West Chester University
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~~ BASIC WRITING / Syllabus / Fall 2004 ~~
INSTRUCTOR: Stacy Esch
Main Hall, 312
ENG 020 is a course about both writers and writing. It provides an opportunity for writers to learn about and practice the process of writing and to gain confidence in themselves as individuals able to express significant ideas in their writing. A goal of the course is for writers to feel more empowered in their abilities, but also to be able to recognize the areas that they want and need to improve on, including but not limited to grammar and syntax conventions in Academic Written English (AWE). To arrive at that awareness students will receive feedback on a variety of writing tasks throughout the semester. Writing tasks may be long or short, but will include complete pieces of writing in a variety of genres (narrative, analysis, commentary) and for a variety of purposes (expressive, expository, persuasive). You'll learn to use multiple drafts and revision as essential parts of the writing process. You'll engage with your classmates in collaborative peer reviews and editing sessions. You'll have the opportunity, frequently, to meet with your professor and with tutors (if you choose to) for one-on-one, individualized instruction.
Along with the idea that writing is a process, we'll consider how writing can be a received "final" product which can have an impact on the world. We'll explore the rhetorical situation of the university as an institution with its own conventions, and our potential contributions to it. We'll explore the ways in which our "home discourses" (our individual habits, values, ways of speaking) all add enormous value to the university culture, and discuss the possibility of enacting a "critical bilingualism" in order to get those ideas across to academic audiences with firm expectations. By the same token, we'll want to explore how the habits, beliefs, values and language of "university discourse" can enrich your own goals and lives. We'll make these explorations through a variety of methods: the study of model texts through reading, analysis and discussion; the teaching of rhetorical concepts (audience, purpose, style, focus, development, structure, etc.); practice in logic and reasoning; studying the "voice" of the university-especially the most prominent conventions of academic discourse-and comparing it to other voices, other conventions-especially those that, if used in an academic context, may earn students the label of "outsider." In short, a major outcome of the course will be the students' growing awareness of the tide of academic discourse, and their ability to confidently navigate those waters.
REQUIRED TEXTS AND OTHER MATERIALS
Gosgarian, Gary. Exploring Language. 10th ed. New York: Longman, 2004.
Troyka, Lynn Quitman. Quick Access. 4th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ, Prentice-Hall, 2004.
Writing: Students will be expected to produce approximately three out-of-class essays (approx. 3-4 pages / 1500-2000 words) and two in-class essays (the midterm and final exams). Each essay will be evaluated according to how well you focus, organize, develop, stylize, and edit your work. A rubric that will be used for evaluation will be distributed for each paper at the workshop prior to the due date.
Classwork: Students will be expected to voice opinions in classwork exercises, which may include independent seatwork sessions, cooperative learning groups, writing workshops, and class-wide forums, and which call for discussion and/or written response. Written classwork and homework exercises will be graded on a 1, 2, 3 scale, with 3 being the highest and 1 being the lowest. Missed classwork or homework, unless the student makes it up, is recorded as a "0."
Portfolio: Students will be expected to collect and maintain all graded essays in a standard file folder (portfolio) to be handed in at the end of the course. In order to pass ENG Q20, students must achieve a semester average of no less than C- (a grade of D+ requires students to repeat the course.
A FEW GENERAL POLICIES
Attendance: 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 than three classes may receive a lowered grade. (Absences necessitated by a student's participation in a University-sanctioned event are not penalized if the student follows the "excused absence" policy stated in the University catalog.) After three absences your final grade may be lowered according to the severity of your absenteeism. 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.
Late Work: All essays and other assignments are due on the date assigned. If a serious injury, illness, or other emergency prevents you or seems likely to prevent you from meeting a deadline, make arrangements with me before the assignment is due, or the day it was due. If no specific arrangement has been made, late penalties will ensue, one letter grade for up to two days late (weekends count). You cannot turn in an assignment for full credit more than one week after its due date. After one week, your work can only work earn a "D" (numerically 65) or lower.
Revision: Students are encouraged to keep revising essays to achieve the highest mark possible, but students must revise essays receiving a mark of "IP," which is roughly equivalent to a "D" grade. (Remember a "D" is not a passing grade for ENG 020.) Read "More on Evaluation," which is attached to this syllabus, for more information. I encourage students to meet with me or with a professional tutor in the Writing Center (see below for more information about the Writing Center) to discuss your revision strategy. You must hand in the original (graded) essay with any revision. I will not accept any revised paper unless the original, along with the rubric, is returned along with it.
Conferences: Several times during the semester, I will meet with you individually. Most of these conferences will take place during class time, but students are encouraged to drop in at any time during my regularly scheduled office hours to seek extra help or discuss progress.
