The Billion Dollar Problem of Aquatic Invasive Species
Fall 2010 Course Syllabus
Writing 20.12, 20.13, 20.14: Academic Writing
Time and Location: MWF 11:55-12:45 West Duke 100 (20.12); 3:05-3:55 White 107 (20.14); 4:40-5:30 Art 102 (20.13)
Dr. Sandra L. Cooke
Office phone: 919-660-7097
Office location: Art Building 200A
Office hours: MW 1:30-2:30 pm and by appointment
Texts: All texts will be provided on Blackboard (http://blackboard.duke.edu) or distributed in class.
Course Blog: https://sites.duke.edu/writing20_12_f2010/
Why are all Duke undergraduate students required to take Academic Writing? Writing 20 offers you a foundation for and introduction to the rigorous analysis and argument that will be asked of you as you pursue academic study at Duke. Writing 20 courses are designed and taught by scholars trained in disciplines across the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities, but all sections share an emphasis on writing as a social process and a commitment to helping students generate effective academic arguments. To these ends, all Writing 20 courses are structured around a common set of “Goals and Practices”, which are detailed below.
Aquatic invasive species, including both plants and animals, cost the United States billions of dollars each year in damage to habitat quality, water supply infrastructure, navigation channels, fisheries, and other sectors. Addressing such a critical problem requires clear, accurate communication among scientists, policymakers, water resource managers, and the general public. In this course we will learn to communicate the science, policy, and societal implications of aquatic invasive species through writing that informs, provides new insights, and raises important questions. As with all Writing 20 courses at Duke University, our goals will be to (1) engage with the work of others, which we will do through analyzing and responding to news and commentary articles, primary scientific literature, and secondary scholarly literature; (2) articulate a position, which will be facilitated by our class discussions and activities; and (3) situate writing in specific contexts, which we will achieve in part by learning how to write for different readerships, for different purposes, and in different formats. We will work towards these goals through the practices of researching, workshopping, revising, and editing. Please refer to http://uwp.duke.edu/students/writing-20/course-goals-and-practices for elaboration of the Writing 20 Goals and Practices. I hope that after completing this course you will be better able to critically analyze texts, develop new insights into an issue, and articulate those insights through writing that is purposeful, clear, and concise.
Writing 20 in the Natural Sciences:
Different academic disciplines use different modes of inquiry, and therefore students in each Writing 20 course may work toward the Goals and Practices in different ways. In this Writing 20 section we will have the opportunity to collect our own data, articulate a position based on these data, generate research questions and hypotheses, and design research projects (though we won’t carry out these projects!). I believe that using such scientific modes of inquiry in this course will lead to more meaningful and intellectually stimulating writing projects; moreover, it will enable us to situate our writing in a wider variety of contexts. However, if you do not plan to pursue a major in the sciences, some of these tasks may sound a bit daunting. If this is the case, please do not worry! In Writing 20, my intention is not for you to master these modes of inquiry, but simply to introduce you to them. My perspective is that these activities will foster your development as a writer and thinker, regardless of your major or disciplinary interests.
Narrative of Course:
In the first part of the course we will begin our work by reading and writing press releases, research highlights, and other texts for broad readerships as we learn some of the general problems of invasive species and the ecology, history, and societal impacts of a few significant aquatic invaders in the U.S. The species we will study include aquatic animals such as zebra mussels and Asian carp, and aquatic plants such as Didymo. You will select one of these species to research in more detail, a task that will involve working with peer-reviewed scientific literature. Your first of two major writing projects will be a literature review in which you synthesize important research findings for your selected species and make a significant, insightful statement about this research. Your literature review will be targeted toward a more specialized readership compared to your initial course writings. Literature reviews in the natural sciences can actually be divided into several sub-genres, and thus your literature review may take the form of a “policy forum”, a “perspective”, or some combination of the two. You’ll learn what these mean soon!
