The bulk of your grade in this course will be determined by your performance on four major assignments:
Even though you may not think of yourself as a reader or a writer, if you have graduated from high school and chosen to go college, you are a highly literate person. This assignment challenges to you to answer a simple question: How did you get that way? More specifically, this assignment asks you to tell a story—a narrative—about some aspect of your development as a literate individual. For this essay, we will define the term literacy quite broadly, to include multimedia literacy, computer literacy, and information literacy in addition to the traditional categories of reading, writing, and speaking. Your essay should recount a specific experience (or series of experiences) from your life to show how you became the reader, the writer, the speaker, the technologist, etc., that you are today.
For the third major assignment in this course, you will write a research paper that evaluates and responds to arguments in an ongoing debate about the influence that technology has on the ways we read, write, and think. In order to prepare for this assignment, you will compile an annotated bibliography of six sources. Your bibliography should contain a list of these sources, cited chronologically and correctly in MLA format, as well as a highly structured set of notes (“annotations”) that help you understand each source. If done well, your annotated bibliography will be a tremendously useful resource as you write your research paper.
Controlled Research Paper
The Annotated Bibliography assignment required you to read six articles on a common topic and carefully summarize and evaluate the ideas contained in those articles. In your Controlled Research Paper, you will extend that work by crafting a persuasive argument that interweaves your own ideas with the arguments of the six authors we have been studying. Your essay should defend an original, narrow thesis using sound logic, clear writing, and quotes and evidence from the annotated articles. Your finished essay should be 1,200–1,500 words and follow MLA formatting guidelines.
Big Idea Proposal
This assignment draws inspiration from this year’s common reader for St. Edward’s University, Three Cups of Tea, by Greg Mortensen and David Oliver Relin. The book chronicles Mortensen’s efforts to promote peace in Pakistan and Afghanistan by building schools in small villages. This “big idea”—that peace can be achieved through education, and specifically through education for girls—fuels the work of Mortensen’s organization, the Central Asia Institute, which has built more than 100 schools in remote regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan.
For this assignment, you will write a persuasive proposal to solicit help with bringing your own Big Idea to life. Your project or program can be focused on a global issue (e.g., world peace) or a local concern (e.g., water quality at Barton Springs), and the audience for your proposal can be real or imaginary, but your proposal should have at its core a clear idea that you can support and defend enthusiastically.