Thursday, April 28, 2005

Comm 200: Readings, Dossiers and More Dossiers

Hey Guys. I know that everyone is burning at at both ends these days but I wanted to remind you of a couple of things as we finish, and say something new as well.

1) First: Even if you have read the articles for Friday, please re-read them. One of things that I think you should learn how to do in college is to re-read. It isn't a skill that many of us think of as valuable because much of our busy lives but it is far more important than many of us would like to admit. Often articles we are researching will enlighten you in a different manner than it did the first time. This may be because concepts you didn't get the first time you finally get. It may be because you just didn't notice what was going on the first time. This is true for all of us. I know that there have been books I come to once or twice a year and I feel like they pay off in different ways every time I read them.

2) If there are a set of questions I would like you to ask of everything piece of research you read and write for college, they would be
1) What is the thesis?
2) What is the unit or units of analysis?
3) How did the researcher investigate and analyse their data? Always remember, how questions are method questions!
4) What is the research question that the person is trying to answer?
5) What is at stake in this research? If you do not know what is at stake, ask the teacher. For me this is always something that I feel like I need to know. Research is not something that should be done purely for the pleasure of research. Research always has real world consequences. Some research is better known than others, but all research, when done, gives us a new understanding of a topic, method or question. Giving the world a new understanding is a real world consequence!
6) Could this research be proven or disproven? If it cannot then it probably isn't research. It could be an essay, but not a research essay.
7) What kind of sources is the researcher drawing from? When you begin an article try this: start with the endnotes and works cited first and take note of what the sources are. This will always clue you into other kinds of questions?
Believe it or not these are lessons that are easy to state but difficult to learn. Practice these in your upcoming classes and make them habits of the mind. The more habitual they become the better student and learner you will become. And that's one you can take to the bank!

Tomorrow, bring your dossiers. Last week you spent some time looking at each others works cited. Look at these again tonight and now look see what you would like to xerox in other folders. You may also want to bring your earliest drafts with RQs and Theses and workshop them in class. We will be doing that on Monday as well. I know that this is a busy time, but I do have high hopes for you. Also, tomorrow, please be ready to leave your dossiers behind. I would like to, with your permission, place them in library here in Higley so that we can access them for the next week. All I ask is that when you look at an article you LEAVE THE DOSSIER IN THE SAME CONDITION AS YOU FOUND IT. You all worked really hard on your work and we should be considerate of each others work.

Finally, I need to let you know that I have one VERY IMPORTANT REQUEST regarding your dossiers. Please note, when you turn in your repory you should...
1) Make certain your proposal has a detachable cover sheet with all of your information (do not print on the other side!!!)

2) Please, no self-identifying information throughout the paper in any way shape or form!!!

3)Failure to do so will result in an automatic “incomplete” for the course and the assignment.
The reason I need it in this fashion is that your papers will be read by othger professors in the department to see if we are doing a solid job in the 200 level course. We value anonymity and no professor reading your paper will have an effect on your grade for the class. In fact, we will read them in August well after your grades are returned. We think this is a valuable way to see what is working and what isn't. By giving us this kind of anonymous feedback you will be making us better teachers and much more robust department.

Take care and see you tomorrow.

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