Research Project: Making Connections Between Texts

Research Project: Making Connections Between Texts

Amy Sawford

English Department / City Tech

ENG1121 – English Composition II

Activity Description: Provide a brief description of the activity

This activity is a research project that asks students to make connections between texts. Students will work on a “long-term” end-of-semester project that requires six components. Students will submit a research proposal of intended work (based on the following prompt), participate in library instruction, submit an annotated bibliography, participate in two peer review workshops, complete a 5-to-6-page essay assignment, and finish their experience with a short in-class writing reflection. All these components will focus around this prompt: students will choose any one story, poem, or play on the syllabus (their choice) and two scholarly journal articles that they’ll find through research from the school’s library database. The purpose of this assignment will ask students to think about and investigate how one text shapes, or impacts their reading, of another text. Students will take this skill further and deepen this by bringing in outside research of their own. For this essay I’d like students to locate two scholarly journal articles that will serve as the “lens” through which they analyze your chosen work of literature. Students will explain how the articles shape their interpretation of the work of literature. For example, how do the articles help to understand the issues that the literature raises? Or, do the articles show that these issues are more complex than the literature would lead us to believe? Or, do the articles challenge the argument made in the piece of literature? Or, do the articles support that argument? The Targeted Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs) that this project will engage with are: Knowledge (engage in inquiry-based learning), Skills (communication and inquiry), Integration (gathers, interpret, and evaluate literature and sources), and Values, Ethics, and Relationships (personal development and ethics).

Learning Goals: What do you aim to achieve with this activity?

Students must show that they understand how literature connects to research, or vice versa, but particularly how literature and research can be used as a “lens.” Furthermore, students will integrate the reading, analysis, and discussion of literature into the writing process. Students will demonstrate how research can shape their interpretation of the work of literature. Overall, students will:
•Produce a well-defined thesis on a literary topic pertinent to the course and develop it into an effective and well-organized essay.
•Demonstrate in writing the standards of grammar and style in a discipline-specific context.
•Integrate the reading, analysis, and discussion of literature into writing processes. (Employ active reading strategies to interpret and evaluate complicated texts.)
•Complete research that distinguishes among a variety of resources based on a standard criterion.
•Produce a research paper that demonstrates competency in ethical thinking and information literacy.
•Overall, for this assignment specifically, students will demonstrate skills in college-level writing, reading, and critical thinking and investigate the ethical dimensions or cultural issues through thoughtful writing (considering and implementing Aristotle’s Mode of Argument).

In addition, the Targeted Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs) are:
•Knowledge (engage in inquiry-based learning)
•Skills (communication and inquiry)
•Integration (gathers, interpret, and evaluate literature and sources)
•Values, Ethics, and Relationships (personal development and ethics)

Timing: At what point in the lesson or semester do you use this activity? How much classroom time do you devote to it? How much out-of-class time is expected?

This project is intended for English Composition II and is to be assigned toward the end of the semester (but early enough for students to be able to plan the work ahead). Students will have worked on a series of scaffolding assignments to develop this project (researching scholarly articles and providing an annotated bibliography, for example). Students will be asked to take a previously selected reading from the semester and consider how research can be used as a “lens” to their chosen work. By the end of this project, students will have completed at least 7-8 pages of college-level writing using MLA format between the various assignments with targeted due dates (for example, research proposal, annotated bibliography, peer workshop, library instruction reflection writing). Students will work together to discuss their research plan and two peer workshops (two rough drafts of progress). Students will do research and library instruction, visiting the library at least twice during this project. Students will engage with topics concerning local and global issues. Ideally, the timeframe for this assignment would be at least six weeks before the end of the semester. There should be dedicated class time for this project, as well as at least 3 hours a week outside of the class for research, drafting, and revising.

Logistics: What preparation is needed for this activity? What instructions do you give students? Is the activity low-stakes, high-stakes, or something else?

