First Year Seminar Fall 2012 Syllabus
Course title: CORE 113: Questioning Assumptions about Reality (3 credits) Course meeting time: MWF 11:00-11:50 (Section D) Blackboard Course Tool Log In: https://courses.francis.edu/
Instructor: Dr. Marnie L. Moist, Associate Professor of Psychology Office: Scotus Hall Rm. 102-C *E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 472-2887 Office Hours: MWF 9:00-10:00, 1:30-2:30; TR 11-12, 4:15-5:15
COURSE DESCRIPTION AND TEACHING METHOD
The First Year Seminar is a foundation course for the General Education Program at Saint Francis University. The purpose of the First Year Seminar at SFU is to provide you with the opportunity to explore an issue or topic in a format that places a premium on active rather than passive learning. Each section of CORE 113 is centered on a topic of special importance that students and professors explore in depth. Topics and instructors vary each semester, but every seminar is interdisciplinary in nature, addresses ethical and value issues, and emphasizes effective communication. The conversations that develop in CORE 113 help students develop the academic skills required for success in higher education.
Questioning Assumptions about Reality is a discussion-based course that focuses heavily on issues of moral complexity, diversity, communication, critical thinking, and information literacy. This course will encourage you, through readings from various academic disciplines, a self-discovery research project, a group oral presentation, and in-class group activities to identify your assumptions about reality, consider alternative explanations of reality, and evaluate the validity of your assumptions.
COURSE LEARNING OBJECTIVES
Objective 1: Understand the complexities underlying moral and ethical questions and the consequences of choices we make as individuals and as members of communities.
· Make informed decisions on ethical dilemmas
What is the relationship between degree of human suffering and morally correct behavior?
Is it important for all people to accurately perceive reality in all situations?
How do humans’ abilities and values compare to those of other species?
What kinds of alternative interpretations of the Creation Story and the Bible exist?
Objective 2: Develop an understanding of the importance of human and cultural diversity.
· Respect uniqueness
How can misunderstandings of other people arise related to cultural differences?
Are “civilized” humans superior to “primitive” humans?
Are modern humans smarter than ancients?
Objective 4: Develop the skills necessary for effective communications in a variety of formal and informal contexts.
· Improve interpretive skills through reading analysis, careful listening during group discussions, and distinguishing relevant from irrelevant information
· Adapt communication to diverse audiences through participation in group discussions, written work, and an oral presentation.
· State, develop, and support a clear thesis related to your research and oral presentation
How can language be used intentionally to manipulate others?
What unintentional misinformation has pervaded society?
How can I improve my own writing skills through peer review?
Objective 6: Develop critical reasoning skills and abilities.
· Analyze important elements of ideas and identify assumptions.
· Synthesize knowledge obtained from various sources and various disciplines with one’s own personal assumptions
· Evaluate information usefulness and assumption validity using academic standards of quality
What are general assumptions held by many people?
What are my personal assumptions?
What are common logical flaws found in human thinking?
How much of human perception of reality across space and time is an illusion?
What alternative accounts exist of historical events and technological innovations?
Objective 7: Effectively conduct research using discipline-appropriate material and methods.
· Determine the nature and extent of information needed for a certain purpose
· Employ appropriate investigative methods to legally access and obtain information
How can one determine the quality of internet sources?
How does one properly cite and provide full references for research material?
How does one make use of varied types of library resources to conduct research?
Objective 8: Develop the collaborative and leadership skills necessary for exercising the rights and responsibilities of citizenship in a participatory democracy.
· Identify the implications of social and political actions for individuals and/or groups and propose alternative solutions.
What should the balance of power be between individual citizens and the government?
What responsibilities do humans have for taking care of the environment?
Objective 9: Demonstrate knowledge in the traditional liberal arts and sciences with attention to primary source materials, multi-cultural issues, and interdisciplinary topics.
· Utilize and distinguish between primary and secondary resources
· Engage in interdisciplinary dialogue
Why bother with primary resources if secondary sources provide sufficient information? What can integration of two or more academic disciplines offer beyond focus on only one discipline?
