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History of Science Online

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LibraryThing: OU History of Science Collections HSCI 3013 - section 995 - Spring 2014

Weekly Starting Assumptions

# Due Date Pts Activity Time
1 Tuesday
11:59 p.m.
10 Starting Assumptions
Think about what you know already about the culture and period, share your knowledge and experience with other students in the class
30 min.

Due: Tuesday, 11:59 p.m.
Points: 10
Plan: 30 mins.

Science embodies its place, time and culture. The Starting Assumptions assignment begins with a video prompt to prompt reflection, sharing, and listening to what you and your classmates already know about the culture and period. You and your classmates already know a lot, more than you realize! In the Starting Assumptions assignment each week you will share your knowledge and interact with other students in the class about your experience, knowledge and interest in that week’s topics. Finally, you will complete the Starting Assumptions assignment by making a “Gradebook declaration” in the Quizzes section of Desire2Learn.

Learning Objective: The Starting Assumptions assignment gives you a chance to recall any previous acquaintance you might have with the period and culture we will explore, and to share your knowledge with other students in class. It is not really meant to introduce the science of the time and place, so much as the cultural context. Its chief purpose is to give everyone a better appreciation of the specific culture and period whose science will be studied during the given week.

Starting the week! The Starting Assumptions assignment is the first assignment you will do each week, and it is due at 11:59 p.m. Tuesday night. (Yes, remember, the week "starts" on Tuesday; see Weekly Assignments and time management tips.) Why not do it on Monday, and work at least one day ahead all week?

Optional and required questions. A list of questions will get you thinking about what you might want to post as your Starting Assumptions. At least one of those questions will be **required** while the other questions are optional. Here's how to recognize which question is required: it will be marked in bold, with red asterisks. Your Starting Assumptions post must include some answer to the required question, along with comments about any of the other questions that catch your attention. Oftentimes the required question will come in several parts, phrased something like this:

**What are some similarities between ancient (fill in the blank) cultures and culture today? How might these similarities help us to understand ancient (fill in the blank) culture? What are some differences between ancient (fill in the blank) culture and culture today? How might these differences pose an obstacle to our understanding of ancient (fill in the blank) culture? What do you think is the chief barrier or prejudice that obstructs modern appreciation of science in the (fill in the blank) era?**

This required question really consists of three parts:

  1. If there are no similarities between the historical culture and culture today, we could not hope to understand them enough to learn something interesting from them. So what similarities can you think of that may help us relate to the other culture?
  2. If there are no differences, they would be transparently obvious to us, and we could understand them without exercising any effort or imagination -- so why go to all the bother of visiting them? So what differences can you think of that might cause us to misunderstand what they were up to?
  3. Since the differences between our culture and theirs make them difficult to understand, these differences are the emphasis of the last part, which directs our thinking to consider not just their culture in general, but their science in particular. So how might those cultural differences pose an obstacle to our understanding of their achievements in science?

Please try to reply briefly to all three parts of this required question each week.

New Topic. Just click the New Topic button in Confluence. Each week you will create three New Topics on Confluence, when you post your (1) Starting Assumptions, (2) an Interpretation, and (3) a Reflection (weekly assignments).

Starting Assumptions responses. In addition to posting your own Starting Assumptions at the Confluence discussion board, you are also required to post responses to the Starting Assumptions of two other students. Just hit the Add Reply button, or you can click on the Add Reply link that appears as part of their post (just under their name on the left hand side).

Student-to-Student Interaction: You will be doing a lot of writing for each other this semester. I strongly believe that interaction with other students in a way that is not mediated by the instructor is one of the chief advantages of an online course. When you read others' Starting Assumptions, pause and do your best to understand where they are coming from. Take advantage of this opportunity to get to know your fellow students; you will be "seeing" a lot of them online through the course of the semester. Many students find this student-to-student interaction to be one of their favorite aspects of the course!

Note: This page is a general description of the Starting Assumptions assignment. For the specific questions you are to respond to on any given week, go to the Starting Assumptions assignment page for that week.

Here are the instructions you will see each week for the Starting Assumptions assignment:

Instructions for Starting Assumptions assignment:

  1. Look over the questions and links below; then watch the Starting Assumptions video prompt for this unit at Janux.
  2. PART ONE:
    1. Write a paragraph, 150 words minimum, in response to any questions that interest you.
    2. Post your completed paragraph in the Starting Assumptions discussion stream for this week at Janux.
  3. PART TWO:
    • Read the Starting Assumptions posts of at least two other students at Janux. Make another post in the discussion stream at Janux replying to their posts. (If you are the first or second person to post, you will have to check back later to complete this part of the assignment.)
    • IMPORTANT: When you respond, please begin by greeting the persons by name you are replying to, so that they will be more likely to notice that you are replying to them. And over the next several hours, check back and see if anyone comments on your post as well. If you provide interesting comments in response to others, they will be more likely to look for your posts both now and in the future.
  4. As you post your paragraph and respond to two other students, complete the Gradebook Declaration in Desire2Learn. Your Gradebook Declaration is subject to the Honor Code. Check all that apply: if you have completed the assignment, you will check all five statements. If you work on the assignment at different times, you may make the Gradebook Declaration incrementally as you complete each part. You may redo the Gradebook Declaration as often as you like up until the due date, if any part is incomplete the first time.

Here is the text of the Desire2Learn Gradebook Declaration:

(2 points) I have posted my Starting Assumptions (at least 50 words) at Confluence, including a response to the required question(s).
(2 points) I have posted my Starting Assumptions (at least 100 words) at Confluence, including a response to the required question(s).
(2 points) I have posted my Starting Assumptions (at least 150 words) at Confluence, including a response to the required question(s).
(2 points) I have replied to the post of at least one other student.
(2 points) I have replied to the post of at least two other students.


"Questioning is the most civilized and sophisticated of arts." John S. Mill

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HSCI 3013. History of Science to 17th centuryCreative Commons license
Kerry Magruder, Instructor, 2004
Brent Purkaple, TA

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Many thanks to the pedagogical model developed in Mythology and Folklore and other online courses by Laura Gibbs, which have been an inspiration for this course.

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This course is currently undergoing major reconstruction to bring it into alignment with the new version of the course at Janux