EXPECTATIONS FOR AN “EXPERT READING” RESPONSE AT THE GRADUATE LEVEL

Over time I have defined and refined an “expert reading” response criteria that I hand out to my graduate students at the beginning of the term. Perhaps aspects of this 8-step criteria will be of use to you? Check it out:

I. Introduction: There are 6 “Expert Readings” (ER’s) across this 10-week summer term. Of these 6 ER’s you can opt out of one without penalty. By the end of the term, you must have completed 5 out of 6 of the assigned ER’s. At 32 points each, these 5 required ER’s account for 160 points across the term.

I have a list of 8 specific criteria for completing a graduate level “Expert Reading”. Spend time familiarizing yourself with these criteria. The way I prompt you to successfully complete an ER is precisely how I will grade what you produce and turn in. And, by assigning/using the same criteria for many weeks, this should reduce surprises.

You should, steadily, become more efficient in producing these (2 page, 12 point font, double-spaced) reports as the term progresses. But, the broader purpose of an ER is to make you read the materials assigned closely and analytically. The goal is not to have you write about all aspects of each week’s readings, but to figure out what you want to focus on, why, and then conduct a focused analysis (that incorporates your experience/perspective and follow up research) on one, or two key ideas. Sometimes these are “open” ER’s. Other times, I offer prompts with some specific directions to take.

II. Grading Key:

  • “√” indicates that the expectation was met (with possible notes about under specific section).
  • “ø” indicates a point deduction, that there was room for improvement, and to see individualized feedback notes under the specific section.

III. Expert Reading Criteria:

  1. Formally Incorporate Multiple Sources (4 points): Demonstrate your reading of the relevant materials by formally incorporating aspects of them (through summary, or quotation) into your analytical narrative. When doing so, make sure to follow up with the ideas that you include from others and explain, in your own words, what they mean. Use APA format –see Diana Hacker and Barbara Fister’s online style guide: http://bcs.bedfordstmartins.com/resdoc5e/RES5e_ch06_o.html.
  1. In Your Analysis, Signal and Coordinate Between Multiple Perspectives (4 points):Analysis requires that you are able to pull in and work from and against multiple points of view. At key moments in your analysis, particularly when explaining your key points, make sure to coordinate your analysis between multiple sources and perspectives (including your own opinion). With this in mind, be sure to construct sentences that signal your emphasis and the hierarchy between ideas through the use of coordinating (and, but, for, yet, or, nor, so), subordinating (if only, unless, whenever, rather than, as though, as long as, etc.), or correlating conjunctions (both … and, not only … but, either … or, etc.). Or that particularly employ conjunctive adverbs like –however, moreover, nevertheless, consequently, as a result, etc. Consider the difference between:

A. I think “y”.
B. If Bazerman (1998) is correct when he indicated that “x,” then it is difficult to believe Myers (2003) when he noted, “y”. Overall, it is likely the case that “z” because …

 

It is not that you cannot and should not include simple and direct statements like, “I think that …,” but make sure you strengthen your key points by recognizing multiple points of view and multiple arguments when possible.

 

  1. Include Supplemental Research (4 points):Show the initiative to supplement what you have been assigned to read with some kind of additional research. Do additional research and incorporate it into your analysis and overall reflections.
  1. Include Your Voice (4 points): Make connections between the readings and arguments to your own professional and personal experiences.
  2. Work to Be Interesting, Even Surprising (4 points): Try to write about that which is not immediately obvious (to anyone that has already read the article). A key first step is to avoid excess summary. Include summary as background information, but make sure that information leads to a bigger point and serves to set up your own perspectives, interpretations, and arguments. Take control of the material and tell us something that we might not expect, or know (stated as the opposite, a poor analytical post only restates what an article clearly establishes). Explain why and how the points you want to make are worth our time and attention.
  3. Revise Your Final Posts So They Are Focused (4 points): Follow through with the most important ideas you raise (do more with less). In other words, make sure to follow through and up on key concepts addressed. Focus on one, or two topics in your short, analytical narratives (or stated in the negative form, do not change topics abruptly and repeatedly between each paragraph). This often requires that you write your analysis in time so that you can revisit it and revise your work for overall coherence (often eliminating ideas that were not as important, or unrelated to your primary emphasis).
  4. Focus on Presentation and Overall Document Design (4 points):Pay attention to document design and use headers/sub-headers, or some other method to signal the order and progression of content in your post. Make sure to include a descriptive title.
  5. Edit (4 points):Edit your post to avoid excess spelling errors, or poor syntax.

Interact with Classmates’ and Their Work Each Week: Make sure you read and respond at least 3 classmates’ work across each unit. Include more than a simple comment. As indicated in the syllabus, this is required each week. And it is -2 off of the overall point total for each missing feedback post.

Total 32 points:          29 =’s approximately 90%;
26 =’s approximately 80%;
23 =’s approximately 70%;
20 =’s approximately 60%.

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