This course will be a revised version of the WR121 I taught in Winter 16. One of the major differences this term is that the course will no longer be comprised of a mixed Honors/non-Honors cohort. I have decided to step back from teaching Honors courses until Lane’s Honors Program is more stable and there is genuine demand for Honors courses. It is my hope that eliminating the mixed cohort will make the class more cohesive and successful than it has been when taught to a mixed cohort of students.
The theme of the course is “Re-thinking Stereotypes and ‘The Single Story.’” Our framing pieces for the course will be Chimamanda Adichie’s “The Danger of a Single Story,”” Kevin Sullivan and Linda Davidson’s Washington Post piece “Refuge” and a collection of military narratives from StoryCorp. Collectively these pieces will begin a term-long conversation about the danger of telling/believing in “single stories” of a group of people and the empowerment that can come when detailed, nuanced understandings of groups of people which surpass “single stories” are told.
Each student will choose a specific group of people they are somehow connected with to focus on this term. In the first half of the term they will research/write about the stereotypes and single story that has been created for their chosen group. In the second half of the term they will do research within the group in order to write a piece that challenges the single story of the group by telling a detailed, nuanced version of how the group sees and understands themselves.
Each student will create an ePortfolio that they will work on over the course of the term. This ePortoflio will house all their work for the term and allow them to reflect upon this work and become increasingly aware of their metacognative practices. In this version of the course students will have more in-class time to work on their ePortfolios, which I’m hoping will increase the amount of one-on-one time I have to spend with students who need a bit of extra help using the WordPress platform and/or understanding the process of metacognition.
As always I’m greatly looking forward to seeing which groups students choose to focus on and to learning information about each of these groups that will help me challenge my own ideas and beliefs about the world and its inhabitants.
This section of the course improved over the last section I taught. While there was still more attrition than I would have liked, most of that in this section was due to personal circumstances in students’ lives that prevented them from completing the course with far less attrition related directly to the use of ePortfolios, which I saw in previously taught sections of the course.
Students in this section seemed to more fully grasp and appreciate the idea of composing an ePortfolio and working an a single scaffolded project over the course of a term rather than on multiple discrete projects produced in more traditional academic writing genres. Many of the ePortfolios produced in this class were cohesive and thoughtfully crafted so the different pages worked together to form one cohesive whole.
The Annotated Bibliography and Online Article Assignment seemed to the strongest overall assignments in the course, with many students really hitting their stride here, especially in terms of crafting their writing for the specific writing situation in which they were composing. I was also pleasantly surprised to see students nearly across the board craft strong, detailed Course Goal/CLO reflections that demonstrated their learning over the term as well as their metacognative abilities.
The Media Analysis assignment continues to be problematic. I still cannot figure out exactly why/how students get confused when working on this assignment. My best guess is that it’s so far removed from the kinds of academic writing they are used to being asked to do that they simply don’t know how to navigate the assignment and its expectations. I will have a course-embedded tutor next time I teach this class and have asked for her help, as she works with students, in trying to identify what it is about this assignment that isn’t working so that I can revise it. I also need to work on clarifying the expectations in the Group Profile section of the Online Article assignment. For next term I’ve added an extra in-class workshop day for research to prepare for the Online Article, and am hoping this will help me provide students with more guidance about what kinds of sources will work well for this part of the assignment as well as provide more strategies for how to use their sources in this section of the assignment.