Writing Workshops: Before out-of-class essays are due, we'll set aside time in class for writing workshops. Students are expected to prepare a complete typed draft of the essay and bring 3 copies to class on the assigned date. The essay will be critiqued in small peer groups according to directions given in class. The purpose of the writing workshop is to encourage critical evaluation of your own and others' drafts and to promote productive revision. Seeing your classmates' works in progress can be both interesting and instructive.
Writing Center: 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 (10-4), Tu (9-5), W (9:30-7:30), Th (10-7:30), F (10-2).
Office of Services for Students with Disabilities: I will make every accommodation for students with disabilities. If you have a disability, please make your needs known to me and contact the Office of Services for Students with Disabilities at 436-3217 for further support or information.
All essays, classwork, and in-class writing exams are graded on a point scale which at the end of the semester will be totaled, averaged, weighted, and then converted to a final letter grade based on the following percentage distribution:
50% Major Essays
(average of four, or the average of your best three if all four were completed
Your final percentage
will be converted to a letter grade as follows:
Week 14, 15 New topic: Practice for the final exam. Reading: TBD. Writing: Students will write an impromptu essay in class in response to the reading distributed as practice for the final exam. Reading for the common final exam will be distributed and discussed. Also, a Portfolio checklist and self-assessment assignment will be distributed.
Each of your essays will be read and evaluated holistically with marks of HP, P or IP, that will be converted to numerical percentages (see below).
A holistic reading of your essay involves applying the following criteria towards the overall assessment. Rubrics will be distributed with each essay that reflect these basic criteria.
Focus refers to an essay's central idea, expressed as an effective thesis in the introduction, conclusion, or in different wording throughout the essay. An essay is well-focused when the thesis is carefully worded and presented prominently. The thesis is a sentence in the essay which tells the reader both the subject of the essay and the writer's particular assertion about that subject in general but explicit terms. An unfocused essay may be too broad or general-the writer hasn't considered carefully his/her specific assertion about a general subject. An unfocused essay may be one that does not contain an effective thesis.
Development refers to the amount of explanation and detail you use to get your points across to your readers. Development is the "content" of your essay. Throughout the course you'll learn several rhetorical strategies for developing your papers effectively based on your overall purpose (expressive, expository, or persuasive) and your analysis of audience. A well developed essay is one that uses sufficient explanation and detail to effectively communicate its message. After a general point is made, the writer takes the time to explain and support it with specific detail. A well developed essay is one that uses rhetorical strategies such as narration, description, illustration, comparison/contrast, cause/effect analysis, process analysis, classification/division, and definition when appropriate to the writer's purpose. A poorly developed essay is one that does not develop ideas specifically, in detail, but instead makes general or vague assertions without explaining or supporting them. A poorly developed essay may not take advantage of any or enough rhetorical strategies at the writer's disposal.
Organization can refer to (1) the essay's overall structure-the presence and quality of its introduction, body, and conclusion; (2) the essay's overall unity and coherence; and (3) individual paragraph unity and coherence. The structure of an essay requires that it have an introduction to focus the reader's attention, a body to develop the essay's thesis, and a conclusion to explain what the essay has accomplished and why its ideas are significant. Unity and coherence are basic, but essential writing principles. A unified essay is one that "sticks to the point." All statements, explanations, specific detail-everything, in other words-relates back to the essay's central idea, its thesis. No unrelated tangents distract the reader's attention from the main idea. An essay without unity may make several interesting points but they do not add up to support for your thesis. A coherent essay is one that "makes sense." Coherence refers to the order of sentences and paragraphs in your essay. In a coherent essay, ideas follow one another smoothly and logically. The writer uses transitional statements or phrases when necessary so that no gaping holes open up between ideas. An incoherent essay is difficult to follow because the writer seems to ramble from idea to idea without showing any connection.
Mechanics is a catch-all term that I use to refer to the correctness of a paper's grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Errors can be classified as solitary (only one instance), "occasional" (more than one instance), or "frequent" (more than, say, three instances). Solitary and occasional errors may be brought to your attention but will only result in a deduction if there are several different kinds. Frequent errors can lower your overall grade.
Although style can be defined several ways, in the sense that I am using it style refers to a writer's ability to distinguish him or herself through fluent, creative use of the language. If your use of language is provocative, colorful, attention-grabbing, then you have style. Your readers will find it pleasurable reading your essay. If your use of language is effective but predictable, clear but non-evocative, then you may lack an engaging style, but you've communicated the necessary information. Lastly, you may have poor style if you (1) overuse the passive voice; (2) write too many windy, wordy sentences with excessive clauses or conjunctions; (3) write too many short, choppy sentences; (4) frequently use inflated, unnecessarily formal language; (5) frequently use slang, jargon, or colloquial language; (6) fail to vary your sentence structure sufficiently.
Questions? Contact me.
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2001-2008 by Stacy Tartar Esch.
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