We gotta start somewhere, so I give you a bunch of things to do in the hope you will figure out what might be useful to you and the you will interpret my advice in ways that make sense, and supporting learning, for you! If you post them on our Dropbox by Saturday night, I’ll have a chance to read them Sunday afternoon!
- I’ve designed these assignments as prompts to get you started
- As always, I don’t make any of this up: on the value of reading and writing you can read the first chapter of The Craft of Research (on Dropbox, linked on the syllabus) where you will recognize much of what I said (and as you see on the syllabus, we will follow this text: for the ambitious students, you’ll want to read it, too!)
There’s been a murder
I want to train you to understand, find, and create research questions, because they are absolutely central, if not THE defining feature of academic writing, and to get at that I discussed how, before we read about them directly (in “The Craft of Research”) we do well to warm up to the idea by making comparisons: a) mystery stories (“there’s been a murder”), the elevator pitch (“boss, I’ve got a great idea!|, and, in the McAfee text, a proper research question: “does Zara learn more about market trends from data or from observing people?” To wrap your head around this question (which we will discuss more of next time), you might do the following:
- What are your favorite kinds of stories, and why? What holds your interest? “Who did it?” “Who does it work?” “Life lessons?” What works for you: Compare and contrast the different kinds of stories you read.
A successful answer to this question is a thoughtful one, where you lift your eyes off the paper and reflect and then write down your reflections and, as you write, reflect some more. This is important because, before we write in formal ways, it is often VERY helpful to get the juices flowing by exploring, being curious, thinking about your interests, and wrapping your head around some ideas: there are no right or wrong answers!
Outline McAfee’s “When Information is NOT the Answer”
Using the Outline feature of MS Word (discussed below), outline this text as we discussed in class. Do NOT include a zillion detail! DO identify the major steps of the argument.
- You might first highlight what you think is important.
- Some find it helpful to identify the key sections in the margins or spaces I’ve provided (an electronic version is on our Dropbox)
- Look for the structure, for the logic organizing the story, and explain it like this: “First, the author introduces his friend in very complimentary terms … then, …” and where you characterize those terms, but not list them: summarize, but make sure you understand what the text is doing, step-by-step.
Engage through Storytelling
- Outline Duarte’s Engage Through Storytelling
Watch this short, 4 minute video a few times and outline her argument, because Duarte’s argument here is absolutely central to the question of academic writing: our problem is to integrate both information and story. For academic writers, the university (and professional) researcher is our hero, but for these researchers the detective, Columbo, is a hero, because the detective shines a bright light into the dark corners. When you look at Duarte, make a table like she does and take a moment to compare and contrast each element: in your homework, explain what you learn
- There is no right or wrong answer here either, only an opportunity learn the fundamentals from a master (50 of the top 100 firms in the USA are her clients, she understands what she is talking about!).
- When you write down what you learn (a table, a paragraph or two of discussion), you will have made a first of what will be twelve steps in twelve class weeks: you gotta start somewhere, and when you see what others have done you’ll come up with ideas of how to do things better
Learn how to use the Outline view in MS Word
Learn as much as you can about using the Outline View in MS Word, because, as I showed in class, it will help you create consistent, well-structured documents and it will help you develop a tremendous sophistication in note-taking, drafting, and editing. Read and apply what you can from the links above and write up a list of what you’ve done, where you are having difficulty, and what questions you’d like us next time to discuss.