Course: FSI
Instructor: Vearncombe
SU 2015

Description of Course Goals and Curriculum

FSI is a seven-week summer program that allows a cohort of entering students the chance to experience the intellectual, co-curricular, and social life at Princeton prior to the beginning of the fall semester.  During the program, our Freshman Scholars have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the intellectually vibrant culture at Princeton through seminar-style courses and/or laboratory research experiences, to engage with their fellow scholars in a variety of co-curricular, community-building activities, and to work closely with faculty members from a range of academic disciplines and fields.  By experiencing early the many resources that Princeton has to offer, Freshman Scholars have the chance to prepare themselves to be future campus leaders and peer mentors.  The FSI program is designed as a fellowship opportunity that you can attend without an additional financial burden.  It is therefore of no cost to students receiving any amount of grant aid from the university.  Students who do not receive grant aid from the university will still get free tuition and textbooks, but will be responsible for paying for room and board.

Ways of Knowing is broken up into six units for the six weeks a student will be taking the course. The themes reflect the various ways a person can analyze science, the humanities, etc. One theme will be covered for one week, and after that week, the professor will move on to the next theme. The themes are:

  • Vision
  • Power
  • Body
  • Self / Other
  • Social Change
  • Time / Space

All these topics will allow students to study the various ways of knowing Vision, Power, Body, Self/Other, Social Change, and Time/Space. This means that students analyze how modern society views and handles these themes through a wide variety of disciplines including psychology, biology, and history among others. These studies were primarily conducted through readings and research. Various authors including H.G. Wells, Foucault, Claude M. Steele, Einstein, and Aristotle (just to name a few) were covered. Their ideas allowed students to engage in scholarly conversations inside the classroom, within their papers and ideally outside of the classroom as well.

Students will be expected to become familiar with these themes along with the authors that are used to explore them. By the end of the course they should be able to make connections between the themes and authors and not just within a specific theme. They should also be able to write a Princeton level essay, and know the tools available to successfully execute a paper.

Learning From Classroom Instruction

The instructor used unique teaching methods including getting huge sticky notes with quotes from readings and allowing us to respond to these quotes by directly writing our thoughts on the large sticky tabs. There were also classes where she gave us each a sheet of paper that told us how to respond to a person’s comments in a group conversation on the readings. The sheet could say, “Piggyback off of one your classmate’s comments” or “Make a counterargument to one of your classmate’s comments.” In addition to large group discussions, students broke off into smaller groups to discuss a particular question amongst themselves. They then regrouped and share their thoughts with the rest of the class. These methods increased class participation and allowed students to hear the input of peers and professor. Students are expected to know the connections that were made in class so they could apply them in papers, and most importantly know this information for the next four years of college and beyond.

Learning For and From Assignments

Reading: The course moves really quickly from one theme to the next. It would be helpful to take notes on how the themes are related and how all of the texts tie in with each other. Although it may seem that readings can only be grouped for a particular week under a specific theme, there are other connections a student can make with these texts. For example, a student can argue that the idea of Power found in “Discipline and Punish” by Foucault has a connection to Einstein’s “Out of My Later Years” that conveys the theme of Space.

A student should try to think of the similar ideas that are being conveyed by the various scholars in the readings. One should also think of the dissimilar ideas that can be found throughout the readings. For example:

A contrast or comparison can be made within a theme:

Author A from the theme of Vision would agree/disagree with Author B from the theme of Vision.

A contrast or comparison can be made throughout different themes.

Author C from the theme of Power would agree/disagree with Author D from Self.  Another important connection a student can draw here, is to look at how the assigned reading pertains to the weekly theme. Often, different readings from a week offer contrasting perceptions of the theme, thus providing the student with both depth and breadth in understanding the weekly theme.

Besides finding similarities and differences, a student should try to think of a problem that an author does not really address in his paper, and then try to address this problem with the work of another author. Often finding a problem can be a daunting task when analyzing critically acclaimed authors. Looking for any interesting aspect in the text, be it a problem, contradiction, tension, juxtaposition of ideas, or even unclear ideas makes for great starting points for papers. Finding these interesting aspects will help with lens essays where a student has to examine the work of an author with the information presented in another author’s essay. Please note that the purpose of the lens essay is not to solve the problem but to explain this problem at a deeper level with the perspective of another author.

ANNOTATE CREATIVELY TO MAKE CONNECTIONS IN THE READINGS. WRITE IN PENCILS, PENS, COLORED MARKERS, HIGHLIGHTERS, STICKY NOTES, SMOKE SIGNALS, etc. Make sure your annotations are genuine, and they make sense to you. Also, colorful annotations are always helpful. This will allow you to remember your notes and recall information for papers and class discussion.