Students must use the library and its databases to conduct research. By the end, this activity will be considered high-stakes, especially since it takes multiple smaller projects to complete and takes time to complete. I think this assignment is appropriately weighted to be at least 25%-30% of the student’s final grade. This assignment includes six components to complete:

1. Research Proposal
2. Library Instruction
3. Annotated Bibliography
4. Peer Review
5. Essay Assignment
6. Reflection

Research Proposal (Working Thesis): Students should select a research topic that impacts their understanding of humanity in some way. For example, if a student decides to further investigate Aylmer and Georgiana’s decision about ethics and beauty in Nathanial Hawthorne’s “The Birth-Mark” and bring that back to research about plastic surgery (or even the impact of social media filters or body image, for example), then potentially students could connect literature devices to everyday life, culture, tradition, and beliefs. Furthermore, setting is just as important. For example, students could investigate place and how humans are manipulated by spaces (think Edward Soja and his argument regarding lonely spaces in big cities), so another idea could allow students to consider how setting determines empathy. For example, the idea of mental illness in Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wall-Paper.”

Library Instruction: Part of this assignment requires students to visit the CityTech Library (and hopefully inspire a trip their local public library). Students will respond to an assignment in which students will be asked to:
•Tour the CityTech Library (and participate in Library Instruction presented by a librarian if they have not done so already)
•Register/activate their library card (if they have not done so already)
•Check out a book (preferably one related to their intended research)
•Logon to a computer on campus and print out a scholarly article (preferably one related to their intended research)
•Take a selfie in the library (this could be used later to upload this project in an eportfolio)
•Reflect on their experience in the library (sounds, smells, space, feelings)

Annotated Bibliography: Students must show that they understand how literature connects to research, or vice versa, but particularly how literature and research and be used as a “lens.” Furthermore, students will integrate the reading, analysis, and discussion of literature into writing processes. (Employ active reading strategies to interpret and evaluate complicated texts.) Complete research that distinguishes among a variety of resources based on a standard criterion.

Peer Review: Students will collaborate and work with their peers and discuss their ideas and research as well as review their drafts and provide feedback. There will be a preliminary peer review and a more detailed peer review.

Essay Assignment: The purpose of this assignment asks students to think about how one text shapes their reading of another text. This essay assignment will continue to investigate how one reading impacts another. Students will take this skill further and deepen this by bringing in outside research of their own. For this essay I’d like students to locate two scholarly journal articles that will serve as the “lens” through which they analyze their chosen work of literature. Explain how the articles shape their interpretation of the work of literature. For example, do the articles help students understand the issues that the literature raises? Or, do they show that these issues are more complex than the literature would lead us to believe? Or, do they challenge the argument made in the piece of literature? Or, do they support that argument?

Students will choose:
•Any ONE story, poem, or play on the syllabus (your choice)
•TWO scholarly journal articles that you’ll find through research

Final draft:
•5 full pages (not including the Works Cited page), double-spaced, Times New Roman, 12-point font. Students must also hand in all component activities, including rough draft, peer review sheets, and copies of scholarly sources along with the final draft.

Overall, this project is meant for students to develop ‘Intercultural Knowledge and Competence’ by evaluating research and a text and considering:
•Cultural Self-Awareness (how students relate themes in literature to their own values and beliefs as well as to characters and their development)
•Empathy (Students must consider Aristotle’s Mode of Argument)
•Verbal and Nonverbal Communication (rhetoric)
•Curiosity (questioning literature for research and how literature impacts how we view current issues)
•Openness (comparing their own culture and beliefs and approaching critical thinking and analytical writing working with an open mind)

Targeted Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs):
•Knowledge (engage in inquiry-based learning)
•Skills (communication and inquiry)
•Integration (gathers, interpret, and evaluate literature and sources)
•Values, Ethics, and Relationships (personal development and ethics)

Targeted High-Impact Education Practices (HIEPs):
•Writing-Intensive Courses (7+ pages of written work over time)
•Collaborative Assignments and Projects (peer workshop and collaborative reflections)
•Undergraduate Research (search for scholarly articles)
•Place-Based Learning (library instruction and interaction)

Assessment: How do you assess this activity? What assessment measures do you use? Do you use a VALUE rubric? If not, how did you develop your rubric? Is your course part of the college-wide general education assessment initiative?

In addition to using the VALUE rubric, as discussed above, I will also use my own rubric for each assignment. Students will have these rubrics up front to use a checklist to organize and keep track of their work as they move along. For the essay itself, I will assess the final essay’s introduction, organization of ideas, support, style, formatting, citation, etc.

Reflection: How well did this activity work in your classroom? Would you repeat it? Why or why not? What challenges did you encounter, and how did you address them? What, if anything, would you change? What did students seem to enjoy about the activity?

