General Comments on
Reading Assignments,
Written Analyses, and Discussions
(updated 3/31/2008)

Readings and writing assignments.  We will read through Frederick P. Brooks, Jr's classic collection of essays, The Mythical Man-Month, and other assigned papers from time to time. You will be required to write analytical reflections on some of these readings. The purpose of these writing assignments is several-fold. In no particular order, I expect you to improve as a writer and thinker, I expect that you will focus more deeply on the readings, I expect that you will exercise and strengthen your critical thinking skills as you write and prepare for class discussion. By analysis, I want you to reflect on what the paper has to say. You are not to summarize the paper.  I have read the papers and want to read your thoughts extending from your reading of the paper. Each assignment will have an associated question; make sure your paper addresses the question carefully and completely.

In each of your written responses, you will be limited to a maximum of three (3) pages formatted with 1.25 inch margins left and right and 1 inch margins top and bottom; use a 12pt Times Roman font and double spacing. Pay careful attention to these formatting guidelines. Make each word count; don't use two words where one will do. Do not interpret the page limit as an indicator of a low-content expectation. Rather, think of it as trying to pass a camel through the eye of a needle -- it is impossible but do your best. If you have not spent significant time trimming your paper to fit within the limit, you are probably missing something.

Papers will be due at the beginning of class (8am).  Prior to submission, you must have your paper reviewed at the Writers' Corner.  Be sure to ask to have your paper initialed by the Writers' Corner staff member.  It is your responsibility to meet with a Writers' Corner staffer; do not wait until the last minute because demand at the library for their services can vary wildly.  After I grade your paper, you will have one week to make revisions in response to my comments and reclaim a portion of any lost points.  

Discussions. We will discuss the readings in class. You will be evaluated on your participation in and contributions to the discussion. If you are a "high verbal" person, exercise restraint to create gaps so that others can contribute.  If you tend to be quiet, force yourself to throw your ideas out there. From experience, I know that everyone has something to add to the discussion that improves the learning experience for everyone. You might be surprised at the number of times I've sat through discussions watching some student not say a word, but then later, when reading their analysis, I found a particularly insightful take on some issue that was never mentioned in class. Don't hide your light under a bushel.