One outcome of your literature review will be a recommendation of one or more future research directions regarding your selected species. In the second half of the course, you will select one of these research directions, frame it in terms of an approachable research question, and write a research pre-proposal, the second major writing project. The goal of a pre-proposal is to “sell” your idea to a multi-disciplinary review panel – often within the space of only three pages – so that they will then invite you to submit a full proposal for funding consideration. To make your proposal effective, you will need to clearly and succinctly frame your question and provide convincing rationale for the significance of your project. Your pre-proposal will be targeted toward a peer review panel comprised of both experts and those unfamiliar with your selected invasive species.
These two major writing projects will form the backbone of this course, but as mentioned previously, we will situate our writing in multiple contexts as we practice various modes of scientific inquiry. These other contexts include a commentary on “citizen science” written for a broad but “science-minded” audience and a brief research report written for a more specialized readership. These two projects will stem from our semester-long study of Daphnia lumholtzi, a potentially invasive water flea in Jordan Lake (near Apex, NC). Our D. lumholtzi project will involve short field trips, lab activities, and extensive collaboration with your colleagues (many more details are forthcoming!). I am excited about this class research project, and I hope that it will be a worthwhile, challenging, but also FUN experience for you!
Major Writing Projects (MWP) – The two papers outlined above (MWP#1 – literature review and MWP#2 – pre-proposal) will account for half of your course grade (see Grades below). Each of these papers will be taken through multiple drafts and will be workshopped by your peers.
Field Trip and Lab Activity – I will invite you to sign up for one Saturday morning field trip to Jordan Lake in Apex, NC to sample for Daphnia lumholtzi, an invasive water flea (there will be three trips to chose from). After the trip, we’ll bring the samples back to the Biological Sciences building on west campus for a brief lab activity. There will be two short writing projects related to this field trip, and the total experience (field & lab participation and writing) will be worth 20% of your grade. I will soon distribute a separate handout with more details.
Short Writings (SW) – Examples of SWs include short response essays (1 page or less), revision reflections of major assignments, blog posts, and peer reviews. As of the first week of the semester there are 13 SWs on our schedule; however, I reserve the right to add a few more as our semester progresses!
Asian Carp Press Release – This medium-sized (in between MWP and SW) collaborative project will account for 10% of your grade and will be completed with a partner.
Attendance Policy – This is a small, seminar-style class, and thus I expect that everyone will attend every class, but I understand that conflicts sometimes arise. I allow each student three absences without penalty (but note these exceptions: absences for small group workshops and days on which your writing will be discussed in seminar will be penalized. Also, there will be a separate attendance and participation requirement for the field trip and lab). Each absence after the third – regardless of the reason – will result in a partial step down of your final course letter grade (e.g., an A- becomes a B+). I also expect you to be on time to class: two late arrivals (more than 5 minutes) will constitute one absence. If an emergency or other situation arises that forces you to miss more than three classes it is your responsibility to discuss the situation with me. Because of this stiff penalty for missed classes I strongly encourage you to save your absences in case of illness or true emergencies. If you do miss a class it is your responsibility to learn what happened in class on the day you were absent and to obtain any of the materials distributed that day (check Blackboard and consult your peers before consulting me for missed material). Absences do not excuse you from submitting assignments on time unless you have arranged an alternate due date with me well in advance. Why such a strict attendance policy? It is important for you to be in class. Writing 20 functions as a seminar, where each participant’s contributions help us learn together. Your colleagues depend on you for your thoughts on a topic or issue, your feedback on their writing, and the development of an academic community.
Submitting Work – Nearly all assignments for this class will be submitted electronically, usually as an upload to Blackboard, attached to an e-mail to me, or as a post or upload to the blog. For most workshopping sessions, one or more hard copies must also be brought to class. I will let you know when and how many hard copies are necessary for each workshop and project. I do not mind if you use double-sided printing for workshop drafts; in fact, I encourage it. All work must be submitted by the due date and time; late work will be assessed on a case-by-case basis, but will probably lower your grade (usually a third of a letter grade per day – e.g., A to A-). For assignment format, please use Times New Roman 12 pt font, 1 inch margins, and double spacing, unless otherwise noted. For papers longer than one page, please number the pages. Also, for workshopping papers in class please number the lines (in Microsoft Word 2007 click on “Page Layout”). If you use Microsoft Office 2007, OpenOffice, or Word Perfect, please make sure that your file is compatible with Microsoft Office 2003. I do not have Word 2007 on my home PC, and thus I prefer .doc files rather than .docx files.
