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iFAQs

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Infrequently Asked Questions

Below are questions that I wish students would ask more frequently. If you are asking yourself any of these questions, please give yourself a pat on the back for doing so, and then look to the answers below. If you don't yet have any questions, I hope this list will give you some ideas regarding what you should be thinking about as you go through the course.

How am I suppose to interpret the lines, fancy vocabulary & shorthand abbreviations you write on my paper?

  1. In reading your work I will often underline, sideline, or place checkmarks next to words, sentences, or points that strike me as significant or important.  Sometimes these are for my own reference in rereading, and are devoid of any written comment.  Usually, though, I will write a short phrase that describes what I see you doing—e.g., “important point,” “effective transition,” “astute observation”—sometimes linking my comments with arrows to the particular words, phrases, or sentences that inspired them.  These are not simply filler, but attempts to credit you for the notable successes of your writing efforts; if there's a word you don't understand, please look it up or ask me what it means.

  2. In providing more critical feedback, I most often make comments using one or more of the following abbreviations:

                     check mark = adequate response to the prompt(s)
                     asterisk (*) = notably perceptive &/or effective response
                     star = exceptionally skillful &/or reflecting sophisticated insight
                     GP   = "good point"                   GQ = "good question"          ITN   = "important to note "

                     
    WBHT = "would be helpful to..."          UWTRT = "unclear what this refers to"

    These comments do not indicate that you need to revise what you have written (see #8 above); but rather that you should apply the advice given on the first two reflections to subsequent reflections .  Note that you will have three opportunities to write similar reflections, so as to allow you to apply lessons learned from one journal submission to the next.  Make sure, then, to keep all papers, and to review the comments I have made on previous one(s) before turning in your next attempt.

  3. I often use additional abbreviations whose meanings may not be immediate clear to you, so here is a key:.

                     esp.     = "especially"                 w/      = "with"
                     spec-s   = "specifics"                -t'n    = "-tion" (suffix)
                     re:      = "regarding"                 p. #    = "page number"
                     ex(-s) = "example(s)"               diff-s/sim-s = "difference/similarities"

  4. Concluding comments, generally written below your own self-assessment, summarize the key points of praise and critique; use these as an overall guide to the comments written on individual pages, and consult them in working on the next paper.

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[Occasional statements throughout this document are derived, with permission, from a similar document written by my colleague Peter Fosl, Associate Professor and Chair of the Philosophy Department at Transylvania University.]