116 How Seminars Will Be Graded – Part III

When I grade the seminar, I will be looking for the following things in your responses.

  1. The response is given a subject title. It must be a complete sentence that is a shortened version of the opinion you are expressing. The title that is automatically given to your response and begins with “re:”  must be deleted and replaced with a complete sentence that states your opinion.
  2. The response includes the phrases, “In my opinion” and “My evidence is.” Please make sure these are in bold type.
  3. At least two facts are presented that support the opinion being expressed by the response.
  4. The source of the facts is identified. If the information is from the text, the chapter and section number is given (e.g. Ch. 5-3). If the information is from another book, the title and author are given. If the information is from a web site, the URL (address) of the web site is given. If the information is from a personal experience, enough details of one particular experience are given to show it is a valid source of information.

5. Correct spelling is used.

A response will not count towards the required six posts if it has either of the following problems:

  1. You say your evidence is any of the following: my personal beliefs, my own opinions, my thoughts, my feelings, or anything similar. It is OK to say you evidence is based on a personal experience as long as you present details from a particular experience.
  2. It provides the same evidence from the text that has already been provided by another student responding to the same question.

Here is the sample question and three examples of good responses to it:

Sample Question

Subject: Is the theory of Cultural Determinism correct?

The text notes in Ch. 6-1 that Franz Boas developed the principle of cultural determinism. It states that a culture wholly determines the behavior of all persons who were socialized within it. In your opinion, is Boas right about this?

Sample Responses

Subject: Boas is wrong.

In my opinion, Boas is incorrect. People’s behavior is determined not just by their culture and how they were socialized into it but also by what is going on in their physical environment. My evidence for this is found in Ch. 6-2 . The text notes that the Mundugumor were a very violent tribe in New Guinea. Their violence was caused not just by the fact that their culture placed a high value on aggressiveness but also by the fact that they occupied excellent agricultural land. If they had not been willing to engage in violence, other tribes would have taken their land.

Subject: Boas is incorrect.

In my opinion, Boas is incorrect. Much of the support for his theory was provided by Margaret Mead. For example, she studied a tribe called the Arapesh. She claimed that they were extremely peaceful because their culture placed such a high value on gentleness and cooperation. However, more recent research shows that violence was fairly common among the Arapesh. My evidence for this is found at a web site called “Pacifist Hoax” ( www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=9741). The web site states Mead’s ex-husband and fellow researcher rejected her claim that that Arapesh were pacifists. More recent scholars note that that half of all adult, Arapesh males had killed someone in warfare between 1900 and 1925. They argue that Mead was a creator of myths who distorted the facts in order to advance the ideological viewpoints held by herself and Boas.

Subject: The theory of Boas is valid.

In my opinion, Boas is correct. My evidence for this was provided by my experiences with my wife’s extended family. The text noted back in Ch. 2-3 that Italian Americans place a high value on family life. My wife was Italian and I can see many examples of how this value determined the social behavior of her parents and aunts and uncles. Almost all the socializing they engaged in was with family members. They went on vacations together; they always got together on holidays; and they jointly owned a camp in the Adirondacks. Over the three decades that I knew my in-laws, they never once went out for an evening with a couple that they were not related to. This is a clear example of the power of cultural values that Boas was talking about.


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