core2s15 syllabus

Course Information

Course Numbers: MAWR 01559, Section 1, 20920
Course Hours: T 6:30 – 9:00 pm
Course Location: Bozorth Hall 107
Office Location: James Hall 3075
Office Hours: W 12 – 2 and by appointment
Contact me by email: wolffw [at] rowan [dot] edu
Contact me via Twitter: @billwolff
Printable Syllabus: (note: the web site contains the most up-to-date information)
Required Texts | Office Hours | Contacting Each Other | Students with Disabilities | Attendance and Late Work | Course Strands | Grading

Required Texts and Materials

I recommend you buy the texts from your favorite online retailer, as you will receive a significant discount that is not available in the bookstore. If there are e-versions of the books, feel free to buy them as long as you can annotate well.

Brinkman, S., and Kvale, S. (2014). InterViews: Learning the Craft of Qualitative Research Interviewing (3rd edition). New York: SAGE.

Burt-Thomas, Wendy. (2008). The Writer’s Digest Guide to Writing Query Letters. Cincinnati, OH: Writer’s Digest Books.

Brewer, R.L. (Ed.). (2014). 2015 Writer’s Market. Cincinnati, OH: Writer’s Digest Books. [You may purchase the Deluxe Edition instead, which gives you access to the WM web site.]

Emerson, R.M., Fretz, R.I., & Shaw, L.L. (2011). Writing Ethnographic Fieldnotes, 2nd edition. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Horowitz, A. (2013). On Looking: Eleven Walks with Expert Eyes. New York: Scribner.

Students will also need to purchase/have access to the Writer’s Market text in the genre of their final project, such as 2011 Poet’s Market, 2011 Novel and Short Story Writer’s Market, and so on.

In an effort to reduce textbook costs, multiple readings will be available for free online. These will be available on the Readings page.

You will also need access to:

  • a small notebook for recording fieldnotes—this should be small enough to fit in your pocket or purse (I recommend Fieldnotes Brand 3-1/2” wide by 5-1/2” notebooks with graph paper, which can be purchased online or at various book stores)
  • Computer with Internet access
  • Microsoft Word or any of many online alternatives (I do not accept Word Perfect or Pages files)
  • Rowan email address
  • Other materials as needed

Academic Technology Statement

I will never mark down or refuse to accept a project because of trouble using academic technology. The software and applications we use are a means to complete the work, not the work itself. The software is often new and sometimes still has bugs. I am aware of this and am aware that problems can happen. If you run into trouble, let me know as soon as possible so I can help you work through it. There is no reason to sit for hours getting more and more frustrated. Send me an email with as detailed a description of your problem as possible and we’ll figure out what is going on.

If you are having trouble getting a project completed on time (for whatever reason) please let me know about your delays as soon as possible. It is better to complete an assignment late then to not complete it at all, and I am more than happy to work with you so you can compete the best project you can.

Office Hours

Office hours are designed for you, giving you a more private environment in which we may talk about your work, your performance in class, etc. If you are unable to see me during my office hours, do not hesitate to make an appointment to see me at a different time. We will have at least one required conference during the second half of the semester. My office hours are W 12 – 2 and by appointment.

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Contacting Each Other

There will be times during the semester when I will need to contact the class and you will need to contact me. I will contact you via your Rowan email account, so please be sure that you are checking it regularly and/or forwarding it to the email service you use most regularly. If you do not know your Rowan email address, you can find it on the Email page of the Rowan web site. I am in my office only during office hours and the brief times before and after class. As a result, calling me in my office will not get you a response.

I strongly suggest you contact me via Twitter (@billwolff) and/or email, both of which I tend to check all day long. Email, however, tends to be seen as an informal medium. This, however, should not always be the case. All emails that I send to you will have a meaningful subject line and a proper salutation (“Hi Class,” or “Hi Jane,” etc.). The first sentence will notify you of the purpose of the email, and then will get to the heart of the matter. It will end with a formal closing (“Thanks, BW”). I expect the same from any email you send. Twitter is less formal, so feel free to just tweet me questions. Please add the course hashtag (#core2s15) to all course related tweets.

I’ll get back to your tweets and emails as soon as possible—usually within half a day. With two small children at home, during the week I’m offline 5:00pm – 9:00pm and after 10:00pm and during the weekend I’ll be online sporadically, so don’t expect an immediate response during those times. If I don’t get back within a day, it may be that I did not see your tweet or email for one reason or another, such as an email going in my spam folder. Send me a polite reminder and/or ask me in class if I got it, and I’ll get back immediately.