Although I am refining an existing research project, this particular activity has not been assigned yet.

Additional Information: Please share any additional comments and further documentation of the activity – e.g. assignment instructions, rubrics, examples of student work, etc. These can be links to pages or posts on the OpenLab.

Please share a helpful link to a pages or post on the OpenLab

Testing Usability, Learning Ethics

Testing Usability, Learning Ethics

Joe Jeyaraj

English

Planning and Testing User Documentation (Eng 3780)

Activity Description: Provide a brief description of the activity

Students will do usability testing of a health document either they or a friend or relative may have used.

Learning Goals: What do you aim to achieve with this activity?

How well the document works for its audience and purpose.

Timing: At what point in the lesson or semester do you use this activity? How much classroom time do you devote to it? How much out-of-class time is expected?

In the second section of the course.

Logistics: What preparation is needed for this activity? What instructions do you give students? Is the activity low-stakes, high-stakes, or something else?

As assignments go, it is simple in its planning, but complex in its completion.

Assessment: How do you assess this activity? What assessment measures do you use? Do you use a VALUE rubric? If not, how did you develop your rubric? Is your course part of the college-wide general education assessment initiative?

I use a rubric that I have for upper level courses in technical and professional writing.

Reflection: How well did this activity work in your classroom? Would you repeat it? Why or why not? What challenges did you encounter, and how did you address them? What, if anything, would you change? What did students seem to enjoy about the activity?

I have given students a document I have personally used, and students generally respond well to this type of assignment because it involves their personal life.

Additional Information: Please share any additional comments and further documentation of the activity – e.g. assignment instructions, rubrics, examples of student work, etc. These can be links to pages or posts on the OpenLab.

Please share a helpful link to a pages or post on the OpenLab

What Is True/What Is Fake? Journalism Today

What Is True/What Is Fake? Journalism Today

Aaron Barlow

English/Arts & Sciences

Introduction to Journalism

Activity Description: Provide a brief description of the activity

Relation of a story by the professor about an encounter with an elephant (though it can be any story relevant to the instructor’s life that can be verified to some degree, at least, through research). The students are then asked to determine what truth there is in the story, if any, and to justify their conclusions. After the first class, the students are asked to search diligently across the internet for proof/dismissal of the professor’s claims. At the end of the discussion, students vote on the truth (or lack of it) of the story. If they ask the professor to tell them if the vote is correct or not, the response should be a shrug and the comment, “The question is, can you trust me?” This generally leaves the students baffled for a moment but, as the course moves on to other considerations, they generally start to understand.

Learning Goals: What do you aim to achieve with this activity?

Students are expected to come away with an understanding of the limits of classroom authority and of research itself.

Timing: At what point in the lesson or semester do you use this activity? How much classroom time do you devote to it? How much out-of-class time is expected?

This exercise is best done early in the semester. It generally takes a full class period plus a couple of homework hours and then about half an hour of the next class.

Logistics: What preparation is needed for this activity? What instructions do you give students? Is the activity low-stakes, high-stakes, or something else?

The professor needs to prepare relation of the story carefully, including within it enough clues for the students to be able to research the claims made. Students need to be taking notes while the professor talks and need to understand the use that will be made of those notes in the homework assignment. Before beginning to tell the tale, the instructor needs to carefully prepare the students.

Assessment: How do you assess this activity? What assessment measures do you use? Do you use a VALUE rubric? If not, how did you develop your rubric? Is your course part of the college-wide general education assessment initiative?

Because of the nature of this activity, which lies outside of assessment structures and can be harmed by them, this is not assessed.

Reflection: How well did this activity work in your classroom? Would you repeat it? Why or why not? What challenges did you encounter, and how did you address them? What, if anything, would you change? What did students seem to enjoy about the activity?

I have been using and developing this exercise for a decade and in a number of different classes and will continue to do so. It helps students understand the differing reactions, in terms of truth value, to different speakers in different positions. Plus, it introduces them to research tasks of a sort they generally have not encountered in other classes.

Additional Information: Please share any additional comments and further documentation of the activity – e.g. assignment instructions, rubrics, examples of student work, etc. These can be links to pages or posts on the OpenLab.

