Here are a few tips as you get ready for our first Discussion Question assignment, due this coming Thursday (September 18th) at 10:00 pm CDT.
1) Read the question carefully, and make sure you’re answering what is being asked of you.
For example, the intention of the first discussion question is to get you thinking about your identity. The question is not “what would you do in Europe” or “would you enjoy studying abroad in New Zealand”. You may address these things if they help you write about your personal identity, but always make sure that you are answering the question.
Clearly answer each question posed for discussion. It is best to use sub-headings (Part A, Part B….).
2) Use course material when relevant, and cite it.
These discussion posts are the only way that you can prove to us that you are actually “attending” (viewing) the video lectures and completing the assigned readings. Because of this, referring to the readings, lectures, podcasts, etc. is a major part of getting a good grade for you answer. For discussion posts we will not be strict about citation format, as long as it’s clear what you’re referring to. If you’re directly quoting a text, you MUST indicate page number. Here are some examples for how you’d refer to the textbook:
In South Asia, tea has become “a catalyst of economic, social and political change” (textbook: 360). [Has direct quote. Need to put page.]
The textbook explains how tea has affected not only the economies of South Asia, but also the social and political landscape. [No direct quote, so no page needed. Clearly tells us that textbook is being used as evidence here.]
It is perfectly fine and welcomed to personalize discussion questions and answer the questions with personal experiences as examples, especially for Discussion Forum #1’s topic. Keep in mind, however, you still need to show you can intertwine your personal experience with the material learned in the weekly readings, podcasts, lectures, and movies.
2b) Use a variety of course material–not just one source. When possible, put different sources in conversation with each other. Combining sources to form a single idea or argument shows a good understanding of the material and sophisticated thought. We understand that not every single source is useful for every question, and we definitely don’t expect you to use every single source for every question.
3) Be specific, and justify arguments/claims that you make.
This means answering “WHY” and “HOW” questions. If you claim studying abroad in Canada will make you feel more like a North American citizen rather than just an American, tell us WHY. If you claim that living in Europe would “change” how you relate to your country of origin, you need to explain HOW your relationship would change (and, of course, WHY it would change!).
4) You may use outside information, but this is certainly NOT required and we’re not asking you to do this. Completely cite any outside information that you do use (e.g. full name of book, article, full URL…).
Because we’re using these questions partly to gauge how much you are learning from course materials, using outside sources does NOT take the place of using course materials.
5) Keep your responses to two pages. If you make sure that every sentence is helping to answer the specific questions answered, this will be easier to do. Not a big deal if you have a few sentences on page three. If you have 2.5 pages, though, put on your editing hat and do some sentence surgery.
Grading the Discussion and Response
As the syllabus outlines, the discussion forum activities total up to 70% of your final grade (5 x 14%). To help gauge the quality of the response, we will use the following rubric (click to expand):
If you enter your dropbox submission, the rubric scoring will be found there.
Please note, to earn full credit, your response needs to be quite good. This means that it will likely be very difficult to consistently earn 100%. We will be assessing each response individually.
And finally, please remember that voluntary reactions to one or more other students’ contributions are encouraged. Activity and quality engagement in the forums help generate a sense of community and enhance learning outcomes. Your engagement with and reactions to classmates’ posts will be noted when making decisions about borderline grade decisions (e.g., AB vs B), with up to 3% bonus points possible. Allocation of these bonus points is at our discretion.
Kramer & Cathy