REQUIRED COURSE MATERIALS
All students are required to bring their laptop to every class, to be used for frequent Blackboard quizzes on assigned readings and other in-class activities. Students are also required to use Blackboard in order to access all due dates for assignments, assignment instructions, the discussion board/chat room tools, and online quizzes. All students are also required to bring assigned readings to every class to facilitate discussion.
Ilibagiza, I. (2006). Left to tell: Discovering God amidst the Rwandan Holocaust. Carlsbad, CA:
Note: This book is also on 4-hour reserve in the SFU library at the Reference Desk. Reading assignment in Blackboard is abbreviated RWANDAN.
Moist, M. L. (Ed.) (2012). Questioning Assumptions about Reality: Readings I.
[Saint Francis University instructor-selected readings]. Columbus, OH: Zip Publishing.
Note: Reading assignments in Blackboard are abbreviated as QAR I.
Moist, M. L. (Ed.) (2012). Questioning Assumptions about Reality: Readings II.
[Saint Francis University instructor-selected readings]. McGraw-Hill.
Note: Reading assignments in Blackboard are abbreviated as QAR II.
Quinn, D. (1992). Ishmael: An Adventure of Mind and Spirit. New York, NY: A
Note: This book is also on 4-hour reserve in the SFU library at the Reference Desk. Reading assignments in Blackboard are abbreviated as ISHMAEL.
RECOMMENDED COURSE MATERIALS
Help with APA-style citations and references
The best guide for APA-style is the American Psychological Association’s (2010). Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th Ed.). Kirszner and Mandell’s (2010) The Brief Wadsworth Handbook (6th Ed.) is also useful for APA-style, but if used please note that I am requiring you to use the publication format not the student paper format. Both books are on reserve in the SFU library at the Reference Desk; you may examine them within the library only for 4 hours.
HOW TO USE BLACKBOARD
Log On Instructions
1. Using Internet Explorer, type http://courses.francis.edu/on the command line. Alternatively, if your browser is set to automatically go to http://my.francis.edu, you can select the Blackboard link under Campus Resources.
2. To the left of the username/password screen, select the link that says, “Please login using your SFU username and password”. It will tell you how to search for your username (which is identical to the first part of your SFU e-mail address, i.e., the part that comes before @francis.edu). Your initial password will be: the first 2 letters of your lastname + the first 2 letters of your first name + the four digits (month & day) of your birthday. It is recommended that you change your password ASAP (see link within this same area for how) since the same username/password will be used to access your e-mail, Blackboard, and my.francis.edu.
EXAMPLE: Student: John B. Conrad Birthdate: 05/23/1991
John might have the following login info: Username: jbc101 Initial Password: cojo0523
You MUST bring your laptop to all classes because we will have frequent brief online quizzes on the readings to ensure high-quality discussions. During class discussions, however, you are required to shut them off. If you observe someone misusing their laptop during class time in a way that is disruptive, I will address any concerns brought to my attention.
If your laptop malfunctions, contact Nick Weakland at 472-2800. Nick's office is Library 105. Nick will fix your laptop for no charge and will lend you a laptop to use until yours is repaired. Nick’s goal is to follow the 15-minute rule, which states that you will be provided with a loaner laptop within 15 minutes after bringing in your laptop for repair.
ACCOMMODATIONS, TUTORING, AND LIBRARY HELP
Accommodations: Any student who feels she/he may need an accommodation based on a disability, in this or any other course, must contact Ms. April Fry in the Office of Disability Services in 106 Saint Francis Hall at 814-472-3176 or email@example.com, before the semester begins or as soon as possible after the semester begins. A student requesting accommodations must provide recent documentation of his or her disability to Disability Services. After the proper documentation is approved, students must then schedule individual meetings with individual faculty in their offices to discuss the specific needs for courses.
