Assignment II: Scoping the Competition

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Assignment II: Scoping the Competition
Up to this point, you have learned what an archive is and the basics of working in an archive. To really get an idea of how an archive works, you need to get into the field and learn from those currently working as archivists. Which brings us to the assignment:
Your mission is as follows:

  • Select an archive (local or otherwise).

Choose an archive that you can easily get to (local would be best, though if you know you’ll be traveling you can choose one in that area as well) and that matches with your interests.

  • Contact the archive to see if anyone is able to take time to speak with you regarding their job and the archive.

Once again, consider what aspect of an archive you want to work in: digital, preservation, reference, etc.

  • Interview the archivist you selected about their job.

What do they like about the field and their job? Any dislikes? What about concerns? What type of advice can they give you? Remember: This is the time to get one-on-one insider information on the field. Be open and honest about why you are interviewing them. Most of all, be polite. You are a representative of the Penn State community while you are doing this.

  • Write up a 2 page summary of your experience.

Attach a copy of your questions and, if possible, the archivist’s answers to your summary before you turn it in. I want to know what you thought of the field before and after your interview. Did your archivist help or hinder your interest in pursuing a career in the archival field?

  • Prepare to discuss your interview with the class on the day the paper is due.

This will be an ungraded, informal discussion of what everyone found interesting about their respective interviews. There is nothing required to be presented during this talk.
I’ll be grading this assignment on a standard numerical scale (20 points is 100%, 10 is 50%) scale using the following rubric (which you might recognize from first assignment). Once again, clarity and mechanics are key...especially with the possibly fluid nature of the information you will be presenting.
You have three weeks to complete this assignment. Late assignments will be accepted with a grade reduction (as outlined in the syllabus). We will discuss your findings in class on the day the assignment is due.
Remember to have fun, enjoy, and, most of all, use this time to ask the questions that you want to know the answers to!

Due Date: October _, 2015
If you have any questions, concerns, or problems in completing this assignment, do not wait until the day before it is due to get in touch with me. The sooner you contact me, the better chance we have on working out a solution.

Grading Rubric for Writing Assignments


Clarity and Tone

Mechanics and Conventions

Use of Sources and Documentation



The student clearly identifies their thesis and uses clear, concise language to engage the reader. The writing is focused with a consistent style, tone, and focus on the topic.

The paper is free of spelling and grammar errors with accurate and consistent citations. The paper is in the appropriate format and the assignment directions are fulfilled.

The paper uses a number of primary and secondary sources with correct citation following a known style. The reader will have no problem following up on the sources used. The content taken from sources help to back up the original content and is used sparingly. There is more original content in the essay than cited.

Follows the assignment directions accurately in regards to the topic and stays on topic throughout the paper. The reader has a clear idea of what they are discussing and can verbalize the thesis easily.


The student identifies their subject in clear (but not concise) language. The writing is not focused and the tone and style shifts.

The paper contains some (less than 5) spelling and/or grammar errors. The citations are correct and without error. The assignment directions are fulfilled. The paper is in an appropriate (though may not be the requested) format.

The paper uses a number of primary and secondary sources with accurate citations. The reader will have no problem following up on the sources. The content quoted in the essay may follow inconsistent formatting and/or may not be fully incorporated into the body of the paragraph. The insertion of quotes feels awkward at time.

Follows the topic but deviates from it at times. The reader may have some trouble verbalizing the thesis if asked.


The student states the subject but may not fully explore it. The writing is coherent but not concise with clear use of filler language. The writing may not be focused with clear style shifts.

The paper contains multiple spelling and/or grammar errors (more than 5). The citation style may be inconsistent, though the student does list all of their sources. The assignment directions may be fulfilled with paper using an inconsistent format (e.g. multiple font types in a sentence, pages with different spacing, inconsistent borders, etc.).

The paper uses some primary sources with references to the source material. The reader may have difficulty following up on the original sources due to either incorrect citations and/or lack of citations. The quotes used within the paper may not fully support the content and may be used as “filler” to gain page length.

The student discusses the topic occasionally but the paper consists of several main ideas. The reader may have trouble verbalizing the thesis.


The writing is rambling (content does not match the thesis) and a clear subject is presented but is not the one assigned. The writing lacks focus and contains an inconsistent writing style

The paper contains multiple spelling and/or grammar errors (more than 10) with incomplete citations. The assignment directions were not fulfilled. The paper format does not follow a known style (APA, MLA. Chicago).

The student used some sources and attempted to cite them following a known style. The reader may be able to follow up on the sources used but with difficulty. The quotes and facts taken from sources are not incorporated into the body of the paper. The student may have used more quotes than original content.

The student attempted to follow the topic but it was only present in one or two sections of the paper. The reader will have trouble verbalizing the thesis.


The essay lacks a thesis and the writing is incoherent at times. The student had trouble with sentence structure, maintaining a consistent voice, and lacked clear transitions and sequence of ideas.

The essay contains numerous spelling and/or grammar errors with inconsistent or incomplete citations. The format does not follow a follow a known style (APA, MLA, Chicago) and is inconsistent.

The student used some sources. The reader would have a difficult time finding or following up on the sources used. Quotations seemed out of place and were not fully incorporated into the body of the essay. Or, the student used more quoted content than original ideas.

The topic discussed, at times, was the topic assigned but primarily consisted of off-topic discussion.


The essay did not meet the minimum requirements of the assignment. This includes cases of plagiarism or not turning anything in for grading.

There are numerous spelling and grammar errors. Citations for sources are either missing or incomplete.

Failed to use primary and/or secondary sources to supplement ideas. The reader would be unable to follow where the student located the facts stated in the essay.

The topic discussed was not the one assigned.

Exam #1: What is an archive and what should I expect?
This exam focuses on the first two units (weeks 1 through 6) of class that deal with an introduction to archives as a researcher and an archivist. These units cover the basic terminology of the archival field and introduce students to the basic duties of new archivist. Before continuing onto the more in-depth discussions of specialized techniques, students need to demonstrate an understanding of the core concepts discussed.
Students should have had time to review the content covered and develop a study guide to highlight the main ideas discussed in class. The study guides may be handed in prior to the beginning of the exam for evaluation and extra credit (up to 5 points for the exam).

  1. You will have the remaining class period (around 2 ¾ hours) to complete the exam.

  2. The exam consists of 20 multiple choice questions, 10 fill in the blank, and 2 short essay questions. Multiple choice and fill in the blanks are worth 2 points each (for a total of 60 points), the remaining 40 points are divided between the short essays. The essays will be graded using the rubric given for writing assignments I and II.

  3. Please place phones and other electronic devices in your bags, this includes anything with a camera or texting abilities. If you are caught with a device out and/or are found to be cheating, you will receive a grade of 0 for this exam.

  4. If, for any reasons, you miss the exam, contact me as soon as possible.

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