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INSTRUCTOR

Colette Wanless-Sobel

Web site: http://percygoat.tripod.com

Office:   Cyberspace

Office hours:  By appointment

Phone:    Home: 530.268.3248 Pacific Time (no later than 9:00 PM, please; answering machine available)

E-mail address:  colette.wanlesssobel@gmail.com

 

 

REQUIRED TEXTS

No texts required to purchase.  All class material will be posted online.

 

 

RECOMMENDED TEXTS

 

A good desk dictionary, such as Webster’s New Collegiate.   

 

 

COURSE DESCRIPTION

 

This course emphasizes expository and persuasive writing skills with attention to rhetorical modes, audience awareness, logical reasoning, critical reading, and research techniques.  This course is part of the Minnesota Transfer Curriculum, and as such it is designed to nurture your skills for future academic work at other educational institutions as well as concurrent course work at Inver Hills.

 

Upon completing this course, students should have competency in the following areas:

 

—ability to understand / demonstrate the writing and speaking processes through invention, organization, drafting, revision, editing, and presentation;

 

—ability to select appropriate communication choices for specific audiences;

 

—ability to construct logical and coherent arguments;

 

—ability to gather factual information and apply it to a given problem in a manner that is relevant, clear and conscious of possible bias in the information selected;

 

—ability to imagine and seek out a variety of possible goals, assumptions, interpretations, or perspectives which can give alternative meanings or solutions to given situations or problems;

 

—and the ability to analyze the logical connections among the facts, goals, and implicit assumptions relevant to a problem or claim, as well as generate and evaluate implications that follow from them.

 

 

 

I hope you will enjoy our sixteen weeks together.

 

 

COURSE RATIONALE / TEACHING PHILOSOPHY

 

How does one begin to write about her or his teaching philosophy?  I find it difficult to articulate my teaching philosophy per se; however, there is a consistency in “themes” or perspectives in each of the courses I teach. Let me briefly outline these themes for you here.

 

Prime learning environment.  Part of my job as an instructor is to continually seek new exercises and assignments that lead students in critical thinking and meta-cognitive analyses on the class subject. In order for this to occur, students need to be situated within a prime learning environment. What are the features of a prime learning environment?

*       Individualized instruction

*       Multi-sensory stimulation

*       Timely feedback and positive reinforcement

*       Student control of the learning environment

Accordingly, I design all of these features into my online classes.

 

 

Intellectual  polyphony.   Readings, Web sites, and class discussions are based on whatever disciplines, knowledge and experiences will best illuminate the subject we are studying.  My goal is to construct a “smorgasbord” of ideas —an intellectual buffet table— from which students can select whatever best helps them to understand the issues and subject material.  So students travel through sociology, psychology, literature, ecology, cultural geography, cultural history, anthropology, philosophy, music, dance, art history, graphic arts, film studies, economics, marketing, Internet culture and popular culture such as advertising.

 

Critical  thinking.   A favorite word of mine is why.  I encourage and nurture students to question, search for cause-effect and relationships, and evaluate inferential reasoning.  Students learn to present their ideas (in oral and written form) and provide the rationale or evidence that underlies their propositions.  Students also use creative, imaginative discovery as well as the scientific method, qualitative and quantitative.  The social and individual impact of thinking, ideas, and decisions is also emphasized.

 

Textual analysis for political  and social encoding.  I suppose my training as an intellectual / cultural historian comes into play here, since I stress the importance of culture, class, gender, and ethnicity in textual analysis, both explicitly and sub-textually.  This approach helps position students for the multi-cultural, global thinking required in the twenty-first century.  Perhaps more importantly, this cultural approach prepares students for the complexity in their social, cultural and political environments in twenty-first century America.

 

Lifelong learning is modeled.  Every class I teach is an opportunity to model lifelong learning, since I am learning all the time, despite my Ph.D.  Furthermore, I am always seeking new conceptual and practical ideas to apply to class material.  For this reason, there is always experimentation, improvisation, creativity, and passion in the courses I teach, and my courses change and evolve every time I teach or “facilitate” them.  Doing so is risky, of course, because I give up the polish and security of tested material and instead venture into the unknown with students.  Venturing into the unknown, and having the intellectual confidence to tackle the unknown, is one life skill a rigorous liberal arts education can provide.  Indeed, a liberal arts education is not so much having the “right answers” but assuming an intellectual, critical posture in your life that will aid you, even provide succor, in all life’s endeavors.

