Star Cross Crescent

SCTR 19 - "Religions of the Book" - Winter 2007

Fr. Felix Just, S.J.
Dept. of Religious Studies, Santa Clara University

Site Visit Guidelines

Purpose:  To experience how some groups of Jews, Christians, or Muslims conduct their communal worship, and to reflect upon how they incorporate their scriptures (Bible or Qur’an) into their worship services.

Overview:  Teams of two or three students will attend a regularly scheduled weekend service at a synagogue, church, or mosque, something outside of your own religious tradition (if doing this would violate your own religious beliefs, please see me about an alternate assignment).  Each team will then jointly write a brief report about your experience, focusing especially on the use of scriptures by the religious group you visited.

Guidelines & Timeline:

  1. Form Teams – You can team up with one or two other members of your discussion/project group, or with other students from our class, as you wish (do not go alone, nor in groups larger than four, so you do not overwhelm your hosts; if four students visit a site together, you will need submit two reports, each one written jointly by two students). Decide together which religious tradition you want to visit.
  2. Propose Your Visit (by Friday, Jan. 19) – Choose a particular synagogue, church, or mosque to visit (see the list handed out during the first week of the quarter, or check the phone book or internet; please do not all pick the ones closest to SCU).  Find out when they have their main weekend service(s), and decide when your team can attend.  Submit a brief written proposal listing:
    • the names of the team members,
    • the name and location of the religious congregation,
    • their website address,
    • and when you plan to conduct your visit (time and date of service).
  3. Prepare for Your Visit – Do some research in advance (books, websites, interviews) to find out what to expect during your visit, what their normal “order of service” is, what language(s) they use, and how they usually use their scriptures in their services.  Call in advance to make sure they are open to visitors and to tell them when you would like to visit (as a courtesy).  Ask what would be appropriate for you to wear, and if they have any other guidelines or information for you before you go.  Also, ask if there is someone with whom you could meet before or after the service, who could answer your questions and/or give you further explanations.
  4. Conduct Your Visit (by Sunday, Feb. 25) – Arrange your own transportation, arrive early, introduce yourselves (if appropriate), and behave respectfully!  Be mindful that you are representing SCU, albeit unofficially, and that your conduct reflects on our university as a whole.  Pick up a copy of their weekly bulletin, worship aide, or some other current local publication – not merely to prove your attendance, but to get a sense of what else the congregation does (with scripture?) aside from its weekly services.
  5. Changes/Problems? – Let me know ASAP if you need to change anything that was in your proposal.  If the change is minor (date of visit, time of service), a brief email is enough. If the change is substantial (different team members or religious institution), please submit a new complete proposal.  If you encounter any problems before or during your visit, let me know immediately.
  6. Write Your Report – Reflect on your experience individually, discuss it with your team members, and jointly write a brief report (3-4 pages) about what you observed and learned.  Include a brief overview of the service you attended, along with some comments about the congregation, the building, the order of worship, etc.  Mostly, describe and analyze how the group you visited incorporates their scriptures into their service (in readings, sermons, prayers, songs, environment, etc.).  Each team member will receive the same grade, so make sure you all contribute and all proofread your paper before submitting it!  See my page of WRITING TIPS for help with grammar, spelling, punctuation, capitalization, etc.
  7. Report Format – see below for details
  8. Due Date – On or before the start of class on Monday, Feb. 26, 2007. No late papers will be accepted!

Report Format:

  • Write in standard Essay format (brief introduction with a clear thesis statement; structured body with detailed supporting evidence; brief conclusion, not just repeating your intro but “concluding” something interesting related to your paper’s thesis).
  • Use proper academic English (no contractions or slang; grammar, spelling, punctuation, and capitalization are crucial!).
  • Make sure your paper is the required length (3-4 full pages), double-spaced,
    typed in a 10-12 point font, with 1-inch margins (change MS Windows 1¼-inch default),
    a compact single-spaced heading (not a separate title page), and a creative title (possibly also a descriptive subtitle).
  • Append the worship aide, bulletin, or other literature you collected.

Heading Format (single-spaced):

top left: centered: top right:
Name of Religious Site Visited . Full Names of All Students
Location (Street Address & City) . Date of Report
Website .
Course Number & Title
Date & Time of Visit . Section & Group Numbers
. Creative Paper Title (highlighted)
(possibly also a more descriptive subtitle?)
Paper Intro & Body (begin double-spacing)
. .


