ABI Faculty Development Program Serving the needs of Asian American and Pacific Islander Students at BMCC and Hunter
Serving the needs of Asian American and Pacific Islander Students at BMCC and Hunter

Incorporating the idea of care into Written Assignments

Class information

ASN114 – Asian American History

About 30, across 3 sections students

Asian American History covers the history and root forces of immigration of Asians from the 1840s to the present day and discusses the centrality of race in the U.S. as a measure of legal restriction and its intersections with other social constructs of identity, including class, gender, sexuality, ability, and immigration status. The class also involves a variety of research activities and sources to practice using quantitative and qualitative data. Finally, the class analyzes contemporary issues and frameworks of concern to Asian American communities today.


Project overview


This teaching intervention project was simply to incorporate the idea of care into my writing assignments’ description and guidelines. I asked students to share what “care” meant to them as the first step in my main writing assignment, which is to do something related to a oral history, either analyze an existing oral history, to conduct your own interview, or to write an auto-ethnography (an autobiographical writing of your social environment). This brainstorming prompt also asked what they care about, and what belonging meant to them, and where they feel the strongest sense of belonging and community. From this prompt, which was also discussed and exercised on in-class, I aimed to have my students identify a more passionate subject for their written assignments. Writing about care also gave their submissions more of a purposeful conclusion section.


Why did you select this project? How does it relate to identity and purpose?


I selected this project in order to give my students more control and agency over their main written assignment. I also wanted my students to be able to draw on their identities and particularly their sense of purpose. In a way, the personal nature of conducting an oral history or writing an autoethnography already is very involved with a personal writing. However, I did want even more support for my students to get involved in this project by directly asking them to think about care and what they cared about.


What advice do you have for other faculty who would like to implement a similar project?


I would advise that it is important to include a robust, in-class activity around this prompt, so that students don’t miss out on it. Faculty should also allow this prompt to help to co-create and guide the syllabus where possible, allowing students’ sense of purpose to inform the class. This focus on care and belonging also allowed my classes to make connections to the topic of spirituality in Asian American communities as well as allowed me to more enthusiastically pursue passions that could supplement my classes, using guest speakers and field trips to present independent filmmaking as a powerful tool for depicting real Asian American communities and families and art exhibition as a innovative way to engage with primary sources and archival images.


Related materials

https://abiseminaralums.commons.gc.cuny.edu/files/2023/01/Student-Responses-to-Care-Prompt.pdf, https://abiseminaralums.commons.gc.cuny.edu/files/2023/01/Oral-History-Project-Assignment-BMCC-ASN114.pdf

Oral History Project Assignment – Guidelines and Resources

This document is the guidelines and resources for the written assignment for Asian American History. It includes the brainstorming prompt of considering the meaning of care.

Excerpts of Students’ Submissions Responding to the Care Prompt

This document includes a few students’ writing that directly responded to the initial brainstorming prompt.

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