Liberal Studies 300: Gateway Experience for Pre-Credential Students

Liberal Studies 300: Gateway Experience for Pre-Credential Students


Name: ______

CaliforniaStateUniversity, Northridge

Liberal Studies 300: Gateway Experience for Pre-Credential Students

Fall 2007

Gateway Website:


Welcome! This course is an introduction to the academic and professional requirements for a Liberal Studies pre-credential major. It engages you with an overview of the nature of the subject matter areas represented in Liberal Studies and the connections between academic disciplines and the California Content Standards. Within this context, you will develop and build on skills and strategies for lifelong learning. The course focuses on the elements required for success in integrating subject matter knowledge from multiple disciplines in preparation for a career in teaching. You will deepen your understanding of the required subject matter areas (language arts, mathematics, science, history/social science, child development, visual and performing arts, health, and physical education) in the context both of their university-based curriculum and of the Academic Content Standards and State Curriculum Frameworks for grades K-8. You will also learn and practice research and technology skills required for teachers. Six of our class meetings will be virtual classes where you will work individually and in groups on web-based, self-directed, and other activities.

Student Learning Outcomes

You will

  1. discover more about your own learning practices
  2. expand your intellectual curiosity
  3. explore the role(s) of a liberal arts education for informed participation in society
  4. learn skills and strategies for university success
  5. learn strategies for self-reflection and self-examination
  6. understand that disciplines have specific ways of constructing knowledge
  7. understand the connections among subject matter coursework, the California Content Standards, and disciplines
  8. develop your understanding of pedagogical content knowledge
  9. integrate knowledge across the subject matter areas.

Required Texts

  1. Content Standards for California Public Schools Kindergarten Through Grade Six. (Available at ASAP or from < or at the Gateway website)
  2. Course Reader. (Available at ASAP or at the Gateway website)
  3. Keats, Ezra Jack. Peter’s Chair. (Matador Bookstore)
  4. Lowry, Lois. The Giver. (Matador Bookstore)
  5. Ma, Liping. Knowing and Teaching Elementary Mathematics. (Matador Bookstore)
  6. Pluto Readings. (Available at the Gateway website)

Recommended Text

  1. Scieszka, Jon. The Math Curse. (Available in the Matador Bookstore and on reserve in Oviatt Library)

Grade Distribution

  1. 4Subject matter assignments(10 % each)40%
  2. Research Project: Annotated Bibliography10%
  3. Research Project: Outline10%
  4. Final Reflective Essay15%
  5. Other Assignments25%

A+ / A / A- / B+ / B / B- / C+ / C / C- / D+ / D / D- / F
99-100% / 93-98% / 90-92% / 87-89% / 83-86% / 80-82% / 77-79% / 73-76% / 70-72% / 67-69% / 63-66% / 60-62% / 0-59%

Attendance: Since this is a discussion-based course, I expect you to read/view all assigned texts carefully and critically, and participate vigorously in class discussions, including small group activities and online classes. Obviously you need to be prepared for class in order to participate effectively, and you cannot participate effectively if you miss class, arrive late for class, or leave class early. I expect you to attend all class meetings. If you miss more than threein-person class meetings, your final course grade will be adversely affected due to your inability to participate effectively in the class.

The Subject Matter Assignments will allow you to more fully consider issues raised in readings and classroom discussions and demonstrate technological competence as required by the ITEP Junior program. If you turn in any of these assignments late without prior permission from me, I will lower the assignment grade by one letter grade for each week or part of a week that the assignment is late. See specific prompts below.

The Research Project will take you through the research process, from developing a topic to constructing an argument. The project is designed to help you hone your skills in all the stages of the research process (e.g., framing a topic, library and online research skills, finding and evaluating sources, writing an annotated bibliography and detailed outline, citation), no matter what your experience or level of proficiency is when you begin the course. The research project should prepare you to be an effective researcher both in your work as a student and as a future teacher. If you turn in eitherthe annotated bibliography or the outline late without prior permission from me, I will lower the grade for that assignment one letter grade for each week or part of a week that the assignment is late. See the Gateway website for further information about the research project.

The Final Reflective Essayserves as the final examination and will allow you to synthesize materials from across the disciplines and throughout the course.

Other Assignments include participation in class discussions and other in-class activities, group presentations, homework assignments, self-directed activities – most of them web-based – that cut across the subject areas,internet searches, WebCT discussion posts, a tentative thesis for your research project, and research exercises. I will evaluate these assignments on a credit/no credit basis--in class we’ll discuss criteria for earning credit on them. I do not award credit for late assignments.

How to Post Assignments on WebCT:

1) Log on to the class WebCT page at <

2) Click the “Assignments” tab on the left of the page

You may use the “Main” heading any time during the semester (anonymously if you wish) to discuss issues related to the course, pose questions, refer class members to other resources, reflect on readings and class discussions, etc. Note that WebCT email is sent to your CSUN email account. If you don’t check this account, be sure to forward your CSUN email.

