BIS 300A

Interdisciplinary Inquiry

Winter 2010

David S. Goldstein, Ph.D.

Essay Assignment

due in class at 11:10 a.m. sharp on Monday, Feb. 1;
revision due in midquarter portfolio at 10:45 a.m. sharp on Wednesday, Feb. 17;
final version due in learning portfolio at 10:45 a.m. sharp on Monday, March 8

Assignment Calendar

The purpose of this essay is to help you use writing to think about what you read regarding the complex topic of interdisciplinarity and to provide you the opportunity to develop further some ideas discussed in class. It is meant to contribute to the following course learning goals:

Start by reading this "prompt" (the question that is intended to stimulate your ideas):

You wrote some paragraphs in class about a great course you once took. Now that you have a detailed description of an educational experience that you feel was "good," use this experience to test what Paolo Freire says about education and approaches to education.

This may be a bit different from the approaches you are used to taking in writing about essays and texts written by others. The "authority" in this essay is your experience, not Freire. Freire is what you examine. That is, Freire makes a number of assumptions and assertions about education that he wants you to accept. Based on your experience, should we accept them? Think about how your experience relates and does not relate to what you think Freire is proposing. In what ways does your experience support what Freire says and in what ways does it challenge Freire? How does the "reality" as represented by your experience compare with the theory presented by Freire?

[Thanks to Prof. Ralph Leary at Clarion University for this essay question.]

Now, in a formal, argumentative essay of 1000 to 1250 words (according to the word count tool in Microsoft Word), write an essay in response to the prompt. To do this, develop a thesis (main argument) that answers the prompt, which should be built into your opening paragraph. Y our thesis should incorporate your main point about how your class supports or contradicts Freire .  The rest of the essay will comprise your attempts to convince your reader of the veracity of your thesis. Your reader has not read your in-class writing about your "great course," so your essay will need to describe it with sufficient detail so that your reader knows what you are talking about. Assume that your audience is a smart, educated person who has read, but is not an expert on, Freire's essay or ideas. As you write, it might help to think of a smart friend of yours as your audience.

Your essay is due in class at 11:10 a.m. sharp on Monday, Feb. 1. Because we will meet that day in our peer critique groups, your essay cannot be late. Your peer group members will have insufficient time to critique your paper if they receive it after this deadline. Your peer group will not provide you with peer critiques if you do not submit your original paper by the beginning of class on the due date, which will make your revision process more difficult (but you will still be responsible for critiquing their papers). I therefore urge you to take responsibility for submitting your paper on time. Please do not submit a rough draft. This version should be as complete and polished as you can possibly make it. Papers that seem incomplete or not seriously written will not be critiqued by peers.

Important: On the due date, you must bring THREE stapled copies of your essay to class. (The extra copy will be submitted to me, although I will not grade it.  I just want to be sure that the essays that your group members give you are sufficiently complete.  Be sure to keep a separate original for yourself. Please have the courtesy to make sure your essay copies are stapled so your peer group members and I do not lose any of your pages.  ASUWB provides staplers in the "vista" area of the lower, second, and third floors of the UW1 Building and the first and second floors of the UW2 Building.

I will post, in our Blackboard area at <>, instructions and questionnaires for completing peer critiques. Please budget at least five to eight hours for each critique. They require substantial time, effort, and care.

Optional Interim Revision: I recommend that you revise your essay after getting your peers' critiques.  Then the version that you submit in your midquarter portfolio on Wednesday, Feb. 17, will be as close to a polished, final draft as you can make it, and my comments will help you revise it one more time before you submit the final version for grading in your learning portfolio.

Final Revision: If you like, you may revise your essay one final time. Using what you learned from your peers' critiques of your paper and from my comments, you may revise your paper, still adhering to the length and formatting requirements outlined above for your original paper. Remember to do a word count to check the length. Then, when you submit your Learning Portfolio, choose this essay as your included sample. I will grade this final version using the criteria below.

Criteria for grading the final version of your essay. Please carefully read "Criteria for Assessing Writing" at <> for an explanation of these items:


50 percent


10 percent


20 percent


10 percent


10 percent


25 percent of course grade

The midquarter portfolio version of your paper will include my comments but no grade. They will be marked only as an early draft, middle draft, or late draft (see "Criteria for Assessing Writing" at <> for an explanation).

Let me emphasize that I expect your best effort in this and every exercise. Your most serious work now will enable me to provide the most helpful comments, which in turn will improve your grade on later assignments. In other words, this assignment helps determine your grade in this course both directly (with the score it earns) and indirectly (with its capacity to teach you how to improve your writing), so it is worth the investment of your time and effort to do the best you can.

Some additional advice:

This page last updated Jan. 11, 2010.

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