Longer-paper credit-recording process and rationale

This is an expanded discussion of what happens to credit for writing a shorter paper on a given week's reading when you later write a longer paper on that same week's reading. For the sake of this discussion, assume that Poe is read in Week #3 of the course, Kafka in Week #6.

First, here is what the syllabus says:
Each Longer Paper must focus on at least one reading for which you are not asking credit for discussion on a One-Page Paper or your other Longer Paper. This requirement is intended to enforce writing on a broad sample of our works. In your header, record the calendar week number of the reading you wish us to record as fulfilling this breadth requirement; for example, "Record #3." If you have already written a paper on the reading for week 3, we will withdraw credit earned for that paper and add credit earned for the new Longer Paper.

Let us assume that you have written shorter papers on the works for weeks 1 through 6. (The week number that corresponds to each week's reading is listed in the calendar in the online syllabus.) Then you decide that you would like to write your first longer paper (which is a contrast and comparison essay) focusing on instruments of torture in Poe's "The Pit and the Pendulum" (which is a reading for week 3) and in Kafka's "In the Penal Colony" (week 6). You type up that idea (one sentence would do), and perhaps some other thoughts about the grounds for contrast and comparison and, if you have it already, even a thesis derivable from such a study (but that thesis is not at all required in advance of approval) along with your name and the date on a sheet of regular paper and take that proposal to your section leader for discussion and possible approval. In this case, since the subject is a workable one, it seems quite reasonable that approval--and the signature that signifies it--will be forthcoming. Then you write the paper, brilliantly, of course. Now in the heading of the paper, the syllabus asks for certain information, including your asking us to record the number of the week for which you want reading credit based on this first longer paper. In the Poe/Kafka instance, you get to choose whether to write "Record #3" or "Record #6." Whichever you indicate, we will record.

Assume you wrote "Record #3" and that you had gotten a full check (1.0) on your short paper on Poe. We will bracket the Poe grade on the gradesheet so that it no longer counts toward your shorter-paper point total although we will still see that you wrote a shorter paper about the work of Poe. (We will bracket the shorter paper grade on Poe even if that paper happened to be on "The Black Cat." We're concerned with the week's reading, not which aspect of the week's reading you choose.) So, assuming you get full credit (3.0) for the first longer paper, your net gain would be 2.0 checks.

Assume you had earned only .3 on your Poe paper. Then your net gain would be 2.7.

Assume you had not previously submitted a paper on Poe. Then your net gain would be 3.0.

In other words, the system is designed to create an incentive to write on as broad a spectrum of our readings as possible. However, it may feel odd to have credit withdrawn. Let me point out that since a maximum of 9.0 points on shorter papers can count toward your course point total and hence your final grade, this system while encouraging breadth of writing in no way penalizes those who write more; rather, it encourages everyone to read more. It also provides an opportuntity to return to a work and earn more credit for dealing with it in a more complex way. After all, in exploring a work first in a shorter paper, you may come up with an idea you want to develop. The longer papers give you that opportunity to build.

Under this system, to earn an A, assuming you get the modal 1.0 for participation and assuming you earn (either originally or through revision) full credit on nine shorter papers, you would need to write about the readings from at least eleven weeks.

The same procedures, of course, apply to the second longer paper: you need approval and you need to indicate which week's reading to record for credit.

I hope the procedure and the reasoning are clear. If not, please let me know.