West Chester University
Home Notebook for Basic Writing (Fall 2004)
Notebook for Basic Writing (Fall 2004)
~~ Effective Writing I / Syllabus / Fall 2004 ~~
INSTRUCTOR: Stacy Tartar Esch
Main Hall, 312
The purpose of this course is, as the official course description states, "an intensive course in writing that emphasizes skill in organization and awareness of styles of writing and levels of usage as ways of expressing and communicating experiences." Unlike other writing emphasis courses that cover specific disciplinary material, the heart of our writing course are the texts that you and your classmates will write. The course will introduce several genres you'll attempt to master through careful drafting, collaboration, revision, workshopping, and peer review. Attention will be paid to the principles of effective written communication, including, but not limited to the connections among purpose and audience, self and audience, grammar, style, syntax, and punctuation. Our course will treat writing as a process by offering both written and verbal feedback that will help shape revision. The texts your write during the semester will not be considered "final" until you hand in your Portfolio at the end of the semester.
The substance of this course will be to help you become aware of the kinds of rhetorical decisions and adjustments you can make so that you will write effectively not only for your university professors but 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. For each assignment, we'll explore how our work can help you move toward achieving these worthwhile goals.
The method of this course is listed in the course catalog as "lecture," but that will hardly be the case during the majority of our class sessions, which will be overwhelmingly participatory and collaborative. 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 you and your peers. Many of our classes will involve reading and discussing your own work, the work of fellow students, and the work of professional writers who can provide inspiration.
Along the way, make your goal the discovery of procedures that work best for the progress of your own writing in particular. Consider your essays as works in progress which may require much planning, drafting, revision, and editing. For each essay, you'll consider and reconsider your thesis; you'll engage in peer review and obtain instructor feedback to help you discover your audience's response. Each of your major papers should be significantly developed, revised, and edited to achieve the most effective prose possible.
Reading assignments from the texts should help you recognize genres, writing styles and strategies you may apply in your own papers. The text can help you better understand strengths and weaknesses in writing, an understanding you can apply in your own revisions. Our text is also a great source of planning, drafting, and revising strategies. Readings and exercises are an essential element of the course; it's expected that any readings assigned will be completed before you come to class, so that you can get the maximum benefit from any discussion or classwork that may follow.
Writing assignments are the heart of the course. The majority of the writing will be several polished essays that will undergo workshopping 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 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 is due. If no specific arrangement has been made, late penalties will ensue. Late papers will be assessed a penalty of one letter grade for every two days late (in our age of email, 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 earn a "D" (numerically 65) or lower.
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 2005), at which time (between the 12th and 15th weeks of the semester) you may retrieve your folder from my office or from one of the English department secretaries in Main Hall. After the 15th week of the semester the department discards unclaimed portfolios.
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.
Conferences are an important part of the course, and you will have the opportunity to meet with me several times during the semester. Some conferences will take place in lieu of class and some will be conducted during class. If you need further conferencing, you can meet with me during scheduled office hours. Each conference is an opportunity for personalized editorial discussion and evaluation of your work's progress.
Grades. 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 scored by rubric (see below) and will be marked with editorial comments as needed. Any time you receive a grade of "IP" (numerically 65, equivalent to a "D") you should plan to revise your work. Portfolios will be informally 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 at the end of the semester 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.
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:
60% The average
of your best three (out of four) essay grades
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).
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!!! If you have any questions about how to use sources properly, approach me or one of the tutors in the Writing Center. You can also read Quick Access, pp. 126-134.
Please note that the assignments and/or dates on this schedule are subject to change during the course of the semester. Changes will always be announced in class and on the course website: http://www.brainstorm-services.com/wcu-2004.
Week 13 Topics due. In-class conferences. Happy Thanksgiving!!!!
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).
P / P+ = Pass (falls within the "C" to "B" range, numerically 75 or 85)
IP = In Progress
(falls within the "D" range, numerically 65)
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.
Questions? Contact me.
materials unless otherwise indicated are copyright © 2001-2004 by Stacy
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