Course Policies

  1. Disability Issues: Please see me early in the semester if you require academic accommodations based on a documented disability.
  2. Email: I usually acknowledge all email messages within 24 hours. If you email me but don’t get a response, I haven’t received your email. Feel free to email me concerning any questions you have about the course or about your work. Be sure to include a salutation, signature, and appropriate subject heading in your email message. Do not email your assignments to me for feedback; I’d be happy to discuss your work with you in person.
  3. Recording Of Classes: I do not allow recording of class sessions without my permission.
  4. Plagiarism: Plagiarism is a contested and context-specific topic. We will discuss effective ways of using sources and issues around plagiarism in class.


Major Assignments

Subject Matter Assignment: Education

3-5 typed double-spaced pages; 1 inch margins on all sides of pages

Turn in hard copy on 9/12/07

Develop an academic essay based on Michel de Montaigne’s “On Education” and Hope Edelman’s “Subtle Lessons in Reading, Writing and Rigidity” in which you respond to

the following question:

Ensure that your essay has a title and thesis (whether explicit or implicit) and is not a list of unconnected points about the two texts. Support your points with specific references to the texts. Since this is an academic essay, assume that your readers are familiar with the texts (though not necessarily members of this class); thus you don’t need to waste time summarizing their arguments.

Suggested Steps:

  1. Look over the rubric below that I will use to evaluate your essay.
  2. Reread and annotate both texts; reread and annotate this prompt.
  3. Brainstorm connections/differences between Edelman and Montaigne. Look at the larger issues/questions/concerns both raise. Make a list of points you want to raise in your essay. Decide what order you want to put the points in. Decide on a tentative thesis.
  4. Write your first draft. Like learning, writing is a process. If you are not accustomed to writing multiple drafts of an essay, this is a good place to develop this important routine. If this is something you already do regularly, here you will get more practice.
  5. Put your draft away.
  6. Read over your draft; get feedback from others. Annotate your draft. Reread your annotations of Montaigne and Edelman and brainstorming notes. Reread Montaigne and Edelman to see if you discover anything new you want to add to your essay. Reread this prompt. Decide what revisions you want to make to your essay. Revise accordingly.
  7. Repeat steps 5 and 6 as necessary.
  8. Construct your final draft. Make sure to proofread your essay carefully before you turn it in.

RUBRIC / 9-10: Outstanding / 8: Effective / 7: Competent / 6: Needs Improvement / 0-5: Failing
Argument / Effectively and insightfully develops a point of view on the issue and demonstrates outstanding critical thinking, using clearly appropriate examples, reasons, and other evidence to support its position / Effectively develops a point of view on the issue and demonstrates critical thinking, using generally appropriate examples, reasons, and other evidence to support its position / Develops a point of view on the issue and demonstrates some critical thinking, using some examples, reasons, and other evidence to support its position / Develops a point of view on the issue that is vague or seriously limited; demonstrates weak critical thinking; and/or provides inappropriate or insufficient examples, reasons or other evidence to support its position / Does not develop a point of view and/or misunderstands the prompt and/or fundamentally misunderstands the readings
Organization / Is well organized and clearly focused, demonstrating clear coherence and smooth progression of ideas / Is well organized and focused, demonstrating coherence and progression of ideas / Is generally organized and focused, although it may demonstrate some minor lapses in coherence and progression of ideas / Is poorly organized and/or focused, or demonstrates serious problems with coherence or progression of ideas / Organization makes no sense; demonstrates serious problems with coherence or progression of ideas.
Use of language / Exhibits skillful use of language, using a varied, accurate, and apt vocabulary / Exhibits facility in the use of language, using appropriate vocabulary / Exhibits adequate but inconsistent facility in the use of language, using generally appropriate vocabulary / Displays little facility in the use of language, using very limited vocabulary and/or incorrect word choice / Displays little facility in the use of language, using very limited vocabulary and/or incorrect word choice
Writing mechanics / Is free of most errors in grammar, punctuation, spelling, and sentence structure / Is generally free of most errors in grammar, punctuation, spelling, and sentence structure / Has some errors in grammar, punctuation, spelling, and/or sentence structure that do not obscure meaning / Contains pervasive errors in grammar, punctuation, spelling, and sentence structure that interfere with readability and meaning / Contains pervasive errors in grammar, punctuation, spelling, and sentence structure that interfere with readability and meaning
Presentation / The essay is proofread, neatly presented, and follows all the logistical guidelines / The essay is proofread, generally neatly presented, and follows all the logistical guidelines / The essay is poorly proofread, sloppily presented, and/or does not follow all the logistical guidelines / The essay exhibits very poor attention to detail and/or is very sloppy in presentation. / The essay exhibits very poor attention to detail and/or is very sloppy in presentation.

