Friday, September 11, 2009

For 396 students - Rubric for Book Reviews

The rubric for the reflections makes sense to me so I'm going to keep the first two categories for that, General Writing and Tying into the Course, with the same weights. But the third category on growth doesn't make sense because the book review is a thing unto itself and I will only count in the assessment the final version you submit, not earlier versions nor the precis. So I need something else to swap for that third category.

Multiple Parallel Threads (25%)

You will have one or two core themes about the book you review and you definitely want to revisit them periodically in the writing. But then you will have other threads too. They are related to the core themes and perhaps also to each other. One may be a personal narrative. Another may be something else we've done in class that ties in with the main topic of your review. You may also use two threads to talk about the same issue but from different perspectives. Threading is essential to make it a good read and returning to a thread from time to time as it fits in with the larger story makes for compelling reading.

The chapter in Better, What Doctors Owe, which covers the malpractice issue, does the multiple threading extremely well. Finding a doctor who ends up suing other doctors, to get at the intellectual tension in sorting through a doctor's own beliefs on the matter, is pure genius on the part of Gawande, or he was very lucky to have stumbled into this particular example.

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