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 Research & Design for Thesis Students
Course Number: STP 850
Term: Fall 2014

Daniel G. Van Slyke, S.T.L., Ph.D.

Skype name: quodvultdeus3

1. COURSE DESCRIPTION

This course introduces students to the tools, skills, and stages of serious scholarly research in the theological sciences. The ultimate goal of the course is to invite you, the student, into the research process for studying theology, so that you will become a practitioner and an insider. You will learn to appreciate the sources of theology, to find those sources, to critically appropriate those sources, and to make a contribution to theology on the basis of those sources. Finally, you will develop an understanding of theological research as a community process by developing your research in collaboration with other members of the course.

2. ENVISIONED LEARNING OUTCOMES

The ultimate outcome of this course is the production of a high-quality academic research paper. In order to achieve this end, students will learn to use and demonstrate the ability to research with the following tools:

  • Reference Works
  • Scholarly Articles
  • Scholarly Books
  • Internet Resources
  • Online Book Catalogues
  • Online Subscriptions Databases

Students will demonstrate the ability to produce useful, well-formatted, and high-quality versions of each of the following:

  • Research Question
  • Bibliography
  • Critical Review
  • Paper Outline
  • First or Introductory Paragraph
  • Final or Concluding Paragraph
  • Footnotes
  • First Draft of Paper
  • Peer Review
  • Complete Research Paper

3. REQUIRED READINGS and RESOURCES:

  • No textbooks are required for this course. Upon identifying each student’s specific research interest, the professor may strongly recommend obtaining a reference work pertaining to that area of research.
  • Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Instruction On the Ecclesial Vocation of the Theologian Donum veritatis. 24 May 1990.
  • Pope Leo XIII. Encyclical on the Restoration of Christian Philosophy Aeterni patris. 4 August 1879.
  • Holy Apostles College and Seminary. Guidelines for Academic Papers. At Holy Apostles College and Seminary, www.holyapostles.edu.

4. COURSE REQUIREMENTS (GRADED ASSIGNMENTS)

  • Discussion Postings: 30% – 3 points each, times 10
    • Note that discussion contributions are welcomed but not required during Weeks 6, 8, 9, and 15.
    • The discussion for Week 14 is combined with the discussion for Week 13.
  • Research Assignments:
    • Week 2, (3%): Research Question
    • Week 4, (3%): Tutorial Session with Librarian
    • Week 5, (4%): Reference Work Report
    • Week 6, (4%): Report on Book Catalog Search
    • Week 7, (5%): Report on Database Search
    • Week 8, (5%): Outline
    • Week 9, (5%): Bibliography
    • Week 10, (7%): Critical Review
    • Week 11, (4%): Formatted Footnotes
    • Week 12, (4%): Introductory Paragraph
    • Week 13, (8%): First Draft
    • Week 14, (4%): Peer Review
    • Week 15, (14%): Final Paper

5. COURSE SCEDULE

Week 1: The Sources of Theological Research

Readings:

Holy Apostles College and Seminary, Guidelines for Academic Papers.

Activities:

Read the assigned readings.

Review the materials provided in the Week 1 lessons folder.

Discussion: On the discussion board for Week 1, post a summary of the types of sources that are addressed in the Guidelines and in the materials provided by the professor. Be sure to discuss the difference between primary sources and secondary sources. Respond to the postings of other students, for a minimum total of 3 postings.

Week 2: Narrowing the Focus: Developing the Research Question

Activities:

Read the assigned readings.

Review the materials provided in the Week 2 lessons folder.

Discussion: On the discussion board for week 2, during the first few days of the week, post your Research Question, along with a description of why it interests you or what you hope to accomplish with your research. The professor will respond with recommendations and comments, and then you must respond to the professor’s recommendations and comments. Also respond to the Research Question of at least one other student, for a minimum total of 3 postings.

Research Assignment:

What topic would you like to pursue in this research assignment? After pinpointing your topic, you must develop a Research Question that expresses in one sentence the issue that you wish to explore in your research.

Note that your Research Question will develop as your research progresses. In other words, you likely will make several changes to your Research Question. Therefore the most recent version of your Research Question must be placed at the top of every research assignment you submit from this point up to and including the First Draft of Week 12.

