In the first half of this course, you will be expected to write a mini white paper on a particular topic relevant to the course. (For our purposes, a white paper is an educational article explaining a certain technology or product given by an individual with authority on the topic. The terminology used may be somewhat technical, but the goal of a white paper is usually to describe the technology or product in terms most people can understand.)
OBJECTIVES: The goals in giving this assignment are to: 1) acquire enough familiarity with several topics in this field such that you can select one topic that fulfills the requirements outlined below, 2) learn about and understand a topic in enough depth to be able to share your knowledge with others, 3) gain some experience reading and extracting information from the literature, and 4) gain some experience in writing for a professional audience. The white paper should not be too technical and should relate to some aspect of the course. For example, a review of GPS technologies would not be sufficient.
TOPIC: There are many topics covered in this course, and since the course is only ten weeks in length, few of them are covered in depth. As this course relies heavily on contributions from you, it is up to you to pick a topic relevant to the course. Ideally this will be a topic you already know something about, so that you can contribute your existing knowledge, but it can be something you have to research. If you do not have a topic in mind, send me an email and I will help you decide on something relevant to the course.
Possible topics from the first part of the course that I suggest are: (Note: Some of these topics are too broad to cover in a 1000 -1200 word paper. You might want to focus on one aspect of a particular topic. e.g. Error Liability)
- Standards (Software, Data)
- Accuracy and Precision
- Timeliness and Data Currency
- Ethical Data Use
- User Needs Assessment
LENGTH AND OTHER MECHANICAL DETAILS: Two to four double-spaced pages, (not to exceed 1000 -1200 words) with one inch margin all the way around, and with 12 point font. References, figures and tables are not included in that limit.
DEADLINES: End of Week 2, submit one paragraph describing paper topic and some references; End of Week 5, submit paper. Please refer to the course Calendar tab, above, for the due dates.
EVALUATION: This paper will represent 20 points or 20% of the total grade in the course. Those 20 points will be allocated according to the rubric below.
Evaluation Criteria - Course Paper Rubric
|Exemplary (4 points)||Accomplished (3)||Developing (2)||Beginning (1)|
|Ideas||Excels in responding to assignment. Picks a relevant topic and demonstrates sophistication of thought. Central idea is clearly communicated. Understands and critically evaluates sources, appropriately limits and defines terms.||Responds appropriately to assignment. States a central idea, but may have minor lapses in development. Begins to acknowledge the complexity of the central idea. Shows careful reading of sources, but may not evaluate them critically.||Adequate but weaker and less effective, possibly responding less well to assignment. Shows basic comprehension of sources, perhaps with lapses in understanding. If it defines terms, often depends on dictionary definitions.||Does not have a clear central idea or does not respond appropriately to the assignment. Central idea may be too vague or obvious to be developed effectively. Paper may misunderstand sources.|
|Organization and Coherence||Uses a logical structure appropriate to paper's subject, purpose, audience, and disciplinary field. Sophisticated transitional sentences often develop one idea from the previous one or identify their logical relations. It guides the reader through the chain of reasoning or progression of ideas. Shows relevance to the audience.||Shows a logical progression of ideas and uses fairly sophisticated transitional devices. Some logical links may be faulty, but each paragraph clearly relates to paper's central idea.||May list ideas or arrange them randomly rather than using any evident logical structure. Transitions are sequential rather than logic-based. Logic is not always clear. Paragraphs have topic sentences but may be overly general, and arrangement of sentences within paragraphs may lack coherence.||May have random organization, lacking internal paragraph coherence and using few or inappropriate transitions. Paragraphs may lack topic sentences or main ideas, or may be too general or too specific to be effective. Paragraphs may not all relate to paper's thesis.|
|Support||Uses evidence appropriately and effectively, providing sufficient evidence and explanation to convince. Brings together information from several sources. Cites at least four references.||Begins to offer reasons to support its points, perhaps using varied kinds of evidence. Begins to interpret the evidence and explain connections between evidence and main ideas. Its examples bear some relevance.||Often uses generalizations to support its points. May use obvious or irrelevant examples. Often assumes that evidence speaks for itself and needs no application to the point being discussed. Often has lapses in logic. Cites no more than two sources.||Depends on overgeneralizations for support, or offers little evidence of any kind. May be personal narrative rather than essay, or summary rather than analysis.|
|Style||Chooses words for their precise meaning and uses an appropriate level of specificity. Sentence style fits paper's audience and purpose. Sentences are varied, yet clearly structured and carefully focused, not long and rambling.||Generally uses words accurately and effectively, but may sometimes be too general. Sentences generally clear, well structured, and focused, though some may be awkward or ineffective.||Uses relatively vague and general words, may use some inappropriate language. Sentence structure is generally correct, but sentences may be wordy, unfocused, repetitive, or confusing.||May be too vague and abstract, or very personal and specific. Usually contains several awkward or ungrammatical sentences; sentence structure is simple or monotonous.|
|Mechanics||Almost entirely free of spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors.||May contain a few errors, which may annoy the reader but not impede understanding.||Usually contains several mechanical errors, which may temporarily confuse the reader but not impede the overall understanding.||Usually contains either many mechanical errors or a few important errors that block the reader's understanding and ability to see connections between thoughts.|