Tutoring: The Writing & Tutoring Center is located on the 2nd floor of the SFU library, and it is open M-R 1:30-7:00 and F 1:30-5:00. Most relevant to this class, paper-writing assistance is available. Students may walk in as needed without advance notice, but you may also make an appointment with someone to fit your specific needs by contacting April Fry at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Library research help: The SFU library strives to support student learning and research by providing access to reliable, academic research materials, quiet and group study areas, and expert research assistance. Students can receive help with their research (selecting the best topic, finding materials, citing materials, etc.) by contacting a reference librarian at 814-472-3161, at AIM screen name sfulibrarian, or in person at the Research Help Desk in the library. For more information and hours available see http://libguides.francis.edu/researchhelp.
CORE 113 Course Points
· 15 small quizzes on assigned readings – each 3-10 pts., 150 pts. total
· Assignments 1-4 – 115 pts. total
· Research paper – 300 pts. total
· Oral presentation with 1-2 partners – 150 pts. total
· Attend Three Library Information Literacy Tutorials – 60 pts. total
· Attend Rwandan CES event, Sept. 26th, 6:00 p.m. in JFK – 25 pts. total
· Participation and Attendance – 200 pts. total
Total Points = 1000 pts.
92% - 100% = A 90% - 91% = A –
88% - 89% = B + 82% - 87% = B
80% - 81% = B - 78% - 79% = C +
70% - 77% = C 60% - 69% = D
59% and below = F
Online Assigned Reading Quizzes
To do well, you will need to keep up on all readings because a 5-10 minute multiple-choice quiz will be administered at the beginning of most classes when reading is due. See the Blackboard Calendar for all assigned reading due dates; select specific calendar dates to read the assigned titles, pages, and where the readings are located. These reading quizzes are necessary, not only to ensure you are reading the material, but also to ensure that our class discussions are productive. Your quiz grade will be calculated and posted by Blackboard immediately after you submit the quiz. To see how each quiz was curved, check the Blackboard Gradebook later the same day. If you would like to see correct answers to specific quiz questions, please feel free to visit me during my office hours.
You are required to complete quizzes in class on the date they are given. You will be allowed 2 excused absences from quizzes, but instead of taking a make-up quiz, you will be required to type a 1-page summary of the main points of all assigned readings that you were not quizzed on. If you miss any more than 2 quizzes, you will receive a non-negotiable 0 points for each.
All assignments, including the research paper and oral presentation assignments, can only be obtained by selecting Assessment Tools, then Assignments within Blackboard. It is the student’s responsibility to identify all assignment due dates using Blackboard’s Calendar.
All assignments are to be completed individually, except for the oral presentation. Please find 1-2 partners (no more than 3 students per group) to do your oral presentation with. Most Fridays during the semester will be used for oral presentations; please expect to also co-lead class discussion with your oral presentation partner after the presentation has been completed.
Assignments are due at the beginning of class on the date indicated. All Core 113 assignments must be typed, double-spaced, and printed out; a hard-copy must be submitted at the beginning of all classes. I will NOT accept assignments submitted in Blackboard (unless you happen to be absent the day it is due), since I prefer to read hard copies and since sometimes you will need your own hard copy for discussion purposes.
I will accept late assignments, but you will lose 10% from your grade for each week your work is late. For example, if you do not hand in an assignment on the due date, 10% will be taken off your grade immediately up through the following week. If the assignment is not handed in exactly one week from the due date, 20% will be taken off your grade. Any assignment more than two weeks late will not be accepted.
NOTE: "Technical difficulties" is not an excuse for turning in late work. Because the assignments are available to be downloaded at any time, you should plan on printing them out in advance and/or using the computer labs provided to all students to allow time for technical difficulties. You will be expected to save all work in at least two places until the end of the semester, so that if one malfunctions you will not have to re-type your work.
Attendance at Scheduled Events/Tutorials
50-minute required SFU Library session on Academic Research – 20 pts.
2 additional sessions of your choice selected from 5 Library sessions offered – 40 pts.
Rwandan CES event attendance required Wed., Sept. 26th 6:00 p.m. – 25 pts.
3 Library Tutorials: You must attend the Academic Research library tutorial, but you may choose whichever 2 of the additional tutorials you feel would be most useful to you. Perhaps most relevant to this course are Search Databases, Cite Resources Correctly, and Plagiarism. I have access to the Library Tutorial Blackboard course, which I will check periodically to verify all students’ attendance (60 course points).
