Course Number: BGS 100
Course Title: Pro-Seminar
Check the general education core area for this course: English Communication (ECw)
Department(s) in which course will be taught: Bachelor of General Studies
Faculty member(s) responsible for this course: Dr. Anne Hubbard, Coordinator of the BGS Program
Office: Shepard 252
Office Phone: 401.277.5305
Will non-tenure track faculty teach this course? Yes
If yes, approximately what percentage of sections will be taught by non tenure-track faculty?
All sections currently are taught by non tenure-track faculty. This course has been taught by part-time faculty for the past decade or more.
The integrated skills** that this course will focus on are:
*Note: At least three integrated skills are required.
Course description (as would be found in catalog):
Introduction to critical approaches to learning with emphasis on reading and rhetorical skills appropriate to college students. Must be taken concurrently with URI 101. S/U credit.
Faculty Member's Signature: _____________________________________________
Chairperson's Signature: ________________________________________________
Dean's Signature: _______________________________________________________
BGS 100 is the first course most returning adult students take when they enter the BGS program. This course introduces or reintroduces students to core academic skills necessary in college, such as critical reading, thinking, writing, listening, observing, questioning, and speaking. The course assists the students in developing a strong learning style and in forming a community with fellow students to assist each other in their academic career. The knowledge and skills acquired in this course will prepare students to succeed in their college studies and in life beyond the classroom.
By the end of the course, students are expected to demonstrate, in their comments and questions, their papers, and their class presentations:
a) the ability to think critically:
Students are challenged throughout the course to think critically through a variety of in class and homework assignments, including evaluating websites for their appropriateness for academic work, in-class discussions and writing assignments on materials read and presented in class, and homework assignments that ask students to interact with the material, identifying the author's main ideas and the data provided to support these ideas. Students are also asked to challenge their own ideas, and to make decisions about the meaning and implication of what they are reading.
b) the ability to use the methods and materials characteristic of the discipline:
Students are expected to use discipline-appropriate methods and materials. In my section on Exploring the Human-Animal Bond for example, students are introduced to the format of social science research articles and learn how to evaluate the articles they read for their papers and presentations.
c) the instilling of a commitment to intellectual curiosity and lifelong learning:
Students are challenged to be curious about the broad subjects covered in class. The topics in this course are broad enough to allow students to interact with the materials from a variety of different points of view. In addition, since this course is the first of their academic career, students are continually exposed to new ideas and asked to reflect on them and on their impact on the student's own education. Many of the writing assignments ask students to use their own experiences to reflect on the material and how it will be useful to them in their academic career.
d) an openness to new ideas with the social skills necessary for both teamwork and leadership; the ability to think independently and be self-directed; to make informed choices and take initiative:
Students, working as individuals and in groups, both in the classroom and on outside assignments, learn to take individual and collective responsibility for their learning. Students have the opportunity to do independent research and writing on a topic of their own choosing. Students have the opportunity to work in groups during class sessions, conducting peer evaluations of fellow classmates' work, as well as discussing and evaluating the topics on the class agenda. One of the goals of this course is for students to form a learning community with other students in the class so they can support each other during this semester as well in semesters beyond this course.
"EC courses and ECw courses:
a. Examine the elements and conditions of effective writing or speaking through the use of a variety of basic disciplinary sources and critical explorations.
Students in the course have many opportunities to examine the elements and conditions of effective writing. The most obvious way is through the texts that students have been asked to read. In all sections of the course, students are asked to be active readers, to read critically and to evaluate and assess the material. Students also examine one another's writing during the semester. Finally, instructors use handbooks (such as Diana Hacker's A Writer's Reference) and web resources (such as Purdue's On-line Writing Lab - OWL) to teach students the elements of effective writing.
b. Enhance students' ability to critically receive, analyze and interpret texts, information, and persuasive messages for interaction with multiple audiences, in specified contexts, for specific purposes. ECw courses focus particularly on the analysis and production of written texts for a variety of purposes and contexts.
