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ENGLISH 1114

The Research Paper (3 Credits)

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“Research is to see what everyone else has seen, and to think what nobody else has thought.”

~~Albert Szent-Gyorgyi

“Never regard study as a duty, but as the enviable opportunity to learn to know the liberating influence of beauty in the realm of the spirit for your own personal joy and to the profit of the community to which your later work belongs.”

~~Albert Einstein

INSTRUCTOR

Colette Wanless-Sobel
Web site:
colette wanless-sobel, an online information archive

Office hours:By arrangement in cyber-space or by telephone.

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

Home phone: 952.892.0450 (no later than 9:00 PM, please; Answering machine available: Speak clearly, slowly and repeat phone number.)

E-mail address: Utilize the D2L course E-mail and pager system. Another option: colette.wanlesssobel@gmail.com

(Typically, I respond to E-mail in the early evening of each week day.)

REQUIRED TEXT

The ClueTrain Manifesto (Online)

RECOMMENDED TEXT

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

MAILINGS / LINKS /LIBRARY RESERVE READING

To keep the cost of college texts to a minimum, I use URL links as much as possible, along with photo copy material that I mail out to you. Depending on copyright issues, however, I may place some reading material for the course on reserve in the college library. I shall give you ample notice to acquire the readings. When requesting reserve reading for the class, go to the front desk of the library and ask for Wanless-Sobel, ENG 1114-99, and the reading title(s), which I shall inform you of on a class assignment sheet. The library staff will ask to see your IHCC student I.D., so be sure to have it handy. To facilitate note-taking and class discussion, I suggest you make a copy of each reading on reserve. Copy machines are available in the library.

COURSE DESCRIPTION

This course will instruct students in all disciplines to write research papers and to search libraries and Web sites in preparation for drafting and documenting research papers. Along with learning to evaluate sources, students will also master current documentation citation styles for all standard sources, print as well as Web.

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

--Ability to gather, evaluate, and synthesize material from diverse sources, culminating in a paper demonstrating research techniques.

--Ability to construct logical and coherent arguments supporting analysis in texts with a particular audience in mind.

--Ability to gather factual information and apply it to a given problem in a manner that is relevant, clear, comprehensive, and conscious of the bias in the information selected.

--Ability to analyze the logical connection between facts, goals, and assumptions relevant to a problem, and evaluate claims which may be said to follow from them.

--Ability to describe and improve their own critical thinking and problem solving procedures.

--Ability to conduct honors-level course work. (Optional for interested students.)

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.

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 multicultural, 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 for enrichment. By service learning, I mean experiential learning that employs service or real life problem applications in some form to government, community, private sector and nonprofit agencies. Service learning enhances the traditional classroom by actively engaging students in their own education 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;

inc
reases the relevancy of education to real world applications;

enhances personalized education for students;

empowers students as learners and democratic citizens;

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

teache
s job skills and prepares students for careers after college.

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.

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

So where do you fit in with all of this?

Essentially, for this term, I shall be your intellectual coach in research writing. My job as a professional is to nurture you and push you to be the best that you can be in terms of the course goals. Although 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.

--Keeping-Up with Course News, Updates, and Assignments: It is vital for you to log-in to the course regularly in order to keep up to date with news and assignments, which are posted in three locations in E-MAIL SYSTEM; the COURSE HOMEPAGE and ASSIGNMENT CHECK-LIST in CONTENT. ASSIGNMENT CHECK-LIST will maintain a log of all assignments. If you save your course E-mails, which you may want to do, this will also provide a log of course news and events. The COURSE HOMEPAGE is updated and revised frequently, with no permanent log available.

Cyber-Space Attendance: Although the class does not formally meet in a regular classroom, we are still, nonetheless, a class, and you are expected to "check-in" / log- in to the class frequently. Also, although you work independently and out-of-site from the instructor and other class members, ENG 1114-99 is not an independent study course, where you fulfill assignments when you please. Some assignments, such as Conference and DEBATE, will have firm due dates that you need to abide by.

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 proofed.

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 logging-in to class and discussing it.

Respect and Collegiality: Online classes at Inver Hills allow class discussions, and class interactions that are difficult to manage in on-site, large lecture settings. I designed “The Research Paper” ” so as to make the most of our small 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.

Small group work: Class time will consist of some reading, my online lectures, which I keep to a minimum, class discussion, small group work, and online conference sessions by way of E-mail. 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 heavy workload. Essentially, you hired me to be your intellectual “coach” for the next sixteen weeks, and I am going to challenge you.

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. Accordingly, these students should contact me or Disabled Student Services.


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GRADES / EVALUATIONS

—I employ the A-F grading system (see the college handbook for the general guidelines and perimeters).

—The basis of the final grade is as follows: 2/3 of grade is paper/ research writing, and learning team work; 1/3 of grade is on active, skilled participation, including online attendance.

—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.

CALENDAR

* Refer to D2L CALENDAR for assignment schedule and due dates.







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