Week 3: The Role of the Theologian and the Philosopher

Readings:

For theology students: Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Instruction On the Ecclesial Vocation of the Theologian Donum veritatis. 24 May 1990.

For philosophy students: Pope Leo XIII. Encyclical on the Restoration of Christian Philosophy Aeterni patris. 4 August 1879.

Activities:

Read the assigned readings.

Review the materials provided in the Week 3 lessons folder.

Discussion: Reflect on your proposed research question in light of the Donum veritatis. How does Donum veritatis help you to understand your role as a theologian? How does Donum veritatis help you to understand and appreciate the sources of theology? Respond to the postings of other students, for a minimum total of 3 postings.

Week 4: Using the Library from a Distance

Activities:

Schedule and attend a tutorial with the librarian of Holy Apostles College and Seminary.

Discussion: On the discussion board for week 4, post a description of what you learned in your tutorial with the librarian. In your post, highlight any tool or tools discussed during your tutorial that will be especially helpful for your research.

In a distinct post, share with the class one particularly helpful resource in your field of study that you discovered outside of your tutorial with the librarian. This resource may be online or in print, and it need not be directly related to the research you are conducting for this class.

Respond to the posts of other students, for a minimum total of 3 postings.

Research Assignment:

By the end of week 4, you must personally consult a HACS librarian for instructions and guidance on how to use the databases and catalogues that are accessible to HACS students and faculty. You must use HACS library resources for many of the assignments in the coming week, and should return to the library resources as your research progresses.

Week 5: Using Reference Works

Activities:

Review the materials provided in the Week 5 lessons folder.

Discussion: On the discussion board for week 5, during the first half of the week, post your Reference Work Report. The professor will post comments and recommendations, and you must in turn respond to the professor’s post. Respond also to the posting of at least one other student, for a minimum total of 3 postings.

Research Assignment:

Find and read entries on your topic from at least two appropriate dictionaries or encyclopedias. Submit a Reference Work Report including (1) a the entries you read and (2) a bibliography of works that will help you in your research drawn from the bibliographies of those entries. In other words, you will mine the bibliographies of the dictionary and/or encyclopedia articles in order to find works to pursue in your own bibliography. Finally, include in your report (3) a reformulated research question if your initial reading in the field leads you to a reformulation of your research question. Format all of your sources according to the Guidelines for Academic Papers of Holy Apostles College and Seminary. Place the latest version of your Research Question at the head of the assignment. This helps the professor to help you as you pursue your research.

Week 6: Searching Book Catalogs

Activities:

Read the study notes entitled, “What Is a Large Research Library,” posted in the Week 6 lessons folder, before conducting your book catalog search.

Discussion: On the discussion board for Week 6, post your Report on Book Catalog Search. The professor will provide comments and recommendations regarding your search, and you must respond to the professor’s comments by revisiting your search as recommended. Further posts on the discussion board are welcome but not required.

Research Assignment:

Search the book catalogue first of the HACS library and then of one other large theological library for books pertaining to your research question. In a log (this can be in bullet points; it need not be a formally written paper), take note of the keywords and the parameters of your searches, and of how many results you found for each search. Find at least five books pertaining to your research question. Submit the log describing your search and the pertinent books that you found. The Format all of your sources according to the Guidelines for Academic Papers of Holy Apostles College and Seminary. Place the latest version of your Research Question at the head of the assignment. Read the assigned readings.

Week 7: Searching Databases

Activities:

Review the materials provided in the Week 7 lessons folder.

Discussion: On the discussion board for Week 7, during the first half of the week, post your Report on Database Search. The professor will respond with comments and recommendations, and you must reply to the professor’s post. Respond also to the database search of at least one other student, for a minimum total of 3 postings.

Research Assignment:

Search the EBSCO databases available through the HACS library. As you do, keep a log noting the keywords and the parameters of your search, as well as the number of hits that each search returned. Use the search to find at least five journal articles and three essays in edited collections for your bibliography. Submit the log describing your search and the essays and articles that you found. Format all of your sources according to the Guidelines for Academic Papers of Holy Apostles College and Seminary. Place the latest version of your Research Question at the head of the assignment.

Week 8: Outlines

Activities:

Review any materials provided in the Week 8 lessons folder.

