Developed by Philippe Lavergne Magister -Travaux diriges de francais offers a comprehensive tutorial in literary reading and text analysis, best suited for students seeking training in these classic exercises called "dissertation" and "analyse de texte."
Type of Material:
Tutorial and reference materials
Identify Major Learning Goals:
To develop writing and analytical skills, and knowledge of French literature and culture. To practice for oral and written tests in literary criticism.
Target Student Population:
Native speakers preparing for the French baccalaureat or at university level. Graduate and advanced FSL students at college level who want to learn and practice text analysis, as well as AP and International Baccalaureate students will also find this site useful.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
Advanced to superior reading and writing competence. For tests culturels, prior knowledge of French literary history.
The concept behind Magister is to provide students with an online, comprehensive textbook on literary commentary that will help them write successful text analyses and dissertations for their courses and exams. The contents of the site have been carefully prepared with this pedagogical goal in mind. The language used in the tutorial parts is accurate and proper to the discipline without being "jargonnesque". The tutorial itself suggests approaches to the texts and activities as training exercises, without imposing a line of interpretation on the readers. The directed readings ("lecture analytique") lead the readers step by step to deepen their understanding of the texts and develop their own commentaries. The site features dossiers (9) on the vocabulary and techniques of literary analysis as well as a digital library, a dossier on Voltaire and l'affaire Calas (Furie en Languedoc) and a wealth of links to external resources for literary studies. Within the dossiers the readers will find suggested topics for text analyses and commentaries as well as instructions on how to develop their analyses. Magister encourages the readers to send their papers for comments and suggestions. The website also features a test bank (on literature and stylistics) and it has its own very efficient search engine.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
Keeping in mind that Magister was first developed for an audience of French-speaking students preparing for the baccalaureat, the site can be used in many ways by instructors of FSL as well as students. For example AP Instructors will find ideas of texts to study with their students, directed reading exercises, groups of texts on a same theme and well-thought instructions on how to build a commentary. The students and especially those who work independently or wish to get additional training in the fie
ld of literary studies will appreciate Magister's advise on writing and the possibility of receiving feedback on their work. Magister can be used in conjunction with other resources such as La Cle des Procedes litteraires or Le Grimoire.(See MERLOT Peer Review of Le Grimoire)
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
Magister consists mainly of HTML documents. It does not require advanced technical skills. The various sections of the tutorial are linked together, with linked pages opening in new windows. The topics (i.e. link names) all appear in the top title bar of the new windows, which helps the user find his way back to the page where he started. A simple, consistent design, with discrete use of colors and pictures, supports a rich content without making the screen too busy. Links to external resources all worked well with few exceptions.
The quizzes in the section "Testez votre culture litteraire" did not work on the Mac with Internet Explorer 5 at the time of our testing (March 31, 2002). They do not work with Netscape. They could be optimized for both platforms and browsers since Hot Potatoes allows it.
In the Testing matching exercises, it is sometimes troublesome to have to scroll vertically to match up the drag and drop items. The content and feedback in these tests are very good, but the user could be frustrated by the scrolling.
The link to the service provider that appears at the bottom of each page should open a new window. We would also suggest to give access to the search engine in each page.
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