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Universal Learning

I am committed to the principle of universal learning. This means that our classroom, our virtual spaces, our practices, and our interactions be as inclusive as possible. Mutual respect, civility, and the ability to listen and observe others carefully are crucial to universal learning.

Any student with particular learning needs should contact the Academic Success Center at 856.256.4234. The Center is located on the 3rd Floor of Savitz Hall. The staff is available to answer questions regarding accommodations or assist you in your pursuit of accommodations. Then you and I can work out the details of any accommodations needed for this course.

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You are expected to attend class every day. You cannot pass this class if you miss more than 25% of the scheduled meeting times, including excused and unexcused absences. For our section, which meets once a week, the maximum number of permissible absences is 3. If you exceed the maximum absence limit—whether excused or unexcused—you will be referred to the Dean of Students for the possibility of a hardship withdrawal from the class. Note: it is your responsibility to know how many absences you have. If, at the end of the semester, I enter your grades and you are over the limit, the hardship withdrawal courtesy will not be extended to you.

Excused Absences

You will be permitted to make up missed work for excused absences only (note below that excused absences are still absences; the main difference is that you get to make up missed work). These include:

  • religious observances
  • official University activities
  • illness
  • death of a family member or loved one
  • inclement weather

You must provide verifiable documentation. Consult with your instructor for what is considered acceptable.

In the case of religious observances or official University activities, you must inform BW in advance of your absence for it to be excused.

In the case of illness, death of a family member or loved one, or inclement weather, please inform BW as soon as possible after the fact.

If the events described above lead to your exceeding the maximum absence limit, you will be referred to the Dean of Students for a hardship withdrawal from the class.

Excused and Unexcused absences will be treated using the following scale:

  • 1 or fewer: no penalty
  • 2 absences: –2/3 final grade (a B would become a C+)
  • 3 absences: –1 1/3 final grade (a B would become a C-)

A student who has 4 or more absences will receive an F for the course. Lateness is equal to .5 absences. You are late if you arrive in class after the sign-up sheet has made it around the room.


Grades in this course are determined on the basis of a Learning Record, which accompanies a portfolio of work presented both at the midterm and at end of term. These portfolios present a selection of your work, both formal and informal, plus ongoing observations about your learning, plus an analysis of your work development across six dimensions of learning: confidence and independence, knowledge and understanding, skills and strategies, use of prior and emerging experience, reflectiveness, and creativity, originality, imagination. This development centers on the major strands of work for the course:

Exploration and Curiosity (updated 2/3/15 to clarify the strand)
Students will gain greater familiarity with the theories and practices relating to qualitative research as well as the reflective processes involved in writing extended investigative articles, texts in a genre of their choice. Students will challenge themselves to explore new ideas and become more curious about the worlds around them and the subjects associated with their research.

Critical Reading, Thinking, and Writing
Students will develop their ability to read judiciously, think about, filter information about, and write about texts from a variety of genres and media.

Communication Technology
Students will learn about and will use contemporary communication technologies to enhance the research process.

Students will what it feels like to step out of their comfort zones and take risks with their approaches to and understanding of writing, research, communication technology, and being a student.

Students will develop their ability to work collaboratively in a variety of in- and out-of-class activities and settings.

A note on in-class discussions: Contribution to in-class discussion is expected at the graduate level. That is, I expect all students in all class meetings to contribute thoughtful insights into the texts and the ideas discussed in class. No grade will be assigned for in-class participation; however, if your participation is lacking, it could result in a minor reduction in your final grade. There may be times when the class meets in an online space rather than in the classroom. You’ll be notified ahead of time if this is the case.

A note about grades: grades in the A-range are those that show the student working at levels significantly higher than what is expected. Grades at the B-level are those that show the student working at levels at or just above what is expected. Grades at the C-level and below are those that show the student working at levels below what is expected.

Final grades correspond to the Graduate Handbook (A-C) for graduate students. All work is expected to be the student’s own and include attribution to outside work according to assignment guidelines and citation standards. Any plagiarism will be handled in accordance with the guidelines in the Student Handbook.

Missing assignments will receive a 0. All major assignments must be completed to pass the course. It is better to complete an assignment late then to not complete it at all.

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