August 25, 2007

Paper rubric

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This is from a final paper assignment in which the students are asked to pretend they are the Asian arts curator at the MIA and are writing a letter to the board of directors recommending the purchase of a particular piece (chosen from a list on the syllabus and following a field trip to the museum). It is a scaffolded assignment; they had already written and received feedback on a formal analysis, a comparative dating analysis, a diagram, a topic proposal, an annotated bibliography, and website evaluation assignment - all of which were to be woven into this letter. At minimum, the letter was to do the following:
1. Describe the object
2. Identify the object, including its subject matter
3. Explain the date through comparison with at least one other securely dated object
4. Discuss the original context of the object
5. Propose a display plan

For other courses, I have changed the "follow assignment" area and other minor edits as needed.

I found the rubric useful in maintaining consistency. It allowed me to grade each criterion holistically but assign a number to each. That way I was less likely to discount a good idea due to bad writing or vice versa, since I'd average the numbers to find the percentage and letter grade. I also hoped that the students who needed a number for it to feel less subjective could have a number would feel better, without me writing minuses anywhere. However, I'm not entirely sure how useful it has been. I don't think most of the students really look at it. I'm worried that it is too much information and too overwhelming. Any comments or suggestions would be welcome!

A side note: my deparment chair here at the time posted it to the faculty and grad students and several colleagues have said they really like it. When I ask how they use it, many say that since they type their comments for each paper, they just cut and paste from it and it saves them time (but I guess the students never see it ahead of time).

August 24, 2007

Cognitive Development of students

This is the Perry slide

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Assignment heuristic

This handout might be of use to you as your think through your formal assignments
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August 23, 2007

Banking Issues

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POL 3235 Democracy and Citizenship - formal 1

The following writing assignment is designed to have you evaluate the relative merits and purpose of social contract theory and its potential application to contemporary democracy. Please choose one of the two following options.

Option #1:
Imagine that you are Jean Jacques Rousseau and you are writing a letter to John Locke (miraculously raised from the dead). In your letter explain what you have found useful in Locke’s Second Treatise to your own theory of a social contract. Then, explain why he would greatly benefit from being better acquainted with your own treatise, the Social Contract. In particular, justify why your own account of the social contract improves upon Locke’s account.

Option #2
Imagine that you are Alexis de Tocqueville and you are writing an op-ed article in the newspaper. A group of Americans are trying to revive the principles of Rousseau’s Social Contract and apply them to American society. This reading group turned social movement has quickly gained supporters. You want to apprise the reading public of both the potential gains and potential drawbacks of this fledgling movement. Having recently produced two large volumes on American democracy (Democracy in America) you cannot resist the opportunity to point out how your analysis provides a more accurate and useful account of the features that support American democracy and those that citizens need to protect against.
In your op-ed article, you will need to explain what changes the Roussean group is likely to propose based on Rousseau’s theory of the social contract. This will require explication of Rousseau’s most important concepts and evaluation of their potential effects. Given the rising popularity of this group it is important that you be fair to Rousseau’s arguments, but still critically assess them. Then you will need to explain how your own account provides a more accurate and useful account of American democracy.

Guidelines for BOTH options 1 and 2:
Your letter OR Op-ed must be 3-4 pages, typed, double-spaced, in 12-point, Times New Roman font, with 1-inch margins all around. Number your pages and staple them in the upper left corner. Please do not put your paper in a binder of any kind. Proofread your letter OR Op-ed for errors in spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Keep a copy of your work for your personal records.
In writing your letter or Op-ed, be sure to address all parts of the question, drawing upon evidence, examples, and arguments from the texts. You must make use of the assigned readings to provide evidence to support your arguments. The more you are able to draw upon the readings, and the better you are to integrate them into clear coherent arguments, the better your grade will be. Cite title and page number of assigned readings when you refer to them. Essays that make little or no use of course material will receive a very poor grade. Remember that you are writing from the perspective of Rousseau OR Tocqueville so you may be making arguments with which you do not completely or even partially agree. You do not need to do any outside research to answer this question.

democracy and citizenship - informal writing assignments

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Democracy and Citizenship formal assignment 2

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Role of Writing in WRIT 1301

The Role of Writing in 1301--

Through frequent practice and study of writing, WRIT 1301 introduces you to typical university writing practices, including an emphasis on developing well-researched, properly cited papers. Really, everything we do in WRIT 1301 is designed to improve your writing, and for this reason it fulfills the first-year composition requirement.