Readings can take up a good chunk of time so start the readings early. The earlier you read, the more prepared you will be for class and for future papers. Oftentimes, writing a paper on a reading requires a 2nd or even 3rd reading. Some readings will require more than the brief skim, and you will need to sit down and analyze the key details. This is when annotation is key because it will help you dissect challenging pieces, and break them down into something more manageable for conversation in class and in papers.

In terms of managing time and readings, try to figure out within the first week how fast you read and annotate. This will help you schedule in the right amount of time to complete readings.  

Here are some general tips to tackle tough readings:

-Whenever there are really dense readings, you should always try to look at every paragraph and see if there's something important in it. After first reading it, you should read the paragraph again but with attention. If it has something important in it, underline the important phrase(s) or annotate notes to the side. If it doesn't, just skip it. By the end of reading the passage, refer to those notes/underlined parts for a good review.

-Try to imagine what the author of a reading would have written as their thesis for a reading. By the end of the first round of reading, try to generate a "quasi"-thesis statement and go back into the text to see if it makes sense. Try to edit the "quasi"-thesis until it seems to capture the main gist of the reading. Even using the Magic Thesis Statement is helpful here, since it can guide you in structuring the reading into a logical understanding.

-Often, certain things can get confusing in passages/readings, so try to write guesses of what you think it means and ask the professor/preceptor/other classmates for their interpretations.

    2. Writing: In terms of writing your actual paper, you should definitely complete the pre-drafts with an idea of what you want to write about for your final paper. They should be taken seriously so that you can incorporate them into your actual paper. The pre-draft will have a question that will allow you to think about the one of the chosen texts more deeply. This is a good time to brainstorm before you start to write your final paper.

Please know that a lot of time needs to be set aside for the creation of your thesis statement. It is the single most important sentence in your paper, and should deserve a lot of time and consideration. Along with your thesis statement, it would be wise to outline your paper before you actually start to write. This gives you a game plan of what ideas you want to discuss and helps you to see how they tie back into the thesis statement. Remember, that your points, the evidence for your points, and scholarly sources used, should all tie back into the thesis statement. Outlining will allow you to evaluate the relevance of your evidence and the points you make before it is in a draft form where it will be harder to edit out extraneous information.

-Your professor will focus on ideas such as the Magic Thesis Statement, the Gaipa Moves, and “with the grain” and “against the grain” reading. The Magic Thesis Statement is a special format for a thesis statement that will allow your paper to flow and not just fit the very formatted five point thesis statement. The Magic Thesis Statement will have a focus on the importance of your argument. Make sure you refer back to your pre-draft assignment and your annotations from readings to find the importance. Looking back at notes in the midst of brainstorming helps you make important connections.

-The Gaipa Move gives you a format on how to make your argument. These moves may involve agreeing with a scholarly source and then later disagreeing with it. These moves will be more than just making counterarguments. The scholarly articles you will use outside of your chosen text should help you make your argument whether you disagree with your scholarly articles or not. This is when you can look back at annotations in your chosen text and see if you can make connections or counterarguments with your scholarly source based on the main text you annotated for readings.

-With the grain and against the grain readings allow you as the reader to agree with the author and understand the main points an author is making. An against the grain reading allows you as the reader to find gaps in an author’s argument which helps in the formulation of counterarguments.

One difficulty students have is getting out of the habit of writing the five paragraph essay. If a student were to try to write a five paragraph essay for the assignments, too many ideas would be in one paragraph and prevent the essay from flowing. A paragraph should only have one main idea. If a student finds himself starting to write a new idea in the paragraph, he should start a new paragraph. As a tool to learn how to write outside of the rigid five paragraph essay, map out your papers with sticky notes. The map is more or less an outline but it allows for more elaboration on certain points. Please know that you do not have to use this kind of outline to succeed and learn in the course! You can make an outline that fits your learning style best. You can experiment with sticky tabs, construction paper, or a very organized outline typed on your laptop. The outline is meant to be for you so the methods you use to create the outline should be comfortable for you. Just know that no matter what methods you use, a lot of time needs to be set aside for the creation of your thesis statement along with your outline. It is the single most important sentence in your paper, and it deserves a lot of time and consideration.

