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Notes for Effective Writing I
Notes for Introduction to Literature
Effective Writing I / WCU / wrt120 / Fall 2002 ~~
Stacy Tartar Esch
Main Hall, 417
The purpose of this course is, as the official course description states, to give you "skill in organization and awareness of audience, style of writing, and levels of usage for college and post college writing." In a larger sense, this means that the course will help you write for the particular discourse community comprised of university professors and university educated people in their work settings, and will help you to understand how communication in writing works in the larger public sphere beyond campus. The type of writing that earns respect from university audiences is called "academic discourse"-a somewhat formal, grammatically sophisticated style of language that demonstrates in an organized manner your command of specialized information. Since most people tend to speak and write casually rather than formally, it can take a bit of practice to effectively communicate your own thoughts and perspectives in that "tighter" style. To make matters a little more complicated, there's really not one definitive type of academic discourse. It can take on a number of different tones, or styles, coming across as anything from witty and opinionated to scholarly, impartial, and factual. The tone that academic writing adopts depends on what its purpose is, or who its audience is. This course will instruct you in the kinds of rhetorical decisions and adjustments you can make so that you will write effectively for your university professors and in the world beyond campus as well. Writing effectively can pave a way toward understanding, respect, and power. Nurturing your ability to foster understanding, gain respect, and actualize your personal power is the deep purpose of this course.
The general education goals which this course is designed to meet include: (*) learning to communicate effectively in writing; (*) learning to think critically and analytically; (*) learning to respond thoughtfully to diversity; and (*) becoming prepared to lead productive and contributing lives.
The method of this course is participatory and collaborative. The official course description cites "explanation of the writing process, practice in writing, and feedback" as central elements of the course. This means that I may lecture (infrequently) to explain concepts related to effective writing practices, but more typically my role will be to provide you with methods to practice, to coordinate exploratory discussions and to guide editorial relationships among course participants. You will read and discuss your own work, the work of fellow students, and the work of professional writers. You should have the goal of discovering the procedures that work best for the progress of your own writing in particular. You should consider your essays as works in progress which may require much planning, drafting, and revision and editing. For each essay, you'll consider and reconsider your thesis; you'll engage in peer review and instructor conferencing to discover your audience's response. Each essay should be significantly developed, revised, and edited to achieve the most effective prose possible.
Reading assignments from the texts should help you recognize writing styles and strategies you may apply in your own essays. The text can help you better understand strengths and weaknesses in writing, an understanding you can apply in your own revisions. When readings are assigned it will be assumed that students have read the material before coming to class.
Writing assignments are the heart of the course. The majority of the writing will be several polished essays that will undergo workshops and revision; in addition there may be several brief in class or homework writing assignments related to the larger assignments. All assignments will challenge you to demonstrate rhetorical, stylistic, and grammatical control while thinking critically about a topic important to you. As part of your final portfolio assignment, you'll tag three of the best essays in your portfolio to average for the essay portion of your semester grade. DO NOT see this as an opportunity to skip any of the assignments. ALL ASSIGNED ESSAYS MUST BE COMPLETED. STUDENTS WHO DO NOT COMPLETE EACH OF THE WRITING ASSIGNMENTS MAY NOT SELECT THEIR BEST WORK AT THE END OF THE SEMESTER. If you do not complete all writing assignments, your final essay grade will be the average of all assigned essays instead of your best three. Work not completed will be scored as an F (55).
Late Work: All essays and other assignments are due on the date assigned. If a serious injury, illness, or other emergency seems likely to prevent you from meeting a deadline, make arrangements with me before the assignment is due. If no prior arrangement has been made, late penalties will ensue. Late papers will be assessed a penalty of one letter grade for every two days late. On the seventh day, the paper is officially an F, with no make up or revision possible.
Portfolio. Each student is required to hand in a portfolio of all finished formal assignments at the end of the semester. The portfolios will be accompanied by a "Portfolio Checklist" (to be distributed), and a Self-Assessment Questionnaire (to be distributed). You will be given specific instructions in class as to the presentation of your portfolio at the midterm and again at the end of the semester. So, in accordance with the Department of English policy, you must keep all of your completed essays (and other writings) in a folder, which you will turn in at the end of the semester. The department will keep these for reference until the following semester (Spring 2003), at which time (between the twelfth and fifteenth weeks of the semester) you may retrieve your folder from my office or from one of the department secretaries in Main Hall. After the fifteenth week of the semester the department discards unclaimed portfolios.
