Student Tasks


1. Time Commitment: You should assume that this course will require 12-15 hours per week.


2. Depending on class size, students will be organized into small groups of 3 to 5 students in each. Students will be able to read all the posts, but they will only be able to respond to students in their small group.


Each of the four units of the course will include a Coffee Shop. There will be no small groups in the Coffee Shop. Students may use that for conversations outside the subject matter of the course. If they desire, they may also use it to respond to things said by students in other small groups. Whatever is said in the Coffee shop will be outside the evaluative structure of the course.


3. Each student will be expected to make 1-4 posts addressing the topic of each forum, apart from optional forums which require neither initial posts nor responses. Normally each post should not exceed 350 words.


The initial post by each student will respond to the topic of the forum. It will do so in conversation with the lectures and other readings.

Each student will write a substantive response to two other students in their small group. If there are more than three students in a group, the members of that group are responsible to be sure that everyone in the group receives two responses. The instructor will respond once to the conversation. Each student may respond once to the conversation about their initial post.


To each question each student will do: An Initial post -- respond to two others -- one summary response to the responses -- one response to the instructor if not already included.


Students may read any or all of the posts by others in the course, regardless of their small group. However, students can only reply to students in their own small group.


The limits on the size of posts require careful thought about what needs to be said. They are also necessary for the conversation to be manageable.


The instructor will engage in the conversation once a week, addressing each line of conversation.


4. Write four short papers, one for each unit of the course, not to exceed 350 words each.


The first will describe how the student approaches thinking about what he/she thinks and believes. What is the center in relation to which she/he sees everything?

The other three will interpret the three articles of the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed. See, for example, Luther's explanations in the Small Catechism. Each paper will include three things: a brief statement of the central content in the student's own words, what it means for faith, and why it matters.


These one-page papers must be posted in the appropriate section of the Discussion Board by the beginning of the final week of the unit, so that they can provide a basis for the work work that week.


A final version of these four one-page papers will be presented for evaluation during the final week of the course.


5. Participate in four small group discussions, one during the final week of each unit.


The students in each group will discuss and evaluate how each member of the group approaches the subject and offer suggestions for improving on their short paper.

Students will identify what all can agree on, new insights from other's papers, issues and problems that need thought.


6. Each student will write a major paper not longer than 3500 words. This paper will address their understanding of the central content of the Christian message and will develop a clearly identified thesis. It will combine research and personal reflection. Each student will write a paper, not longer than 3,500 words, stating of the Christian message.


Each student will post a first draft of their paper by the end of the third week of the course.

Why so early? This gives your thinking and work in the course a center that is relatively independent of the course and its material. Second, it means that everything you do in the course will feed into your thinking about and writing your paper.


C.  Some possible steps toward doing this:

Meditate: One possibility is to use the “Jesus Prayer,” the classic Christian mantra: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” Use posture and breathing to focus your mind and consciousness on the words of the prayer. You can overlay it with the prayer that God would help you what is central to the Christian message and why it matters. This should be done in blocks of time that are not shorter than 20 minutes each. You might find it helpful to do this at other times during the course as well.

Is there one word that summarizes/integrates how you understand God, the world, and yourselves? This often helps think about what is central to your understanding of the Christian message.


Summarize how you understand that one word in a single sentence

List the topics you need to discuss in order to explain this statement.

Identify the things you are relatively clear about and can develop easily, and those things that require further exploration before you can say much about them.


Your paper should center on what you know, not on what you do not know.

The final draft of the paper is due Tuesday of the final week of the course.


Posts and responses relative to the First Draft will follow the pattern of other forums. Responses to the final draft are encouraged, but optional.

Read and respond to the papers of two other students. Each response will indicate the one most helpful aspect of the paper, state the most significant issue that needs to be addressed, and ask one question of the author. The author will respond to the two student responses and questions, as well as to the instructor's response and questions.


7. Read at least 900 pages of material related to three or more different contexts, including one's own. The reader for the course satisfies this requirement. An annotated bibliography covering everything read for the course is required with the paper.



Copyright © 2014 Duane A. Priebe