In addition to the above, instructors focus on the importance of audience in the course readings and in the students' writing.
c. Promote progressive skills acquisition in critical analysis and production that results form ample opportunities for guided practice as well as feed back from peers, the instructor, the public, or other audiences.
A major emphasis in the course is on building and strengthening critical reading and writing skills. Students are given ample opportunities for practice during the semester through class discussion and a variety of writing assignments, both long and short. Students work with their peers, with their instructor, and in many sections, with a writing consultant. They learn revising, editing, and critical discussion skills.
d. Provide multiple opportunities for writing and/or speaking and listening in different modes or genres and for varying audiences, purposes and contexts.
Over the years, instructors have provided multiple opportunities for writing and/or speaking and listening in different modes or genres and for varying audience, purposes, and contexts. In terms of speaking, instructors require student to be actively involved in class discussion. Some instructors also require students to give an oral presentation on a topic related to the course. In writing, students are assigned a variety of tasks - from keeping a journal, to in-class writing, to reaction papers, to more formal research papers.
Read Complex Texts: Many of the students who come to this course have not read an entire book or a long academic paper since their last educational experience. Therefore, the very process of actively reading academic material presents a challenge to students at the outset of this course.
Students read from a wide variety of literature forms, becoming increasingly comfortable with critically reading and analyzing what they are reading. In my section, for example, in addition to their text and numerous handouts, students read an essay (introduction to a book) by Harvard paleobiologist Stephen Jay Gould, excerpts from Oxford University zoologist Marion Stamp Hawkins' book, In Our Eyes Only?: The Search for Animal Consciousness, and biologist Karen Pryor's article on "Non-acoustic Communication in Small Cetaceans: Glance, Touch, Position, Gesture, and Bubbles." Students also read a social science research article ("Blind People and Their Dogs: An Empirical Study on Changes in Everyday Life, in Self-Experience, and in Communication") and critique its adherence to generally accepted research style. In addition, students are expected to read social science research studies for their term paper. I do not expect students to understand fully the statistical analyses in these articles, but I expect them to analyze whether the questions under study follow from the literature review the author(s) lists and whether the subject under investigation is related to the student's paper topic.
For all types of readings, students are asked to read the texts carefully and to summarize the authors' main points and conclusions and to recognize the data that underlie these conclusions. During the development of their research papers, students are exposed to both primary and secondary sources and learn how to evaluate the sources for use in building their argument in the paper.
Use of Information Technology: Students typically come to the BGS program with very rudimentary information technology skills. Throughout the course of the semester, students develop their technology skills in a variety of ways. Students receive instruction in the university's email system and are expected to communicate with their instructor via email. Students are introduced to the web as a tool for education and learn to evaluate sites for use in an academic setting. In my section, for example, students select three web sites and write an essay evaluating each site according to the criteria outlined by the library staff in a session on evaluating web sites. Students also complete a tutorial on finding and evaluating web sites for use in academic work. We spend time in class sessions learning how to search some of the electronic databases for material for the students' term papers. Students are expected to use these databases in finding scholarly material for their research paper. A number of my readings are on electronic reserve in the library and on various web sites. Students also receive instruction on how to use a WebCT course site. Materials from the course are placed on WebCT and students must consult them and complete an assignment on WebCT.
Writing: A major emphasis in this course is on communicating effectively - especially through the medium of the written and spoken word. The development of writing skills is a major component of the course and is reinforced through a variety of both in-class and homework writing experiences, including short responses to specific questions, a self-reflective essay on the student's personal academic journey, critical essays on materials read, and a research paper on a topic of the student's choosing.
Throughout the semester students are expected to become progressively more sophisticated in their ability to express their ideas through their use of proper grammatical and rhetorical skills. Students submit drafts of their papers for review, critique fellow students' papers, and work one-on-one with a writing consultant assigned to the class.
The emphasis is on clear, grammatically correct writing that addresses the appropriate audience for the assignment.
The process and mechanics of writing a term paper is taught (selecting a topic, finding suitable materials, taking notes, developing an outline, writing a first draft, revising the draft, preparing the final paper, and correctly annotating sources). Students are also given detailed instruction on plagiarism and citing sources.