 

Computer-Internet literacy is developed. Computer / information literacy is defined as “a new liberal art that extends from knowing how to use computers and access information to critical reflection on the nature of information itself, its technical infrastructure, and its social, cultural and even philosophical context and impact” - Shapiro, Jeremy J. and Shelley K. Hughes. Educom Review. 3.2. Mar. / Apr. 1996.   Class work in D2L and the Internet will develop skills in this new liberal art.

 

Service learning / civic engagement for enrichment.  By service learning / civic engagement, I mean experiential learning that employs service or real life problem applications in some form to government, community, private sector and non-profit agencies.  Service learning enhances the traditional classroom by actively engaging students in their own educations through experiential learning in course-relevant contexts. Furthermore, service learning fosters lifelong connections between students, their communities, and the larger human community —the world outside the classroom.

 

Here is a list of benefits service learning provides:

 

increases retention of course material;

 

increases the relevancy of education to real world applications;

 

enhances personalized education for students;

 

empower students as learners and democratic citizens;

 

invites students to become active members of their own communities; and

 

teaches job skills and prepares students for careers after college.

 

 

CLASS TASKS / WORK

 

So, what actual work will you perform in this class?  To answer this question, let me first acquaint you with Bloom’s taxonomy.*   Benjamin Bloom, an American educator, created the taxonomy below for categorizing the level of abstraction in educational settings. The taxonomy provides a useful structure in which to categorize course tasks:

 

Thinking Skills Demonstrated:

 

Knowledge observation and recall of information

knowledge of dates, events, places

knowledge of major ideas

mastery of subject matter

Question Cues:

list, define, tell, describe, identify, show, label, collect, examine, tabulate, quote, name, who, when, where, etc.

 

Comprehension understanding information

grasp meaning

translate knowledge into new context

interpret facts, compare, contrast

order, group, infer causes

predict consequences

Question Cues:

summarize, describe, interpret, contrast, predict, associate, distinguish, estimate, differentiate, discuss, extend

 

Apply Skills

use information

use methods, concepts, theories in new situations

solve problems using required skills or knowledge

Questions Cues:

apply, demonstrate, calculate, complete, illustrate, show, solve, examine, modify, relate, change, classify, experiment, discover

 

Analysis

seeing patterns

organization of parts

recognition of hidden meanings

identification of components

Question Cues:

analyze, separate, order, explain, connect, classify, arrange, divide, compare, select, explain, infer

 

Synthesis

 use old ideas to create new ones

generalize from given facts

relate knowledge from several areas

predict, draw conclusions

Question Cues:

combine, integrate, modify, rearrange, substitute, plan, create, design, invent, what if?, compose, formulate, prepare, generalize, rewrite

 

Evaluation

compare and discriminate between ideas

assess value of theories, presentations

make choices based on reasoned argument

verify value of evidence

recognize subjectivity

Question Cues

assess, decide, rank, grade, test, measure, recommend, convince, select, judge, explain, discriminate, support, conclude, compare, summarize

 

 

*Adapted from: Bloom, B.S. (Ed.) (1956) Taxonomy of educational objectives: The classification of educational goals: Handbook I, cognitive domain. New York; Toronto: Longmans, Green.

 

Accordingly, the course will entail the following tasks, mixed and matched throughout the semester:

 

**Scientific Tasks

 

What does a scientific task look like? It would include: making hypotheses based on an understanding of background information provided by on- or off-line sources; testing the hypotheses by gathering data from pre-selected sources; and determining whether the hypotheses were supported and describing the results and their implications in the standard form of a “scientific report.”  Scientific tasks also nurture   critical / scientific thinking.

 

**Judgment Tasks

 

To evaluate something requires a degree of understanding of that something as well as an understanding of some system of evaluating worth. Judgment tasks present a number of items to the learner and ask her / him to rank or rate them, or to make an informed decision among a limited number of choices.

 

**Analytical Tasks

 

Analysis is the thinking process of how things connect together, and how things within a topic relate to each other. An analytical task provides a venue for developing such knowledge. In analytical tasks, a learner is asked to look closely at one or more things and to find similarities and differences, to figure out the implications for those similarities and differences. He / she might look for relationships of cause and effect among variables and be asked to discuss their meaning.

 

**Journalistic Tasks

 

This task involves gathering facts and organizing them into an account within the usual genres of news and feature writing. In evaluating student work here, accuracy is important as is fact selection.  A secondary goal for the student is to realize there is the potential for bias in all reporting; that all of us have filters that affect how we see things and what we choose to look at.

 

**Self-Knowledge Tasks

 

Self-knowledge tasks will compel the learner to answer questions about him / herself that have no short answers. Such tasks could be developed around long term goals; ethical and moral issues; self-improvement; art appreciation; and personal responses to literature.

