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Crime Story: Agatha Christie

ENGS 095
Online, Summer 2012
INSTRUCTOR INFORMATION Rebecca A. McLaughlin Office: 323 Old Mill Office Hours: by appointment only COURSE DESCRIPTION Known world-wide as the “Queen of Crime,” Agatha Christie is the best-selling author of all time. Her name, as well as that of Hercule Poirot and Miss Jane Marple, has become a part of our cultural imagination through the novels as well as numerous film and television adaptations. This course examines Christie’s life, the form of the classic detective novel, the breadth of themes within her work, and her creation of a female detective. Students should expect to read 6-8 novels during the 4 week course in addition to shorter contextual pieces. Daily writing assignments include a reading journal and blog postings. Quizzes on each of the major texts and a final written assignment are also required. COURSE STRUCTURE Using Blackboard, this completely online course gives you the flexibility of completing the class requirements while also living your life. As an asynchronous course, we never meet at a specific time, so you are free to do your coursework at any time of the day or night as long as you meet the due dates as stated in the Course Schedule. Rather than having a weekly schedule, this course uses Modules or units based around a specific novel. We spend more time within some Modules than others depending on the length, difficulty, and number of secondary readings. As an online course, your written assignments predominantly take the form of responses using one of the following Blackboard tools: Discussion Board, Wiki, or Blog. Since academic thinking is rooted in questioning, exploring, and imagining, these written responses enable you to interact with the course material while also expressing your individuality as a reader. Additionally, they allow for ALL voices to be heard; there is no back of the room in an online course! So expect that a typical day's assignments will include the reading; one or more short written responses, and possibly the viewing of video, images, or a web site. Each morning, you will find a reminder of your daily assignment in the Announcement Box. Once each module has been completed, you will take a quiz on the material covered within that module only (i.e. no cumulative mid-term or final exam).


COURSE COMMUNICATION POLICY We will use a whole-class discussion forum for questions and answers instead of the traditional "email the professor" mode (see Class Q & A Forum on the Discussion Board). Since oftentimes more than one student has the same question, I find it much easier to communicate classroom related answers to everyone at once. So, within the Class Q & A Forum, you will post any questions or concerns you have about the readings, the assignments, or anything else having to do with the class as a whole. I encourage other students to chime in and offer help to one another in answering these questions, especially if it pertains to the reading, but I will respond to your posts within 24 hours (often much sooner). Also, if you find something in an article, film, book, etc that correlates to the class and may be of interest to everyone, let us know by posting the information! Finally, for those issues or problems that you deem private or personal, you always have the option of emailing me outside of the class forum at my UVM email address. Again, I will respond within 24 hours (often much sooner). COURSE OBJECTIVES Students will develop critical reading, writing, research, and thinking skills through close analysis of several Agatha Christie novels. Students will increase their awareness, understanding, and appreciation of Agatha Christie and the genre of Detective Fiction. Students will engage in the ongoing scholarly conversation about Agatha Christie and detective novels, and practice making their own informed and persuasive arguments about each within a final essay. REQUIRED TEXTBOOKS Specific textbooks will be revealed approximately 1-2 weeks prior to the start of class. WORK EXPECTATIONS This class will cover in 4 weeks what typically gets covered in 15 weeks during a regular semester. As such, you should realize that this class will take up a great deal of your time if you wish to succeed. A 3-credit course at UVM that meets face-to-face requires 37.5-45 contact hours in the classroom. Thus in a 4-week, 3-credit course, we must meet for about 10 hours per week in virtual space. Notably, these hours do not include the amount of study time outside of class each week that students need in order to complete readings and assignments. Depending upon your skills and goals, you can expect to spend about 2 hours to prepare for every 1 hour of class time. As such, preparation time, at a minimum, will likely be about 20 hours a week. Doing the math, expect to spend approximately 30 hours a week working on the requirements for this


