Writing in NMC
The Department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations provides instruction on writing as part of its undergraduate courses. Since 2006, it has played a lead role in Arts and Science writing initiatives related to curriculum renewal. The annotated links on this page show teaching material developed for those initiatives.
Learning Outcomes for Writing in NMC, June 2007
This one-page statement, prepared at the request of the departmental Curriculum Committee, has guided subsequent writing initiatives in the department. It shows why and how the department values writing as a key part of its curriculum, listing the goals for written work by students in NMC courses at various levels. The authors are Anne Clément, Rob Holmstedt, Ron Leprohon, and Margaret Procter.
Sample Teaching Material, 2006-8 - Integrating Writing into Courses in NMC
Following up an inventory study of the types of writing done in the department, this collection of material displays examples of good teaching practice from a range of NMC courses. An introduction by Margaret Procter leads to four sections of annotated examples of teaching material from specific courses, provided with the consent of course instructors:
Sample Teaching Material, 2008-11 - Writing Instruction by Teaching Assistants (WIT)
Below is a sampling of material developed in the curriculum renewal initiative in which NMC has played a leading role since 2008. Many of the files were produced by course TAs, and others were prepared by course instructors or writing consultants for the course TAs to use in their teaching and grading; all are provided with the authors' consent. These files are specific to particular courses, but their approaches could be adapted for other uses:
In response to a need identified in the departmental study, Margaret Procter prepared several files giving students guidance on specific Humanities referencing styles. The first two (new MLA and classic Chicago style) show examples from ancient Egyptian topics. The third offers a template for creating basic footnotes and bibliography entries.
MLA Reference Guide
Notes - Bibliography Referencing Guide
Notes - Bibliography Template
Feedback on Essay 1 (class presentation by TA Jennette Boehmer)
Speaking notes include a brief participatory exercise asking students to reflect on the challenges of the first-term research essay.
Citing Sources and Structuring a Research Essay (by TA Amber Hutchinson)
Slides for a class workshop take students through exercises and advice on handling citations and creating a focussed structure for a short essay based on primary and secondary research. This was timed just after students had received back their graded essay proposals.
Crafting a Thesis Statement (by TAs David Lumb and Steve Edwards)
With examples from both Mesopotamian history and Canadian sports, this workshop offers a clear and memorable explanation of the steps in creating an argumentative thesis statement.
Analyzing an Assignment (by TA Adam Ali)
This handout shows the central activity of a tutorial. Students read and analyzed a passage given as the basis of a short essay assignment, then outlined potential responses. The relatively simple exercise was highly appreciated by students in the course.
Getting Credit for Your Reading (class presentation by Margaret Procter)
These slides use examples from course readings to show the process of using and citing sources. A Blackboard quiz exercise (with a bonus mark for completion) also gave students a chance to practice the principles shown.
Grading Criteria for Essay 1 (guidesheet for TAs, prepared by Marta Simidchieva)
Reflecting discussion at a grading meeting, this sheet lists elements for the course TAs to keep in mind while grading the complex first-term essay. It does not assign number values for the categories and was not given to students. TAs agreed that it was useful as a reminder to attend to a range of qualities. One TA used it as a set of headings for writing end-comments by computer.
Reading Longer Sources Efficiently (by TA Fadi Ragheb)
Slides for a class presentation that expand on Mustafa Banister's work the previous year, offering clear practical advice for students who need to read and analyze academic monographs for a book-review assignment.
Editing Your Own Work (by TA Sajjad Nejatie)
This presentation stresses the need for meaning and logic in achieving strong clear sentences and paragraphs. It uses excerpts from course readings as examples.
Preparing for and Writing an Exam Essay Question (by TA Noa Shaindlinger)
Slides from a lively class talk, including annotated sample answers.
Writing a Book Essay (by TA Noa Shaindlinger)
Another class talk giving general advice on writing papers that analyse academic books.
How to Ace the Final (by TA Kevin Casey)
Slides from a very practical class talk about reviewing and synthesizing course material, with tips and exercises on writing high-scoring short answers to historical questions.
Essay Exam Answers (by TA Hicham Safieddine)
Continuing the attention given to exam-writing in this course, these notes from a lively class presentation stress sound historical reasoning.
Advice on Writing an Essay Proposal (by TA Ian Cox-Leigh)
Excellent advice on choosing and narrowing a research topic, using examples from course material. Offers practical tips for using library resources too.
Egyptological Resources in the Library (by Jeff Newman)
A short class presentation giving focussed and relevant advice on such practicalities as search terms and subject headings, with specific tips on using the Online Egyptological Bibliography. Students were highly appreciative. (Librarians can now create similar course guides as part of Blackboard sites or as separate LibGuide pages.)
Site content prepared by Margaret Procter, University of Toronto Coordinator, Writing Support, acting as consultant on writing initiatives in the Department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, Fall 2006 to June 2011.