The Coordinator of the Bachelor of General Studies regularly reviews the course syllabi and meets with instructors, and will ensure that each section contains the necessary materials, texts and activities to meet the general education categories in this application (read complex texts, use of information technology, writing). The same instructors have taught the course each term for a number of years; at present, there is no problem with regard to maintaining consistency in content and skills across sections and instructors.
Anne Hubbard, Instructor
BGS Office, Room 252
Office Phone: 401.277.5305
Office Hourse: M-Th (call for appointment)
A major focus in this course is to provide you with opportunities to develop and/or to refine a number of academic skills you will need to be successful in college. These skills include: critical learning, writing, reading, listening, observing, questioning and speaking. You will have an opportunity to work on your own and with your peers in furthering your education. I am excited about the start of your educational journey, and I hope you feel the same.
By the end of the course, students are expected to demonstrate, in their comments and questions, papers and class presentations:
The topic for this term is "Exploring the Human-Animal Bond." In this course we will explore our relationships with the animal world from a number of different perspectives. Historically, we have used animals for a variety of purposes: food, travel, recreation, research, as subjects of art and literature, etc. Our connections to the animal world today are varied, complex, and ultimately important to us and to the animals. Our relationships to them are bound by factors such as culture, contact, prejudice, and lack of knowledge, to name a few. In this course we will spend part of the term investigating general questions about our relations to animals and about animal emotions, communication, and cognition. We will read and write, view films, and discuss issues among ourselves, in an effort to build an understanding of how each of us approaches these issues.
We will then focus on domestic animals, particularly dogs and horses, and their relationship with us from a number of perspectives. We will explore how pets touch various parts of our lives - as companions, therapists, assistants, confidants, etc. Elizabeth Marshall Thomas has said that entering the innermost lives of our pets and companion animals is pleasurable and rewarding, " - and in terms of our future health and happiness, no subject could be a more important one for study." *
We will have the opportunity to talk to people who rely on animals for daily assistance and to observe animals in action as "therapists." In addition, you will have the opportunity to explore a topic of interest in depth and share your knowledge with your fellow students.
My main goal for you in this course is to be excited by the learning process and the topics we will encounter and to participate fully in this process as we together explore the human-animal bond.
* In A. Beck and A. Katcher, Between pets and people: The importance of animal companionship, West Lafayette, Ind: Purdue University Press, 1996, p xi.
It is very important that you attend classes, and I place a high value on your presence and participation. There will be times that you will have to miss a class due to illness or emergency. Please let me know if you will not be able to attend class. If you miss more than 3 classes, you will not pass this course. In addition, please make every effort to be on time for class and to avoid leaving early - your grade will reflect your attendance.
You will be expected to hand in assignments on time, to do the readings and to participate in class discussion. There are parts of this course in which there is a significant amount of reading. I suggest that you start reading ahead as your schedule permits, so you are not cramming the reading in at the last minute. If you are having difficulty keeping up with the reading or are not going to meet an assignment deadline, please let me know before the class so we can work out an alternate arrangement. Assignments handed in after the due date will be reduced by one grade.
You will have plenty of opportunities to write in this course. Most of these writing assignments will be short, but will provide you the opportunity to develop skills and to become comfortable with this type of academic writing. I expect that your written assignments will be grammatically correct as well as logical, well thought out, pertinent to the topic assigned, and handed in on time. Your grade for each assignment will be based on these considerations.
The first writing assignment may be hand written; however, all the rest of the written assignments must be typed (on a computer). If you need assistance in using a word processing program, please let me know.
The course is graded S/U - Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory. The grade is based on your attendance (20%) (and this includes your sessions with the writing tutor), your participation in the class (30%) and the assignments (50%).
"Students are expected to be honest in all academic work. Cheating is the claiming of credit for work not done independently without giving credit for aid received, or unauthorized possession or access to exams, or any unauthorized communication during examinations." (From the University of Rhode Island 2002-2005 Student Handbook)
We will discuss the issues surrounding plagiarism and you will be expected to use appropriate methods of citing the work of others that you have used in preparing your papers and other assignments.
