This common assignment was designed for students in an LMF 101 (First-Year Seminar for Liberal Arts: Math & Science) class and those in a capstone LIB 200 (Science, Technology, and Humanism) class. The assignment is aligned to the Integrative Learning Core Competency and the Written Communication Ability. In this assignment, the students in both classes critically read the play, Inherit the Wind by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee, and the LMF 101 class is also shown the film based on the play. The play is based on the connection of two of the major themes of these classes: humanism and science. The students are then required to write a comprehensive essay, which addresses a declared thesis statement based on the conflicts and intersections of the overarching themes, inherent within the play. In preparation for the formal essay assignment, there are in-class discussions and activities that are focused on critically thinking and analyzing several key quotations from the play: significant to character and plot development, as well as the connections between humanism and science. Subsequently, the LIB 200 students peer review the essays of the LMF 101 students, who in turn, respond to these peer reviews. The peer-review process comprises two combined class meetings and discussions focused on the LIB 200 student reviews and the LMF 101 student responses.
LMF 101 is a dynamic, interactive course with a variety of objectives that have been designed to address key issues connected to college life, the utilization of on-campus resources, the learning process for students and the pathway to their major. The introductory nature of this course serves as an orientation to the academic disciplines in the program, and provides exposure to the content that students will learn to develop and organize as they progress, as well as the connections they will make between academic content and their own experience. The overwhelming majority of students enrolled in this course are concurrently enrolled in remedial writing or introductory composition courses; the concept/process of peer-reviewing and peer-critiquing is introduced in students’ writing courses, and then applied to diverse context in this collaborative project with the Capstone students.
LIB 200 is a culminating capstone course in the college experience that explores, in depth, the relationship between humanism, science and technology. It is a writing intensive class, in which students apply knowledge, writing, and critical thinking strategies acquired in earlier courses to relevant contemporary and historical societal issues, as well as reflect on their responsibilities in a diverse society.
Framed by the dimensions of the Written Communication Ability rubric, this assignment helps students build the ability to critically examine and interpret a relevant text in order to enhance their critical thinking, synthesis, analysis, reflection and evaluation skills within the context of societal ethics and values. Overall, the assignment is worth 15% of the final grade in the LMF 101 and LIB 200 courses. The assignment was developed and implemented as part of a Learning Matters mini-grant project that aimed to enhance the Liberal Arts experience to students across the academic spectrum. The assignment was also discussed in detail in the mini-seminar sessions and revised based on the feedback obtained from such interactions with colleagues.
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