Activities include but are not limited to: introduction to academic genres of reading and writing; critical reading and analysis of writing for rhetorical principles of audience, purpose, and argumentative strategies; emphasis on performing research with electronic and print library; and sequenced readings and writing, with a researched paper as a major assignment. Though the research paper will necessarily be completed near the end of the course, you should not think of it as the main (or only) goal of the course; instead, it is one more way of engaging your mind in the critical thinking process.

You will practice using writing to develop, refine, and communicate ideas in academic contexts, but not merely ones in which research is required. Moreover, you should expect to write formally and informally, produce drafts, read and respond to each other’s drafts, and revise, edit, and proofread. You will also share your writing with others in the class, receive their feedback, and read and respond carefully to their work. I have found in my own writing that having more than one perspective is tantamount to developing and articulating a position.

So, the class is structured around writing activities, discussion of reading and writing, and group work of various kinds. And, your active participation in both group and individual work is an important component in making this class worthwhile.

5 Minute Assignments for WRIT 1301

1. Camille Paglia writes, “ One of my male students recently slept overnight with a friend in a passageway of the Great Pyramid in Egypt. He described the moon and sand, the ancient silence and eerie echoes. I am a woman. I will never experience that. I am not stupid enough to believe I could ever be safe there. There is a world of solitary adventure I will never have. Women have always known these somber truths. But feminism, with its pie-in-the-sky fantasies about the perfect world, keeps young women from seeing life as it is.?

You are a feminist activist and Camille Paglia is your best friend. Over dinner at your place, you challenge the position she implies here. In one sentence, articulate that challenge just as you would say it.

2. In one sentence, summarize the main point from last night’s reading. (We will then compare these to begin class.)

Writing sample - art history

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art history writing clause for syllabus

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Carol's 5-minute papers

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August 22, 2007

late semester paper assignment for a US foreign policy course

US foreign policy 1xxx level course, adapted from a 2005 assignment

Paper Assignment.

Evaluate the accuracy of the following statement:

“From reading the 9-11 Report and Cameron’s book one can better understand both the U.S. decision to overthrow Mossadegh in 1953 and how easy it would have been to prevent 9-11. Five books read in this course – Gaddis, Bacevich, Kinzer, Cameron, and the 9-11 Report – offer very similar ideas about the key ingredients for good or effective US foreign policy. The theme of all five is how US foreign policy changed as the world changed, but the most important insights are Cameron’s discussion of how loose and decentralized the policy process can be?.

Note: “evaluate? means to assess the accuracy of the claims in this statement about the five books it mentions.
Details of the assignment

• Due date is class on April 25. Late papers will be penalized one letter grade.

• Paper length is 9-10 pages, typed double space in arial or times new roman 12 font or the equivalent.

• Be sure to provide citations to specific pages of the 5 books to substantiate the points you make in the paper.

• An “A? paper assesses each of the statement’s claims about these five books; substantiates its conclusions about each claim with references to specific, relevant passages of specific books; and is presented with clarity that makes the paper easy to follow.

• In writing the paper assume your audience is someone who has read these books but has not yet decided what she or he thinks about the statement. That is where your insights come in.

International Relations initial assignment

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Writing in International Relations

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Initial Writing Assignment

A second try at uploading the file.

Initial Writing Assignment

This assignment is intended as an in-class diagnostic for the first meeting.

Political Parties 2 In-class assignments

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Political Parties--Short Writing Assignment

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Israeli-Palestinian course: two small, out of class writing assignments

Two possible writing assignments for the Palestinian-Israeli course

Version 1

“The Wittes volume asks whether Israelis and Palestinians do things in very different ways, and whether those contrasts of style reinforce the conflict between them. It answers neither question.?

Write a three page paper that evaluates this statement. “Evaluate? means to assess the accuracy of what the statement says about the Wittes book. Assume the audience for your paper is someone who is interested in the topic, genuinely wonders if the above statement is correct, and skimmed the book too fast to know whether this statement is correct or not.

