments will vary according to purpose and may or may not be collected as the instructor deems necessary. All required work given in the course plan is to be considered an assignment and should be done with the aim of producing excellent work as defined below. Any other assignments will be announced in class. Failure to be in class on the day an assignment is announced, for any reason, will not excuse the student from being responsible for it.

Evaluation Rubric

Excellent (4) Good (3) Adequate (2) Poor (1) Unacceptable (0)
The student has not only answered all parts of the questions, but has answered them thoroughly and with attention to fine details and nuances. There is evidence of originality, creativity, and/or critical thinking in the answers provided. They are well-written to boot, in clear, competent English with appropriate word choices. The answers demonstrate independent and productive engagement with the material. Page numbers or some other method has been used to track the answer's origin in the text, where appropriate. The student has answered all parts of all questions, but some parts may have only minimal answers. While largely correct, the writing may be unclear in minor ways, or contain errors that do not affect reading comprehensions. There is clear evidence of engagement with the material, but the critical thinking deployed may be misdirected or unskillful. For all that the student has maintained an objective point of view and given solid answers. They may not be exemplary in every respect, but the answers still show a substantial and focused engagement with the material. Page numbers may or may not have been given. Almost all parts of each question have been answered—there may be minor oversights. The answers are written in English that is at least understandable at a basic level, even if there are grammatical and stylistic errors that introduce problematic vagueness or otherwise obscure meaning. The engagement with the material on display is minimal, and critical thinking skills may be in evidence only in a rudimentary sort of way. The student may lapse into idioms of popular speech or "pop-pscyhology", or tend towards overly or inappropriately subjective presentation in some cases. Answers have not been invented or improvised but do seem to connect materially to the text, even if they are lacking in execution. The student has not answered all parts of each question, but each question has at least one part answered. The writing may exhibit serious errors that obscure meaning. Answers seem improvised or subjective where engagement with the text is required. There may be a preponderance of colloquial idioms or "pop-psychology" instead of actual answers that respond to the text. There is room for doubt as to whether or not the student actually did the reading. Critical thinking even at a basic level seems not to be taking place. The student neglects completely to answer one or more questions or submits any answer in handwriting instead of print. There is no evidence of actual reading beyond the most cursory attempt at "skimming" the text. Invention, subjective opinion, or "pop-psychology" have been substituted for any real attempt at answering the questions using the text. One or more answers may consist wholly or partially of text taken directly from the reading, without any attempt at explanation, with or without citation. The writing may be seriously deficient or unclear. Nothing may be handed in at all.

Note: In accord with Marygrove College's academic honesty policy, any instance of plagiarism or cheating on any assignment or test will be met with a failing grade for the course.

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