Evaluating Learning

Writing Assignment Contract


WRITING ASSIGNMENT CONTRACT

(200 points)

The writing assignment for this semester will be an original research report that focuses on clearly stating and carefully solving a problem of your choice. You will be required to use electronic database resources for reference material and potential solutions for the problem or situation. This assignment will be graded using a "contact" scale. This means that there is a set of minimum requirements of acceptable quality submitted that will used to determine the final grade on the Writing Assignment.

STEP 1. CHOOSE A RESEARCH STUDY for your writing assignment:
Think about:

1) a particular population of people who have special problems or issues related to HIV disease,
(pregnant teen-agers in the US and the health care of their babies) or
(prostitutes in Calcutta and their need for information on sexually transmitted infections)

2) a specific problem of the HIV/AIDS epidemic
(need for human trials of drugs and vaccines)
(federal funding of health insurance)

STEP 2. DO RESEARCH ON YOUR CHOICE OF POPULATION OR PROBLEM:

Using the electronic databases in the libraries to search for legitimate research articles from "peer-reviewed" journals (those that have serious scholars as editors and reviewers). Find at least one article for FOUR out of the eight categories: 1. Medical; 2. Psychological; 3. Political; 4. Educational; 5. Economic, 6. Legal, 7. Ethical, 8. Religious. THREE of these FOUR articles MUST BE FROM 2000! You may use more than four articles, but your must have a minimum of four (three from 2000). Submit a photocopy of the title page of each reference article (not the title page of the journal volume) that you plan to use with your Topic-Database-Reference Search Results.

STEP 3. SUBMIT RESEARCH TOPIC-DATABASE-REFERENCE SEARCH RESULTS NO LATER
THAN THE END OF CLASS ON 28 September 2000:

Use the following format to submit your Topic-Database-Reference Search Results (typed, hard-copy only) to me no later than the end of class on 28 September.

Name:
One or two sentences describing the Population or Problem you have chosen to study:
Database(s) used:
topic(s) searched:
subtopic(s):
Reference citations:

A. List the category that the reference satisfies:
1. Medical; 2. Psychological; 3. Political; 4. Educational; 5. Economic, 6. Legal, 7. Ethical, 8. Religious

B. Then give the Author, Title, Journal, year, volume, page for a minimum of 1 article in each of four topic
areas. Include a photocopy of the Title page of each of the selected reference articles.

For example:
Reference #1: Psychological
P. Van de Ven: A scale of optimism-skepticism in the context of HIV treatments; AIDS Care, Abingdon; Apr 2000; Vol. 12, Iss. 2; pg. 171, 6 pgs

Medical Librarian Jackie Mardikian from the Library of Science and Medicine and Lisa Vecchio from the Douglass Library will be presenting a session to the class on 21 September in the Records Hall Computing Lab. Jackie Mardikian will also be available on-line to answer your questions on how to use Rutgers Libraries electronic resources. She has also provided for special training sessions on how to use these electronic resources in the LSM Electron Resources Classroom. In addition, students can get help at the reference desks at any of the libraries, or make an appointment with Ms. Mardikian during her regularly scheduled reference desk hours or at another mutually agreeable time.

STEP 4. WRITE RESEARCH REPORT:

Using the references, describe the population, the HIV-related issue(s) of that population and how you would
make recommendations for solution(s) to the problem(s). Limit your description and solution to four typewritten
pages (10 or 12 point font). Any material after the page 4 will not be considered!

STEP 5. USE OF REFERENCE MATERIALS:

In the body of your research report, use quotes from the reference articles to support your descriptions of the
population, problem and solution you have chosen for your research.

STEP 6. USE STATISTICS FROM REFERENCE MATERIALS (APPENDIX 1: STATISTICS):

Use statistics, graphs, charts, tables from the reference articles to support your description of the population,
problem or solution. Use an APPENDIX of STATISTICS (page 5) for these data.

STEP 7. OUTLINE OF SOLUTION (APPENDIX 2: SOLUTION PLAN)

Write a detailed outline of your solution, For example, if you design an educational program, list the topics to
be covered in the lesson plan, the length of the class, the frequency, the grade level.

STEP 8. ASK THREE COLLEAGUES to CRITIQUE your RESEARCH REPORT:

When you have completed your research paper, have three friends read and critique your paper. On a
separate piece of paper for each of them, have each one answer these questions as they critique your research
and recommendations.

Name:

Relationship to author:

Occupation:

Critique questions:

1. What is the unique feature of the study population or problem described by the author?

2. Is the HIV-related problem or issue clearly described and valid for the study population or problem?

3. How does the author use comments or data from the references?

( Does the author describe, and define the problem and/or support the solution?)

4. How can the author improve this description of the population, the problem and the solution?

5. Did you learn anything from this research report? If so, what?

STEP 9. REBUTTAL OF CRITIQUES:

On another page, state whether the suggestions from the critics would improve your paper. That is, do you agree with the criticisms and how would you change your paper if you could?

STEP 10. PROFESSIONAL REVIEW OF YOUR SOLUTION PLAN:

Ask a professional in the field, i.e., if you design an education plan, ask a teacher, to critique your Detailed Outline of the Solution, using the same questions that were given for the "colleague critiques".

STEP 11. SUBMIT YOUR WRITTEN ASSIGNMENT (four page "body" of report) DIGITALLY ON 31 October 2000 TO devanas@rci.rutgers.edu FOR PEER REVIEW.

PEER REVIEW comments returned by November 14.

- Students are asked to use the electronic databases available through the library to find original, peer reviewed, research studies that assist them in describing the problem, the population, and/or a solution. The students must find at least one article for four of eight categories: medical, psychological, political, educational, economic, legal, ethical, and religious. An outline of the intended discussion, with photocopies of the first page of each of the four articles, is required for a preproposal review to be sure the student has not chosen a topic that is too narrow, too broad, or too obscure. The obscurity issue usually manifests itself when very few references are found, or many references are from years previous to the current year. The currency requirement ensures that current and most accurate information is used, (i.e., data on perinatal transmission has shown reduced rates of transmission in more recent years, due to use of aggressive treatment drug regimes during pregnancy). Using data three to five years old can negatively affect the analysis and interpretation.

- The paper itself is limited to four pages. Brevity is a valuable commodity when one is reading 450 papers. Secondly, students are really forced to focus on the critical concepts rather than ramble. Before submission, four peers are asked to provide a written critique of the paper, looking for clarity, use of quotes, statistics, convincing argument for the solution plan, and whether they learned anything themselves. This gives the student opportunities to re-write or re-think depending on peers' comments. Finally, a detailed solution plan is developed in an outline as an Appendix item. Again this keeps the rhetoric to a minimum and ideas and their relationship clear in the hierarchy of the outline. A professional must review the plan if the student wishes to achieve a grade of "A." Professionals can be teachers who review education intervention plans, health care providers who review clinic outreach programs, or lawyers who comment on the feasibility of suggested legislation.

- The writing assignment is structured as a contract: the more work contributed, the higher the grade. The Writing Assignment, developed and refined over the years, is a paper that requires research of a student's own choosing that addresses a problem with AIDS. Essentially the students are asked to select a population that has a problem with AIDS and design a solution plan.