How to Ace the Course


 

1

Do the work

2

Get it in on time

These notes are mainly for the Web-based Courses, but can also be adapted for my Lecture-based Courses.
Notes on Reading Reports and Essays are included on this Page.
There are also other Pages which describe the standards I use when grading Essays and Reading Reports, and a couple of Pages to show how I would prepare for the Essay on the Life of Abraham, and how I would prepare for, and answer, a question which asked me to "write an account of the events described in II Chronicles, chapters 34-36"

1. Do the work

The Web-based Courses are reckoned to be worth 3 Credit Hours, which is equivalent to at least 6 hours of work each week. If you were in class you would not only have to attend the class sessions each week, but also do several hours of homework, research, and consolidation each week.
You will probably find the work more manageable if you schedule an hour a day, Monday through Saturday, as your "Class Time" and develop the habit of working exclusively on course material during that period.
You should not expect to do well if you think that you can do a week's work by sitting down at the computer and banging out answers for half an hour a week.

2. Send it in on time

The normal dead-line for Reports and Essays is 9 am Monday of the week following the assigned readings.
Work which is sent in after the due date may be downgraded by one letter grade (1 week late) or more (2 weeks late).

Work may always be sent in ahead of the due date, but might not be graded until the due date.

If you have an emergency situation (illness, accident, family emergency) which will make it difficult for you to complete an Assignment on time, please contact me, preferably before the work is due, so that I can be aware of the situation and make allowances if possible.

Exam dead-lines are different, and are posted on the relevant Web Pages.

Reading Reports

My Web-based Courses require weekly Reading Reports or Assignments.
To help with this, the Course Pages for REL 101 and REL 103 have Reading Logs for each Week. You may print out and use the Logs for notes during the week. The Logs will help you break down the Assignments into smaller sections for study each day, Monday - Saturday so that you may use them during your daily "Class Time".
My Greek and Latin courses have weekly assignments which include MSWord .doc files to download and fill in during the week.

REL 101 and REL 103 ask for "Key Verses" each week - there are no right or wrong answers - just write out in full the 6 individual verses from your week's reading which meant something special to you, or which you would like to remember. Writing them out in full will help you to remember them if you need them in the future. The verses should come from the section of Scripture which was set for study during the week. See the FAQ Page for further information on "Key Verses". "Key Verses" only apply to REl 101 and REL 103.

If a question asks you to "write an account of the events described in chapters . . . "
It generally means tell in your own words what happened, rather than just make a list of events or skim over some of the points. Some of the passages are rather long - several chapters of Genesis, for example - and for those you could give a condensed version which covers the main events (and which will probably take about 10 lines). If the question specifically asks you to write a "brief account" or a "brief summary" then just give the main points - (who did what, where, when, why, and what were the results)

Go here to see how I would prepare for and write "an account of the events described in II Chronicles, chapters 34-36".

If a question asks you to "write an account of the life of . . "
If this is for a Scriptural studies class, think about what you have read in the Bible about that person, rather than what you may have read in a historical novel or seen as a film or video (which are often not true to the historical record). It may help to make some preliminary notes of the main events in the person's life, in chronological sequence. Then write the story of the person's life in your own words, as if you were telling it to someone who had not heard it before, using a paragraph for each of the main events.
For someone who lived in the past, use the past tense (he did, they saw, etc) rather than the present (he does, they see).
Be careful not to switch between past and present tenses (eg. he came to them and he says . . .).
For someone who lived before the time of Jesus - people back then did not use our time system of BC and AD, so it would be anachronistic to write "I was born in 2,000 BC". It is better to use a more general time reference, such as "I was born several generations after the Great Flood", or "I was born at the time when the city of Ur was very powerful."
Try to write a connected account, rather than a "list" of events or topics.
For courses such as REL 402 (World's Living Religions), and REL 231 (History of the Christian Church), you should use the textbook, class notes, and InterNet resources provided, and be careful to cite yout sources.
Go here to see how I would prepare for "an account of the Life of Abraham".

If a question asks you to "describe the teaching" contained in a certain passage, it means that you should say "what" the teaching was : eg. "that we should not steal" rather than "about stealing"

If a question asks "How does the text-book describe . . ." a good answer can often be given by using the phrase or sentence in bold type which is printed in the text book at the start of the section dealing with that passage.

