Syllabus for Fall 2015

Posted on

Course description: Who gains—and who loses—in the admissions process at Trinity College and other elite institutions? Which racial diversity or financial aid policies might meet our desired goals? How do undergraduates experience racial and social class differences on campus? What can we learn from Trinity’s own history to recommend meaningful change? In this seminar, students will role-play a college admissions committee, conduct interviews for a campus research project, and enhance their research and writing skills. Given our controversial topic, participants should be prepared to listen to alternative viewpoints, challenge (and be challenged) on opinions and evidence, and get involved in making change.

Syllabus for Fall 2015
Seminar meets on Mondays and Wednesdays, 11:30-12:45pm in LSC 135

Contact info for members of our seminar (requires your Google password)

Required readings (purchase used or new, online or at campus bookstore):

  • Mitchell Stevens, Creating a Class: College Admissions and the Education of Elites (Harvard University Press, 2009). Recommended paperback ISBN 9780674034945.
  • Beverly Daniel Tatum, “Why are all the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?” and Other Conversations about Race, revised edition (New York: Basic Books, 2003). Recommended paperback ISBN 9780465083619.
  • Stacey Lee, Unraveling the “Model Minority” Stereotype: Listening to Asian American Youth, second edition (New York: Teachers College Press, 2009). Recommended paperback ISBN 978-0807749739.
  • Elizabeth Armstrong and Laura Hamilton, Paying for the Party: How College Maintains Inequality (Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 2013). Available hardcover ISBN 978-0674049574 or Kindle; paperback will not be published until mid-November 2015.

Also, each student needs to bring a laptop computer for in-class writing, editing, calculating, and online research assignments. Feel free to use any recent laptop (Mac, Windows, Linux, Chromebook), since nearly all seminar work can be done in a browser. Avoid tablet devices, since most students report that they lack sufficient keyboards and screens for doing work in class. Please contact me if you need help with this requirement.

About the instructor: Jack Dougherty, an associate professor of educational studies, teaches courses and conducts research with students and community partners through the Cities, Suburbs, and Schools Project. He also works with students and other scholars to share their writing online through open-access books, such as Writing History in the Digital Age and Web Writing: Why & How for Liberal Arts Teaching & Learning. You may spot him zipping around the Hartford region on his bicycle. See also his personal website. Read a letter from the instructor, with details about the first assignment.

Read also a letter from First-Year Mentor Jasmine Gentry ’17.

Trinity Library liaison: Rob Walsh

Summer Reading Assignment

Schedule: (any major changes during the semester will appear in red)

Fri Sept 4 from 10-11am in McCook 309 (not our regular classroom)

  • Introduction to the seminar
  • Discuss: Which questions make you think more deeply about Stevens ch 1-2?
  • Assign Stevens ch 3-4: bring reading notes and share questions for Wed Sept 9
  • Confirm your answers and contact info on our Google Form
  • Confirm your 20-minute advising appointment with me in McCook 302. If you wish to change your schedule, read how to add/drop/swap a course and arrive before your appointment time to start preparing with Jasmine
  • Plan your day around any mandatory proficiency exams (Quantitative Literacy, Second Language, etc.)
  • The College Admissions Simulation, Round 1, led by Associate Dean of Admissions Jasmine Gentry ’17 (your FYSM mentor has been promoted!)
  • Exercise 2: Read 15 applicant files (PDF) and work in teams to add 2-sentences on strengths and weaknesses to assigned applicants in Google Spreadsheet summary
    1) Team: Joanne (leader), Heric, Courtney, Hayley — Mon 1pm Jones Common Room
    2) Team: Shannon (leader), Alvaro, Samuel, Caroline, Taylor — Sunday 5pm Jones Common Room
    3) Shane (leader), Steve O, Steven S, Will, Jack S — Sunday 1pm Elton Common Room

Mon Sept 7 – Labor Day (no class – use time for team meetings)

Wed Sept 9

Fri Sept 11 – writing assessment due, print confirmation code and bring to mentor before mandatory Sunday library tour

Sun Sept 13

11am – Mandatory Library Tour: Meet Jasmine at Underground Cafe, near Mather Basement post office, to walk to Library. No-shows will lose 2 points.

7:15pm – Come join us at Lockwood Nest Dinner at Hamlin Hall, near Mather.

Mon Sept 14

  • Continue to share questions/comments on Stevens ch 5-6
  • Read and insert comments/questions on US Supreme Court 2003 ruling excerpts on race and higher ed admissions in the University of Michigan Gratz and Grutter cases
  • Simulation round 2: Prepare your “storytelling” of your assigned applicant, in at least 3 sentences, based on our new evaluation categories, on our shared Google Sheet. Be prepared to deliver a 1-minute version in class.
  • Simulation round 3: Dean correspondence and ratings
  • Assign Exercise 3: Ranked list of applicants in our shared Google Sheet, with input by the entire Committee, due on Fri Sept 18th to deliver to Dean on Monday Sept 21st
  • Contact info for members of our seminar (requires your Google password)
  • Reminder: If you did not attend mandatory Sunday Library session, or Jasmine’s second opportunity (tonight, Monday Sept 14 at 9:30pm in Library lobby), you will lose two points.
  • Reminder: Add/Drop period ends today. Any “withdrawals” after this date will result in a “W” on your transcript, and possibly academic probation (if you receive less than 4 credits for the semester).