Check your email regularly for any homework tips, announcements, etc. Email me with questions if you get stuck.
Please turn off your cell phones, no calls are to be taken during class time. If you need to make acall, make it during the break.
We have the good fortune this semester to have an advanced student assigned to our class as a writing tutor. I have prepared a separate handout on the role of the writing tutor and we will discuss this the first class. I urge you to take full advantage of the writing tutor. Please note that part of your attendance in this class includes visiting the Writing Tutor at least twice during the semester. If you do not meet at least twice with the tutor, your attendance grade will be adjusted.
You will develop a term paper on a topic of interest to you within the major theme of Exploring the Human-Animal Bond. I will approve all topics, so you need to let me know what topic you would like to write on by the 8th class. This is not an opinion paper. Tell me what you have learned about this topic and cite evidence from your readings, the films, and other sources. This should be a 5-7 page paper and is due the last class. There is plenty of time to see the writing tutor and/or me and to rework drafts.
We will take a large part of the semester to walk through the steps in writing a term paper. We will discuss the paper several times in class, and you will have an opportunity to present your topic and outline to a group of your classmates for feedback. I strongly urge you to make an appointment with the writing tutor and/or me to review your outline and/or draft. I will grade this paper on content (that is, the development of your ideas, your ability to draw the material together, your ability to cite evidence from your reading) and on structure (grammatically correct language, use of a thesis statement, your conclusion, the format of the paper and the citations, etc.). You will use the APA style for this paper. See pages 365 - 385 in Hacker for information on the APA style and the following website (http://www.apastyle.org/elecgeneral.html), which is the website for the American Psychological Association's up-to-date information on how to cite electronic references in your paper. Your paper should conform to this style.
In addition to turning in the paper at the last class, you will also give a short (no more than 10 minutes) presentation about your work, citing the topic and what drew you to this topic, the questions you looked at, the literature you found, and your major findings.
Introduction to the Course
Reading: Course syllabus write down any questions you have and we will discuss these next week
Get your student id card (go to room 125 to get your card).
Go to the library and have the card activated
Get your parking pass (if necessary)
Bring A Writer's Reference to class next week
Bring your syllabus to class - every class
Introduction to Human-Animal Issues, Paragraph Writing
Reading: This looks like a lot of reading, but the handouts are all short pieces.
Your room looks like a pigsty! Elephants never forget! I'm happy as a lark! He works like a dog! These are some expressions we encounter in day-to-day conversation. Have you ever thought about how these expressions began, or how they influence our perception of the animal involved? Or whether they are true/false, positive/negative? In the next class, we will talk about some of society's preconceptions of animals. To help the discussion along, take 3 note cards and on each one, list one expression similar to the ones listed above, concerning animals. Then, write a short paragraph (limited to the note card) about each expression. How might the expression have started? What characteristics of the animal does the expression bring to mind? Is the expression describing a positive or a negative aspect of the animal? Do you know if the expression is even true about this animal?
You might respond to these questions, although you don't have to. For each expression you list (3 in all), write a coherent paragraph, with a thesis statement. Bring these cards and be prepared to share them with the class.
Animals in Native American Culture
For this writing assignment you are going to read and analyze both the introduction by zoologist Mark Bekoff and the foreword by Harvard paleobiologist Stephen Jay Gould (from The Smile of a Dolphin). You will use the handout on "How to read essays you must analyze" as a guide, so follow the directions under each step (but skip step 10). After you have read each essay, answer the questions on the "Reading and Understanding Essays Worksheet." Answer the questions on a separate sheet of paper for each of the two essays (the Introduction and the Foreword). This is due next week.
Do Animals Have Feelings?
Introduction to WebCT
Go to the following web site that has a good tutorial and a practice WebCT course. This is the site we used during the class session so you will be familiar with some of the material. Follow the links on the site to learn more about WebCT - http://www.spcollege.edu/ecampus/help/webct/index.shtml Spend some time following the practice course - take the short assessment to see if you might be comfortable taking online courses. (Follow the links for "Content" - "Welcome to SPC's eCampus" - "Is eCampus the Place for You?") Bring in your results next week so we can discuss them.
