Course readings present an important and necessary supplement to our lectures and discussions. This assignment aims to help you develop greater understandings on course materials by seriously and intellectually engaging with these reading materials. Specifically, this assignment requires you to:
Read and reflect on readings prior to class;
Review and critique scholarly writings;
Bring the required readings into dialogue with other course materials;
Summarize and present your thoughts and opinions;
Facilitate coherent and focused discussions.
Throughout the course of our class, each student will write one reading response to a course reading picked by you. The reading response is about 800-1000 words in length (2-3 pages, double-spaced, 1 inch margins, 12-point Times New Roman font). Reading responses should be submitted to the course instructor through Canvas before midnight (11:59 p.m.) on the Sundays prior to their assigned classes. As such, you will have different due dates for your reading responses.
On the day of the class, students who write the responses for the readings will each give a 10-minute PPT presentation of the reading and lead a 10-minute class discussion. Your grade will be based on the quality of reading responses, the thoughtfulness of discussion questions, the preparedness of presentations and the coherence of discussion leadership. This assignment is worth of 100 points.
Steps and Timeline
Step 1: Sign up readings. On the first day of the class, you will browse the titles and abstracts of course readings and sign up one reading on which you would like to write a response and lead a discussion. Please note that each student will pick one different reading. While I cannot promise everyone gets their preferred reading, all the readings are my best picks for the subject matter and I will do my best to accommodate student interests. The dates are binding once you have signed up a reading.
Step 2: Write reading responses. As you read through and critically engage with the reading materials, provide reflective reviews that summarize and critique the readings in your own words.
Reading Response Guidelines:
Overall Thesis: Introduce the overall thesis/ research question of the article. Example: The article is about…; The general question is….
Context: Describe the specific context within which the study is based. This could be a sub-field in the communication discipline, a debate about a theory, a gap in previous studies, and a historical or recent event. Example: The study is based on the context of XXX; The article contributes to a current debate on XXX. In this section, you should also relate the topic in the reading to our lecture materials. That is to situate the reading within a specific area of study in communication and discuss how the reading is connected to lecture materials.
Main Arguments: Summarize the general themes, key points and arguments in the article. Essentially, you should try to integrate what was found across the study into some statements about what is known about the topic area and what contribution(s) the study makes. You should also present the evidences and examples used by the author(s) in order to explain how and why the author(s) come to the conclusions.
Critiques: Discuss your opinion and evaluation of the work’s strengths and/or shortcomings. These could include critiques about the topic, the arguments and the examples. The following questions may help you analyze the article: How well is the thesis chosen? Why or why not is it an important topic? Are there any flaws/ contradictions/ constraints in the argument? How well are the evidences and examples used? Are they convincing and why? You are encouraged to go beyond these questions and provide your own thoughts.
Conclusion: End the paper by making a final statement about the reading and your evaluation.
Questions for Class Discussions: At the end of your paper, use a separate section to include at least three questions for the class to discuss. In order to facilitate coherent and focused discussions in class, consider the following aspects when you prepare discussion questions: What are the most important contributions of the reading? What are the most controversial issues or debates presented and/or provoked by the author(s)? How do the texts relate to previous/ current course materials we have discussed/ are discussing? How could my questions help further the intellectual developments on topics related to this week’s class?
2-3 pages long, 12-point font, Times New Roman, 1-inch margins, double-spaced
Upload word documents of your reading response to Canvas before midnight (11:59 p.m.) on the Sundays prior to their assigned classes (refer to your own Canvas page).
Step 3: Lead class discussions. Students who write the response papers for that day’s reading will prepare a 10-minute PPT presentation of the reading and lead class discussions for 10 minutes. In your presentation, you will present some brief summary of the reading to refresh people’s memories, discuss your critiques, and orient the class to discuss your prepared questions, and thus guide other students to think further on certain aspects of the day’s class topic. You should assume that everyone in the class has completed the readings, and thus your discussion should not consist of a long and elaborate overview of the required readings. Instead, your discussion should bring the required readings into dialogue with other course materials and/or outside issues of your choice. I expect that you relish the opportunity to be creative and, ideally, find a way to apply the required readings to a course-related topic that is of particular interest to you.
Total: 50 points Overall Organization Proper introduction and conclusion 5 points
Identification of the overall thesis 5 points
Identification of the context 5 points
Explanation of Main Arguments Summarize the key points and arguments 10 points
Present the evidences and examples used by author(s) 10 points
Critiques Evaluate the contribution(s) of the study 5 points
Analyze the strengths and/or shortcomings 5 points
Provide at least three questions for class discussion 5 points
Presentation and Discussion Leadership
Total: 50 points Presentation Give a well-prepared and structured presentation on the brief summary and critique of the reading 20 points
Discussion Questions Use valuable and thought-provoking questions to steer class discussion 20 points
Leadership Engage all students during the discussion through proper guidance 10 points
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