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Friday, January 11, 2019

APA CONNECT- General Discussion Digest for January,10, 2019.

American Philosophical Association

General Discussion



Jan 10, 2019
Started yesterday, Mike Morris (7 replies)

Writing assignments for undergrad philosophy courses  
1. There is, of course, no way to answer this... William Behun
2. An effective writing assignment is one allowing... Susan Hill
3. From Gonzalo Munevar, Professor Emeritus,... Gonzalo Munevar
4. In class writing assignments. Uses: (1)... Anthony Birch
5. "Apply X to your life." For years I've assigned... Jonathan Cohen
6. Hello, The past few years, I have selected a... Kristen Zbikowski
7. I have had the best luck with what I call a ... post has attachment Charles Cardwell

Original Message:
Sent: 01-09-2019 21:43
From: Mike Morris
Subject: Writing assignments for undergrad philosophy courses.
An APA member who wishes to remain anonymous asks the following:
What's the most effective kind of writing assignment for an undergraduate philosophy course?

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Mike Morris
Deputy Director
The American Philosophical Association
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1.Re: Writing assignments for undergrad philosophy courses

William Behun
Jan 10, 2019 11:53 AM
William Behun
There is, of course, no way to answer this without a lot more information. What sort of course? What sort of school? What's the goal of the assignment?

The most effective assignment for my students in an upper division class at Penn State is going to be very different from the most effective assignment for my Intro students at McHenry County College.

I've used a variety of structures from quick freewrites in class to extended research papers and everything in between. Some work better than others but so much depends on a range of variables.

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Will Behun
McHenry County College
Crystal Lake, IL USA
@wbehun
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2.Re: Writing assignments for undergrad philosophy courses

Susan Hill
Jan 10, 2019 11:53 AM
Susan Hill
An effective writing assignment is one allowing students to be creative yet demonstrate their knowledge of course material in a fun way. 

One example, when I was an undergrad in a metaphysics course, our writing assignment was to use our course material to support or refute the following claim: I am a rock, I am an island.  The material covered in the course came various sources, from Aristotle to Descartes, Kripke to Nozick.  It was great fun to write with the freedom to be creative and yet demonstrate knowledge of material.  (When I had my chance to pose such an assignment I did something similar, it was great to see the students demonstrate what they had learned from the course and how they interpreted some of the works.)

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Susan Hill
Owner
Hill Therapy Services
Doylestown PA
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3.Re: Writing assignments for undergrad philosophy courses
Gonzalo Munevar
Jan 10, 2019 11:53 AM
Gonzalo Munevar
From Gonzalo Munevar, Professor Emeritus, Lawrence Technological University.

This excerpt is typical of what I required from student papers in philosophy.  I hope it will be helpful.

Requirements: 3-5 pages of text, double-spaced, normal margins, no extra spaces between paragraphs, normal font, size 12, APA style (that means you have to write an abstract – for that and other points on APA style refer to the back of your copy of The Nuts and Bolts of College Writing).
Format of the body of the paper:
1.  At the end of the first (and short) paragraph place your thesis statement.  Use "bold" on your thesis statement, so we will know for sure what you aim to prove in the rest of your paper.  Remember, your thesis statement is not an announcement about what you will discuss in your paper; it is a non-trivial statement that you will support in the rest of the paper.  Indeed, the rest of the paper will be written for the sole purpose of supporting (or proving) that thesis statement.
2.  The second paragraph should provide a list of the main reasons you will offer in support of your thesis statement.
3. Subsequent paragraphs will elaborate on those reasons.  Do not have more than one main reason per paragraph, although you could devote several paragraphs to only one reason.
3. Bring up the main objections that a reasonable person would have against your view.  Refute the objections.
4. Conclude gracefully.
5. The required table of references will not count against the 5 pages maximum.







5.Re: Writing assignments for undergrad philosophy courses

Jonathan Cohen
Jan 10, 2019 11:53 AM
Jonathan Cohen
"Apply X to your life." For years I've assigned an ethics "journal" in which students seek to apply an ethical theory or theories to a situation in their own lives, past or present (promising them confidentiality). But it works in courses other than ethics as well, and can include locating a philosophical idea or problem in a cultural artifact (movie, book, song, artwork).

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Jonathan Cohen
Professor
Univ of Maine Farmington
Farmington ME
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6.Re: Writing assignments for undergrad philosophy courses
Kristen Zbikowski
Jan 10, 2019 11:54 AM
Kristen Zbikowski
Hello,

The past few years, I have selected a number of articles from the APA Newsletters and asked students to make a choice from that grouping.  I try to choose a wide enough variety that there will most probably be something of interest for almost all students.  Then I give the students a worksheet which guides them into first restating the basic argument made by the article's author and then critiquing the argument.

Students seem to enjoy the assignment, for the most part, and they do well with the critique.  A few students have been confused because they have been told in past classes that they aren't "allowed" to write their own observations or critique into a paper, but after reassurance, they jump right in.  I like the assignment because it brings philosophy into the current day, and showcases today's philosophical thinkers.

I hope this is helpful.

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Kristen Zbikowski
Hibbing Community College
Hibbing MN



7.Re: Writing assignments for undergrad philosophy courses
Charles Cardwell
Jan 10, 2019 11:54 AM  |  attachment  view attached
Charles Cardwell
I have had the best luck with what I call a "position paper."​  See attached file [Vol_XXXIV_9.pdf].

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Charles E.Cardwell,
Professor of Philosophy
Pellissippi State
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