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Crafting and Assessing Theoretical Writing Assignments

October 23, 2012, 12-2 pm


Ideally, students will apply the conceptual or theoretical knowledge they acquire to the world around them. But how do we train them to do this? When carefully crafted and assessed, qualitatively oriented writing assignments offer an effective forum for this kind of work. In this presentation, Thomas DeGloma (Sociology) will discuss the assignments in which he asks students to apply various conceptual tools to the topics that interest them. Students have opted to write about James Cameron’s Avatar, hip-hop music, the graffiti art of Banksy, the dynamics of romance, or the Occupy Wall Street movement, to name just a few examples. Students who have completed such assignments will also take part in the presentation to offer the student perspective. The presentation will address the following questions:

  • What is the pedagogical payoff of this kind of qualitative writing?
  • How can assignments like these change the way students think about the “real world?”
  • What kinds of rubrics are best for grading such assignments?