"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.

What format do you expect for written assignments? Are there any stylistic requirements particular to this class?

  1. All assignments should be written using a word processor, either prior to or following composition.  Learning how to operate a computer and gaining facility with one or more word-processing programs, if you have not already done so, will be a small but exceedingly important part of your education.  Do however BEWARE OF THE AUTO-CORRECT FEATURE that is a standard feature of Microsoft Word, which may substitute the wrong word in an attempting to correct your spelling! (I strongly recommend that you disable this function by un-checking "replace as you type" under "Autocorrect" in the "Tools" menu.).

  2. As strange as this will seem at first, do NOT put your name on any of your typed pages; it should appear only on the self-assessment page at the end (see the description of self-assessment, #24 below, for details). However do make sure that your written work includes what I call the essential “magic numbers” at the top of the first page on either the right or left side (no title pages please):

         (a) date,
         (b) course number (HRS 140),
         (c) total number of words
             (using the"Word Count" feature that is standard with most word processors)
         [these first three items on the first page only; followed by]
         (d) numbers of your pages at the bottom of each, and
         (e) parenthetical page citations for all material referenced from sources,
             (even if not quoted directly--see #15 below).

    The first two of these allow me to track a particular paper should it stray into the wrong pile; the last two help me keep track of my comments and also verify your sources.  Finally, if you are concerned about making clear connections in your writing, you may want to distinguish clearly (by numbering or headings) different sections of your paper, corresponding to the distinct points enumerated in the guidelines--but note that this is not required.

  3. When describing a practice mentioned in the readings, you must give parenthetical page references not only for quoting directly, but also for any paraphrased description you present. Use MLA in-text citation format if you cite (the optional source) Asian Art: ([author’s last name]  [page no.])--e.g., (La Plante 28); but when you cite from the anthologies or textbook, please use the title abbreviation (MOO, RAP, or IAR) instead of the author's last name.

  4. A parenthetical citation should be just before the period or semicolon which concludes the relevant quote or paraphrase (unless you are citing a single-spaced, indented block quote--see the next comment--in which case it should follow after the period); in no case should the parentheses and their content be within citation marks, since they are not part of what you are quoting.

  5. If at any point you choose to quote three or more lines of text, please offset the quote by an extra blank line before and after; and then indent and single-space the text. Note, though, that you may be better off using paraphrase rather than extensive quoting in your papers, given the word limit you should be observing.

  6. Although writing bibliographies is a valuable and necessary skill for academic work, this class does not make use of that skill.  Since the items in the paper should draw entirely on class readings, you do not need to include a list of sources in standard bibliographic form.

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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.]