"Elements of Religion"

Team Activities

Writing Assignments

Extra Credit


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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.

I've never heard of a team readiness assessment or a source analysis. What's the best way to approach such assignments?

  1. The first step in preparing for a given reading assessment test is (surprise!) to do all the required reading (see #1-4 above for suggestions) listed on the schedule, and view the relevant image presentation. At the same time, keep in mind that for each TRA I provide a list of terms/names and a set of excerpts from the readings that will serve as the basis of the multiple choice questions on the TRAs; I urge you to use these so that you know what is most important to grasp as your read. [View the guidelines for TRAs.]

  2. Also, two questions on each TRA will deal with images from the presentations that are available for you to review independently. (If you have any trouble accessing them on-line, send me an email immediately.) As you view the image, you may find it helpful to take selective notes to remind yourself of the details of historical periods, the functions of the objects in the images, and the meanings of important symbols. Try to observe and include details that are both obvious (i.e., general subject depicted) and less-obvious (i.e., subtleties of style, minor but significant symbols, etc.). For the in-class team assignments you will have the opportunity to draw connections between primary sources and the images you view, so you may want to think about this as you do the primary reading & view the images.

  3. With regards to the source analysis, remember that it is a formal assignment. I strongly advise you to complete drafts of your work sufficiently early for friends (or member of the CSUS Writing Center staff) to proofread them and suggest improvements. (DO NOT BEGIN WRITING A JOURNAL SUBMISSION THE NIGHT OR MORNING BEFORE IT IS DUE!)  Multiple drafting is perhaps the single most effective way to improve one's writing.  Even the best of writers (perhaps especially the best of writers!) can benefit from consultation with others. (Note: you may also wish to take advantage of the English department's On-Line Writing Lab (OWL), an excellent resource addressing basic writing concerns.)

  4. As noted on the "Course Overview," no rewrites will be accepted, except in extraordinary circumstances; but you may wish to submit a prelimary drafts for me to review, or even simply to discuss your ideas with me. Preliminary drafts must be submitted at least three days before your work is due to allow sufficient time for both response on my part and reflection on yours.

  5. Finally once you've written the assignment, make sure all of it gets to me! Pages that are not fastened together in some way are likely to get separated; you are required to staple or paper-clip all submitted work. Also make sure to keep copies of work you submit.  Even professors occasionally lose things (gasp!).

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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. Much of the wording of my statements regarding academic honesty is drawn—definitely with permission!--from Patricia Keith-Spiegel, “Syllabi Statements Regarding Academic Dishonesty: Rationale and Suggestions,” distributed by Ball State University’s Center for the Teaching of Integrity.]