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About the Learning Record
This course utilises the Learning Record (LR). You will determine your grade by monitoring your progress against the criteria below over the course of the semester, and documenting your development and achievements in a portfolio of work, frequent self-assessments, and a formal reflection on your work at midterm and the end of the semester. The portfolio and observations will provide the evidence from which you will build an argument about your performance in the class. After reviewing your argument, I will either agree with or revise your self-assessment based on the evidence provided in your Learning Record. We will discuss grades at midterm and the end of semester, but you are welcome to meet me in office hours anytime to brainstorm strategies for success in the course.
You’ll assess your work and progress within five Course Strands (broad-level goals that cover a variety of skills) and you’ll gauge your experience across five Dimensions of Learning (measures that are common to many different learning experiences for many ‘kinds’ of learners).
Your Learning Record reflections will discuss how your work measures on those dimensions in terms of the Course Strands. We’ll discuss the Learning Record in detail at the beginning of the semester, and we’ll have various conversations about compiling your portfolio as the semester progresses.
In this class we’ll be composing texts that go beyond what you might usually think of as writing–but many of the processes remain the same. You’ll construct thoughtful, coherent pieces that respond to texts we read, analyse how other authors make their points, and advance arguments of your own. Some of these may look like traditional college papers; others will use different approaches and technologies.
Regardless of the form your pieces take, though, you’ll be engaging with composition as a process, composing texts that build on each other and revisiting and revising your work to make it the best it can be.
You’ll be working to unearth, evaluate, analyse and synthesise lots of different texts, from academic articles in library databases to Twitter discussions to newspaper articles to … well, the sky is the limit.
This is first and foremost a course in rhetoric–in using symbols (like language!) to persuade others to change their minds or their practices. As a result, learning how to better understand and advance an argument is a core goal here.
In this class we’ll be engaging a lot of familiar and unfamiliar digital tools. I hope everyone in this class picks up some useful everyday digital skills; you’ll also have the opportunity to play with and utilise some more uncommon tools as you work on your various compositions this semester.
In this course, we’re going to experiment with a lot of different things. This course goal exists to encourage you to push yourself and take risks. A traditional college-style paper is one potential tangible outcome of this course and, of course, writing one doesn’t mean you aren’t being creative–but you are free to think laterally about other ways to meet the assignment requirements.
Please note …
One of the great strengths of the Learning Record is that it isn’t a one-size-fits-all grading criteria. Each of you will come into the classroom with different strengths and you will all have different goals. Over the semester, you’ll all produce work that moves you towards the various Course Goals to differing degrees–and that’s cool! As you’ll see in the grade criteria below, you don’t need to excel at every dimension of every strand to earn an A in this course.
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Dimensions of Learning
Confidence and independence
We see growth and development when learners’ confidence and independence start to reflect their actual abilities and skills, content knowledge, use of experience, and reflectiveness about their own learning. It is not a simple case of “more (confidence and independence) is better.” In a science class, for example, an overconfident student who has relied on faulty or underdeveloped skills and strategies learns to seek help when facing an obstacle; or a shy student begins to trust her own abilities, and to insist on presenting her own point of view in discussion. In both cases, students are developing along the dimension of confidence and independence.
Knowledge and understanding
Knowledge and understanding refers to the “content” knowledge gained in particular subject areas. Knowledge and understanding is the most familiar dimension, focusing on the “know-what” aspect of learning.
Skills and strategies
Skills and strategies represent the “know-how” aspect of learning. When we speak of “performance” or “mastery,” we generally mean that learners have developed skills and strategies to function successfully in certain situations.
Use of prior and emerging experience
The use of prior and emerging experience involves learners’ abilities to draw on their own experience and connect it to their work. A crucial but often unrecognized dimension of learning is the capacity to make use of prior experience as well as emerging experience in new situations.
Reflection (critical self-evaluation)
Reflection refers to developing awareness of your own learning process, as well as more analytical approaches to the subject being studied. In particular, it refers to the development of your ability to step back and consider a situation critically and analytically, with growing insight into your own learning processes. It provides the “big picture” for the specific details. Learners need to develop this capability in order to use what they are learning in other contexts, to recognize the limitations or obstacles confronting them in a given situation, to take advantage of their prior knowledge and experience, and to strengthen their own performance.
A Represents outstanding participation in all course activities; all assigned work completed, with very high quality in all work produced for the course. Evidence of significant development across the five dimensions of learning. The Learning Record at this level demonstrates activity that goes significantly beyond the required course work in one or more course strands. All work must be submitted in a timely fashion.
B Represents excellent participation in all course activities; all assigned work completed, with consistently high quality in course work. Evidence of marked development across the five dimensions of learning.
C Represents good participation in all course activities; all assigned work completed, with generally good quality overall in course work. Evidence of some development across the five dimensions of learning.
D Represents uneven participation in course activities; some gaps in assigned work completed, with inconsistent quality in course work. Evidence of development across the five dimensions of learning is partial or unclear.
F Represents minimal participation in course activities; serious gaps in assigned work completed, or very low quality in course work. Evidence of development is not available.
Plus and minus grading will be employed when a student falls between these criteria.
For each major writing assignment you will produce multiple drafts to be reviewed by both your peers and myself. The revisions made to papers in this course must be substantial. In other words, you cannot only edit, proofread, or correct for spelling and minor grammatical errors. You must also revise to change and enhance the overall structure of your arguments. I will be looking for revisions that focus on global aspects of writing, such as responding to the assignment, using appropriate and consistent tone, fair summary, good organization, effective argumentation and source use and critical thinking.
If you do not revise the X.1 for the X.2 version or revise only minor, sentence-level details, it will be difficult or impossible for you to claim proficiency with the ‘composition’ Course Strand on the Learning Record.
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