As part of a book I edited, I include the story I use for this exercise: https://www.academia.edu/888435/Elephant_Morning. When I relate it, I tell it differently, making sure to include dates, places and verifiable events as a basis for student research. The structure of the essay itself comes out, in part, from earlier uses of this exercise–but it also contains its own inaccuracies, liberties taken for the sake of the story. Every instructor has a tale or her or his own that can be used similarly.

Please share a helpful link to a pages or post on the OpenLab

A Gothic Guide to Brooklyn: Gothic Spaces Presentation

A Gothic Guide to Brooklyn: Gothic Spaces Presentation

Laura Westengard

English/School of Arts and Sciences

Eng 3407 (Gothic Lit. and Visual Culture) https://openlab.citytech.cuny.edu/groups/gothic-nyc/

Activity Description: Provide a brief description of the activity

Students created a travel guide for visitors interested in finding the “Gothic” spaces in Downtown Brooklyn (and the surrounding neighborhoods). Each group found a space in Brooklyn that they thought exhibited some of the Gothic elements we discussed in class. Then they created a profile of that place that describes the Gothic elements, analyzes the space in terms of one of the theoretical concepts discussed in class, and connects the space to one of the assigned literary texts.

These profiles will be posted on OpenLab along with images and videos. It will become a “Gothic Guide to Brooklyn!”

Learning Goals: What do you aim to achieve with this activity?

This place-based activity was designed to get students to view local architecture as a kind of text that they could analyze in relation to course concepts. They learned to synthesize course materials, apply course concepts to subjects outside of class, perform written and verbal analysis, work collaboratively, and use the online platform to deliver this information with appropriate style.

Timing: At what point in the lesson or semester do you use this activity? How much classroom time do you devote to it? How much out-of-class time is expected?

I introduced the assignment early in the semester and scaffolded some in class activities each week leading up to the presentation (approx. 10-15 minutes a week). As we discussed the assigned readings and course concepts, we kept a running list of Gothic terms and concepts on the course OpenLab site so students had a glossary with which to interpret their chosen location.

Logistics: What preparation is needed for this activity? What instructions do you give students? Is the activity low-stakes, high-stakes, or something else?

Students need time to schedule out of class explorations of the neighborhood surrounding City Tech. I provide them with a handout that explains the requirements, and they also need some way to create images and/or videos of their site. It is fairly high-stakes (10% of the final grade).

High-Impact Educational Practices: Which of these practices based on George Kuh’s High Impact Educational Practices (and other innovative approaches) does this activity incorporate? Choose all that apply.

Collaborative assignments and projects, Open Digital Pedagogy (the OpenLab), Wrriting-intensive projects/assignments, Place-Based Learning, Brooklyn Waterfront

Assessment: How do you assess this activity? What assessment measures do you use? Do you use a VALUE rubric? If not, how did you develop your rubric? Is your course part of the college-wide general education assessment initiative?

I use a worksheet on which each required item and its point value is listed. Next to that item, I included notes assessing the students’ work along with a score. This was not a VALUE rubric.

Reflection: How well did this activity work in your classroom? Would you repeat it? Why or why not? What challenges did you encounter, and how did you address them? What, if anything, would you change? What did students seem to enjoy about the activity?

The first time I assigned this activity, my class was too small to complete it in groups, so it had to become an individual activity. This was not ideal because one of the learning goals was to provide an opportunity for collaboration. The creation of the list of Gothic terms and concepts was collaborative, however, and we also collaborated as a whole class to create and design the OpenLab project. We had a conference-style presentation day in class in which students gave feedback on their classmates’ work. I am currently repeating the activity in a larger class as a group project, and I plan to have the current class add to the existing project site.

Students enjoyed the place-based aspect of the assignment, and they seemed enthusiastic about the creation of online travel-blog style profiles with images and videos. They were very creative!

Additional Information: Please share any additional comments and further documentation of the activity – e.g. assignment instructions, rubrics, examples of student work, etc. These could be in the form of PDF or Word files, links to posts or files on the OpenLab, etc.

Link to Spring 2016 Activity Handout: https://openlab.citytech.cuny.edu/westengardeng3407sp2016/files/2015/01/Gothic-Spaces-Group-Presentation-Prompt-Eng-3407-S-16.pdf

Link to Completed Project Site from Spring 2015: https://openlab.citytech.cuny.edu/groups/gothic-nyc/