General method for producing a good factual answer
Starting your answer by repeating the words that were used in the question will help you to keep on track and focussed on answering what the question asks.
For example,
If a question asks, "Where, when, and by whom was XXX founded?", a good way to start the answer would be "XXX was founded by . . . in . . . in . . ."
If a question asks, "What were the three conditions for XXX?", a good way to start the answer would be "The three conditions for XXX were . . . "
If a question asks, "Why did XXX do ZZZ?", a good way to start the answer would be "XXX did ZZZ because . . ."

If a question asks you to "describe" something, a good method is to read about the topic, then put the book aside and write the answer as if you were describing the topic to an intelligent child or to a student who did not know the answer. Try to write the answers as complete sentences, rather than just giving a list or a few disjointed remarks.

If a question asks you to "discuss" something, it implies that there may be several ways of thinking about the topic, or several different points of view. Regardless of your own personal opinion, you should try to present the various positions fairly, though it is still quite OK to say why you favor one particular point of view.

If a question asks you to "compare and contrast" several items it implies that there are some things which are similar, and some things which are different, between the two (or more) items. You should think about them carefully, and make a preliminary list of differences and similarities if that helps, then write a connected account for your answer.

If these sorts of questions give problems, please ask for help from the EMNU Writing Lab.

Essays

Not all courses require essays. However, some courses do require several essays in addition to the weekly reports. Their due dates will be shown on the same page as the due dates for Reports.

Essays should be prepared with a word processor and proof-read for typos, spelling, and grammar before they are sent to me. The standards of Edited Standard Written English, ESWE will be applied to the Essays. Essays which contain many mistakes in grammar, spelling, and/or punctuation may be downgraded.

Essays should normally be submitted in the same manner as the weekly Reports. However, in an emergency, essays may be sent as an attachment to an email message, or may be copied and pasted into the body of a message and sent to me as an email.

Essays should be from 3 to 10 pages in length (except for Essay 1 of most courses, which may be 1 to 3 pages). You may use any font you wish, but for calculating the length of an essay I convert it to Times New Roman 11 point, double spacing, with 1 inch margins to the page.
Essays which fall short of 3 pages may receive a lower grade.
Essays which are 1 page or less in length will not be eligible to receive an "A".

If the Essay asks for "an account of the life of . . " see the notes for Reports (above).
Go here to see how I would prepare for an "Essay on the Life of Abraham".

If the Essay asks you to "discuss the theme of . . . in the Old (New) Testament" a good way to prepare is to think about what you have read about that topic in your Bible readings to date, and locate some of the Scripture passages which deal with it. A Concordance can be a great help for locating passages which contain a key word. Then write about the subject, giving the Scripture references and writing out some of the main passages to illustrate your answer.

If the Essay asks you to discuss something "with reference to the Book of . . . " it is best to concentrate on what that particular Book tells us about the subject, rather than what commentators or later writers thought about it.

How to write an account or essay
  1. Read the passage and make notes of the events in the sequence in which they occur in the passage.
  2. Decide which are the main events and which are secondary. Which are the most important?
  3. Re-tell the story in your own words, as if you were telling it to someone who had not heard it before, using a paragraph for each of the main events.
  4. If the account is of something which happened in the past, use the past tense (he did, they saw, etc) rather than the present (he does, they see). Be careful not to switch between past and present tenses (eg. he goes to them and he said . . .)
  5. Try to write a connected account, rather than a "list" of events or topics.
    Don't write :
    "He came to Capernaum. He healed someone. He taught in the synagogue. He had supper. He went away."
    or
    "Healing of a blind man, teaching the crowds, the parable of the sower",
    but try to write a connected account, using complete sentences
    For example,
    "Jesus came to Capernaum, and while he was there he healed a blind man and taught in the synagogue. He told the parable of the Sower to illustrate how different people respond to the word of God. When he finished teaching in the synagogue, he had supper and then left the town."

 

Copyright © 1999 Shirley J. Rollinson, all Rights Reserved

Dr. Rollinson

ENMU Station 19
Portales, NM 88130

Last Updated : March 6, 2015

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