Discussion: On the discussion board for Week 8 submit your Outline. The professor will provide feedback on this assignment, and you must then respond to the professor’s feedback by implementing any recommend changes. You are welcome but not required to post further contributions on the discussion board.

Research Assignment:

Prepare an Outline of your paper. The final paper need not exactly follow the outline here presented. Place the latest version of your research question at the head of the assignment.

Week 9: Bibliographies

Activities:

Review any materials provided in the Week 9 lessons folder.

On the discussion board for Week 09, post your Bibliography. The professor or the T.A. or both will submit comments and emendations, and you must revise your Bibliography and post the revised version.

Discussion: Posting a minimum of 3 times this week is not required. You are invited but not required, to ask questions about bibliographical formatting and related issues on the weekly discussion board.

Research Assignment:

Incorporating works that you have found in the previous assignments and any feedback on those assignments, compile a bibliography for your research paper that includes dictionary/encyclopedia entries, journal articles, essays, and books. Divide the bibliography into at least two sections: (1) primary sources; and (2) secondary sources. Format all of your sources according to the Guidelines for Papers, Projects, and Theses of Holy Apostles College and Seminary.

Place the latest version of your Research Question at the head of the assignment.

Beneath your Research Question, indicate the secondary source on which you will write your Critical Review. The critical review must be written on a secondary source, which can be a book, article, or essay.

At this point, you should find a way to obtain any sources you must consult that are not available locally.

Week 10: Critical Reviews

Activities:

Review any materials provided in the Week 10 lessons folder.

Discussion: On the discussion board for Week 10, post your Critical Review. Read and respond to the Critical Reviews of at least two other students, for a minimum total of 3 postings.

Research Assignment:

Write a 500-word Critical Review of the essay, article, or book that you have chosen. You must address all of these topics:

  • Author. Who is the author?
  • Thesis. What is the author’s thesis?
  • Purpose. What is the author’s purpose or goal (stated or unstated)?
  • Sources. What sources does the author use?
  • Argument. Is the author’s argumentation sound (in other words, are there any leaps in logic, guiding assumptions, etc.)?
  • Bias. Does the author betray any noteworthy biases or presuppositions that affect the argument?
  • Style. What types of rhetoric does the author use to convince the reader?
  • Audience. What is the author’s audience, whether intended or unintended? What sort of person or researcher might benefit most from this work?

A close reading must demonstrate thorough appropriation of the work chosen along with insight and, where appropriate, criticism. Merely summarizing the work is insufficient. Moreover, the student should take care that summarizing the work, if that is desirable, does not take up too much time, effort, and space.

Note that the topics you should consider when critically reviewing another scholar’s work are roughly equivalent to the factors that you should take into account when writing your own scholarly research.

Remember to place the latest version of your Research Question at the head of your Critical Review.

Week 11: Formatting Footnotes

Activities:

Review the instructions for formatting footnotes in the Guidelines for Papers, Projects, and Theses.

Discussion: On the discussion board for Week 11, submit your Formatted Footnotes. The professor will provide feedback on your footnotes, and you must then respond to the professor’s feedback. Also read the professor’s feedback on the footnotes of other students, and respond with any questions you may have about formatting footnotes. Be sure you post at least 3 times on the discussion board.

Research Assignment:

Submit Sample Footnotes for your paper including at least one instance of each of the following: an essay in an edited collection; an article in a journal; a monograph; a primary source; a work in translation. Also include a second or subsequent reference from at least one of each of these types of sources (for a minimum total of ten footnotes). Footnotes MUST be formatted according to the Guidelines for Academic Papers of Holy Apostles College and Seminary.

Week 12: Introductory Paragraphs

Activities:

Review any materials provided in the Week 12 lessons folder.

Discussion: On the discussion board for Week 12 submit your Introductory Paragraph.

Research Assignment:

Write a draft of the Introductory Paragraph or First Paragraph of your paper. The paragraph must clearly indicate the following: (1) the research topic and question; (2) the thesis or purpose; (3) the main sources of the argument or discussion; and (4) some sort of sketch of the outline of the paper. Be as concise as possible. This is not a final version of your introductory paragraph, but a first draft. Place the latest version of your Research Question at the head of the assignment.

