Perusall 2

As I noted in my first post about Perusall and in previous comments about teaching comparative politics, students have not demonstrated a sufficient level of engagement with or understanding of journal articles I’ve assigned. While collaboratively annotating journal articles ought to help solve this problem, I’m hoping to make the learning benefits of the process more transparent to students by connecting each Perusall assignment to one of my traditional reading responses.

Here is the prompt for all of the Persuall assignments:

Annotate the article to answer these questions:

  1. Article’s subject—what is the question, puzzle, or problem examined?
  2. What and where is the thesis?
  3. What are the independent variables (causes) and how are they examined?
  4. How are the independent variables related to the dependent variable (effect)?
  5. What is the conclusion of the author(s)?

Here is an example of a reading response — the journal article in the Perusall assignment is at the top:

Why did the Arab Spring “succeed” in Tunisia but “fail” in Egypt and Libya?

The Perusall annotations and the reading response are due an hour before the start of the class in which the material will be discussed.

In today’s class, the first of the semester, students will be doing an ungraded practice run at using Perusall. The first graded Perusall assignment, along with its associated reading response, is due Wednesday morning. We’ll see how this goes.

One Reply to “Perusall 2”

  1. Before shifting to Perusall, I used to use a similar rubric, asking students to “read carefully” a handful of articles per term and submit written responses to the following questions:

    “ 1 What is the question the author is trying to answer? What claims is s/he making? (What is his/her main argument or thesis statement?)
    2 Discuss the evidence.  In general, what sort of evidence is it?  How much is there?  How might it have been improved?  Were there limitations in using the evidence for the inferences drawn?  (Here, describe the SORT of evidence s/he uses or pick your favorite one or two anecdotes, and comment on the overall quality.)  If the paper is more deductive in nature, how is the logic presented, and is it persuasive?
    3 Are there any major problems for the author in her/his move from the generic explanation to a real world assessment of it?  Is this “operationalization” of key terms done persuasively, or is there some disconnect here?
    4 Are there counterarguments considered and how effectively are they refuted?
    5 (You might also mention any key assumptions made by the author if they warrant particular attention and define any terms that aren’t used in a common-sensical fashion.)  “

    One of the things i like about Perusall is it allows focussed discussion on the text. Thus your questions of “where is the thesis” makes sense.

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