How do you craft a good thesis statement? In this activity, students work together to refine their ideas and put together possible evidence for different topics. The purpose is to teach students how to connect their thesis statement with the rest of their paper, and to revise the two in tandem (start with a draft thesis, bring some evidence together, revise the thesis to better reflect the evidence, revise the evidence to better fit the thesis, etc.)
In his Freshman Seminar, Professor John Dowling assigned both basic textbook readings and supplementary readings. Since students were to lead the discussion of the supplementary readings, John ensured that they would have something to say by assigning weekly 1 page "thought essays" that required students to draw on ideas from the readings.
In Sociology 157, Dan O'Brien's students choose a topic of their choice relating to the Greater Boston Area. All assignments center around this topic, culminating in a final paper that resembles an actual science paper.
Jigsaw activities have students work in groups to think about different articles. The groups then come together and share their work to produce one detailed, comprehensive document on all the articles for the week.
In Joshua Greene's course, "Social Psychology," students design and run their own original "unobtrusive experiments" as the final project for the class. Students read and conduct background research to get ideas, write a proposal and refine it with the help of the TF, carry out the research, give a presentation on the research, and write up the results.
There has been an outbreak of an unusual Asian disease. Which policy is best based on the scientific estimations of how many people will be saved? This activity uses this example with poll everywhere (polleverywhere.com) technology to demonstrate framing and prospect theory.