 

**Persuasion Tasks

 

Persuasion tasks are often combined with consensus building tasks (see below), although not always. The key difference is that with persuasion tasks, the student work on convincing an external audience of a particular point of view, as opposed to the persuasion and accommodation that occurs internally in a consensus building task.

 

**Consensus-Building Tasks

 

The essence of a consensus building task is the requirement that differing viewpoints be articulated, considered, and accommodated   where possible. Consensus-building tasks involve learners taking on different perspectives by studying different sets of resources.  Such tasks should be based on authentic differences of opinion that are actually expressed by someone somewhere outside of classroom walls.  In addition, consensus-building tasks should be based on matters of opinion and fact, not just fact.       The result   should be the development of a common report that has a specific audience (real or simulated) and is created in a format that is analogous to one used in the world outside classroom walls.

 

**Re-Telling Tasks

 

Sometimes   you will be asked to absorb some information and then demonstrate you have understood it.   Reports like these are bread-and-butter activities that don't break much new ground in educational practice, but they can provide good practice in condensing and summarizing text.  You also differentiate among summary, paraphrase, and quotation.

 

** Design Tasks

 

Design is defined in Dictionary.com as "a plan or protocol for carrying out or accomplishing something."  In this class, a design task requires learners to create a product or plan of action that accomplishes a pre-determined goal and works within specified constraints. The key element in a design task is to build in authentic constraints. Asking students to design an ideal X without also requiring them to work within a budget and within a body of legal and other restrictions doesn't really teach much. In fact, an unconstrained design task teaches an illusory "anything goes" attitude that doesn't map well onto the real world.  Creativity and resourcefulness are integral in design tasks.

 

**Creative Product Tasks

 

Creative tasks lead to the production of something within a given format (e.g. painting, play, skit, poster, game, simulated diary or song) but they are much more open-ended and unpredictable than design tasks. The evaluation criteria for these tasks would emphasize creativity and self-expression, as well as criteria specific to the chosen genre. Balanced against the constraints, a task of this type should invite creativity by being somewhat open-ended. There should be enough room in the assignment that a student or group of students will be able to leave a unique stamp on the assignment.

 

**Compilation Tasks

 

A simple task for students is to take information from a number of sources and put it into a common format. The resulting compilation might be published on the Web, or it might be some other tangible, such as supporting figures for a research   paper. To make a compilation task qualify as a substantive task, there needs to be some transformation of the information compiled. Simply putting a hot-list of web sites or a collection of web images together arbitrarily isn't enough.

 

**Discovery/ Exploration Tasks

 

A well designed discovery / exploration   task requires synthesis of information from a variety of sources.   Such tasks might involve absorbing information from multiple sources; putting information together by making inferences or generalizations across several information sources; and eliminating false trails that might seem to be likely answers at first but which fall apart under closer examination. Discovery tasks can seem somewhat inauthentic because of the fictionalizing they require, though the tradeoff in increased learner interest can make it worthwhile.   Discovery / exploration tasks model the thinking of scientists, scholars, and venture capitalists.

 

Tasks adapted from WebQuest, San Diego State University    http://webquest.sdsu.edu/

 

 

THE INSTRUCTOR

 

Now a little about me and where I am coming from, personally speaking.

 

I received my BA degree from Macalester College in Saint Paul, where I majored in humanities and English.  I began my graduate work at Tulane University in New Orleans and then transferred to the University of Minnesota to complete my Ph.D. in American/ cultural studies, concentrating in American intellectual history. My first teaching job was at the University of Saint Thomas in Saint Paul.  Since 1993, I have been at the University of Minnesota in Distance Education.  I have been teaching part time at Inver Hills Community College since 1999.  Lately, I have been developing online courses for Inver Hills.   Most recently, I began teaching online for the University of Phoenix.

 

Since this profile of me so far might lead you to think I am just a bookworm, let me add that, I also have a passion for numerous “nonacademic” activities:  farming; equestrian riding (dressage); friendships with people and my “companion” animals (three dogs, one cat, one blue and gold macaw, and one horse); community work for the city where I reside; and, last but not least, family life with a husband and two sons.

 

Some little-known facts about me:

 

 ~While reading E-mails and assignment submissions from students, I work at my desk at home, drinking coffee and sitting with my companion animals: three dogs, a blue and gold macaw and a big Tom cat.

 

~One day, I would like to have a small dairy goat herd and produce artisan cheese.

 

~ I would some day like to adopt a burro and a Mustang from the United States Department of the Interior.

