Sunday, December 2, 2007

Formatting the final papers + Q & A

See the final portfolio document on blackboard for the full details (updated with this info),
Final research paper:
>3 pages 1.5 spacing max if pure text; or go by less than 1,000 words to allow the use of images and tables without being limited by pages (not a bad idea usually).
>Split the bibliography into two sections, one list for sources directly cited to the paper (call it bibliography cited), one for sources consulted but not cited directly (bibliography consulted).

Reflection paper:
>No page limit, write as much or as little as you want. The paper itself isn't necessarily graded, but it's very instrumental as a guide in assessing your overall portfolio, class participation and progress through the entire semester (combined for 50% of course assessments).
>Format it for readability, use subtitles in bold to partition the paper ("research on previous topic, reflection on course assignments, developments on my primary topic, etc. etc.").
>Times new roman font, size 12. You'll also have to upload a digital version of both papers, I'll address that last day of class.

We'll have time to go through questions and details on weds in class, bring questions. And I'll also schedule an optional session beyond the last day of class, maybe the day before portfolio's due date to address any very last minute concerns.
Q: Which blogsignments to include the final portfolio, what to do with the reference interview
A: Reference interview isn't necessary and got ax'd when blog commenting became optional, bi-monthly updates were instituted in its place. None of the blogsignments need to be printed out, however, having a listing pointing out which blog post date corresponds to which blogsignment will be helpful to include in the portfolio.

Q: So I'm working on topic x, the critical analysis part is determining which sources are most reliable and unbiased for my information correct?
A: Sources is one part of the picture. By critical analysis I mean taking an iterative approach to breaking down and analyze the topic area through the questioning process. To be critical, one has to be very well informed on that given topic area (hence a whole semester to read and drill the topic). Sources can inform your topic/question development, and be used as support in the response write up. Your final paper is a synthesis of the ideas, perspectives, or issues - all of which defined by you, packaged and expressed with supportive evidence from the sources.

All the assignments and exercises in the course are designed as waypoints to the process I described above. The key to delivering a strong project portfolio is extensive iteration and critical exploration (and document those). The purpose of reviewing multiple sources is to develop this sense of critical analysis, in that you're not simply citing/repeating what one author said, but you can see what he's saying, why he said it, how he's saying it, by having built an informed knowledge base in your iterative exploration process. And will effectively be able to critically support what that author said, or counter it, with evidence from your sources, which is in turn based on what you have read and learned from the broader exploration you've engaged in reaching toward the end of the project. And if its not in your current source list, you are able and capable of retrieving said source, analyze said info, and use it to support said perspective.

Retrieving and evaluating information are the basics of the course, taking them to the next level with critically analyzing and effectively using said information in a meaningful context is the stuff that matters the most. Sources are the lego building blocks, I'm looking for what you can do with a pile of legos. If you're still not sure, ask me in class and I'll walk through some samples with the topic areas.

No comments: