October 20, 2009- This months session was Teaching in the Digital Age. Presenters included Steve Black, faculty librarian, Christina Pfister, department of Teacher Education, and Ryane Straus, department of History and Political Science. 

          Steve Black began the session by discussing authority and its importance to critical thinking. During Blacks presentation different types of authority were reviewed, such as individual, institutional, and peer review. Pros and cons for each type of authority were discussed such as bias, point of view, credibility, and feedback. To conclude his presentation Black provided suggested readings as well as tips for judging authority.

          Christina Pfister lead her presentation by discussing managing collaboration in the digital age. Pfister talked about her research seminar course which helps students develop small scale research studies. Pfister also shared instructional issues in the classroom, goals for that particular course, and strategies used in order to accomplish those goals. Pfister also stressed the importance of technology in her classrooms. All course material, documents, and readings are provided to students via email, google documents, word, and Blackboard.

          Finally, Ryane Straus concluded the presentations by discussing the History and Political Science 100 course which is taught by one historian and one political scientist in order to introduce students to the field. This course gives students an idea of the discipline and provides them with the tools to begin their research career at the college level. Straus also talked about how research is about developing a new arguments, plagiarism, citations, and the use of the Internet as a successful research tool.

          At the conclusion of this weeks presentations, an open discussion began which explored topics such as google documents and the advantages of using this program, how to motivate students to research and use proper citation,and knowledge versus motivation in students.

Below you will find the materials each presenter shared during the session. To hear this session, as well as past Provision sessions, please visit the “Session Podcast” link. 


His/Pos 100

Fall 2007

 Prof. Ryane Straus

7 Moran Hall


Prof. Tong Xu

Moran Hall


Prof. Jenise DePinto

5 Moran Hall


Introduction to History/Political Science 

Course Description

This course will introduce students to the methods used by historians and political scientists to analyze past and contemporary events and trends. Students will learn basic techniques required for undergraduate coursework. These include research and analytical methods requisite for critical reading of primary and secondary source material, how to organize an effective paper, the importance of using correct grammar and logical reasoning to convey ideas in writing, different formats of citation and how to avoid plagiarism. A special library workshop will be held on the final day to introduce the electronic databases available through the Neil Hellman library. 

Course Objectives

  • To learn critical analysis of primary and secondary source material
  • To identify various modes of historical interpretation
  • To explore various modes of historical/political writing
  • To learn the art of crafting an effective thesis statement
  • To use different methods of citation and compile a bibliography
  • To utilize the Internet as an academic research tool
  • To assess the academic integrity of print and electronic sources
  • To acquire basic library database search techniques
  • To learn how to use print indexes in History and Political Science


Required Texts (campus bookstore)

    Jules R. Benjamin, A Student’s Guide to History (Bedford St. Martin’s, 2007)
    Gregory M. Scott and Stephen M. Garrison, The Political Science Student Writer’s Manual (Prentice Hall, 5th edition) 

Written Assignments

#1: Compare, contrast and critically analyze the primary documents posted on Blackboard to write a brief 1-2 page essay describing the impacts of industrialization from the points of view of the various authors. Use “How to Read a Document” guide to help with analysis.

#2: Write a thesis statement based on your interpretation of the primary documents used in assignment #1. Consult the “Mock Thesis” as a guideline.

#3: Write a brief, 1-2 page essay analyzing the article “Anti-Intellectualism in the Modern Presidency:  A Republican Populism.”  Your analysis should explain the author’s argument and evaluate how well she uses evidence.  (Hint:  The argument is not that some Republicans are anti-intellectual.  That’s only the beginning!  You need to examine why this is the case.)

#4 Bring in one question about anything we covered on Saturday morning.

*** All written assignments are due in class on Sat. 9/8/07 

Reading assignments

Benjamin pp. 4-16, 19-46, 49-67, 72-75, 77-133.

Scott and Garrison Chapters 1 and 2 

Classroom Session I: Monday, August 27, 4:00-7pm

Reading in History and Political Science


  • Meet the History Political Science Faculty
  • Importance of the Syllabus
  • Navigating Blackboard
  • Interpreting data in Political Science
  • Authoritative vs. non-authoritative Sources
  • Historical interpretation, Historiography, and Revision: Journal Article
  • Analyzing Primary Documents: in class group document analysis
  • The Digital Revolution: working with online documents
  • Separating fact from propaganda in primary sources

    Film: The Battle of Britain (1942) 

Classroom Session II: Tuesday, August 28, 4-7pm

Writing Effective Papers

  • Techniques for writing effective papers
  • Identifying your paper topic and time management
  • Importance of grammar, punctuation, and clarity in writing
  • Generating the thesis statement
  • The Chicago Method of Citation: Citing different source formats.
  • Footnotes in Word
  • APA Citations
  • Plagiarism: What is it? How to avoid it.
  • Evaluating your writing – what are professors looking for?


Classroom Session III: Saturday, Sept 8, 9-3:30

The Research Process

  • Library Workshop (Standish Conference rooms 3 & 4)
  • Guided Library Tour
  • Bibliography Assignment (Neil Hellman Library)



How do I know the author knows what they’re talking about?

Individual “Authority 

  •  Author/independent scholar
  •  Labor of love
  •  Celebrity

Relying on Individual Authority 

Institutional Authority 

  •  Academic, e.g.
    Purdue’s OWL
    • Research institution, e.g.
    Centers for Disease Control
    • Publisher, e.g.
    New York Times, Elsevier, SAGE, Oxford U.

Relying on Institutional Authority 

    • Pros
      • You know who’s responsible and what the standards are (or at least you can find out)
      • They have reputations to uphold
      • Readers can give feedback or complain
    • Cons
      • It’s easy on the web to appear more authoritative than you are
      • Point of view isn’t always immediately clear
      • Line between promotion and information may be porous
      • Experts can be wrong

Peer Review 

    • Embodiment of academic institutional authority
    • Surest way to know info meets discipline’s standards
    • Multiple levels of quality control:
      • Publisher
      • Editor(s)
      • Peers
      • Copyeditors, production staff

Critiques of Peer Review 

    • It slows down dissemination of info
    • Reviewers may do sloppy work [because they’re poorly compensated]
    • Biases against new ideas or methods
    • Bias for positive results
    • Potential conflicts of interestOpen process would be better than double-blind 
  • Open Peer Review
  • Nature’s experiment: http://www.nature.com/nature/peerreview/
  • “Of the displayed papers, 33 received no comments, while 38 (54%) received a total of 92 technical comments. Of these comments, 49 were to 8 papers.”
  • “The trial received a healthy volume of online traffic: an average of 5,600 html page views per week . . .However, this reader interest did not convert into significant numbers of comments.”


Collective Wisdom 


Tips for judging authority 

  •  What are the author’s qualifications?

    • What is the motivation behind publishing the information?
    • Are differing points of view acknowledged and addressed respectfully?

    • Triangulate—compare info with 2 other sources


Suggested Readings 

  •  Nature’s Peer Review Debate,http://www.nature.com/nature/peerreview/debate/index.html
    • Wilfred M. McClay. (2009). “What Do Experts Know?”,National Affairs1:145-159.
    • Michele Lamont. (2009). How Professors Think(Cambridge: Harvard University Press)
    • James Surowiecki. (2004). The Wisdom of Crowds (NY: Doubleday).


    Oct. 20, 2009

    Steve Black




    Managing Collaboration in a Digital Age

    Christina C. Pfister

    Teacher Education

    EDU 150

  • Research Seminar
  • Students develop small scale research studies to answer questions
  • Action (teacher) research oriented
  • Students sometimes choose to work together


Instructional Problem

  • How would you best meet your communication needs of students in a course that is time intensive, project based, and meets once a week?
  • Students may be working together and may need help facilitating this


Goals & Strategies

My goals for students:

  • develop and carry out research project
  • be good collaborators
  • use technology to enhance their work

My Strategies:

  • almost everything is electronic (drafts, final papers, etc.)
  • email
  • google documents
  • word (track changes and comment feature)
  • blackboard

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