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English 108A, Early Fall Start 2016

Assignments and Updates

See also: Blackboard

This page has the most up-to-date information available on this website. Please check this page frequently throughout the quarter!!

(Information on this page will be listed in reverse chronological order--beware!)

For help with grammar and mechanics for ELL/ESL students, try:

or our own OWRC's page:



Fri Sep 9

Reading: Whatever materials you have found to support your research presentation next week.

Writing: I need from your group a full description of what your presentation is going to be. We will talk about the question you've asked, how well you have done finding information to enable you to report. I'll want to hear from each of you about what your part is going to be. If all seems to be under control and a plan made for getting to the Dress Rehearsal on Tuesday, I'll check you off and send you off to work; if there is a problem we'll work out a solution or a plan for a solution then.

I will also need your group name (if any), the title of your presentation, and your names as you would like them listed/spelled. All of that will appear in the program (which can be emailed later on to anyone you might like to see your name in print!)

(This week will be spent with the rewrite of the "My Learning Profile" paper, and with developing material for your presentation at the Research on Learning Conference to be held next week) (For assignment click here.)


Fri Sep 2

Reading: No new reading

Writing: Due today: My Learning Profile: Full proposal

Context: In the last paper you used anecdotes from your life to tell the story of how you came to be the writer you are.  In this essay, you will again use examples from your own experience, but your focus will be on applying the concepts we have studied to understanding your own tendencies as a learner today.  With this writing assignment, you are both an insider and an outsider as you write:  you are not expert insiders (yet!) on learning issues, though you have certainly learned some things about them; you are, however, expert insiders on yourself.  You know as I can’t how you’ve dealt with difficulty in the past, or how you have resisted at points, both positively or negatively, or what has motivated you in the past to keep going, or where and how you have not-learned.   

Prompt: Tell me about yourself as a learner, using key learning concepts we have developed over the past two weeks and supporting your self-analysis by recounting three or four different events in your learning life that give a profile of you as a learner. Your purpose is to help me get to know you as a learner, and to articulate for me as well as yourself the kinds of things you will need to work on during the next school year, as well as what things (academic subjects, skills, and practices) you would like to learn in your first year at the UW.

Note: This is a formal essay, but it is also about you: in other words, your learning trajectory—past, present, and future—is the object of study. Your essay should include a description in the introductory paragraph that describes you as a learner, as fully as you can, and then follows with "evidence" in the form of vignettes that support your claim about how you have learned (and not-learned!) in the past as well as what you have learned and would like to learn about learning in the future.

Pre-writing: In generating material to write about, think about distinct moments in your learning life—a time when you were unmotivated to learn, say, and couldn’t perform, or when you thought you couldn’t perform and then found a way.  What happens when you encounter difficulty?  What have you typically done?  What are your characteristic forms of resistance? How do you know?  What are the prior knowledges you have—personal and academic—that you think will be strong resources for the classes you are about to take?  Have you ever found yourself not-learning in the way Kohl describes? 

Length:  3-4 pages

Format: 12-pt Times New Roman font, double-spaced, 1-inch margins

Full Proposal Draft Due Friday, September 2 at 9:30am

A full proposal is like a first draft, but it focuses primarily on the first four of the paper criteria, Central Purpose, Organization, Details and Fullness.

Thurs Sept 1

Reading: Meyer and Land, Section 4 to end; and Webster, the Glossary of Learning Terms from Learning About Learning. (click here)

Writing: 1. For two of Meyer and Land's classes of troublesome knowledge, give an example from your own learning of what has been troublesome to you. As an example, earlier I told you the story of how I could not remember what I learned in calculus. I would study it and then I'd forget it all. For me, all of that learning was fully "inert." It was nothing that entered into my learning mind as interesting or useful--it was just something I learned--at least temporarily--and then quickly forgot. It was inert in my mind and as a couple weeks passed I could not convince my inner mental self to retain it.

And 2: pick two definitions from the glossary that you have had experience with and briefly describe what happened and how that helps understand more deeply the concept defined.

Wed Aug 31

Reading: Meyer and Land, Threshold Concepts, sections 1-3.

Writing: Though threshold concepts are most often talked about in academic spaces, we actually can run into them almost anywhere. So inventory the things you know, especially about things you are expert in, and find three that seem to be "threshold" concepts. Write about them, explaining as fully as you can both what it means and, as best you can, why it seems to be a threshold concept and not just a "core" concept. And then explain why some might find it troublesome! What do you have to put aside in order to adopt a new way of thinking? (It's not all that important here that you be "right." We can learn something about threshold concepts from non-htreshold concepts, too.

Tuesday August 30

There are two parts to Tuesday's assignment:

Reading 1.  Read Ramirez and Beilock, “Writing About Test Worries Boosts Exam Performance in the Classroom.”  (Handout)

Writing 1: Then write a response that focuses on these questions:

            a. What was their explanatory hypothesis for their conclusion that writing boosts exam performance? 
            b. What can you say about how strong their evidence is.  Do you believe them?
            c.  Pretend you are a researcher in the area of cognitive learning.  Assuming we accept R and B’s conclusion and explanation, think about your own situation.  When are you likely to find yourself feeling “performance anxiety”? (That’s the technical term for what they are trying to help students reduce.  I use the writing method when I wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep.) How might you set up an experiment like this one to test whether writing would help? 

Reading 2: Part 1 of Learning about Learning. (Or click here.)

Writing 2: This is something I am still writing.  I need your help.  What is here is intended to make some basic facts about how we learn clear to students like you.  So, I’d like your response to three  questions: 

            1.  Is this essay clear to you as a reader?  Is it within YOUR zone of proximal development?  (ZPD)

            2.  Which (if any) paragraphs or concepts are NOT clear?  

            3.  What (if anything) seems unnecessary?  What would you have liked to have learned more about? 

See you Tuesday.....

Fri Aug 26

Reading: No new Reading

Writing: My Writing Life due (two copies, and printed out using the formatting requirements included on your assignment sheet.)

Thurs Aug 25

Reading: Sample "My Writing Life" drafts, along with your criteria scores and an explanation for those scores.

Writing: Here the writing is based on the Criteria you can find on the Blackboard page of this website, and which we talked about on Wednesday. You are also, of course, working on "My Writing Life," which is due on Friday (two copies, and printed out using the formatting requirements included on your assignment sheet.)

Wed Aug 24

Reading: Kohl: "I won't Learn from You," pp. 1-15 (to end of paragraph in the middle of the page).

Writing: I will have given you a set of questions--read them ALL and think about them all, but then go on to write about the one you have been assigned and then one other--free pick!

Remember that the criterion for good work on low stakes writing is ECI!