Aside from the Baase text, all the required readings for the course are listed on line at http://www.ics.uci.edu/~kay/courses/131/s04readings.html. Most of the readings are available on line; others may be reproduced in a readings packet available at the ECC. For each reading listed (not counting the Baase text), you will write a notebook entry that identifies the article, summarizes it, and gives your reaction to it, as described in more detail below. You will collect these entries and submit them periodically for review. It will help us focus on the content of your notebooks if you follow the formatting requirements at the end of this document, so please read them with care.
We provide quite a bit of detailed advice below, but an excellent notebook can consist of entries that are each shorter than half a page. We'd like you to do some careful reading and serious thinking, but you don't need to do a lot of writing for each notebook entry.
Advice on reading and responding: As you read each article, we ask you to look critically at the material being presented. This doesn't mean you need to criticize the article or author; it means you need to form your own opinion about it rather than just accepting what the author says.
First, identify what the author is trying to do. Does the article attempt to persuade, to inform, to teach, or something else? Most of these articles were not written for students of computer science; who is the author's intended audience? Then, in your reaction, say whether you think the author did a good job; do you think the article has the intended effect on the intended audience? Below are some common kinds of articles, though the list isn't exclusive:
Doing an abbreviated stakeholder analysis--not just identifying the main parties affected but also considering what each party wants and why--may also help you address the kinds of issues and questions indicated above.
Article summaries: When you summarize an article, don't rehash every detail. Take the time to identify the highlights and the main ideas. Although the occasional pithy phrase may be worth repeating verbatim, keep the quoting to a minimum and try to restate the key ideas in your own words--this is a way for you to make sure you fully understand the issues in the article and any position the author has taken. A paragraph or two of summary should be plenty, even for the longer articles, so long as you remember that length isn't equivalent to substance or quality. Thomas Jefferson once said, quoting Blaise Pascal, "I'd have written you a shorter letter, but I didn't have the time." It takes some time and thought to distill out the essence, but it's precisely that effort that produces the greatest understanding.
Sometimes a series of articles addresses the same situation. In those cases, your summaries for the later articles can just identify what's different about them: Do they provide more recent information? Do they have a different perspective? You don't have to repeat the similarities.
Article reactions: Besides answering the questions listed above, your reaction can include what you learned from the article, whether you agreed or disagreed (with the facts stated, with the arguments made, with the author's core values), how it relates to your own experience (if it does), or whether you found the writing easy to follow. Try to relate the article to the broad theme of the articles in the same section of the readings. Feel free to say that the article didn't fit well, wasn't easy to understand, or didn't teach you anything if that's your opinion. These are guidelines and suggestions; we do not expect you to answer every question for every article. A paragraph or two of thoughtful reaction is enough.
Grading: The notebooks will be graded on a check, check-plus, check-minus basis. A comprehensible minimum response as described above should earn a check, which counts about 85%. To earn a check, you need to convince us that you've read each article, understood it, and thought about it enough to form an opinion about it. We do expect you to read and react to all the readings on the list; omissions will decrease your score
We will not grade the notebooks specifically for English mechanics, but where mechanical problems get in the way of our understanding your entries, your score will be lower. In your notebook, you may include text from an article in that article's review without quoting it meticulously, but too much copying from the text (rather than summarizing in your own words) diminishes the benefit of doing the notebook and may lower your score. You still must attribute any other outside information you include and of course you can't use other students' summaries or reactions in place of your own.
Format of notebook entries: It will help us handle the large volume of notebooks if you take care to follow precisely the formatting requirements below. Each notebook entry must include these parts in this order:
Format of entire notebook: Please follow these overall requirements:
"Why do we have to do these?": We appreciate that writing these notebooks may seem like busywork. However, there is much more to them than that. By articulating the summary and your reaction to each article, you will understand it and remember it better than you would if you simply read it and went on. The notebook also gives you a relatively pressure-free way to practice reducing your thoughts to written prose, practice everyone can benefit from. Finally, you may bring a paper copy of your notebook (but not the articles themselves) with you to the midterm and final exams; if your summaries and analyses are accurate and thorough, they will help you answer the exam questions. Students often ask whether they can make changes or additions to the notebooks they turned in, and bring the changed version to the exam. This is fine, although of course it won't change the grade you received on the notebook.
Due dates and submission details: Since we expect you to keep up with the reading and write your reactions as soon as you finish each article, you should be ready to turn in this electronic course notebook at any time. The due dates for the notebook installments are shown on the course syllabus; other details about paper and electronic submission are available on a separate sheet.