|Assignments and Learning Objectives for ADVANCED HONORS IN INTEGRATED SCIENCE, SOCIAL SCIENCE, AND HUMANITIES, HUM 177A/B, Fall, 2014 and Spring, 2015
Major Assignments. There will be two multi-part essays, plus a midterm and a final, each semester. In addition, each student will make an oral presentation in seminar in the first semester, and there will also be quizzes, exercises, and other sorts of assignments originating in the seminar sections. Assessment of many of the SLOs will be best handled in the exams, where students will answer specific questions covering lectures and readings from all three areas (R, S, and V). The essays will also reflect a multi-disciplinary approach, but (after the first essay of the first semester) students will have more latitude in choosing their own topics; in any case, all essays will be assessed for Overall GE Program Goals 2, 4, 5, and 9, and for specific goals from areas R, S, and V for 1, 3, 6, 7, and 8.
First essay: The first essay topic will use evolution to elicit responses from students on some of the major themes of the course, beginning with scientific method (Darwin’s contributions to the theory of evolution, how he arrived at his insights into natural selection, and how his work differs from other theories of his time), distinguishing between science and pseudo-science (by contrasting Darwin’s methods and theories and those of so-called Social Darwinism), for R 1, 3, 6, 7, 8, 9, as well as composition and critical-thinking specific outcomes for Areas S and V.
Class presentation: oral presentation on an individually assigned or chosen topic related to recent lectures and readings. Assessed for the specifically oral requirements of V2 and S5.
Midterm: short-answer questions that will help assess many of the Overall GE Program Goals. For example, building on the topic of Darwinism from the first essay, students might be asked a question on the cultural and artistic attitudes in Europe and America toward nature during the nineteenth century (from Romanticism to Realism), and how those attitudes (such as the “noble savage,” the “romantic hero,” and the beneficence of nature) affected social construction of identities for various racial, ethnic, and national groups – to be assessed for S and V 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, and 9. 12 questions total.
Second Essay: Multi-part individual essay focusing on some aspect of one of the multidisciplinary core themes of the course (for example, social management of technology, or the concept of “nature” in an increasingly urbanized world, etc.). For this essay, then, a student might choose to work on a specific aspect of social management of technology – say, the political ramifications of building or decommissioning a nuclear power plant. The student would turn in a report on research conducted, followed by an outline-plus-first paragraph, and then a final draft of the essay. The final draft would be 1500 words in length. Though the topics would vary from student to student, all essays will be assessed for R, S and V 2, 4, 5, and 9, as noted above, as well as for topic-specific goals.
Finals: Since students are enrolled in 6 units for the first semester, we can utilize the lecture and seminar time-slots to give two final exams – one a short-answer exam on the model of the midterm, and the other a short-essay exam, allowing us to create specific essay prompts for topics that need more attention or assessment. In the second semester, there will be only one (short-answer) final exam.
First Essay. Based on the topics chosen in their first semester’s second essay, students would be divided into groups of five. The example of a nuclear power plant subject would place that student in a group all focused on issues of social management of technology (others in the group might have subjects as diverse as regulation of psychotropic drugs, international agreements about space junk, and so on – as long as their interests combined technological advances with some sort of social oversight or regulation). Together, they would create a document, again in stages, which addresses the difficulties of such oversight – across disciplines and professions, across social classes, in an international context, and others. The specific topic from each student would be used as a case study for the project, and each student would write up that “chapter” of the project individually; as a group, they would author the introduction, overview, and conclusions linking the challenges and commonalities discovered in such a diverse set of examples. Each student’s separate chapter and average contribution to the group-written sections would amount to about 1500 words. The group focus would help us assess R, S, and V 4; the written work would also be assessed for R, S, and V 2, 5, and 9.
Midterm: Constructed on the model of the first semester midterm.
Second Essay. Having completed the group project at the beginning of the semester (and supported by on-going lectures dealing with related topics), each student would then complete a major project for the full 9-unit course by expanding the initial topic to one or two related ones. So, for example, the student writing about political decisions in nuclear power might want to expand the subject to cover climatological, economic, national, scientific, or social developments associated with nuclear power. Though not directly connected with nuclear power, the other topics covered in the group project should help the student imagine profitable approaches that he or she might not have considered originally. This, too, would be a multi-stage effort, beginning with an explanation of how the expanded topics fit with the student’s original design or, if that design has changed, how the change is an improvement over the initial approach. That would be followed by an expanded research report, and finish with a 3000 to 5000 word essay on multiple aspects of the topic.
Final exam: In the second semester, there will be only one (short-answer) final exam.
Rubrics: We have not had time to produce rubrics for scoring written or oral work for this course, but we imagine such rubrics would combine categories from the Overall GE Program Objectives into a reduced number more suitable for grading an essay or a short-answer response on an exam. Attached is a sample Area V rubric created by the GEPA project several years ago, combining older GE SLOs with the Value Rubrics for AMS 159 from AAC&U, and we would expect to create something along those lines.