Major Assignments

Subject Matter Assignment: Language Arts

(WebCT Assignment #7)

Post a Position Paper in response to one of the following questions by noon on10/2

Respond toat least three colleagues’ Position Papers/Responses by noon on 10/3

This assignment is designed to enable you to reflect on and write about the reading and our class discussion of it, to get a sense of how your colleagues are responding to the reading, and to dialogue with other class members about the reading. I will evaluate the assignment using the guidelines listed below, and the following criteria: level of engagement with the prompt, with the reading, with class discussion of the reading, and with colleagues’ responses; insightfulness of comments and questions; quality of writing.

Position Paper

  • should be thought-out and revised
  • should make specific references to the text
  • doesn’t have to be authoritative; may reflect your ambiguities, ask questions, or identify problems you have with the text
  • should not merely summarize the reading
  • should be about 500 words long

Responses to Colleagues’ Position Papers/Responses

  • give you the opportunity to engage with other class members’ responses to the text and to generate dialogue about your own responses
  • should be thoughtful and substantial
  • should each be at least a paragraph long

Major Assignments

Subject Matter Assignment: Arts (about 4 double-spaced typed pages)

(WebCT Assignment #7)

Post review on WebCT by noon on 10/31

Attend and write a review of one CSUN-sponsored arts eventthat takes place during the Fall 2007 semester prior to the 10th week of classes. You may attend a theatre performance, music concert, dance recital, ballet, opera, or gallery exhibit. There may be a small admission charge for some events. Imagine that your review will be published in a news magazine for elementary school teachers. Your review might include responses to some of the points/questions listed below. However, be sure that it reads like a coherent review rather than a mechanical list of responses to these points.

  • Give date, time, and location of event, as well as a brief description of it
  • Explain what you see as the point of this event and how this point was communicated. Do you think the event effectively achieves its goals?
  • What, if anything, did you notice or observe about other members of the “audience”? For example, was the theatre full, did people seem involved or interested, were the attendees diverse in age, gender, dress or were they a homogeneous group?
  • Could you use this event as part of a lesson for children and, if so, what elements would you emphasize? If not, why not?
  • What impressed or affected you the most, in what way, and why?
  • How did any written texts support the production? (e.g., director's notes, gallery captions, website, etc.)
  • Art occurs in a context--what social/cultural/historical/political/economic elements contribute to and/or affect this event?
  • How much of this art event do the California State Standards speak to or address?
  • How did attending the event change or not change your understanding of yourself, someone else, or the world around you?

In responding to your event, avoid general statements that are not supported with reasons or examples. Statements such as "I like the play," or "I didn’t like the concert" are useless opinions unless you explain why.

Additional Information/Tips:

  • You will need to access the CSUNCenter for the Visual and Performing Arts ( call 818-677-2488, or visit the box office in the Student Union) and explore the different events scheduled in the areas of theatre, music, dance and visual arts.
  • If you attend an event that you would like to recommend, please do so on our WebCT “Main” discussion forum. Other class members will surely appreciate hearing about something worth seeing.
  • Read any background or explanatory material associated with the event. Items such as program notes, lobby displays, exhibit captions, and websites can enhance your experience and broaden your understanding of the event.

Major Assignments

Subject Matter Assignment: Science

(WebCT Assignment #11)

Post PPT presentation on WebCT by noon on 11/14/07

Individually or collaboratively with one or more of your experiment group members create a PowerPoint (PPT) presentation that serves as the lab report for your energy experiment. You should plan on making roughly 7 slides. Below you will find suggestions of what to include on the slides.

The science experiment and the use of PPT to write up your lab report help us meet two major goals:

  1. Increase your familiarity and understanding of the methods of scientific inquiry by constructing and carrying out an experiment relating to kinetic energy transfer.
  2. Help you meet the California State Technology Proficiency requirements by creating a PPT presentation as your laboratory write-up.

Remember that you are using PPT, a medium that focuses on graphic representation and artful presentation, so there is an aesthetic dimension to the assignment: your slides should be easy to “navigate” and their set up should help someone understand what you did and what you learned. Part of your objective here is to learn to be able to take advantage of the graphic display that this kind of software provides. No single slide should have too many words; slides are not like pages in a lab book. They’re more like posters. If you are not familiar or comfortable with PPT, go to the course website and click on the PowerPoint resources in the FAQ section.

If you’d like more information on scientific method, experimental errors, recording data, and how to represent the data on a graph, you might want to look at this site:

Slide Suggestions:

  • Slide 1: Title Slide

Your name(s), your class (section, time, and professor), and a title for the lab write-up.

  • Slide 2: Overview

An overview of the experiment, including a description of the purpose of the lab, a statement of your hypothesis, and any other background information you feel is appropriate.

  • Slide 3 :Methodology 1: Materials

An annotated list of the materials you used in the experiment.

  • Slide 4: Methodology 2: Procedure

Describe how the hypothesis you give on slide 2 was tested. This slide could also answer questions such as the following: What did you set up? What did you do? Why? This could be a good place to discuss how you manipulated your independent variable to determine its effect on the dependent one, and how you controlled for other phenomena.

  • Slide 5: Results 1: Raw Data Table

Table with your raw data. Any other observations you made could appear here, including behaviors on the parts of the balls or other materials that you didn’t expect.