Dear Class,

Here are a few tips as you get ready for our first Synthesis Assignment. Note that if you scroll down you’ll see a detailed rubric that we’ll be using to grade all five of these assignments.

1) Read the question carefully, and make sure you’re answering what is being asked of you.

For example, the intention of our first assignment 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: how would your personal identity change.

Clearly answer each question posed in the prompt.  It is best to use sub-headings (Part A, Part B….).

2) Use course material when relevant, and cite it.

Your written assignments 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. We will not be strict about citation format, as long as it’s clear what you’re referring to. If you are directly quoting a text, you MUST indicate the page number.

Here are some examples for how you could 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.]

Note that many times the articles are written by the same people who give lectures or podcasts. Make clear which you are referring to. You could use parenthetical citations…

(Lewis, n.d.: 3), (Lewis, lecture), (Corbett 2013), (Corbett, lecture)

…or just give the citation in your sentence…

“Lewis’s article explains…”; “However, in Mark Cooper’s podcast we hear that…”

It is perfectly fine and welcomed to personalize your responses by including personal experiences as examples, especially considering the focus of this first prompt.  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) Try not to exceed 1000 words. 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 go over a little bit, but if you are way over the limits, put on your editing hat and do some sentence surgery.

6) If you are not an American citizen, and especially if you are a Canadian or New Zealander or Spaniard, you can still complete the assignment! Just flag the fact that you are approaching the question differently given your identity/background (explain what it is so we know, OK!).  And keep in mind that even if you are Canadian, for example, spending time in Quebec City if you are from Moose Jaw is likely to be just like studying abroad given cultural differences across space in the country. So go for it – just explain how you’ll approach it.

Grading Your Assignment

As the syllabus outlines, the Synthesis Assignments forum activities total up to XX% of your final grade (X x XX%). 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.

Happy writing!

Cathy & Nicolle

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