Much of the work involved in exploring the material covered by this course is expected to take place during the seminars. This is where you will have the opportunity to discuss the ideas raised by the course material, films and readings. They allow the chance to express your own opinions and either confirm or challenge the main ideas of the material at hand.
Each week, all students should have read the required readings and be ready to discuss them. The readings are gathered from a wide range of disciplinary approaches - if you have any difficulty understanding these basic materials please let the course convenor know so they can be discussed in greater detail. These articles must be read carefully and it is expected that you will reflect a sound understanding of these approaches in the written work you submit.
- Preparation - Weekly “Discussion Preparation Guide” (10%)
Seminar preparation involves a couple of hours of reading each week. To facilitate tutorial discussion, you are required to submit a short summary and analysis of each of that week’s readings (you often have to do two of them per week).
Brief Description: Each week, you must fill out a Discussion Preparation Guide and bring it to class. This will help prepare you to participate in seminar discussions.
Details: A sample Discussion Preparation Guide (DPG) is found at the end of this Unit Outline and is also available on iLearn. As convenor, I’ll hand out a guide in the first week of class, and after that, you should print and fill one out each week. You will bring this to class and use it to inform class discussions. When you first come to class, you should show it to me so that I can see if it’s been completed. You can use it to take additional notes during the seminar discussion. At the end of the day, you will hand in your DPG to the unit convenor. They will be returned the following week in class.
The point of the DPG is not for me to check if you are getting the "right" answer. Rather, they are valuable tools in generating discussion so that together, as a tutorial group, we can work out what we think about the readings.
These little summaries also act as catalogues and mnemonic devices for students to organise all the information you acquire when you do readings for the course. You do not need to write reams and reams of summaries, but as long as you have a quick way of accessing the core content of each reading, you can always go to the original document if you want to look into it in more detail.
At the end of the course (because you have a heap of catalogued summaries) you can use these in your essays, including in other courses. With the focus more on analytical thinking, these little catalogues will help students move away from writing huge summary sections in their essays and to start dealing with information more thematically.
- Participation – Weekly discussion (10%)
Each student should fully participate in class discussions and will take turns leading a discussion of the week’s readings.
To generate discussion in class: students will spend 10 minutes at the beginning of each class just talking about their DPGs with each other. This will hopefully help to wake you up, it breaks the ice, gets your mouths working and also gives you a little more confidence to talk in class with the other students so that you can maximize your tute participation marks. The point of the DPGs is that you also have a clear and concise bit of info that you can refer to in the class.
All students are expected to actively participate in class discussion. Your ability to do good social research (among living human beings!!) requires you to be able to actively engage in and lead discussions in a social setting. As such, each student will be expected to facilitate and participate in discussion from week to week.
Your research projects will also be incorporated into ongoing class discussion. Every week we’ll have a quick debriefing where you will report on the progress of your research project and talk through any interesting findings, difficulties, or successes you’re encountering. We will all learn from watching each other muddle through an ethnographic research project, from the planning to the implementation to writing up.
In your verbal contributions to class discussions, what I will be looking for is remarks that engage thoughtfully with the readings and with the theoretical issues raised by the methods you are trialling in your ongoing research projects. It is also important that you engage respectfully with your peers. Do not mock anyone’s contributions in seminar. If you don’t understand or agree with something someone says, ask them to clarify, or explain respectfully why you disagree. Everyone should feel free to speak up in class. Please do not drown out quieter voices, interrupt, or otherwise dominate seminar discussion.
If you are having trouble speaking up in class discussion, please come to speak with the unit convenor privately and together we can strategise ways to facilitate your contribution to the seminars.
Guidelines for discussion participation:
The kinds of contributions that are valued in seminar participation include:
- Initiating discussion
- Giving information
- Asking for information
- Raising questions
- Giving a restatement of another’s contribution
- Asking for clarification
- Giving examples
- Encouraging others
- Relieving group tension
You will lose participation marks for:
- Expression of unsupported opinions. (Essentially, this means don’t talk about things you don’t know about – in particular, if you haven’t done the readings, don’t try to make up for this by pretending you have or making stuff up. You’ll just lose points for this.)
- Taking discussion off the topic of the readings and the issues they raise.
- Attempts to dominate discussion. (If you find yourself talking more than others in the group, please hold back so others have the chance to join in the discussion.)
- Interrupting others who are speaking.
- Mockery of others.
Throughout discussion, students should jot down in their discussion guide ideas that were mentioned by others and struck them as useful.