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Module Participation Assessment

As you will have seen, participation in this module will be assessed, and will constitute 10% of your mark. But how will your participation be assessed? What do you need to do to get top marks in this aspect of the module, which is wholly in your own control? In Surveillance States, participation will be assessed primarily through weekly participation in module discussions. In the category of 'module discussions', I include both the questions you ask and answer in our whole group discussions, and the conversations you have with your peers in smaller groups. I will be noting the contributions you make, the ways in which you support your peers to contribute, and the extent to which you bring insights from the readings, from current affairs, from your other modules, and from your lives to bear on our conversations.

So how exactly will I assess you? I'll be looking at your active participation in class discussions. This means how you engage with small group discussion, how you participate in whole group discussions, and what you might add in addition as an individual -- this might range from asking really useful questions about the readings or 'how to' questions about assessments all the way to doing what one of your predecessors did last year: she repurposed a word game to suit a particular class, and we used it to really get discussions going.

I will assess this aspect of your performance very simply:

  • If you were mostly a listener in your small group discussions, speaking only rarely to your group, and rarely joining in with whole group discussions, you will received a 2.2 score for that day.
  • If you actively joined in your small group discussions, and/or were able to share aspects of those discussions with the whole group, and/or asked good questions, you will receive a 2.1 score for that day.
  • If you led your small group discussions, showed original insights or strong analysis of the readings, or prompted further discussions in class, you will receive a first class score for that day.
  • If you had an unexcused absence you will receive a 0 for that day.
  • At the end of the year, I will take an average of all the days' scores, which will be the mark for this element. Days on which you had an excused absence will NOT be counted -- so be SURE to email me if you have a good reason for missing class.

If you struggle with oral participation for some reason (maybe you have anxiety, or maybe you have caring responsibilities at home that mean you may miss class more often than others), LET ME KNOW. Students may request reasonable adjustments if needed (e.g., assessment via written or oral participation only, where your circumstances mean this will help you do your best). If this is the case, you may choose to submit EITHER one weekly peer study guide on the readings OR one interpreted media piece related to the themes of the module. These are explained below.

A weekly peer study guide is a set of notes and discussion questions based on the readings for a given week. It should take the form of a short outline of the required reading or readings (where there are multiple readings, I expect the guide to cover any two of them, depending on your interests). This would inform your fellow students

  • what the key arguments are,
  • what methods or theories have shaped those arguments, and
  • what kind of evidence is used to support them.

You should then offer an evaluation of the readings: were their arguments persuasive? What were their strengths and weaknesses? Your peer study guide would close with a set of two or three discussion questions arsing from the readings to help your peers navigate the readings and join in our discussions. The guide should be no more than 500 words in total. Since it is an outline, you need not express yourselves in complete sentences or paragraphs. This would be a good choice for students who are keen to write essays or policy reviews about a particular week.

An interpreted media piece asks you to find a primary source addressing the themes and case studies of this module, and drawn from the historical or contemporary media (print press, television, radio, film, or online platforms such as YouTube or TikTok). In a paragraph or two (no more than 500 words in total), you should

  • identify the source bibliographically;
  • summarise the primary source;
  • describe how it explores or illustrates module themes or examples; and
  • assess its strengths and weaknesses as a historical source.

You should also include a link to the primary source, and up to three keywords or tags that would help someone interested in the themes you identify find this piece. This would be a good choice for students keen to develop their research skills and practice interpreting primary sources.

⇒You can see two student examples of this kind of work drawn from another of my modules below:

New South Wales’, The Morning Post (London, England), 31st December 1821. Keywords: Tasmania, Colonialism, Settlement, Agriculture

Interpretation: Published in the moderately conservative English newspaper The Morning Post, the article describes the visit of the Governor of New South Wales to the territory then known as “Van Diemen’s Land”. Today it is known as Tasmania. The article was originally published in Sydney in July 1821, and so was intended for the English-speaking settlers there as well as the British. The source highlights the priorities of the English settlers in Tasmania as it documents the building of a “gaol” or jail in every settlement. However, the article brushes over the presence of convicts in the settlements and instead repeatedly mentions the terrain and how suited it is to European agricultural practises. It also discusses the importation of Merino sheep from England and the potential trading this could bring about with the “Mother country”, underlining the impact of the settlers on the landscape itself. This portrays the nature of colonialism in Van Dieman’s Land as the settlers not only bring themselves to the land, but also bring their livestock, plants, town layout and customs. The repeated reference to the town buildings paints the picture of a town which was closely modelled after an English town, showing how the settlements were not an attempt to integrate into the new surroundings but rather to change the surroundings to suit the settlers.

Despite this high praise for the settlements, there is no mention of the Native Aboriginal people on the islands. The source was written at a time of rising tensions between the Indigenous Peoples of Van Diemen’s Land and the new settlers, and a few years later a series of conflicts known as the the Black War broke out, resulting in hundreds of casualties on both sides and the near extinction of the Indigenous People. Although the Governor took great pains to observe numerous townships across Van Dieman’s Land, there is no record of these people in the official report printed for the public in Sydney or in England. Therefore, the source is an example of Indigenous people not only being written out of Australia’s history, but also of the official records at the time, suggesting that the ‘whitening’ of Australia’s history had its roots even before the exclusion of migrants at the beginning of the 1900s.

'Aussie', 'The English Expect Too Much', Illawarra Daily Mercury (Wollongong, NSW : 1950 - 1954), Thursday 4 December 1952, page 6. Key words: Australia, British migrants, colonies, integration, everyday history

Interpretation: This letter to the editor of the Illawarra Daily Mercury, published December 1952, complains about English migrants to Australia constantly moaning about their new life and looking down on Australians. The Illawarra Daily Mercury was a prominent paper in New South Wales. This picks up many of the themes in A James Hammerton & Catharine Coleborne’s article. The focus on the whinging British reflects older historiography and stereotypes of British migrants. However, the differences between British and Australians described by this piece go against many historian’s assumption that British migrants settled in easily as they had similar cultures. As Hammerton and Coleborne argue, the everyday experiences of British migrants have been marginalised, so it is especially interesting to see this account of British migrants from an everyday Australian citizen. As these voices have previously been neglected. The author describes a sense of superiority from the British, as they are from an older imperial nation. This opens up some interesting questions about how British migrants constructed their identity when migrating to other white settler colonies. Despite their precarious position, Britain’s faltering global status and the British couple’s dependence on the Australians, they still retain a sense of superiority and other the Australians. Although this article features on page six (of twelve pages) it is prominently displayed as the main article amongst adverts. This is quite visible even though it is just a letter to the editor, which suggests that it is a contentious issue and hot topic in the region. The headline “The English Expect Too Much” does not specify the context which implies that the audience were familiar with the discussion and could infer the meaning.