READING-RESPONSE POSTS, 15%
These are 300-to-500-word opinionated summaries, ten of them (one for each reading), posted to the discussion forum: synopses of the week's readings, inter-larded with some evaluation of their claims and arguments. When you don't understand something, or don't see its point, put that in your summary. You are welcome--in fact, encouraged--to take an informal tone, to mention current research, or connections to popular culture and your own life, to include links to relevant sites, to use the discussions to integrate the seminar with the business of living. Just stay on point.
The 15% comes from an (almost) all-or-nothing formula. The posts will not be graded: you will get 15% for doing them all, on time, 10% if you miss one deadline, 0% if you miss more than one--yes, you read that correctly: 0%. So, it is better to submit something half-baked than to submit nothing at all, but I do expect you to meet minimal standards of relevance and cogency (we reserve the right to require a re-submission for posts that meander on about Paris Hilton's canine companions or your in-grown toelnail).
Posts should be submitted by midnight on the Sunday before the class, beginning 11 May. Everyone is expected to read everyone else's posts, and you are encouraged to reply to each other, picking up and developing themes or posing questions or answering them.
Please keep in mind that this is a seminar: you are expected to take an active role in the course. I will use a merit/demerit policy to evaluate your participation.
Merit will be awarded primarily on the quality of participation: asking relevant questions; making relevant observations; complementing or developing someone else's contribution; and generally being a constructive member of the class. Quantity of participation is a positive factor to the extent that lots of quality contributions are preferable to a few quality contributions, but a few relevant contributions a week are all I expect.
Demerit will be assessed reluctantly, and only on the basis of repeated instances. The grounds for the demerit system are: absenteeism (you can't participate if you're not there); whispering or chatting while other people are talking, students or lecturers; or making lengthy, unfocused comments that draw away from the general thread of discussion.
You should start thinking of your topic from early in the course, one that relates to your own studies and, perferably, leverages off the expertise of one of our lecturers; if it feeds into a thesis or dissertation, so much the better. Feel free to talk to me or to any of the lecturers about your ideas; we can help you shape your topic and steer you toward useful research. But whether or not you talk to anyone about your topic, you will need to submit a proposal on 18 June, which I will read and discuss with you. This proposal is worth 10%. It should demonstrate some thought, and a brief, preliminary bibliography.I will not accept an essay for the course if (1) this proposal has not been submitted, on time, and (2) the topic has not been approved. In rare circumstances, I may require a new proposal or a re-submission.
For your research, do not rely solely on the course readings and lectures, or assigned readings from other courses; you will need to go directly into the scholarly literature, from cognitive science and from your home discipline. Hit the library, physically or virtually.
The essay should be about 15 pages long and will have to meet the standards of graduate scholarship. Use the preferred citation style of your home discipline. It will be assessed as follows:
Articulation of the problem you are addressing: 15%
Use of research in building your case: 25%
Quality of argument: 20%
Style and grammar (sentence and paragraph structure, diction, spelling, punctuation, agreement, ...): 15%
From many students' perspectives, the digital universe has made plaigiarism more tempting than ever before (it has also, by the way, made plaigiarism detection easier than ever before), and it has made issues of intellectual property increasingly fuzzy. But ideas and words are sponsored and propogated by people: you need to respect the intellectual labour of those people. Familiarize yourself with policy #71. I will enforce it.
Your essay is due on 30 July. On that day, you will also present it to the class. Make sure you calculate the presentation into your timeline. If you finish your paper at 6:32 AM on the 30th, you will not have time to much more than shower, brush your teeth, shave your shavables, put on some unwrinkled, non-stained clothing, and get to class on time. It will be nice to see you all cleaned up, but unless you can also present coherently, that won't be enough to get you a decent grade.
You will have 10-15 minutes, including set up, for your presentation. (If necessary, we may need to book more time for this last class.)
If you have any peripherals-requirements at all, please make sure you work them out ahead of time. Please note that you do not need any aids. A presentation without displays can be very effective; so can one with a whiteboard or an overhead projector. And a presentation with unsuitable or poorly used or superfluous displays can be very ineffective. But if you do want to use a browser, or presentation software (Powerpoint, Keynote, OpenOffice, ...), or the like, you need to work out the details ahead of time. If you want to use my machine for the presentation (which is the most efficient way to manage any kind of projection), I will need the file(s) at least 24 hours ahead of time, so I can check compatibility and corruption issues. If you are using your own, make very sure you know how to manage all the relevant technologies. All of this is your responsibility (though I will certainly help the best I can): even if you are only using a whiteboard, you need to ensure you have the markers.
For your presentation, DO NOT JUST READ YOUR ESSAY. Summarize it, draw attention to the key points, note its implications, link it to the themes of the course: make it meaningful for the audience. It will be assessed as follows:
Articulation of the issue you are addressing: 15%
Summary of research: 25%
Application of research: 25%
Quality of argument: 20%
Clarity and style (enunciation, volume, gesture, use of displays): 15%
Reading Response Posts, weekly, before midnight the Sunday preceding class
Proposal, 18 June
Presentation, 30 July
Essay, 30 July