|INDIVIUAL STUDENTS||INDIVIUAL INSTRUCTORS|
|Study groups||Instructional subsystem|
Class as a whole
Lectures: 1 session / week, 2 hours / session
The full syllabus contains, in a single document, a detailed description of each of the class sessions, the reading and writing assignments and the class notes. (PDF)
Our conjoint participation in the 9.70 learning system places us in a consensually-shared social situation. (All of the foregoing words are important. Do you understand their meaning in this context?) We will endeavor to organize ourselves into a community of discourse that approximates (albeit in an altogether partial way) a meaningful, real-world research enterprise: Like all scientific communities, we will work with limited resources. Unlike "real" scientific communities, ours will operate under the constraint of predetermined project duration and contractually agreed-upon limits in the amount of time and effort to be contributed to it by the individual participants.
Toward this end, we randomly divide the membership of the class – at the outset – into subsystems – study groups – intended to operate interdependently with others while each remains together as a stable subsystem for the duration of the term, unless or until the participants determine otherwise. This approach creates a "level playing field." The coursework will provide everyone with first hand opportunities to experience and to exchange ideas about what it means to scientifically investigate (experimentally/experientially) the subject before us on individual, small group and large group levels.
Social Psychology in Action: Collaborative learning is not a spectator sport, and 9.70 is not a lecture class. All enrolled students, like everyone else participating in this iteration of 9.70, are expected to come to every class prepared to play active roles in facilitating the organization and development of the class as a whole into an effective collaborative learning system. The approach we take follows along lines laid down by its predecessors, and remains open to further development. Suffice it to say that our ever-evolving pedagogical model and scientific approach have thus far proved themselves to be up to the task of enabling students individually and collectively to participate with peers and others in the organization and development of a trustworthy collaborative learning system. Prepare yourself, then, for involvement in a "handson" enterprise formally equivalent in most significant respects to any other scientifically credible, ethically appropriate and academically sound "action research" process.
Let's start out quite abstractly: The epistemological, axiological and methodological entailments of the first – the modern scientific paradigm – is exemplified in and espoused by the textbook.
The second paradigm and its key scientific beliefs, values and practices will be introduced and advocated (professed?) by the instructors. In addition to incorporating many of the theories and practices of the first paradigm into a broader and more inclusive human/ecological framework, the second – systems-oriented – paradigm affords a generally more reasonable and realistic approach to human inquiry; one that is also more contextual, organic, and action-research oriented.
During the first four weeks of the term we will be examining – comparing and contrasting – some of the key conceptual and material particulars of these two paradigms.
While the two paradigms that we will be considering differ in a number of key respects, it is not at all our intention to portray them as necessarily altogether and wholly incompatible.
Human Inquiry (Science) = Goal directed, task oriented activity involving the organization and development of a more or less random group of persons into a selforganizing "consensual domain" that constitutes – for all intents and purposes a scientifically credible, pedagogically sound, practically effective Collaborative Learning System.
Over the course of the semester, as we proceed, in the posture of serious investigators, through the sequence of topics referred to above and detailed below, the fact of our respective and conjoint participation in and observation of the organization and development of the class itself becomes one of our main foci.
As we participate in the formation of the 9.70_09 collaborative learning system, we closely observe the process and come to see it as "paradigmatic." That is to say we come to see the process of other contexts comparably-appropriate to the implementation of this mode of human social inquiry. Expect conceptually and materially compound and complex interactions of various kinds to be constantly and recurrently taking place at three levels of organization: the individual, the study group, and the class as a whole.