"Tortoise Tab" Chart

1.)When you make this outline or the “Tortoise Tab” Chart , you’ll probably have a vague idea of what your thesis statement will be and the main points you want to convey. The tabs are meant to be placed on a table or desk with a good amount of space so you can add pieces of evidence and ideas as they come up. Write your thesis statement on the big sticky note found in the Tortoise tabs offered by the Writing Center and McGraw Center. Write your main points on the smaller yellow tabs.

2.)Place the thesis statement tab near the top of the desk and put the main point right next to it.

3.)Next, place the second main point a few spaces down from main point #1 so you can have space for the connecting idea that will tie the two points together.

4.)An introduction note tab should be placed (medium note tab from the Tortoise tabs) should be placed in front of the Thesis Statement tab. The introduction should give background information for the text you are analyzing and it should give information for the lens that you will be using.

5.) The main point should connect to ideas on how the evidence ties into main point #1. How the evidence ties into the main point should have its own note tab.

6.)The tab that connects the main point and the “How the Evidence ties into Main Point #1” should give evidence for the main point made.

7.) After the “How the Evidence ties into the Main Point #1” tab, create a tab that connects the idea between the main points. The tab underneath the “Connecting Idea Between Main Points” should have page numbers for evidence of this connecting idea. You can also write out the evidence on additional tabs to see how well they tie into the main points.

8.) After making the connecting idea tab, make an arrow tab and have it point towards Main Point #2 from the connecting idea tab. Repeat the steps done for Main Point #1 to support Main Point #2.  

9.)The conclusion tab should have a quick blurb on why your argument is important. This follows along with the magic thesis statement I mentioned earlier.

10.)The Gaipa Move you decide to use for your scholarly articles to support your main points can be placed just above the main points. You can literally say “‘Pick a Fight’ with Scholar A” on these light pinks tabs found in the Tortoise Tabs.

-If you only have Tortoise tabs and you feel that you need to color code your ideas, you can highlight the evidence and ideas for your main points. (ie. all information for main point #1 will be get highlighted yellow while all the information for main point #2 will get highlighted pink).

-The arrows to connect your ideas can also be color coordinated with the highlight color that you use. (ie. all the information highlighted in orange for main point #1 will get connected with orange labels and all the information highlighted in pink for main point #2 will get connected with pink labels).

-You might have also noticed that there is ample space between the various tabs. This format allows you to flesh out your outline as much as you want. If you want to write the quotes that back up your main ideas you can do so with the small yellow tabs for example. Just make sure that you highlight the extra information in relation to the points the information is supporting. 3. Assessments: 

There are no tests, exams, or quizzes in this course. The midterm and the final is a paper. However, the “examinations” are the weekly papers. These are very important and weigh heavily into your grade.

External Resources

Inspiration is a useful tool to map out and outline the main ideas of your paper. It’s also just useful for brainstorming. The format used for the “Tortoise Tab” Chart can be used for Inspiration as well. On this website you will be allowed to make t charts and webs with your information. From these graphs the software can format your ideas into an outline. You have to pay for Inspiration, but there is a thirty day free trial that you can try out. If you don’t want to download Inspiration on your computer for a price you can get the Inspiration app for your Iphone or Ipad for free! If you are a visual or kinesthetic learner (meaning you need to see the material or actually move in order to learn) this is a great resource!

What Students Should Know About This Course For Purposes Of Course Selection

Ways of Knowing allows a student to be exposed to the analysis of subjects such as science, anthropology, psychology, history and literature. It can allow a student to think about what they want to study at Princeton and see what they are passionate about. It also helps them realize what they don’t want to study which is just as important.

This course helps a student value the feedback of my classmates on papers and ideas. Feedback is very helpful and helps give a clear direction on writing a paper. Don’t be afraid to share and collaborate with your classmates, because they can give you a new perspective on an idea that you are stuck on.

Writing fellows will also be a useful resource in the course. Their workshops near the beginning of every week will give you guidance, and help you segue into productive brainstorming for your next paper. Additionally, personal, weekly writing conferences are a big component of the course, and their experienced feedback often has the power to turn mediocre papers into well developed papers. These one-on-one conferences will give you the attention that your paper needs and the opportunity to ask questions. Remember, there are no stupid questions, especially in college. This is an ideal time to explore and try new methods. Questions will lead to guidance and (hopefully) not confusion.

In addition to the resources found in your fellow classmates, your professors are great resources as well. Be sure to reach out to your professors for any concerns and questions. They really do want to hear from you, and love talking to you. Also, they respond to emails pretty quickly! They are here for you, and want you to succeed at Princeton.

Ways of Knowing

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