Wed Sept 16

Mon Sept 21

Wed Sept 23

Sun Sept 27

New: Meet FYSM mentor at 7pm in Library Level A to decide on merit award and Google Sheet final ratings (which only Jasmine and Jack can edit) to prepare for simulation decision day

Mon Sept 28

Wed Sept 30

Thur Oct 1

  • TestedFilmJoin me at Tested (2015 film) at 6:30pm and Q&A with director, Curtis Chin, at 7:45pm, Washington Room, Mather Hall. This documentary follows students who prepare for a high-stakes test to gain entrance to one of New York City’s prestigious public high schools, and explores topics such as equal access, affirmative action, and the model minority myth. Watch the trailer at

Mon Oct 5

  • Before seminar, read excerpt from Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkenstein, They Say/I Say: The Moves that Matter in Academic Writing (2010).
  • Congratulations on completing your first drafts
  • Strategies to improve our writing
  • In seminar: Paste the assignment criteria to the bottom of your GDoc draft to guide peer editing
  • Ways to be an effective peer editor (demo by Jack & Jasmine)
  • Begin assigned peer reviews and complete on GDoc Organizer by Mon 9pm
  • Clarify procedure for Simulation round 7 debate
  • Assign Exercise 6: teams to lead upcoming book discussions: Tatum, Lee, Armstrong & Hamilton

Wed Oct 7

Mon Oct 12 – Trinity Days (no class)

Wed Oct 14

Mon Oct 19

Wed Oct 21

Mon Oct 26

Wed Oct 28

  • Before seminar, all read Armstrong/Hamilton preface (p. xi) thru chapter 2 (p. 73) and research methods appendix (pp. 255-278); team starts discussion of reading note questions 1-3B
  • Introduce our interview-based study of Trinity sophomores:
  • Prepare for Advising Week: Guest: Jamil Ragland, Office Coordinator, Registrar’s Office (12:30-12:45)
  • Class of 2019 pre-registration opens Thurs Nov 12th at 7am (for last names A-K) and 7:10am (for L-Z)

Mon Nov 2

Wed Nov 4


Mon Nov 9

  • In seminar: Peer editing workshop, due at end of seminar
  • In seminar: Mentor will check your shopping cart, if requested
  • Rewriting exercise in class, with anonymized excerpts from Theory essay
  • Discuss: How did Trinity’s President frame the problems in her April 2015 Campaign for Community public letter? What happened at the Campaign for Community November 2015 event, and how do the proposed solutions address the core problems posed in April 2015?

Wed Nov 11

  • Assign Exercise 11: Transcribe your interview using this template, and follow guidelines in the bottom-half of this tutorial. Mask any personal details that may violate confidentiality. Budget your time wisely. Upload to instructor’s Dropbox by Sunday Nov 15th at 9pm.
  • Registration Week: What strategies have you tried to achieve your academic goals? What ideas and opportunities can you suggest to your classmates who need to expand their search?
  • Follow-up discussion on TrinColl2Action: Do the proposed solutions address the core problems posed in April 2015? Compare President’s letter above with news coverage of the Sat Nov 7th event: Chris Bulfinch, “Campaign for Community Culminates in TrinColl2Action,” Trinity Tripod, November 10, 2015,

Mon Nov 16

Wed Nov 18

Mon Nov 23 

      • Thanksgiving lunch seminar: place your lunch order and meet us at Trinity Restaurant, 243 Zion Street (down the steps from Summit Street) at 11:30am.

Wed Nov 25 – Thanksgiving Break (no class)

Mon Nov 30

      • Interview Essay:
        • Review your transcript analysis claims
        • Peer review on Google Docs due Mon Nov 30th by 9pm
        • Final draft uploaded via JotForm in MSWord format (.docx) for blind review Friday Dec 4th by 6pm

Wed Dec 2

Mon Dec 7

      • Read EITHER of my open-access book chapters to discuss in seminar.
      • In seminar: Workshop on How to Publish on WordPress (see tips about inserting links, images, videos, etc.)
      • Log into our Color and Money WordPress site with your Trinity network username and password. Create a new post, insert a title, and select category = Reflective Essays 2015. Choose “Save Draft” until you are ready to press the “Publish” button, when your work will become public on the web.
      • Planning your Reflective Change web essay, in assigned pairs (with visitors):
        • Has this seminar and/or your Trinity experiences changed your thinking about race and/or social class?
        • What first-person story can you tell to deepen this reflection for readers?
        • What are your strategies to make this an effective essay for the web?
      • Be prepared to briefly report back to the group about your partner’s thinking.

Wed Dec 9

Mon Dec 14

    • Seminar wrap-up and end-of-semester evaluations
    • Final Draft of Reflective Change web essay on WordPress by Friday Dec 18th at 6pm (in place of a final exam)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *