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Academic Communications for Graduate Students   Tags: academic writing, analysis, college_writing, communication, fall2015, navitas, reflection, research, silverman, umass lowell  

Last Updated: May 11, 2017 URL: http://libguides.uml.edu/silverman Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

Course Description Spring 2016 Print Page

Course Description

Academic Communication for Graduate Students


“Let us think of education as the means of developing our greatest abilities, because in each of us, there is a private hope and dream…which can be translated into benefit for everyone and greater strength for our nation.”  John.F. Kennedy


Professor Michael Silverman, Ph.D.                                                                                                                       

Email: michael_silverman@uml.edu

Library Guide Site: http://libguides.uml.edu/silverman

Turnitin: Code and Password TBP


Course Description and Goals: This course offers students a broad introduction to the skills needed in undertaking graduate study here at the University of Massachusetts Lowell.  Some of these skills that we will work on are searching for (researching) and reading scholarly, academic, and professional texts, critically accessing them, and using these sources to build upon and demonstrate knowledge in a variety of spoken and written forms.  In order to achieve these goals, students will participate in a number of in-class discussions and peer reviews, write a variety of academic papers, and develop a graduate-level vocabulary needed to succeed here at UML.


Required Texts

The Brief Bedford Reader (12th edition), Kennedy, Kennedy, and Aaron(*)

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer



Think of this class as an active workshop.  If I were to get up in front of the class and speak for an hour, as interesting as I am, we all would become bored.  Be an active part of your education.  Questions and observations are good. They lead to more questions, more ideas, and more observations, which lead to expanded horizons. You need to be prepared for class by reading the texts actively and critically.  This means you may have to read something twice, highlight ideas, take notes, and write questions.  When presenting ideas, mutual respect is expected.  People can disagree without being disagreeable.  Seeing another person’s perspective often expands your own ideas.


Attendance Policy

Attendance counts towards your grade and your status as an international student attending UML full time.  Regular attendance is essential in a course such as this.  You can fail the course for not attending class, even if you do all the work.  Since much of the work is developmental and classroom-based, missing class means missing valuable learning experiences.  What is permissible? One unexcused absence, no questions asked: save this for any emergencies that may arise.  There is also a “restricted” absence which needs to be approved before class. You cannot just send an email after class saying you are sick.  (From time to time graduate students have career programs, interview opportunities, conferences, and similar.  If this is you, please let me know in advance).  A third absence results in me notifying the Navitas office. A fourth absence means that you will failure the course.  Heads up: Be aware that any absence, for any reason, does not excuse you from completing your assignments on time nor from being prepared for the next class.  Excessive tardiness will not be tolerated and will also affect the offender’s final grade.  Every two tardies will count as an absence.  This class starts on the hour.



Classroom Behavior

Behavior that disrupts the class or interferes with the other students’ ability to learn will not be tolerated.  This includes excessive talking, eating, any texting, use of any electronics, and any other interruptions.  Students who text in class can expect their final course grade to drop 5% (approximately ½ letter grade) for each incident. In addition, all electronic devices are to be taken off of desks during any quizzes.  Please be courteous to the others in this classroom. Anyone who is asked to leave will have to meet with the Dean or me before they are allowed back in class.  This is a university –act accordingly.



Your assignments are due at the beginning of class or earlier as assigned. Many assignments are posted on Turnitin, and Turnitin indicates the assignment day and time.  Each assignments requires appropriate APA or MLA formatting.  For each major assignment, I present guidelines and suggestions in addition to a detailed prompt with a scoring rubric.  Keep focused on the assigned task; going off-topic is likely to result in a lower grade.  Late assignments will be accepted with my permission only.  Each day late is subject to a 2% decrease in the cumulative grade.  Thus a paper one week late would lose 14%.

Turnitin:  You need to sign up for Turnitin as a UML student.  We will have an instructional session  about signing up for Turnitin.  Be sure to sign up on the US server and not on the UK server.


Accommodations: If you have a documented disability that will necessitate academic accommodations, please notify in the first two weeks of class so that we can make proper arrangements.



 I am here to help you succeed and am available after class during my office hours.  I also check email daily, and will be able to answer questions that way.  However, do not email me the day something is due and expect an answer.  You may seek help from the writing tutors at the Write Place located in the centers for Learning Southwick 321 (x2942) and the third floor of the O’Leary Library (x2942) at any time during your writing process.  However, you must not expect the tutors to serve as your proofreaders and editors; they are trained to function as guides to your writing process.  Your work is meant to be your own.



Plagiarism is academic dishonesty and cheating.   When writing for this course, save your notes, outlines, and rough drafts, as I reserve the right to review these materials should a question of authorship arise.  If you cannot produce documentation of your work, you may be required to rewrite your essay.  Papers found to be plagiarized- either intentionally or through carelessness- will receive a grade of zero.  Such papers may not be rewritten.  Familiarize yourself with the University’s policy on the subject. The link to this policy is here: http://libguides.uml.edu/

Grading System:

This class is a Pass/Fail grading scale.  As graduate students, you need to maintain a minimum grade of 80/100 in order to pass.





Breakdown of Final Grade:






Attendance, active engagement in the class discussions, completion of classroom tasks and similar.


Tests and Quizzes

Vocabulary and language use accuracy, summarizing, paraphrasing, citing, and referencing accuracy, all in a variety formats (email, glossary development, reference lists…)


Oral Presentation

A brief presentation on the content of your writing focusing on the conciseness and preciseness our your language use.


Narrative Analysis


Writing a story and analyzing it based on a set of criteria.  Rubric will be provided.


Process Analysis Paper

Describing and explaining a process that a classmate (or someone else) can actually complete.  Rubric will be provided.


Comparative Analysis Paper

Comparing and analyzing two “things” through at least three distinct criteria while considering opposing views.  Rubric will be provided.


Argumentative Paper

Persuading your classmates and the greater university population about a specific process or concept adhering to a specific framework or criteria.  Rubric will be provided.


Reflection Paper

Analyzing one of your papers on strengths and weaknesses, while improving the weaknesses that you highlight.  Rubric will be provided.




Writing Problems:—if you are having a problem of any sort, please come see me, the Tutoring Center, or Nicole-- do not just give up.  I am sure that among us all, we can work something out.  Quite often your most difficult classes are the ones that are the most demanding.   Learning to analyze and write well will make the rest of your graduate and professional career that much more successful. 


Pearson Test Requirement

Pearson tests are provided twice per semester.  Students are tested within the first week of the semester, and again within the last two weeks of the semester.  When taking the Pearson test, all personal materials will be left outside of the testing room, including paper, pens, and cell phones.  Pearson tests will be administered by Navitas staff, and will only be provided for students who have appropriately scheduled the test.  All MBA students need a score of 59 to matriculate into the Manning School of Business.  No practice tests are provided.  For more information about the Pearson test, please contact Nicole Skaff, Academic Manager (Nicole.Skaff@navitas.com).  If a retest is determined appropriate, a minimum of 30 days between tests is required.



The Course Calendar (we will try to adhere to this schedule, though it may be subject to change. All changes will be posted on our class Website).




In-Class Topics





Preparing to Read and Write Academically



Introduction essay

The Brief Bedford Reader pp. 1 -5, 7 - 26



Narrative 1


The Brief Bedford Reader pp. 27 - 54

Writing:  Narrative – First Draft



Narrative 2

The Brief Bedford Reader pp. 93 – 103; select two additional short stories from the Narration Chapter:  Angelou, Tan, Dillard, Diaz or National Geographic

Writing:  Narrative – Second Draft



Library Research Session

Oral Presentations (Cohort 1)

Debrief and Review


The Brief Bedford Reader pp. 56 - 88


The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind
Chapters 1 - 4

Writing:  Reflection Paper



President's Day - No Class on Monday 12/15

Compare/Contrast 1

Citing and Referencing

The Brief Bedford Reader pp. 205 - 213; select two additional short stories from the Comparison and Contrast Chapter: Britt, Barry, Roman, Sedaris, or Fatawesome


The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind
Chapters 5 - 6

Writing: Compare/Contrast – First Draft



Compare/Contrast 2

The Brief Bedford Reader pp. 129 - 137


The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind
Chapters 7 - 10

Writing:  Compare/Contrast – Second Draft



Oral Presentations (Cohort 2)

Debrief and Review

The Brief Bedford Reader pp. 171 - 177

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind
Chapters 11 -12

Writing:  Reflection Paper



Process Analysis 1

Citing and Referencing

The Brief Bedford Reader pp. 243 – 251, 258 – 261

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

Writing: Analysis – First Draft








Process Analysis 2

The Brief Bedford Reader pp. 283 - 290

Writing:  Analysis – Second Draft



Oral Presentations (Cohort 3)

Debrief and Review

Introduction to Persuasive and Argumentative Writing

The Brief Bedford Reader pp. 439 - 458

Reflection Paper



Argument 1

Summarizing, Paraphrasing, Citing and Referencing

The Brief Bedford Reader, pp. 481 - 488

Persuasion – First Draft



Argument 2

The Brief Bedford Reader, select one reading from Chapter 13: Politt, Colson, McKibben, Jensen, Lundberg

Persuasion – Second Draft



Monday Holiday: Patriots' Day - No Class session

Oral Presentations (Cohort 4)

Debrief and Review


The Brief Bedford Reader, pp. 538 - 546

Reflection Paper



Reflection Paper



Wrap up







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