Constituent parts of the 9.70 collaborative learning system:
|INDIVIUAL STUDENTS||INDIVIUAL INSTRUCTORS|
|Study groups||Instructional subsystem|
Class as a whole
Of course, the system constituents listed above are recurrently interactive and do not exist alone or in isolation from larger contexts and more broadly surrounding systems and levels of organization, development, interaction and influence. These include (but are not limited to) influences deriving from the myriad differences in our personal backgrounds and social experiences and our relations to the class. After all, 9.70 exists within the broader context of BCS and other MIT departments, the School of Science and other Schools, numerous living groups, the Institute academic community as a whole, the Institute's student bodies and faculties as a whole, the panoply of larger local, regional, national and global jurisdictions and administrative systems.
The class will be divided randomly into 5-6 Study Groups.
Much of the subject matter is contemporary, controversial and complex. In addressing it we aim to proceed in as scientifically credible a manner as is possible. That means controlling, among other things, for the presence of "invisible loyalties." Beyond that, please recall what was previously said about each of us coming from a background that is separate and distinct from everyone else's? Precisely because "everything said is said by someone", and because each of us enters into this setting (i.e. "this collaborative learning system-in-formation") with certain default assumptions, preconceptions, expectations and attitudes already established, the explicit randomization of study group membership is a procedural step aimed at creating for ourselves a "level playing field." We know no better way to systematically control for the otherwise powerful sources of bias, including the putative existence of visible and "invisible loyalties (sympathies antipathies)" within this class.
Each week, each study group is responsible for preparing and submitting to the instructors – via email – a brief (1-2 page) collaborative report, henceforth referred to as "study group meeting minutes." (Or merely "Minutes").
Important: The readers of your weekly minutes are looking for information that will contribute to the development of the class into a sustainable collaborative learning system. They are not merely or even mainly interested in "grading" you or in evaluating the quality of your study group's minutes. Facilitating the learning process here is mainly a matter of each and all of us constantly and recurrently formatively evaluating what is going on. Toward this end, we do not need or want a word-by-word transcript of "who said what" at your meeting. Nor will it suffice for us to receive a mere list of who was present and what was discussed. Rather, you should strive to produce meaningful "process notes" consisting of summary statements, insights, points of agreement/disagreement, queries, requests for clarification, and comments relating to all aspects of the learning experience (problematic issues relating to both process and content should be addressed) Minutes are most valuable in guiding the process when they contain something true and (for you) significant about either the form or content of your 9.70 learning experience.
The first three class sessions will be led / facilitated by the instructional subsystem. The fourth session will involve a presentation (a simulated family interview) in which the instructors and study group 1 will collaborate.
In succeeding weeks, the power and responsibility for continuing this leadership task will rotate weekly through Groups 2, 3, 4 etc. In this way, each study group will have two or more opportunities to facilitate.
We (the instructors) see ourselves as both "players" and "coaches;" accordingly, after trying to get the learning system off to a good start, we will pretty much try to get out of your way as much as possible, while continuing to remain available to guide where necessary. We urge all who facilitate to recall that everyone in the class is on the same level and in the same boat.
There are no problem sets to be turned in, no quizzes, no final exam in 9.70 and yet a grade will need to appear next to your name on the registrar's official grade report at the end of the term. How is that grade to be arrived at?
This has been a central problematique of this class for a very long time and remains so today. The process that has evolved and is presently in place may best be likened to the kind of formative evaluation that is familiar to anyone who has ever participated with others in a cumulative design process. Both formative (recurrent, interim, ongoing) and summative (terminal, final) evaluations of individual and group performance must be implemented in collaborative learning situations. In this class you will have an opportunity to acquire a number of valuable learnable social psychological skills, including ways of evaluating individual and group performance in collaborative contexts.
What there is to be learned here about social influences involved in evaluation will be learned mainly in a hands-on and frankly experiential way. This is not the place to enter into a detailed or in-depth discussion of this issue. Suffice it for present purposes merely to say that, whereas, conventional grading practices call for the instructors to evaluate the performance of students on an individual basis, the nature of our subject, and the size and kind and organization of the class make such a grading system wholly inappropriate here. Of course, the instructors will actively participate in the grading process, and will be required to endorse the letter grade that appears next to your name on the official grade report sheet to be submitted to the registrar at the end of the term. But please do not expect that grade to reflect merely or even mainly the instructors' assessments of the quality of your own individual and collective work in 9.70. The organization and development the 9.70 Collaborative Learning System will proceed through a number of stages or phases (see Developmental Stages handout), and your formative and summative evaluations will be relied upon to both guide our progress and to assess our effectiveness in negotiating our way through the relevant developmental phases.
These are not a lot of fun to fill out, but our memories are notoriously fleeting and fallible and experience teaches us to most trust feedback that is prompt and timely and frequently recurrent. Fair warning: you will need all the help you can get in fulfilling your dual tasks of formatively and summatively evaluating your 9.70 learning experience. We expect you to use your timesheet regularly, "on line and in real time" to keep track of your work, including attendance at meetings and completion of assignments.
The Bottom Line: It is up to you to keep track of the amount of time and the quality of effort you devote to your performance in this class. This information is to be generated by you and recorded several times per week on your timesheet (and more extensively in your Journal, as appropriate) and may be exchanged and acknowledged within the study group by all members. Experience teaches us that students in this class need to learn to give and take constructive feedback and this means keeping track of the quantity and quality of your participation in real time (or soon thereafter).
Your final letter grade will be the result of the formative and summative evaluation process – and will come at its very end.
Meanwhile, instead of thinking in terms of letter grades, try to think in terms of the "demand characteristics" of the situation as outlined above and what you take to be the desiderata for a truly high quality of involvement in the 9.70 Collaborative Learning System Lifecycle. Here the key is: successful performance by constituents of the system. If excellence of performance is not achieved at class level, it cannot be achieved at group level; if not achieved at group level, it cannot be achieved at individual level. And vice-versa.
In other words, if the 9.70 learning system works really well at levels that we can directly observe, that will suggest that everyone and all levels are doing good work: including timely, conscientious and constructive engagement with organizational process and task issues. Success of the hands-on pedagogical approach taken here has been demonstrated in years past. It requires that each and every participant accept the power and responsibility of working meaningfully and effectively together with others. The outcome will correlate highly with individual final grades.
Precisely because it has a discernible trajectory, the process of development of your 9.70 learning experience is worth tracking.
"In order to know what I think and feel about something (someone, some group), I need to hear what I have to say about it (her/him/them)"
Accordingly, everyone is expected to keep a journal.
Best to approach this task from the stance of a serious researcher – e.g. a member of an expedition keeping a field notebook. Honesty, accuracy and diligence count! Be faithful and conscientious in making regular and relevant entries. Exercise compassion as well as curiosity. Use your journal to record (and thereby to explore) your own thoughts and feelings about any and all aspects of 9.70 as well as any other topics of social psychological interest.
Since we (the staff) are certainly interested in learning what you think and how you feel about 9.70, it would be easy enough for us to simply require you to make your journal entries available to us for periodic or on-demand inspection. But that would be a pedagogically self-defeating invasion of your personal privacy. What we will do, therefore is trust you to do your part and ask you to be no less conscientious in your journal-keeping than you are in fulfilling other class requirements. Keep your journal with you at all times. Feel free to share parts of its contents with others as appropriate. Be prepared to show (without disclosure of the contents in detail) that it is being well-used for the purposes already outlined.
Aronson, Elliot. The Social Animal. 10th ed. New York, NY: Worth Publ., 2007, p. 431. (hereafter, SA)
SA is an up-to-date book about the psychology of human interaction, written from the author's own particular personal and social (e.g. academic and professional) point of view. He is an acknowledged authority on the experimental study of social psychology and a master at making the relevant substantive and technical complexities of the modern scientific literature in the field intelligible to an undergraduate audience.
All readings and viewings are best done "solo." Comprehension is key! Take Notes! And try to complete the assignments before you meet with groupmates to discuss the week's work.
Whether studying materials on line or reading texts or watching films: Please do so closely, carefully, critically, attentively and conscientiously with a view to issues previously or concurrently arising in 9.70. The sequencing of assignments has been done advisedly. Generally speaking, the ordering of items has been arranged to facilitate comprehension. Please make an effort to do the assignments in the order that they are listed in this syllabus.
Some of the material is difficult and dense. Some of it is quite harsh and unpalatable. At times, you may find it necessary to take a break, and at other times you may need to read, watch and/or listen to a given selection more than once. The acquisition of learnable knowledge and skills is a cumulative process. If, after going through the material and giving it the most careful and sustained consideration of which you are capable you still "don't get it," then discuss it with your groupmates and/or bring it to the attention of the class and the instructors in person or via group minutes.
Feel free to watch videos alone or better yet, with groupmates/classmates. In the latter case, you will be able to share your immediate impressions with others. However, the time spent viewing – like the time spent reading – should be allocated to "homework" and may not be used to even partially fulfill the weekly study group meeting requirement).
Plagiarism—use of another's intellectual work without acknowledgement—is a serious offense. It is the policy of the Literature Faculty that students who plagiarize will receive an F in the subject, and that the instructor will forward the case to the Committee on Discipline. Full acknowledgement for all information obtained from sources outside the classroom must be clearly stated in all written work submitted. All ideas, arguments, and direct phrasings taken from someone else's work must be identified and properly footnoted. Quotations from other sources must be clearly marked as distinct from the student's own work. For further guidance on the proper forms of attribution, consult the style guides available at the Writing and Communication Center and the MIT Web site on Plagiarism.
|Week #||UNITS #||TOPICS||KEY DATES|
|Phase 1: Didactic orientation|
Welcome. A definition of the situation;
Individuals and groups;
Sets and settings start of the 9.70/08 collaborative learning system lifecycle;
Pre-class assignment due
Benchmark questions due
The science of social psychology and vice versa I
Paradigm 1: modern scientific approach: substantive, procedural and ethical issues
|Week 1 minutes due one day before Week #2|
The science of social psychology and vice versa II
Paradigm 2: participatory action research: a complementary "Systems" approach
|Week 2 minutes due one day before Week #3|
|Phase 2: Collaborative inquiry phase - part 1|
|4||2.1||A "Family Systems" approach to the diagnosis and treatment of psychosomatic disorders in adolescence||Week 3 minutes due one day before Week #4|
|5||2.2||Self and society "Social Norms" "Conformity and Deviance" Obedience to authority What is "human nature?"||Week 4 minutes due one day before Week #5|
|6||2.3||Media Inc: mass communication, propaganda, and persuasion meaning and power in human systems||Week 5 minutes due one day before Week #6|
|7||2.4||Social cognition: beliefs, values and practices in human systems; the social construction of reality|| |
Reading/Writing on positive psychology and social sensitivity midterm formative and summative evaluations due a week after Week #7
Week 6 minutes due one day before Week #7
|Phase 2: Collaborative inquiry phase - part 2|
|8||2.5||Justifying ourselves and judging others reification: us and them; attribution; multiple sources of social influence|| |
Midterm evaluations due two days before Week #8
Week 8 minutes due one day before Week #8
|9||2.6||Confronting violence and aggression: the medicalization of deviance; naming and taming: the power to give names and enforce definitions||Week 9 minutes due one day before Week #9|
|10||2.7||Overcoming prejudice and discrimination: are the causes of our problems "In our genes?"||Week 10 minutes due one day before Week #10|
|11||2.8||Attaining humanecological sustainability: viewing the future from a plurality of perspectives||Week 11 minutes due one day before Week #11|
|Phase 3: Final projects|
Identifying and organizing end-of-term projects; refining evaluation criteria
Working on final projects; finalizing production and distribution of evaluation forms
Presenting final projects; completing evaluations and filing final grading forms
End of the 9.70/09 collaborative learning system lifecycle