DeVry University, ENGL 135: Advanced Composition—Alternative Topic: Curricular Reform

As I note in a blog post, here, I am not entirely satisfied with the “standard” topics on offer from DeVry University for its assignment sequence in ENGL 135: Advanced Composition. In the blog post, I note that I mean to make available to students an alternative topic on which to focus–curricular reform. That is, students can, instead of taking up one of the standard topics, opt to pursue a way in which their own course of study can be made better. Means for improvement could include the elimination or consolidation of a course (and the compressed instructional session will allow for only one to be treated), insertion or addition of a course, or some other avenue.

The thesis for such a project is that the course of study for a given major should be changed in a particular way. The project will need to lay out why the part of the curriculum that needs to be changed needs the change. It will also need to lay out and explain why the particular change is the one that needs to be made, rather than some other change that could be made.

Information about how the major assignments for the Course Project interact with the alternative topic appears below. Items are listed in the order they occur in the course:

Samples of such work are linked as they are available. More may come; please check back for updated.

Geoffrey B. Elliott
2 February 2018

Topic Selection

Instead of taking one of the prescribed topics, you may focus your attentions on an issue of curricular reform. That is, you can look at making a change to the course of study required of students in your major. In addressing the components of the assignment, mind the following:

  1. Your questions should focus on what needs to change, why it needs to change, how it can be made to change, and why it should be made to change the way it ought.
  2. How you are involved in the topic should be clear, since you should be focusing on your major and its course requirements, but you will need to explain it to those who do not share your field of study.
  3. Resources—and remember to cite the resource and summarize it, keeping the citation and the summary together—can be found in ERIC (https://eric.ed.gov/) and in the major journals and industry magazines associated with your field of study. Library guides can help, as can I.
  4. Your audience needs to be those who can make decisions about your course curriculum—which means people outside the current classroom. For DeVry, the decisions are made at the central offices in the Chicago area, as well as in consultation with accrediting agencies. Consult your course catalog and the DeVry websites for more information about who makes the decisions.
  5. Think about your specific issue as being a course that needs adjusting and your angle as what the adjustment needs to be.

The template in the Files section of the course shell should still be filled out and submitted; simply input the relevant information. The grading rubric in the course shell will still be applied, as well, with adjustments for topic.

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Source Summary

The overall pattern of the assignment will remain the same for students pursuing a curricular reform assignment. In addressing the components of the assignment, mind the following:

  • Prewriting- This information needs to be completed. Since it is a continuation of a single project, corrected carry-over from the Topic Selection is permitted, if not expected (although not required).
  • The One-Sentence summary should still open with a fitting in-text citation and present the central thesis of the summarized piece. Follow the model of “Author (Date) asserts that [restate the summarized piece’s thesis].”
  • The One-Paragraph Summary should still open with a fitting in-text citation and present the central thesis of the summarized piece. It should then proceed to identify the major points the piece makes–in the order they are made.
  • The Multiple Paragraph Summary should still open with a fitting in-text citation and present the central thesis of the summarized piece. It should then proceed to identify the major points the piece makes–in the order they are made. While it should not include quotation, more paraphrase would be useful. Commentaries about paratextual and other design features might also be incorporated.
  • Your Reaction should be just that: your reaction. It is assumed to be your opinion–although you will need to explain why you hold it–so “I believe,” “I think,” and similar phrases need not appear.
  • References need to be APA-compliant. You need not have APA memorized; please use reference guides to compose the appropriate end-of-text citation for the source being summarized.

The template in the Files section of the course shell should still be filled out and submitted; simply input the relevant information. The grading rubric in the course shell will still be applied, as well, with adjustments for topic.

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Research Proposal

No changes need to be made to the assignment to accommodate curricular reform projects. The exercise works equally well with any topic.

The template in the Files section of the course shell should still be filled out and submitted; simply input the relevant information. The grading rubric in the course shell will still be applied, as well, with adjustments for topic.

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Annotated Bibliography

Because the Annotated Bibliography will involve extensive reading, it should be started early in the session–particularly with curricular reform topics, since 1) there are many sources available and 2) many of those sources will come from disciplines other than your own. The overall shape of the assignment should follow the regular pattern, however, with an introduction outlining your project and explaining your methods followed by a series of three-part annotations. Each annotation should have, in order:

  1. An APA-adherent citation for a source,
  2. A one-paragraph summary of the source (as in the Source Summary assignment from Week 2), and
  3. An explanation of how the source will be useful in the project (as support, counter-argument, rebuttal, or contextual material).

Primary sources should not be annotated. Most or all of the annotations should be secondary sources. One of the required annotations may (but is not required to) be for a tertiary/critical source; this should be noted in the annotation.

The template in the Files section of the course shell should still be filled out and submitted, with the requested corrections to formatting; simply input the relevant information, then make the formatting adjustments. The grading rubric in the course shell will still be applied, as well, with adjustments for topic.

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First Draft

No changes need to be made to the assignment to accommodate curricular reform projects. The exercise works equally well with any topic–and the problem/solution pattern will apply reasonably well to curricular reform issues, since the current curriculum can be explained as the problem and the proposed change its solution.

The template in the Files section of the course shell should still be filled out and submitted; simply input the relevant information. The grading rubric in the course shell will still be applied, as well, with adjustments for topic.

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Second Draft

No changes need to be made to the assignment to accommodate curricular reform projects. The exercise works equally well with any topic–and the problem/solution pattern will apply reasonably well to curricular reform issues, since the current curriculum can be explained as the problem and the proposed change its solution.

A graphic is required, as well. If you use another’s graphic, it must be cited. If you generate your own graphic from someone else’s data–or from several others’ data–you must cite the data. If you develop your own data, it should be explained in the text, but no citation is needed.

The template in the Files section of the course shell should still be filled out and submitted; simply input the relevant information. The grading rubric in the course shell will still be applied, as well, with adjustments for topic.

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Final Draft

No changes need to be made to the assignment to accommodate curricular reform projects. The exercise works equally well with any topic–and the problem/solution pattern will apply reasonably well to curricular reform issues, since the current curriculum can be explained as the problem and the proposed change its solution.

Graphics are required, as well. If you use another’s graphic, it must be cited. If you generate your own graphic from someone else’s data–or from several others’ data–you must cite the data. If you develop your own data, it should be explained in the text, but no citation is needed.

The template in the Files section of the course shell should still be filled out and submitted; simply input the relevant information. The grading rubric in the course shell will still be applied, as well, with adjustments for topic.

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Reflective Postscript

No changes need to be made to the assignment to accommodate curricular reform projects. The exercise works equally well with any topic. The grading rubric in the course shell will still be applied, as well, with adjustments for topic.

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