Back-up Your Work – It is always good practice to save your work in multiple places besides your hard drive. Hard drives can crash and flash drives can easily be lost. Consider using Webfiles, an online storage service provided to the Duke community. Duke students receive 5 GB of personal file space for free. Find out more about Webfiles here:
Additionally, Duke has partnered with Iron Mountain to provide a reduced-cost PC back-up and recovery plan:
I urge you to consider these options because computer problems WILL NOT BE AN ACCEPTABLE EXCUSE for late or missing work.
Editing and Proofreading – This is not a course in the mechanics of writing. Students in Writing 20 are expected to be able to write reasonably correct prose. This means you are responsible for making sure that your work is presented with care and thought – even first drafts. I am willing to help you with any questions you may have about points of style, usage, or grammar, but I should not be the first reader of your work. So, ask friends, classmates, or roommates to look over your work. I will not accept any writing that strikes me as hurriedly or carelessly prepared, so make sure to review, edit, and proofread all the work you do for this course before you turn it in.
Grades – Your final grade for the course will be determined as follows:
Asian Carp Press Release – 10%
Major Writing Project #1 – 25%
Major Writing Project #2 – 25%
Short Writings – 20%
Jordan Lake Activity (incl. 2 short papers) – 20%
I will distribute detailed grading rubrics for the press release, MWPs, and Jordan Lake Activity. The SWs will be graded simply as 3 pts (you followed instructions and put in good thought and effort to do the work), 2 pts (you put in effort, but may not have followed all instructions), 1 pt (work appears half-hearted or instructions were not followed at all), or 0 (missing or incomplete). Please remember that I may modify our list of SWs as the semester progresses. Also, note the following grading policy: a MWP is worth 25% of your grade, but failing to turn in one of the MWPs will result in a failing grade for the course (i.e., you cannot receive a zero on one of these MWPs and pass the course).
To compute your final grade, I will assign the letter grade received on each paper a percent according to Table 1. For example, let us say a student receives grades of an A, B, A-, and B+ on the press release, MWP 1, MWP 2, and Jordan Lake activity, respectively. Let us also assume the student receives 37/39 on his or her 13 SWs (remember each SW is 3 points). Table 2 shows how that student’s grade would be computed.
The Writing Studio – The Writing Studio has three locations on East Campus: room 219 of the Academic Advising Center, the second floor of Lilly Library, and room 106 of the Art Building. There is also a location on the West Campus: room 112 in Perkins Library. (Go to http://uwp.duke.edu/wstudio/index.php for more information.) You can go to the Writing Studio for free help with drafting, revising, or editing any writing assignment you are doing for any course at Duke. The professional writing consultants will work with you on a one-time basis, or they can help you with your writing regularly throughout the term. I encourage you to visit the Studio – every writer, no matter how experienced or inexperienced, needs readers, and the consultants at the Studio are good ones. Be sure to take with you a copy of the assignment you are working on and any drafts with my or your colleagues’ comments.
Citing Sources and Avoiding Plagiarism – Please familiarize yourself with the Duke Community Standard (http://www.integrity.duke.edu/standard.html) if you have not done so already. To misrepresent the work of someone else as your own is to plagiarize. When you quote, paraphrase, build upon, respond to, or in any other way draw upon the texts or ideas of others in your writing—as you will surely do in this course—you must properly note your use of their work. We will use different citation styles for each assignment, as I will explain in detail later. Please visit http://library.duke.edu/research/citing/index.html or speak to me for additional guidelines, and I will be happy to help. I do not anticipate problems with plagiarism in this course, but the penalty for plagiarism would be a failing course grade.
Other – Please do not hesitate to speak to me if you have a learning disability, physical condition, or any other situation that may hamper your abilities in this course. I want us all to have a smooth semester, and I look forward to working with you!