 

 ~My house is often so dusty that, I run a spider motel. (I like spiders, though.)

 

 ~I always wished I was “good” at math.

 

 ~I am a passionate blogger and Web master, and I love computers.

 

So where do you fit in with all of this?

 

Essentially, for the next sixteen weeks, I shall be your intellectual coach in writing in the disciplines.  My job as a professional is to nurture you:  push you to be the best that you can be in terms of the course goals, and I take my job seriously. This does not mean I am a humorless slave driver.  What is does mean, though, is that I shall encourage active, engaged learners, and many students are uncomfortable and hostile to this endeavor, which is understandable, given most students have not been expected to assume the stance of active intellectuals/ thinkers before.  I hope you enjoy our sixteen weeks together.

 

NOTES ON CLASS PROCEDURE

 

 --Safe Space in This Online Classroom:   There are things from which I think every classroom, on-site or online, ought to constitute safe space. Here is my list:  (1) safety from sexual assault, abuse, threat or harassment; (2) safety from verbal assault ,abuse, threat or harassment;  (3) safety from sexism, gender-ism and homophobia; (4)  safety from class bias and chauvinism ; (5) safety from political and economic persecution; (6) safety from retaliation or revenge for expressing one's beliefs, feelings and ideas;  (7) safety from the instructors' abuse of power;  (8) safety from bias and insensitivity to individuals with special needs; and  (9) safety from physical assault, abuse or harassment.  I shall do my utmost to assure these safety standards are met and maintained in the class.  If at any time you feel "unsafe" for any reason, please let me know.

 

At the same time, it is important to point out that, there is a major difference between intellectual challenge with respect to ideas, and personal attacks against the holders of ideas.

 

 —Online Attendance:  This is not an independent study course, where you can log-in irregularly and fulfill assignments whenever you please, as long as work is submitted before the end of the term. This course requires you to complete work by certain due dates and to post online a minimum number of times a week.   If you have an emergency situation, or an extended illness, contact me to rearrange work deadlines.  Note:  1/3 of the final grade is based on attendance and participation.  I emphasize this caveat not as a threat or to hold you hostage in class; however, I do want to inform you how much active participation counts in the class, and if you do not log –in to class, you can not participate.

 

 —Late papers:  Late papers throw me and, most importantly, you off schedule.  Papers are due at the times specified, though, I am willing to allow exceptions when illness or other class assignments intrude.  It is your responsibility, however, to contact me to rearrange work deadlines.   Negotiating work deadlines is an important work /life skill, so practice it. In this class failure to do so will result in a grade reduction for the paper (s).  Once again, I do not like to begin the term by issuing threats.  Not only do threats set a negative tone for the class but they also counteract our relationship as colleagues.  Colleagues do not threaten each other —or at least they shouldn’t. My rules here for papers are mainly to avoid logistical nightmares (papers being turned in at all times) and also establish rules of fairness for all class members.  All of us are busy; all of us are juggling work, family responsibilities, school, and social obligations.  Meeting established deadlines is just common courtesy; however, if the deadlines can not be met, I respectfully request you renegotiate the deadline with me.

 

—Word processing.  All papers should be word processed, and proofread. Please submit all documents with a .doc or .rtf suffix.  I can not access .wps, the default setting for Microsoft WORKS, suffixed documents.

 

—Submissions.  All assignments may be submitted electronically via the D2L assignment Dropbox system.

 

—Revision work:  When submitting revision work, please attach a copy of the “first draft,” too. More about this later.

 

—Plagiarism:  Scholastic honesty is expected.  I am obliged to report academic misconduct to the Dean of Students. See the college handbook for rules and regulations on this matter.

 

Readings:  You are required to keep up with all the reading in the course.  I shall give ample notice of due dates.  Since I do not depend much on the lecture method, our class sessions greatly depend on your reading the course material and coming to class and discussing it.

 

 —Discussion:  Discussion sessions, online and in-class, will be an integral part of the instruction method employed in class.  “Why is discussion so important,” you ask.  Well, let me tell you:

 

 --It helps students explore a diversity of perspectives.

 

--It increases students’ awareness of and tolerance for ambiguity or complexity

 

--It helps students recognize and investigate their assumptions.

 

--It encourages attentive, respectful listening.

 

--It encourages new appreciations for continuing differences.

 

--It increases intellectual agility.

 

--It helps students become connected to a topic.

 

--It shows respect for students’ voices and experiences.

 

--It helps students learn the processes and habits of democratic disclosure.

 

--It affirms students as co-creators of knowledge.

 

--It develops the capacity for the clear communication of ideas and meaning.

 

--It develops habits of collaborative learning.

 

--It increases breadth and makes students more empathic.

 

--It helps students develop skills of synthesis and integration.

 

--It leads to transformation. *

 

 

*Brookfield, Stephen D.  and Stephen Preskill.  Discussion as a Way of Teaching (San Francisco:  Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1999), pp.22-23

 

 

—Respect and collegiality:  Online, asynchronous class discussions allow peer interaction that is difficult to manage in regular lecture settings.   I designed “Research Writing in the Disciplines” so as to make the most of our online class setting.   Accordingly, throughout the course, we all shall share our ideas and perspectives about research, writing, and critical thinking. In order for our class sessions to run smoothly, it is important to listen to others with an attitude of respect, and open-mindedness.   Polite disagreement with others’ ideas is permissible but contrariness or snide commentary is not.  Rude speech will not be tolerated.

 

 —Small group work:  Class time will consist of some “lecture” (very little, actually) class discussion, small group work, and conference sessions.  Working in small groups is a rich intellectual and social experience, which I want all students to enjoy.  Small group work is not the occasion, however, to discuss last week’s party, or the latest sports’ scores.  Although some social interaction is only natural, the group is expected to concentrate on the assigned task.  Each student should take an active part in group activity and work toward advancing the group’s assigned task.  Active engagement is the key phrase here and is the basis for 1/3 of your course grade.

 

 —Course work load:  Be prepared for a rigorous workload.  Essentially, you hired me to be your intellectual “coach” for the next sixteen weeks, and I am going to challenge you.  At the same time, I do take into account that, many of you work outside school and have family lives to attend to.

 

 —Incompletes:  This course is not set up for incompletes; accordingly, only certified illness or emergency situations will be accommodated.  Students must initiate requests for either an incomplete grade or withdrawal from a course by filing the appropriate form

 

.                                                               

—Exams:  There is no midterm exam or final exam in this course.

 

 

—Special needs:  Students with special needs will be accommodated.  Students should contact me or Disabled Student Services.

 

 

GRADES / EVALUATIONS

 

--New Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy:

Effective Summer 2007 all Inver Hills students must maintain a 67% completion rate for all credits attempted. This is in addition to the existing requirement that students earn a cumulative Grade Point Average of 2.0 or above. See
www.inverhills.edu/Enrollment/CollegePolicies/SatisfactoryAcademic.aspx for the complete policy.


--GRADING

 

The final course grade is based on the following % of 1000-point total for individual / team projects.

 

 A= 94-100%

(900-1000 Points

 

 B=93--80%

(800-899 Points)

 

 C= 79-70%

(700-799 Points)

 

 D= 60-69%

(600-699 Points)

 

 F= 0-59% 

(599 or less Points)

 

 

 If at any time during the semester you feel unsure about your “grade,” request an assessment from me.

 

 

—You always have the option of revising your work for a higher grade.  With this said, let me also add that revision work for a higher grade needs to be substantive, not shallow.  In other words, if you do the work required, you will earn a higher grade.   Sloppy, poor quality revisions will not be rewarded.

 

 

—Instructor evaluations:  At the end of the term, I shall ask you to complete a course evaluation. Another form of feedback I would appreciate, however, is your comments/suggestions as the course progresses.  Dialogue between us is crucial, as I use your ideas and concerns to tailor and fine-tune the course.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Phone:   office: 651.554.3790   (voice mail available; leave

 

               messages)

 

               home:   952.892.0450 (no later than 9:00 PM, please; answering machine available)

 

E-mail address:  tcwanlesssobel@gmail.com

 

*When on campus, I am usually in my office or in one of the computerized classrooms, where my classes are conducted.  This term, the classroom is B142.

 

 

 

REQUIRED TEXTS

 

No texts required.

 

 

 

RECOMMENDED TEXTS

 

A good desk dictionary, such as Webster’s New Collegiate.   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

COURSE DESCRIPTION

 

This course emphasizes expository and persuasive writing skills with attention to rhetorical modes, audience awareness, logical reasoning, critical reading, and research techniques.  This course is part

 

of the Minnesota Transfer Curriculum, and as such it is designed to nurture your skills for future academic work at other educational institutions as well as concurrent course work at Inver Hills.

 

                                                                  

 

Upon completing this course, students should have competency in the following areas:

 

 

 

—ability to understand / demonstrate the writing and speaking processes through invention, organization, drafting, revision, editing, and presentation;

 

—ability to select appropriate communication choices for specific audiences;

 

—ability to construct logical and coherent arguments;

 

 

 

..

.