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Course Projects & Grading

You belong here. So do your classmates.

You belong here if you are quant, qual, crit, or undecided. You belong here if schools and society have crapped on you and your community. You belong here if you had great teachers and positive experiences of schooling. You belong here if you are Sikh, Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Secular Humanist, Pagan. You belong here, especially if you are still figuring out what and who you are. You belong here if you are documented, DACAmented, or undocumented. You belong here if you are a person of color, or “white,” or perceived to be white, or mixed, or perceived to be a bunch of things that you aren’t. You belong here if you are disabled, differently-abled, or neurotypical and able-bodied. You belong here if you identify as gender non-conforming or LGBTQIA, or if you’re still learning what some of those letters mean. You belong here if you grew up speaking like an NBC news broadcaster, or your abuelita’s language, or if you style-shift from one kind of English to another or code-switch from English to another language of heart and home and back again. You belong here if your mom was a professor, or if you were the first one in your family to graduate from high school. Whatever your body type, appearance, talents, abilities, identities, histories, or backgrounds, you belong here if you are here to learn how to make classrooms and schools more humane, inclusive, respectful, rigorous, and just.

— Adapted from Kerry Enright

We do a lot of reading, writing, and revising in this course, and we will review and discuss your work at various stages in its production. You should plan ahead in order to stay abreast of the course calendar and to allow time for the most important parts of the writing processes: rereading, revising, and rethinking. The revision process that occurs between your first and final drafts usually requires attention to several elements, such as critical thinking, mechanics, tone, and arrangement, and our grading criteria includes an evaluation of your initiative and follow-through in the revising process. Your evaluations and grades also include in-class writing and your timely, substantive, and professional feedback in peer-editing workshops.

Each major assignment must be completed to receive a passing grade in the course. Deadlines are negotiable only in cases of a documented medical emergency; without prior arrangements, late work will be marked down one letter grade for every day it is late.

Grading and Evaluation Criteria

  • Perplexity. For every assignment, you need to find some genuine inquiry question or perplexity. That is, don’t just tell four obvious reasons why dishonesty is bad or why democracy is good. Root your paper in a felt question about honesty or democracy—a problem or an itch that itches you. (By the way, this is a crucial skill to learn for success in college: how to find a question that interests you–even in a boring assignment.)
  • Thinking. Having found a perplexity, then use your assignment to do some figuring-out. Make some intellectual gears turn. Thus your essays and projects need to move or go somewhere—needs to have a line of thinking.
  • Critical Thinking. This is the one common element that underlies all of our assignments, activities, and discussions. Critical thinking is easy to identify when listening to or reading other people’s work, as they have reflected on their biases, assumptions, and received-wisdom ideologies. It is not so easy from the writer’s or speaker’s position, however, because these are intellectually demanding challenges.

Your contributions to the intellectual life of our class:

  • Raising interesting, relevant, and generative questions that help us understand issues under discussion
  • Being respectful
  • Active & empathetic listening (excellent background on Listening and Critical Thinking), which includes eye contact and appropriate body language, which are seen as important components to active listening
  • Please refrain from “playing devil’s advocate.” The devil has enough advocates. Instead, take responsibility for positions that you hold or for “thinking aloud” if that is what you wish to do. If you are looking for ways to express that you want to know what dominant culture thinks about “x” or “y” topic, go ahead and ask it in that way.

All of the writing and document design you do in this class is evaluated with this criteria in mind:

  • Your ability to articulate an intended rhetorical effect, and the steps taken to achieve that effect
  • Your attention to the rhetorical situation and your ability to adapt to multiple audiences
  • Your effective and appropriate use of visuals
  • Your ability to edit and revise

Grading & Assessment

Full credit: the writer submitted exceptional reader-based work that fulfills all of the assignment requirements, and is professional and precise in word choice, tone, and presentation. Demonstrates a commitment to reader-based writing, revising, proofreading, and editing/document design. Evidence of engagement with both critical thinking and perplexity.

Partial credit: the writer submitted work that completes some of the assignment requirements; was not carefully revised, edited, or proofread. Focus is not on audience- or reader-based needs and expectations. Work was submitted after the deadline.

No credit: work does not fulfill the assignment requirements or was not submitted.