Grading Rubrics for Site Visit Reports:


3 – Above Standards

2.5 – Meets Standards

2 – Approaches Standards

1.5 / 1.0 / 0.5 – Below Standards

0 – Nada

Paper Format

All formatting rubrics have been closely followed, and the paper looks academically professional.

All formatting rubrics have been followed, so the paper looks academically appropriate.

A few formatting rubrics have not been followed, but the paper is still academically acceptable.

Several formatting rubrics are not met, making it deficient for an academic paper.

Is this a

Team & Site

Complete information is clearly and accurately given in the prescribed format.

Complete information is given in the prescribed format.

Most details are accurate, but a few are missing and/or not given in the required format.

Several details are incomplete and/or inaccurate.

Who went
where when?


The first paragraph captures the reader’s attention with a compelling introduction and a clear, strong thesis statement.

The first paragraph introduces the paper’s content and includes a clear thesis statement.

The introductory paragraph is interesting but the thesis of the paper is not entirely clear.

The introductory paragraph and thesis statement are unclear, uninteresting, and/or lacking.

Is there any


The body of the paper is clearly organized with well-constructed paragraphs and appropriate subheadings.

The body of the paper is well organized into appropriate sections and paragraphs.

The paper is organized, but some paragraphs are not constructed very well.

The paper’s organization is unclear and/or deficient.

What’s a


The team’s observations about the worship service are totally clear, accurate, and thorough.

The team’s observations about the worship service are stated clearly and accurately.

Most observations are stated accurately, but not all very thoroughly.

What the team experienced is unclear and/or confusing for the reader.

Were anyone’s
eyes open?


The paper shows clear evidence of being the integrated product of a team working closely together.

The paper shows good evidence of being written by a team, not just one student.

The paper shows some, but not much evidence of having had input from more than one student.

The paper reads as if it were written mostly by one of the students working alone.

What’s a


The report shows excellent understanding of the service visited, and provides support through details and examples.

The report shows good understanding of the religious service, and includes essential knowledge with some details.

The report shows sufficient understanding of most things, but there is little support and/or a few factual errors.

The authors do not seem to understand the religious group very well and/or there are significant factual errors.

Where are
we, Captain?


How the visited group uses its scriptures is accurately described and well integrated as a major focus of the paper.

How the visited group uses its scriptures is clearly and accurately described.

How the visited group uses its scriptures is mentioned, but not described very clearly or thoroughly.

How the visited group uses its scriptures is hardly mentioned and/or described incorrectly.

What are


The paper exhibits skillful use of the technical vocabulary appropriate to the religious group visited.

The paper exhibits accurate use of vocabulary appropriate to the religious group visited.

The paper exhibits minimal use of appropriate religious vocabulary, but few serious errors.

The paper exhibits a lack of specific religious vocabulary and/or significant errors in its usage.

What religion
did we visit?


The concluding paragraph is strong and leaves the reader solidly understanding what the authors learned.

The conclusion summarizes what the authors learned from this experience.

There is a conclusion, but it does little more than restate the introduction.

There is no clear conclusion; the paper just seems to end.

What’s a

Grammar &

All sentences are constructed well, with no grammatical or punctuation errors, so the paper is very easy to read.

Sentences are constructed well, with very few grammatical or punctuation errors, so the paper is easy to read.

Several grammatical and/or punctuation errors catch the reader's attention and interrupt the flow of the paper.

Many grammatical and/or punctuation errors catch the reader's attention and seriously interrupt the paper’s flow.

Are we in
college yet?

Spelling &

No spelling or capitalization errors at all.

Very few spelling or capitalization errors.

Several different spelling and/or capitalization errors.

Many spelling and/or capitalization errors.

Is this still


4: A bulletin, worship aide, or other printed material from the date of the visit is appended to the report.
3: Some printed material from the visited religious site is appended, but not from the date of the visit.
0: Oops, we forgot!

Total Score possible: 40 points.

Santa Clara University

Other Webpages for SCTR 19 - "Religions of the Book"
Homepage | Syllabus | Schedule | Events | Projects | Site Visits | Resources
Worksheets | ERes | Exams | Slide Shows & Maps

Return to the Homepage of Felix Just, S.J.

This page last updated on February 24, 2007
Copyright © 2007

Santa Clara University