class; basically, this course is like a full-time job during the 4 weeks we spend together! So, discipline and organization are absolutely necessary to your success in this online course. REQUIREMENTS Participation/Posting (400 points or 40% of Final Grade) As an online course, your active participation is expressed through your postings to the discussion board, blogs, journals, and wikis as assigned. I expect everyone to post responses to the readings and to their classmates’ responses in a thoughtful, constructive, and timely manner. Since you must respond to one another, in order to generate a conversation, your participation in the virtual discussion makes a difference to the success of other students in the course as well as your own. Your posts are not graded individually. Since everyone has an "off day," I consider each student's overall contribution to the class and assign a holistic grade (see Participation Guidelines and Grading below). Quizzes (300 points or 30% of Final Grade) After completing each novel, you will take an online quiz, which will test your reading comprehension of the primary texts as well as understanding of any correlating secondary reading or information given through text, video, etc. These quizzes may consist of questions in a combination of the following formats: matching, multiple choice, and short answer. (For more specific information on quiz availability and deadlines, see Quizzes. A practice quiz is available as well - see link in Quizzes folder on Blackboard.) No quizzes can be taken late, so keep up with the reading and keep an eye on deadlines! Final Written Assignment (300 points or 30% of Final Grade) You will have options for your final written assignment on Christie, but each option will basically equal to 5-pages of double-spaced text and require an excellent understanding of Christie and her work. Everyone must choose and complete ONE of these options as per the specific directions given for each. If you wish to modify these options or have an idea of your own, you MUST speak to me first in order to gain permission. Options typically include a traditional Critical Essay, a creative option with rationale, and a Novel/Film Critical Essay. More information on the options can be found under Course Assignments on Blackboard. ACADEMIC HONESTY & PROFESSIONALISM I expect all students in this class to be committed to honesty and excellence in their academic work. Being unaware of what constitutes academic dishonesty (such as not knowing what plagiarism is) does not absolve you from the responsibility of being honest in your academic work. Academic integrity is an essential part of learning at UVM. Students are expected to conduct themselves in an ethical manner while at the University and abide by the Code of Academic Integrity. Offenses against the Code of Academic Integrity (plagiarism, fabrication, collusion, or cheating) are deemed serious and insult the integrity of the entire academic community. Any suspected violations of the Code will not be tolerated and all allegations will be forwarded to the Center for Student Ethics & Standards. For a copy of the UVM Code of Academic Integrity go to Everyone MUST take the 2-question Academic Integrity and Copyright Policies quiz/oath (the link is under Course Assignments and then Reading Quizzes). 3

PARTICIPATION GUIDELINES AND GRADING While online discussion tools used in an asynchronous course result in discussions occurring over a period of days rather than hours, this increase in time also means that students have an opportunity to reflect upon their answer or response, producing better, more evocative writing and critical thinking. Additionally, the online discussion environment means that everyone MUST participate – there is no back of the classroom. As such, you are required to participate in the online discussion assignments EVERY time! While each assignment will have its own unique instructions, there are a few ground rules that everyone should follow when posting to any Blackboard discussion tool. 1. 2. ALWAYS read/watch the assigned materials BEFORE posting! POST EARLY rather than late, so others can respond to you and, (hopefully if they too post early), you can respond to them; thus generating an ongoing dialogue with time for extra postings and lengthier conversations 3. Title your posts rather than simply leaving it as RE: Blog. By giving your post a unique title that hints at what you say in the post, other students (and the professor) can quickly get a sense of the overall conversation as well as find specific comments later on in the discussion or semester if necessary 4. All posts MUST be written in complete, grammatically correct sentences – having more time to reflect upon what you write also means more time to edit and proofread what you write 5. A civil, respectful tone MUST be maintained in all posts, especially when you disagree with someone else’s response – remember that literary criticism depends upon individual interpretation, so one piece of literature can have many possible meanings; the trick is to support it with proof (i.e. quotations) from the text. When using quotations, please cite them properly – for the most part in this class, use a chapter number and page number so others can find it even if using a different edition. 6. I STRONGLY recommend writing your posts as a Word or Notepad file, saving it somewhere, and then cutting and pasting it to Blackboard, so that you do not lose it by accident [DO NOT attach it as a file] Your participation in this course is graded holistically rather than on individual postings since I believe that everyone has an off day now and then. Nevertheless, participation does account for a substantial portion of your final grade. Predominantly however, your participation grade is based upon the following criteria: Excellent (A): posts answers on time; sometimes exceeds required number of posts and/or length; comments are based on detailed and insightful understanding of material; 4

properly refers to specific parts of the texts or other materials to support ideas; suggests alternative perspectives on and/or directions in which the conversation might go; posts are clear, organized, and well-written Good (B): posts answers on time; answers all required posts and meets length requirements; comments show a good understanding of material, may make reference to specific parts of the texts or other materials to support ideas; does not suggest other perspectives/directions; posts are adequately written Fair (C): posts answers on time; may have missed a post and/or may have a post or two that is short of required length; comments show only a basic understanding of the material; does not refer to specific parts of the texts or other materials to support ideas; posts are understandable but may lose focus and show some consistent mechanical errors Poor (D): misses deadlines; missing several posts and/or many posts do not meet required length; comments show only a limited understanding of the material with few/no references to texts for support; posts are difficult to understand, frequently wander offtopic, use an inappropriate tone, and/or show significant writing problems Failing (F): misses deadlines; missing a lot of posts and/or all posts are far short of length requirement; basically doesn't participate COURSE GRADING SYSTEM My grading system uses a 1000 point total (not a 100 point or A, B, C!) in order to make online grade book entries easy for me and understandable to you. Every required aspect of the course is given a point value based upon its percent value overall in the course. Within each required aspect, individual assignments are given a point value as well. As the semester progresses, you can keep track of your current standing or average by determining how many points total are possible at that given moment and setting up the math equation (number of points you have/number of points possible at that moment = current average/100 points). Once the semester ends, here is the number of points you need for each grade. Most of the time, I do not use decimals in my grading. However, if for some reason I do so, I round up only if you have a .5 or higher. A grade ending in .4 does not get rounded up. Grading System 966-1000 A+ 933-965 A 900-932 A866-899 B+ 833-865 B 800-833 B5

766-799 C+ 733-765 C 700-732 C666-699 D+ 633-665 D 600-632 D0-599 F