The paper is due a week from today. Papers that receive “A? grades will be easy for the grader to understand, will accurately gauge how the statement relates to the book, and will support their argument with citations to specific pages of Wittes that are germane to assessing this statement.

Be sure your paper focuses on the claims of the statement.


Version 2

You are a columnist who writes on international issues three days a week and whose column is carried in 129 daily newspapers. You happen to pick up the Wittes volume because someone left one on your seat as they got off the plane in Chicago. You are now flying on that plane from Chicago to Anchorage, and you need to do another column anyway, and you decide to write a column arguing that Israelis and Palestinians each need to rethink how they negotiate. Since you are going to be on the plane for hours, it is a good time to do the column.

Your audience has no clue about this topic, particularly the kinds of things that the Dajani and the Kleiman chapters of Wittes discuss. Write a 3 page “column? or op-ed opinion piece that conveys the themes of those chapters to a general, intelligent, but non-expert audience. The column must be typed double space with arial or times roman font 12 or the equivalent.

In writing this you as a columnist know it is crucial to make your column interesting to the readers. You also know that telling people something that surprises them can be part of doing so.


This “column? is due a week from today. It will receive two separate grades, both pass/fail. One grade is based solely on the first and the last paragraphs. If the reader can discern what the column says from these two paragraphs, you pass – unless the paragraphs repeat themselves, in which case it is a fail.

The other grade is based on the entire paper. “Fail? corresponds to “columns? that do not leave the reader with a clear point and/or that seem unrelated to the Wittes volume and/or that do not have more than 5 paragraphs.

Palestinian-Israeli course

Israeli/Palestinian course
12 minute in class assignment

One of your friends, who is a 9th grade teacher, lights up as you mention that you are taking a course on the Israeli-Palestinian situation. The friend says: “wow, next month my 9th grade social studies class will spend two weeks on this topic…..from what you are learning, please tell recommend 3 historical items (events, dates, etc.) before 1948 that for sure I should mention to the class as background on this topic.?

Since this person is a friend, you want to help. Respond with 3 paragraphs, each listing one event and for that event providing a brief justification for why that event is very important in the history of this conflict.

The teacher for whom you are writing these paragraphs is intelligent and dedicated but has no background on this issue. You by comparison are becoming an expert.

Note: twelve minutes from now groups will form in which people compare their answers to this exercise and develop a diagram of some important events in the pre-1948 history based on these papers. The group diagram and the individual papers will than be collected and read but not graded. You will receive credit for participating in this exercise so be sure you name is on your paper.

Israeli-Palestinian course


Writing is intrinsic to the topic of this course. Whether one looks at the text of an international agreement, such as UN Resolution 242 which took months to negotiate, the prepared statements of leaders, or (if we could get access to them) intelligence reports that top level leaders sometimes read very carefully, part of what frames and drives this issue is the product of extensive deliberation over the wording of texts. Similarly, the most creative ideas for how to defuse the conflict and the most vituperative statements about who the other side really is are likely the result of writing, rewriting, discussion, and more rewriting.

One could readily elicit agreement among prominent Israelis and prominent Palestinians on the importance of writing. One could also find agreement from thoughtful historians in both communities of this conflict that the quest to make a text clear often becomes a journey in better understanding the topics of that text. These people have discovered that as they write Hebrew or Arabic from right to left; through this course, you will have opportunities to rediscover the same thing by writing English from left to right. The course, moreover, seeks to help support you in the process of writing.

In this course you will write short statements that identify the most important points are in a set of readings. In various stages you will develop a paper that poses a question about the topic of the course, using readings assigned in the course and additional readings to analyze that question. You will also have an opportunity a week in advance to develop answers to possible essay questions on the mid-semester test and on the final examination. Finally, there will be group discussion exercises in which groups develop written answers to questions about the topic.

WRIT 1301-059 Writing Assignment #1: Personal Narrative

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HI Everyone,
Any comments on this assignment would be greatly appreciated. Thanks! Emily

German 3011 Writing

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August 21, 2007

initial writing assignment assignment

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Communications Triangle

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August 19, 2007

Bean, Chapter #1

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August 18, 2007

Welcome, 2007 seminar participants.

You will all be added to this blog, which means that you'll be able to both post and comment. Please let me know if you have trouble doing either.