Bentley College
Fall 1992

Ellen McGill   Morison 125            891-2888
Office Hours:      Tuesday 5:00 - 6:00 pm (or by appointment)

Required Texts:
1. The Research Paper Workbook by Ellen Strenski & Madge Manfred 2. Songs From the Alley by Kathleen Hirsch 3. The St. Martin's Pocket Guide to Library Research and Documenting

Recommended Texts:
1. English/English Desk Dictionary (Webster's Ninth Collegiate Dictionary e.g.)
2. English/English paperback dictionary for class (Webster's makes a good paperback also)
3. Roget's Thesaurus

Course Description:

This course will help you to develop your academic reading, writing and research skills. Through summarizing, paraphasing, analyzing, and synthesizing the material you encounter in class and during your research, you will work also to improve your ability to think and to read critically. Research will be viewed as a process, one in which you explore possible topics, focus on one, and develop a thesis related to it. Next you will learn how to locate appropriate materials in the library, where to look for other sources, how to use quoted materials, and how to avoid plagiarism when writing research papers. The topic we will focus on this semester is "Homelessness in the United States." Through reading, writing, discussion, video-viewing, and other activities, we will learn about the impact of homelessness on individuals and society. At the same time we will explore some of the possible causesof homelessness--poverty, mental illness, substance abuse, and physical/emotional abuse.

An important part of this course will be your participation in Service Learning. In addition to reading Songs From the Alley, you will attend a lecture by the author, Kathleen Hirsch, on Monday, October 19 at 7pm. After that, you will make two visits to a homeless shelter, during which you will spend several hours helping the staff (perhaps preparing or serving a meal) and talking with some of the guests. These visits, and possibly an orientation prior to the visits, will be arranged through the College. I will give you at least several weeks notice (or more) so that you can arrange your schedule.

Course Requirements:
Attendance, preparation, and participation will be critical to your success in this course. Absences other than documented illness or emergency will lower your grade. You must know too that this is not a lecture course; you will be expected to come to class prepared for challenging discussion and debate. In addition to your participation in Service Learning, course requirements include:
1. Assigned readings from the required texts 2. In-class Journal writing
3. Tour of the campus library
4. Monthly letters to Dr. Mikulecky
5. Research paper (6-8 pp. focusing on a topic related to homelessness) 6. Oral presentation (5-10 minute summary of the research paper) 7. Reaction paper (2-4 pp. related to Songs From the Alley, the Hirsch lecture, and your Service Learning visits) 8. Literary critique (2-4 pp. of a work you choose from a list of fiction or non-fiction)

Course Grading:

1. Class preparation and participation        30%
2. Research paper (based on all drafts)       30%
3. Oral presentation                          10%
4. Reaction paper (based on all drafts)       15%

5. Literary critique (based on all drafts) 15%

Please Note:
All papers must be typed or word-processed.


As you know, our theme for this semester is homelessness in the United States. Initially, you will write a 2-4 page reaction paper focusing on this topic. If you wish, you may choose homelessness as the basis for your 6-8 page research paper also. On the other hand, you may decide you want to explore one 0f the social issues closely related to homelessness: poverty; mental illness; substance abuse (drugs, including alcohol); sexual, physical, or emotional abuse.

Whatever your decision, you will need to progress through many stages of thinking, reading, and writing before you arrive at your final goal--a paper that is interesting, wellresearched and written, and correctly documented. Along the way your focus may shift slightly, as you discover new information that doesn't quite support what you have already read. Moreover, you may encounter information that contradicts completely what you may have believed was the "truth" about your topic.

Until October 20 you will have the opportunity to shift your focus, if necessary. Beyond that date, your focus must remain constant. Your thesis, however, will probably continue to develop as your research expands and you consider new evidence. At times you wi11 probably feel confused, but do not give up. Constant revision and clarification of your thesis is a normal part of research. Just keep working and eventually your point of view will become clear.

So you can plan ahead, in order to meet the deadlines in this course and in your other courses, here is our schedule for the remainder of the semester:

September 29 Submit five possible topic statements; narrow your topic to

one and draft two questions your research will answer.

October 1 Submit three more questions your research will answer.

October 6 Library Tour. Your formal research begins.

October 13 Submit a bibliography of five possible sources.

October 20     Submit a one-page paper describing the focus of your research,
               along with a revised bibliography (six minimum, including at 
               least one book).

October 27     Submit a proposed thesis, outline, and bibliography.

October 29     Submit first draft of two-page reaction paper on homelessness.

November 10 Submit second draft of reaction paper.

November 17 Submit first draft of 6-8 page research paper (full format,

including title page, notes, and bibliography).

December 1 Submit second draft of research paper.

December 3     Oral presentation summarizing the findings of your research.
               Submit literary critique.

December 8     In-class revision of literary critique.

December 10 Submit final draft of research paper.