This Course at MIT

Course Overview

This page focuses on the course 21W.015 Writing and Rhetoric: Writing About Sports as it was taught by Dr. Karen Boiko in Fall 2013.

This course was one in a suite of introductory writing subjects, aimed primarily at freshmen. The course aimed to improve students’ communication skills by having them continually write and rewrite pieces, along with editing their peers’ writing. The curriculum focused on reading, discussing, writing, and giving oral presentations on issues related to sports and their role as a significant part of American culture.

Course Outcomes

Course Goals for Students

  • Develop clarity and efficacy in writing and speaking.
  • Demonstrate awareness of audience.
  • Find, evaluate, and integrate sources of information into essays.
  • Improve essay structure.
 

Curriculum Information

Prerequisites

None.

Requirements Satisfied

  • CI-HW
  • HASS
  • HASS-H

Offered

Every fall semester.

The Classroom

  • A classroom with chalkboards, several rows of flat tables for students, and a small table at the front for the instructor.

    Lecture

    This course was taught in a seminar room with a capacity of 30, moveable flat tables and chairs, and a video projector.

 

Assessment

The students' grades were based on the following activities:

The color used on the preceding chart which represents the percentage of the total grade contributed by the first essay assignment. 15% Essay 1
The color used on the preceding chart which represents the percentage of the total grade contributed by the second essay assignment. 25% Essay 2
The color used on the preceding chart which represents the percentage of the total grade contributed by an investigative essay. 35% Investigative essay
The color used on the preceding chart which represents the percentage of the total grade contributed by an oral presentation. 10% Oral presentation
The color used on the preceding chart which represents the percentage of the total grade contributed by class participation. 10% Class participation (inlcuding workshopping)
 

Rubrics

A rubric was used to assess students’ oral presentations.

Student Information

15 students took this course when it was offered in Fall 2013.

Breakdown by Year

Mostly freshmen, with a few upperclassmen.

Typical Student Background

Most students had a previous interest in sports and had either played sports in high school or at MIT.

Enrollment Cap

18

Ideal Class Size

Limiting the class to 12-15 students is ideal because responding to student writing is intensive. It is difficult to give students sufficient time in class to have their writing discussed if the class size is large.

 

How Student Time Was Spent

During an average week, students were expected to spend 12 hours on the course, roughly divided as follows:

In Class

3 hours per week
  • Met 2 times a week for 1.5 hours per session; 26 sessions total; mandatory attendance.
  • Sessions primarily consisted of discussions of readings, workshops for writing pieces, and peer review of pieces. Lectures were minimal and rare.
 

Out of Class

9 hours per week
  • Students completed readings outside of class. The readings were meant to exemplify good writing on sports-related topics, to serve as inspiration to the students.
  • Students completed a series of writing assignments themed around sports to introduce them to writing and reviewing as subjects.
  • Students prepared oral presentations in the form of book reviews on books chosen from a given list.
 

Semester Breakdown

WEEK M T W Th F
1 No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. No session scheduled. Class session scheduled. No session scheduled.
2 No session scheduled. Class session scheduled; response paper due. No session scheduled. Class session scheduled; response paper due. No session scheduled.
3 No session scheduled. Class session scheduled; essay deliverable due date. No session scheduled; essay deliverable due date. Workshop session scheduled. No classes throughout MIT.
4 No session scheduled. Class session scheduled; response paper due. No session scheduled. Class session scheduled; response paper due. No session scheduled.
5 No session scheduled. Class session scheduled; essay deliverable due date. No session scheduled. Class session scheduled; response paper due. No session scheduled.
6 No session scheduled; essay deliverable due date. Class session scheduled. No session scheduled. Class session scheduled; response paper due. No session scheduled.
7 No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. No session scheduled. Class session scheduled; response paper due. No session scheduled.
8 No session scheduled; essay deliverable due date. Workshop session scheduled. No session scheduled; essay deliverable due date. Class session scheduled. No session scheduled.
9 No session scheduled. Class session scheduled. No session scheduled. Class session scheduled. No session scheduled.
10 No session scheduled; essay deliverable due date. Oral presentations scheduled; essay deliverable due date. No session scheduled. Class session scheduled; essay deliverable due date. No session scheduled.
11 No classes throughout MIT. Workshop session scheduled. No session scheduled. Workshop session scheduled. No session scheduled.
12 No session scheduled. Workshop session scheduled. No session scheduled. Workshop session scheduled. No session scheduled.
13 No session scheduled. Oral presentations scheduled; essay deliverable due date. No session scheduled. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT.
14 No session scheduled. Oral presentations scheduled. No session scheduled. Class session scheduled. No session scheduled.
15 No session scheduled. Class session scheduled. No session scheduled. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT.
16 No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT.
Displays the color and pattern used on the preceding table to indicate dates when classes are not held at MIT. No classes throughout MIT
Displays the color used on the preceding table to indicate dates when class sessions are held. Class session
Displays the color used on the preceding table to indicate dates when oral presentations are held. Oral presentations
Displays the symbol used on the preceding table to indicate dates when response papers are due. Response paper due
Displays the color used on the preceding table to indicate dates when no class session is scheduled. No class session scheduled
Displays the color used on the preceding table to indicate dates when workshops are scheduled. Workshop
Displays the symbol used on the preceding table to indicate dates when essay deliverables are due. Essay deliverable dates
 

Instructor Insights

Below, Karen Boiko describes various aspects of how she taught 21W.015 Writing and Rhetoric: Writing About Sports.

I developed this course as a new “flavor” in the Writing and Rhetoric series, because I thought the topic would interest undergraduates. Students seem to respond well to the course, as they seem to enjoy being able to write about a topic that is important to them and relevant to their daily lives.

The main challenge for this class was preventing the class from turning into simple “sports writing.” To prevent this, I ensured the selected readings all engaged with ideas and issues instead of merely being description and narration.