Self-Guided Skills Development

Due Date: Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Submission Instructions: Fork Github repo, edit, and create pull request

Assignment Description:

To begin, fork my private Github repo called skills into your own private version. Create a copy of the template folder but rename it "yourlastname-skills." You will create a pull request when finished with the assignment.

This video demonstrates forking, as well as pull requests: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yr6IzOGoMsQ

I have designed this assignment to provide a strong foundation for this course. It emphasizes the core literacies and habits of mind that will help you throughout the spring. Foremost, I want you to engage in critical thinking about your learning process. To do so, you must take partial ownership of your learning in a way that you may not have done before. Second, I want you to develop your interests into areas of focus for later this semester. Think of this assignment as an apprenticeship in the art of learning to learn. Reflecting on how you learn will make skills acquisition easier and more rewarding.

Over twenty hours of deliberate practice, you will build core competencies for the course. Some will pick up the core skill sets faster than others. Some will be more honest in their reflections. Most will work through at least a few errors and frustrations. But all will move closer to the complexities and joys of communicating with data.

To achieve an A on this assignment, you must complete the following components:

Component Due Date, Submission Method Grading Scheme Percent of Total Grade
Preliminary Survey Completed in class on January 10 Pass/fail (see policies ). 5
Progress Questionnaire ( LINK ) Completed in class on January 17 Pass/fail (see policies ) 5
Core Competencies Checklist Turned in with final (use template) Pass/fail (see policies ). 10
Learning log Turned in with final (use template) Scored on 100-point scale (see rubric ) 15
Critical Analysis Turned in with final (1200-1800 words, sections described below) Scored on 100-point scale (see rubric ) 60

Emphasis on Self-Examination, Not Completion:

Your primary goal should be giving a thorough, accurate account of your experience. I will not penalize students for making less progress than their peers. Two things, though, will reduce your grade:

1. If you are not pushing yourself.

2. If you provide an inflated picture of your progress.

What I mean is: show me you put in genuine effort, and do not say that you did something that you did not do.

Learning Log:

I have provided a template for this component. The log sheet asks you to account for how you spent your time and to reflect on your choices. Visit this log for at least a few minutes every time you sit down to work. It will be the primary instrument by which I measure your engagement. It will also become a valuable source for you when you write your final reflection. Did I mention that you should fill it out as you go? I'm serious. You should fill it out as you go.

Critical Analysis:

Organize your thoughts in three sections.

1. Reflection on process (750-1000 words)

This is your chance to reflect on the assignment as a whole. Sum up and generalize about your experiences. Talk about what worked and what didn't. Talk about time management, tutorials, where you parked yourself to study. Did you use headphones? Did you get advice from your roommate? What would you change if you could start over? Don't just answer these questions one by one. Weave these topics into a narrative of your own.

2. Statement of developing interests (250-500 words)

Here you can focus on linking the past and the future. Sentences like 'when studying X, I began to think a lot about how to do Y' belong in this section. General thoughts on what you would like to find a way to work on belong here as well. 'I'm passionate about climate change,' you might say, 'but I don't know how to link it to digital media.' Speculative connections are just fine. Gushing enthusiasm would be lovely. Pretend you are a Dad driving a car for a field trip who is just rocking out to a song on the radio. That guy doesn't care what you think of him. He's having a great day.

3. Initial goals and work plan for the semester (200-300 words)

In this shorter segment, you will lay out a trajectory for the rest of the semester. There is a bunch of stuff for this section that you won't yet know. That's why it's going to be short.

The initial goals section should be a long paragraph and should address both what and why . As in, 'I'm going to focus on digital maps because I want to do something with roads in the developing world.' You should highlight at least three related interests. It's okay if these change as the semester progresses.

For the the work plan, a bulleted list is just fine. Go through the weekly calendar and flag some items that relate. Mention readings, activities, and assignments that you can use to further your interests. Approximately 10-15 bullet points, minimum and at least two of your initial ideas should be for major assignments down the road. Discuss anything absent from the calendar that you'll have to do on your own. Put a little pressure on yourself to be concrete, but be willing to revise later. The goal is specificity, not finality.