Week 13: First Drafts

Activities:

Review the materials provided in the Week 13 lessons folder.

Discussion: On the discussion board for Week 13-14, submit the First Draft of your paper. Read and provide constructive recommendations on the drafts of at least one other student (whose First Draft you have NOT been assigned for the formal Peer Review), and respond to the comments that your fellow students provide on your own draft.

Note that the same discussion board will be used for both Week 13 and 14. This serves the purpose of keeping all conversations on the First Drafts in the same forum.

Research Assignment:

Compose the First Draft of your paper, in accordance with the specifications for the Final Paper. The better and more complete your draft is, the higher will be the grade for both the draft and the final product. Note that the professor will not provide extensive feedback on the paper drafts; for constructive criticism on the drafts, you will be dependent upon your peers in accordance with the next assignment. Place the latest version of your research question at the head of the assignment.

Week 14: Peer Review

Activities:

Review the materials provided in the Week 14 lessons folder.

Discussion: On the discussion board for Week 13-14, post your Peer Review of a fellow student’s First Draft. Respond (not defensively, but in a spirit of collaboration) to the Peer Review of your own First Draft.

Research Assignment:

Write a Peer Review of the First Draft which you have been assigned. Many of the questions you should address when writing a Peer Review are the same questions you asked of the source you reviewed for the Critical Review assignment. The Peer Review must point out strengths and weaknesses, and include concrete proposals for improving the draft in view of producing the final paper. The Peer Review should take the form of tracked emendations and comments inserted into the original text of the draft. Strive to be as helpful as possible, and therefore as specific as possible, in your Peer Review.

Week 15: Final Papers

Activities:

Complete the revisions of your Final Paper in accordance with feedback received from the instructor and your peer reviewer. Submit the Final Paper as an attachment to a post in the Week 15 discussion board.

You are invited but not required to discuss Final Papers on the Week 15 discussion board.

Research Assignment:

The paper must be written according to the following specifications: approximate length of 15-20 pages; double spaced; 1 inch margins; 12 point font; minimum of 12 (twelve) sources consulted with appropriate footnotes and a bibliography, formatted according to the Guidelines for Papers, Projects, and Theses of Holy Apostles College and Seminary. Dictionary or encyclopedia articles can be used but do not count as one of the sources required unless cleared beforehand with the professor. Submit your paper as a Word file.

6. EVALUATION

Students who have difficulty with research and composition are encouraged to pursue assistance with the Online Writing Lab (available at http://www.holyapostles.edu/owl).

GRADING SCALE:

A 94-100; A- 90-93; B+ 87-89; B 84-86; B- 80-83; C+ 77-79; C 74-76; C- 70-73 60-69; F 59 and below

Grading Rubric for the Major Papers and Discussion Board (DB) Postings

0 pts. – Paper
0 pts. – DB Posting;

3 pts. – Paper
2 pts. – DB Posting;

6 pts. – Paper
4 pts. – DB Posting;

9 pts. – Paper
6 pts. – DB Posting;

12 pts. – Paper
8 pts. – DB Posting;

15 pts. – Paper
10 pts. – DB Posting;

 

CONTENT

Absence of Understanding

Analysis shows no awareness of the discipline or its methodologies as the relate to the topic

Lack of Understanding

Analysis seems to misunderstand some basic concepts of the discipline or lacks ability to articulate them.

Inadequate understanding

Analysis is sometimes unclear in understanding or articulating concepts of the discipline.

Adequate understanding

Analysis demonstrates an understanding of basic concepts of the discipline but could express them with greater clarity.

Solid Understanding

Analysis demonstrates a clear understanding and articulation of concepts with some sense of their wider implications.

Insightful understanding

Analysis clearly demonstrates an understanding and articulation of concepts of the discipline as they relate to the topic; highlights connec-tions to other con-cepts; integrates concepts into wider contexts.

 

 

RESEARCH

Missing Research

Paper shows no evidence of research: citation of sources missing.

Inadequate research and/or documentation

Over-reliance on few sources; spotty documentation of facts in text; pattern of citation errors.

Weak research and/or documentation

Inadequate number or quality of sources; many facts not referenced; several errors in citation format.

Adequate research and documentation but needs improvement

Good choice of sources but could be improved with some additions or better selection; did not always cite sources; too many citation errors.