Attendance is mandatory. I take attendance each class period. Students are expected to attend every class having read assigned material or prepared assigned homework. Any student who misses more four classes can expect to receive a lowered grade. After four absences your final grade in the course will drop a third of a letter grade (from a B to a B-, say) with each additional absence. Students with extended medical problems or personal emergencies should notify the Dean of Students, who will contact me about allowing for necessary adjustments. Athletes, student teachers, band members, etc., should provide me with a note from the appropriate professor or coach documenting your need to be away from class. Chronic or extended absence throughout the semester without consultation or permission from the Dean of Students will be grounds for failure. These penalties may be waived only in the case of extreme extenuating circumstances. It is up to the student to provide official verification from the Dean's office of extenuating circumstances, and preferably to discuss these issues with me directly via office visit, phone, or email.
Conferences are an important part of the course, and you will be scheduled to have several during the semester. I will schedule conferences in lieu of class on several dates to be announced. You can also meet with me during scheduled office hours if you'd like to receive further individual attention concerning your work as a writer. Each conference is an opportunity for intensive editorial discussion and evaluation of your work's progress.
The grades you
receive on your main essays will emphasize the value of the drafting and
redrafting process that most writers find necessary for the achievement of effective
writing. Due dates for manuscripts will be indicated in advance, and you will
be required to produce the appropriate draft-either a workshop draft for discussion,
or a more polished essay for potential grading-on time. Essays collected for
grades will be marked with editorial comments and an overall grade (see below
for further notes on my grading system). Any time you receive a grade of "D"
you should plan to revise your work. Portfolios will be checked at midterm,
at which time you may wish to assess your progress, and discuss your goals with
me in conference. Portfolios will be collected again at the end of the semester
for the same purpose, and to determine the student's final essay grade. At any
point during the semester, during regularly scheduled office hours or in scheduled
conferences, students may bring their portfolios to receive further specific
editorial guidance and assessment.
Further notes on the grading system
An "A/B+" essay will be characterized by excellent performance in more than one category. It is extremely well focused, beginning with an effective thesis; effectively organized (unified and coherent throughout); highly developed using a variety of rhetorical strategies and demonstrating in-depth analysis, critical awareness, creativity, and originality of expression in several places; stylistically appropriate and grammatically correct, even sophisticated at times. One or two weaknesses may be present (and indicated) but the overall evaluation is that the writing is above average, highly effective academic discourse.
A "B/C" essay will be characterized by competent performance in several areas. It is satisfactorily focused, adequately organized and developed, stylistically appropriate and grammatically correct. One or two weaknesses may be present (and indicated) but the overall evaluation is that the writing is an example of average quality academic discourse.
An "C-/D" essay will be characterized by below average performance in several areas. It may be either poorly focused, organized or developed, stylistically inappropriate or too frequently grammatically incorrect. Strengths may be present (and indicated) but the overall evaluation is that the writing is an example of inadequate academic discourse for reasons indicated on the draft.
An "F" will be recorded for essays which haven't been turned in (see late paper policy above). Students with more than one F cannot pass the course.
The course grade you receive at the end of the semester will reflect several aspects of your work in the course: your ability to complete all course work in a timely fashion, the quality of your main essays and your effort in revising them effectively, the quality of your classwork, homework, and participation in class work and discussion, and your attendance both in class and in conference. The final grade will be determined as follows:
If you are having trouble with a writing assignment, do not hesitate to bring
your problem to my attention or bring your essay to the Writing Center in Main
203. The Writing Center offers free professional tutoring to any student who
is writing a paper for any course offered by the college. The staff will assist
students at all stages of the writing process: developing ideas, organizing
drafts, revising, and editing. Tutors will not serve as your proofreaders, however;
their aim is to help you develop your own skills. You may need to call ahead
for an appointment as the center becomes fairly busy once the semester is under
way. (436-2121) HOURS: M-W (10 a.m. to 7 p.m.), Th (10 a.m. to 8 p.m.), and
F (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.). Visit the Writing
Center's web page.
Diversity and Fair Language. You are required by University policy to use nondiscriminatory language and to treat all issues of diversity respectfully (including, but not limited to, race sex/gender, ethnicity, disability, and sexual orientation). Read Quick Access, pp.101-103.
Academic Honesty. Plagiarism of any type is a serious academic offense that can result in a failing grade on an assignment, failure of the course, or referral to academic judicial affairs, depending upon the instructor's judgment. You are plagiarizing if you (*) lift either ideas or word-for-word passages from a published book, article, or website without giving credit to the author; (*) pass off another student's work as your own; or (*) allow a "helper" to actually write parts of your paper for you. Don't do it!!! Read Quick Access, pp. 126-134.
College writing: goals and practices.
WEEK FOUR, FIVE
and SIX. Expository Writing
EIGHT and NINE. Expository writing, continued.
WEEKS TEN, ELEVEN,
and TWELVE. Working collaboratively.
FOURTEEN, and FIFTEEN.
Questions? Contact me.
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