Email the instructor (firstname.lastname@example.org) a short message on how the course is going for you so far. You might comment on the content, the readings for homework, whether the course is going too fast or too slow for you, whether you are able to keep up, etc.
Complete the WebCT assignment and send it to the instructor via WebCT email.
An introduction to the library
Introduction to the term paper assignment
We will meet in the library classroom
Animal intelligence & communication
Evaluating web sites
* Begin to read on your term paper topic. Come to the next class with some of the items you have found and let me know if you are having problems locating materials. We will spend part of the next class refining the topics and key words you are using to find material for your paper.
* Find 3 web sites on a dog-related topic and list the addresses. (Do not use the sites I have given you.) Describe and evaluate the sites according to EACH of the 7 points in the handout you got from the library. Would you consider using any of these sites for a scholarly paper? Why or why not? Write up an evaluative essay for each of the sites. This assignment should be written in the form of complete sentences and paragraphs and should follow appropriate grammar and sentence structure.
Outlining a paper
Locating Material for Term Paper
Come to the next class with your final term paper topic and draft thesis statement.
Writing Term Papers
Reading (these websites will also be posted on the class WebCT site.)
Read ahead - begin the assignment pp1-94 in The Animal Attraction.
Work on your literature search for your term paper.
Introduction to Research
How to read a research report
writing topic sentences
Site Visit to Therapeutic Riding Center
Site visit to a therapeutic riding center in Rehoboth, MA. I will distribute the directions in class and we will discuss car pooling. Wear comfortable, warm clothes, as we will be in an indoor dirt arena or in an outdoor dirt ring.
Review of Term Paper Outlines
Progress reports on term paper
The domestication of the dog
Reading: (for April 22 class)
Develop an in-depth outline for your research paper. This outline should include the preliminary thesis statement, the major points/questions you will investigate, and a list of some of the sources you will use for your final paper. You must hand in this outline before your conference with the instructor. If you are ready to develop a first draft of your paper, you may submit that to the instructor before your conference. Contact the writing tutor or instructor for help.
Generate some questions as a result of your reading about therapy/assistance dogs. Bring these questions to class on April 22 for our visiting speakers.
No Class - Individual Conferences with Instructor (to be scheduled between April 12 and April 16 - but don't wait until the very end of the week to see the instructor!)
This conference will give you and me a chance to review your paper draft/outline, go over any other issues related to the class, and plan for the upcoming spring semester. Email your outline or first draft of your paper to me at least a day ahead of time so I will be able to read it before the conference.
Assignments (due April 22)
Reading: Chapter 6-9 in The Animal Attraction, pp 160-263
Writing: Write a 500-word essay on the academic journey you have undertaken since the beginning of the semester. Are there themes emerging yet for you? Have you been pleasantly surprised about your abilities? What areas are you still concerned about? This paper is due April 22.
The semester's academic journey
Therapy and assistance dogs
Finish your term paper and prepare your notes from which you will give a short presentation of your findings. Meet with the instructor and/or the writing tutor to review your paper and presentation.
Presentations of term papers
We are very lucky to have a writing consultant join us for this course.
Role of the Writing Consultant
The consultant's primary role is to give you guidance and feedback on your writing - throughout the writing process --from start to finish. Writing is a process and feedback from a knowledgeable person is very important to any writer as she moves through this process from initial idea to polished product. The consultant will not write your paper, but her guidance and feedback will help you understand when and how to work more carefully and successfully on your writing assignments.
You will be asked to write continually throughout your academic career. If you have been away from school for a while, your writing skills are undoubtedly a little rusty. This course is designed to help you review and/or acquire solid writing skills so you will be a successful writer in future semesters. I urge you to take advantage of the tutor's skills and make appointments to have her review your papers. I guarantee that if you apply yourself to your writing and get feedback from the tutor, the Writing Center, and/or me, that your writing will improve.