Solid research and documentation

A number of relevant scholarly sources revealing solid research; sources appropriately referenced in paper; only a few minor citation errors

Excellent critical research and documentation

Critically selected and relevant scholarly sources demonstrating extensive, in-depth research; sources skillfully incorporated into paper at all necessary points; all citations follow standard bibliographic format

 

WRITING & EXPRESSION

Incomplete writing

Analysis is only partially written or completely misses the topic

Writing difficult to understand, serious improvement needed

Analysis fails to address the topic; confusing organization or development; little elaboration of position; insufficient control of sentence structure and vocabulary; unacceptable number of errors in grammar, mechanics, and usage

Episodic writing, a mix of strengths and weaknesses.

Analysis noticeably neglects or misinterprets the topic; simplistic or repetitive treatment, only partially-internalized; weak organization and development, some meandering; simple sentences, below-level diction; distracting errors in grammar, mechanics, and usage

Acceptable writing, but could use some sharpening of skill

Analysis is an uneven response to parts of the topic; somewhat conventional treatment; satisfactory organization, but more development needed; adequate syntax and diction, but could use more vigor; overall control of grammar, mechanics, and usage, but some errors

Solid writing, with something interesting to say.

Analysis is an adequate response to the topic; some depth and complexity in treatment; persuasive organization and development, with suitable reasons and examples; level-appropriate syntax and diction; mastery of grammar, mechanics, and usage, with hardly any error

Command-level writing, making a clear impression

Analysis is a thorough response to the topic; thoughtful and insightful examination of issues; compelling organization and development ; superior syntax and diction; error-free grammar, mechanics, and usage

 

COMMUNITY INTERACTION (50-word response)

Inadequate response

Response merely provides laudatory encouragement for original post, e.g., “Excellent post! You really have thought of something there.”

Poor response

Response misses the point of the original posting

Weak response

Response summarizes original posting to which it responds

Acceptable response

Response makes a contribution to the posting to which it responds

Individually-conscious contributory response

Response makes a contribution to the posting to which it responds and fosters its development

Community-conscious contributory response

Response makes a contribution to the learning community and fosters its development

 

7. DISABILITIES ACCOMMODATIONS POLICY

Holy Apostles College & Seminary is committed to the goal of achieving equal educational opportunities and full participation in higher education for persons with disabilities who qualify for admission to the College. Students enrolled in online courses who have documented disabilities requiring special accommodations should contact Bob Mish, the Director of Online Student Affairs, at rmish@holyapostles.edu or 860-632-3015. In all cases, reasonable accommodations will be made to ensure that all students with disabilities have access to course materials in a mode in which they can receive them. Students who have technological limitations (e.g., slow Internet connection speeds in convents) are asked to notify their instructors the first week of class for alternative means of delivery.

8. ACADEMIC HONESTY POLICY

Students at Holy Apostles College & Seminary are expected to practice academic honesty.

Avoiding Plagiarism

In its broadest sense, plagiarism is using someone else's work or ideas, presented or claimed as your own. At this stage in your academic career, you should be fully conscious of what it means to plagiarize. This is an inherently unethical activity because it entails the uncredited use of someone else's expression of ideas for another's personal advancement; that is, it entails the use of a person merely as a means to another person’s ends.

Students:

  • Should identify the title, author, page number/webpage address, and publication date of works when directly quoting small portions of texts, articles, interviews, or websites.
  • Students should not copy more than two paragraphs from any source as a major component of papers or projects.
  • Should appropriately identify the source of information when paraphrasing (restating) ideas from texts, interviews, articles, or websites.
  • Should follow the Holy Apostles College and Seminary Guidelines for Papers, Projects, and Theses (available on the Online Writing Lab’s website at http://www.holyapostles.edu/owl/resources).

Consequences of Academic Dishonesty:

Because of the nature of this class, academic dishonesty is taken very seriously. Any student who plagiarizes in Dr Van Slyke’s class will fail the class. Students participating in academic dishonesty may be removed from the course and from the program.