CES Event Speaker Mr. Alphonse Van: Don’t forget to put my name down on your Rwandan CES event slip to earn full credit for attending this discussion. You will lose 25 points if you forget to request that attendance verification be sent to me.
Participation and Attendance
Points will be taken off for poor in-class discussion participation throughout the semester at my discretion. Your oral presentation partner(s) will contribute to assigning your participation points.
Two points per class day missed will be deducted from your final course attendance grade for each unexcused absence. Because regular illnesses and funeral attendance cannot be easily verified, these count as unexcused absences.
Excused absences will not result in point deduction. Excused absences include a) a documented Saint Francis event with prior notice from the appropriate supervisor (i.e., athletic participation, academic field trip, etc.) or b) a personal or family health hospitalization. All athletes must provide a team membership verification sheet signed by your coach, as well as a schedule of games/events. Please remind me the class prior to a game/event so that we can work out other details if needed. Regarding hospitalization verification, please contact the Office of Student Development x3002 to have all of your instructors notified; written verification of hospitalization, including doctor’s name, hospital name, and relevant date(s) must be provided to me for verification.
Cheating is forbidden by Saint Francis University policy. Any student caught cheating will be assigned an automatic grade of F on the relevant assignment or test. Continued cheating will result in an F for the entire course. For a description of what is considered cheating, see the SFU Academic Honesty Policy at:
CORE 113 CLASS SCHEDULE
Note: See Blackboard Calendar for all reading and assignment due dates; select a specific date in the calendar for more specific details (e.g., title of readings, pages to be read, where found, etc.) To print out all assignment details with due dates at once, select the “Compile entries” button within the calendar.
Aug. 27th Syllabus and Blackboard (M); Assumptions + moral dilemmas (W); Twilight Zone (F)
Sept. 3rd NO CLASS (M); In-class Assignment 1, Part II (W); Reality as illusion discussion (F)
Sept. 10th Personal assumptions discussion of Assignment 2, Part I (M); Reality as illusion
discussion continued (W); Evaluating internet sources: Domestic vs. international news (F)
Sept. 17th Small group activity and discussion – primary vs. secondary sources (M); Logical fallacies
defined with exercises (W); Oral Presentation Group 1 (F)
Sept. 24th Unintentional miscommunication discussion (M); Discussion of Assignment 3 (Assignment
3, Part IV) (W); Discussion of Rwandan Summer Reading Book (F) NOTE: Mr. Alphonse Van, who has served as a prosecutor for the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, will give a CES presentation on his experiences with this tribunal on September 26, 6:00 p.m., at JFK. You are required to attend this CES event in preparation for the Rwandan Book discussion 9/28/12.
Oct. 1st Intentional miscommunication (M); Miscommun. activity (W); Presentation Group 2 (F)
Oct. 8th Library Search for Research Paper (M); APA Style Lecture (W); Presentation Group 3 (F)
Oct. 15th NO CLASS/Fall Break (M); Political correctness and media (T);
Discussion of peer-reviewed paper draft excerpts (WF)
Oct. 22nd Discussion of Assignment 4 (M); Darwin discussion (W); Presentation Group 4 (F)
Oct. 29th Time Machine – Part I (M); Time Machine – Part II (W); Presentation Group 5 (F)
Nov. 5th Ishmael – Parts 1-4 (M); Ishmael – Parts 5-6 (W); Presentation Group 6 (F)
Nov. 12th Ishmael – Parts 7-10 (M); Ishmael – Parts 11-13 (W); Presentation Group 7 (F)
Nov. 19th Creation Stories discussion (M); NO CLASS/Happy Thanksgiving (WF)
Nov. 26th Watch “Twilight Zone” Episode (M); Ancient technology, primitive mind (MW)
Dec. 3rd Presentation Group 8 (M); Discussion of peer-reviewed paper draft excerpts (WF)
Note: Your final research paper is due in my office by Tuesday, Dec. 11th 10:10-12:10.