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Evaluation includes several different but related notions--
  • How much do I have to do for this course?
  • How good is writing that earns and A in this course and what traits does it show?
  • How good are the parts of a presentation and how many do I have to do?

How much do I have to do for this course?

Plan to write at least two essays and some shorter writings either half as long or one-fourth as long as a full essay for a proportionate number of points.  Your writing counts the most when it is your final word at the end of a module.  Also plan to make one spoken presentation around midterm.  The course calendar and the grade roster both give the due dates and link to details for each assignment in the course.

Shorter Writings

Forum responses are PUBLIC answers to questions posted on the Web; required emails are not public but should still be carefully edited.  Either of these writings can be worth up to 25 or 50 points each.  Length and value: If an essay is 3-5 pages for up to 100 points, expect to write about 1/4 that much for 25 points and 1/2 that much for 50 points. 

Examples: How good is the writing for shorter writings in this course? Take a look at the quality and quantity of responses to this forum, which were worth up to 50 points; notice especially how much evidence and commentary (not just facts) these responses contain to support an answer to the question (students were answering a question at the end of a textbook chapter concerning how to group works in the chapter according to a theme or idea the works have in common). 


Plan to write and revise at least two essays. The best of these essays will, in each paragraph, quote relevant phrases from the works and provide ample details and reasonable judgments about the qualities of each work and its illustration of a theme. Each of these essays will be worth up to 100 points for about four pages (90 - 100 lines) of articulate, well edited, well supported insights about a work you have read.

Note: Each essay may be revised once for a higher grade, if necessary--if I can work out the timing with you.  

Examples: How good are the essays written for this course? To see the length and quality, amount of support, clarity of thesis (main idea), and transitions between and within paragraphs, take a look at some essays in the Litonline Essay Draft Drop Box.  Notice also, the variety of sentence structure and even versatility of word usage ("vocabulary") for these essays, which have been saved as best of the best on their topic.

Spoken Presentations

Group Oral Presentations (max. 15 minutes):  Movie Scene Analysis or Song Analysis (in person or recorded on video) Click this link for details!

Solo Oral Presentations Involve Technology: Click this link for details of the three options listed below.

  • Audio Review (up to 5 minutes)       
  • Infomercial (max. 5 min.) (videotape excerpt shown during start-up session for the class)    
  • Telephone Discussion  (10-20 minutes of conversation between you and the professor)
Here's the assignment in a nutshell for online students:
You gain points for talking analytically about a contemporary work of your choice.  Students usually choose a song or a movie scene for their focus and discuss anywhere from 3 to 8 items from the "Presentation Checklist" column that is relevant.
Students who go hi-tech usually talk their analysis into a microphone, making a sound file, e.g. a .wav file that can be played in Microsoft's Media Player.  In addition, students who focus on a movie scene might include a PowerPoint of highlights, much like the samples on the Litonline website, e.g. the one for "Finding Nemo."  Other students, who focus on a song, copy the lyrics into Word and mark them up to show how thematically important phrases are made to stand out, such as through higher volume, harmony, or instruments that come in to back the phrase.  If I don't know the song, students might include an mp3 file for me.  These students will send me these files on a CD, if their computer "burns" CDs; those with a high-speed connection may attach the files to one or more emails.
In the lower tech version, we just talk on the phone at an agreed upon time and day about any of the items of the "Presentation Checklist" relevant to the work you choose. In this case, if I don't know the song, a student might play it into the telephone from their stereo or computer before we discuss it.  In the case of a movie scene, I usually have seen the movie, but sometimes I'll rent it and watch it before we discuss it if I am not familiar with it. Sometimes these students will email lyrics marked for emphasis or even a PowerPoint file on a movie scene.
Occasionally, students will pick a literary work, such as one of the unassigned works from our textbook, to analyze.  In this case, the lower half of the "Presentation Checklist" becomes more important than the upper half on performance, and chapters 2 and 3 of the textbook are very helpful.

Resources for Spoken Presentations


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