9. ATTENDANCE POLICY

Even though you are not required to be logged in at any precise time or day, you are expected to login several times during each week. Because this class is being taught entirely in a technology-mediated forum, it is important to actively participate each week in the course. In a traditional classroom setting for a 3-credit course, students would be required, per the federal standards, to be in class three 50-minute sessions (or 2.5 hours a week) and prepare for class discussions six 50-minute sessions (or 5 hours) a week. Expect to devote at least nine 50-minute sessions (or 7.5 quality hours) a week to this course. A failure on the student’s part to actively participate in the life of the course may result in a reduction of the final grade.

10. ATTENDANCE POLICY

Even though you are not required to be logged in at any precise time or day, you are expected to login several times during each week. Because this class is being taught entirely in a technology-mediated forum, it is important to actively participate each week in the course. In a traditional classroom setting for a 3-credit course, students would be required to be in class 3 hours a week and prepare for class discussions 4.5 hours a week. Expect to devote at least 7 quality hours a week to this course. A failure on the student’s part to actively participate in the life of the course may result in a reduction of the final grade.

11. INCOMPLETE POLICY

An Incomplete is a temporary grade assigned at the discretion of the faculty member. It is typically allowed in situations in which the student has satisfactorily completed major components of the course and has the ability to finish the remaining work without re-enrolling, but has encountered extenuating circumstances, such as illness, that prevent his or her doing so prior to the last day of class.

To request an incomplete, distance-learning students must first download a copy of the Incomplete Request Form. This document is located within the Shared folder of the Files tab in Populi. Secondly, students must fill in any necessary information directly within the PDF document. Lastly, students must send their form to their professor via email for approval. “Approval” should be understood as the professor responding to the student’s email in favor of granting the “Incomplete” status of the student.

Students receiving an Incomplete must submit the missing course work by the end of the sixth week following the semester in which they were enrolled. An incomplete grade (I) automatically turns into the grade of “F” if the course work is not completed.

Students who have completed little or no work are ineligible for an incomplete and must receive the grade that they have earned. Students who feel they are in danger of failing the course due to an inability to complete course assignments should withdraw from the course.

A “W” (Withdrawal) will appear on the student’s permanent record for any course dropped after the end of the first week of a semester to the end of the third week. A “WF” (Withdrawal/Fail) will appear on the student’s permanent record for any course dropped after the end of the third week of a semester and on or before the Friday before the last week of the semester.

12. ABOUT YOUR PROFESSOR

Daniel G. Van Slyke, S.T.L., Ph.D. is Associate Dean of Online Learning at Holy Apostles College and Seminary. He has taught and researched at Caldwell College in New Jersey, the Liturgical Institute of the University of St Mary of the Lake in Illinois, Ave Maria College in Michigan, Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St Louis, Missouri, the University of Dallas in Texas, Catholic Distance University, and the programs of formation for permanent diaconate candidates in St Louis and in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Holding certificates in online teaching through the Catholic Distance Learning Network, Dr Van Slyke also helps to train other theological teaching faculty in the use of pedagogical technology.

With degrees in historical theology (Ph.D., Saint Louis University), systematic sacramental theology (S.T.L., Mundelein Seminary), and moral theology (M.A., University of Dallas), Dr Van Slyke has made numerous contributions to scholarship. His articles have appeared in various venues, including Antiphon: A Journal for Liturgical Renewal, Dumbarton Oaks Papers, Ephemerides Liturgicae, The Josephinum Journal of Theology, New Blackfriars, Providence, Usus Antiquior, The New Catholic Encyclopedia (2nd ed. and Supplement), and The New Westminster Dictionary of Church History. In 2010, Ligouri Press published his popular book, Liturgy 101: Sacraments and Sacramentals.

An active member in several professional organizations, Dr Van Slyke has delivered numerous papers at scholarly conferences and workshops. For eight years he sat as an elected member on the board of directors of the Society for Catholic Liturgy. For five years he served on the editorial staff of Antiphon: A Journal for Liturgical Renewal, and he currently serves on the advisory boards of the journals Ephemerides Liturgicae and Seminary Journal.

Dr. Van Slyke lives in the Dallas-Ft Worth area of the great state of Texas with his wife and their seven children. He is pictured in the photo above with, from left to right: John Andrew, Damian Augustine, Mary Magdalene, Mary Morningstar, and Jerome Maximilian.

(860) 632-3010