In this sequence of assignments, we will explore fundamental issues arising in Science and Technology Studies. The goals of this assignment are:
❧ To form questions encouraging thoughtful analysis, writing and argument;
❧ To develop a course vocabulary;
❧ To identify problems and analyze ideas in response to the course readings;
❧ To comment on, and help integrate, the questions, keywords and responses into class discussion;
❧ To address the questions, key words or phrases, responses, and discussions in exams.
The Question Formation and Analysis assignment consists of two parts:
Part 1: Leading Discussion—comprised of question formation, keyword entry, and class presentation — and
Part 2: Participating in Discussion—comprised of responses to questions or keywords, class discussion and assessment.
Elements of this assignment will be reflected in the structure of your exams.
Part 1: Leading Discussion
You have been placed in presentation teams. As part of the team, you will help lead the class discussion once during the semester. You will pose questions and offer keywords on, and related to, the readings. Using the questions, keywords and responses, discussion teams will prepare and orchestrate class discussion.
Leading Discussion: Question Formation
As assigned on the course calendar, the discussion team will develop three to five concisely worded questions based on the assigned readings, related readings and/or on related issues and topics. For each question, please provide a page reference (or references) to the assigned texts—or to outside texts—that indicate your thinking as you formed the question, why you formed the question as you did, and how the question might be approached. For assigned readings, you need only provide the title or author and page number. For outside sources, please provide full citations.
Please post your questions to the appropriate page no later than 6 p.m. on Sunday (the Sunday before we discuss the readings on Thursday).
The purpose of the questions is to encourage thoughtful analysis, writing and argument. I offer the following prompts to encourage an analysis of the questions as you pose them:
❧ What is the interrogative? Is this a 'who', 'what', 'where', 'when' question? Such questions often seek a more declarative or descriptive answer. Is this a 'how' or 'why' question? Such questions seek causal explanations.
❧ What kind of thinking does the question provoke? Does the question ask for a description? A judgment? An opinion? Data?
❧ How is the question posed structurally? Is the question short, long, compound, over determined, vague, careless, precise, wordy?
❧ How might the question be answered? What resources might be needed to answer the question — personal opinion, experience, expertise, experiment, close reading of the text, interpretation?
❧ Who does the question ask the respondent to be? Fellow seeker? Novice? Dope? Collaborator? Believer? Cynic? Judge? Agent of change?
❧ What is the goal of the question? Affirmation and Confirmation? Provocation? Knowledge seeking? Information?
❧ When might the question be answered? Does the question assume an immediate answer? Does the question assume a certain vision of the future? Does the question assume a certain understanding of the past? Of current events?
Leading Discussion: Key Word or Phrase Entry
While analyzing the reading, discussion team members will select a total of three to five key words, or phrases. These words or phrases should reflect what you determine as significant or fundamental aspects of the argument or analysis being offered by the author(s). These words or phrases could be a new coinage ("epistemic injustice"), or common terms ("technology", "actor"), or phrases ("boundary maintenance"). In your entry, please explain why and how word or phrase shapes the author's argument and analysis and, so, our understanding of science and technology. If the team chooses a word, or phrase, selected previously, please explain the relevant differences. In making your choices, please consider that we seek to construct, in part, a shared and meaningful vocabulary for understanding the interrelationship among science, technology, and society.
Please provide brief entries—250 to 500 words—for each key word or phrase. Post your keywords in alphabetical order—making sure to show your authorship—to the Key Words and Concepts page no later than 6 p.m. on Sunday (the Sunday before we discuss the readings on Thursday).
The idea of developing a "record of an inquiry into a vocabulary" comes from Raymond Williams Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society (1976).
Leading Discussion: Class Discussion
The discussion teams will use their questions, keyword entries and class members' responses as the basis for structuring an in-class discussion of the assigned reading and related topics. discussion teams may conduct the class in any manner they choose. However, each team should spend the final five to ten minutes of the presentation pulling together the main themes and ideas raised in the discussion — a moment of synthesis if you will. And so I would like our discussions, including the synthesis, to model the process of inquiry promoted in this assignment. Our goal is a cogent discussion about the issues and ideas raised in, and related to, the assigned reading.
Part 2: Participating in Discussions
If you are not leading a given week's discussion, please select a question or questions to which to respond. Your response should be roughly 300 to 500 words. Concision is a virtue. In your response, please give a reference, or references, to the assigned reading—or to outside texts—that indicate the basis for your analysis and argument.
You may also respond to the key word and phrase entry. However, you are not required to do so. Your participation would be in addition to your response to a given question or questions. You may participate by providing content to (including other media, references), or editing, the entry. You may also integrate a key word or phrase entry into your question response. If you choose to respond to key word and phrase entries, your effort would be noted as a valuable, rewarded asset to our community.
Please post your responses to the appropriate Question Forum by Tuesday at 6 p.m. (the Tuesday before we discuss the readings on Thursday).
Once the presentation concludes, please fill out this assessment and send to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org as a document attachment or email proper.