West Chester University
Home Notebook for Topics in Literature: Rites of Passage (Spring 2006) Notebook for Effective Writing I (Spring 2006) Notebook for Topics in Literature: Imaginary Worlds (Fall 2005) Notebook for Effective Writing I (Fall 2005)
Notebook for Topics in Literature: Rites of Passage (Spring 2006)
Notebook for Effective Writing I (Spring 2006)
Notebook for Topics in Literature: Imaginary Worlds (Fall 2005)
Notebook for Effective Writing I (Fall 2005)
~ Effective Writing I ~
PRINT SYLLABUS (PDF)
Instructor: Stacy Tartar Esch
Campus Office Main Hall, 312
Campus Phone 610-436-2481
Campus Mail Main Hall, 527
Office Hours MW 11:00 AM -1:00 PM; F 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
Email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Web Look for our Course Website at
Course Texts and Materials
The Call to Write, Brief 3rd ed., by John Trimbur, 2005.
The Prentice Hall Guide to Writing, 2nd ed., by Muriel Harris, 2005.
E-Reserves — FHG Library (Access at Library’s Web page: Password is “fall2005”)
Pocket folder or small binder to use as a Portfolio, containing all completed course work
The purpose of this course is to deliver writing instruction and provide opportunities for writing practice. The central assumption is that writing is a skill to be acquired through practice and feedback rather than lecture. The materials we read and the texts that you and your classmates will write are the heart of the course. The textbook, the instructor, as well as supplementary readings and other materials will introduce students to a variety of genres which you will attempt to master through careful drafting, collaboration, revision, workshopping, and peer review. The expectation is that students will come to understand writing as a process of discovery. During workshops, students will be offered both written and verbal feedback to guide the process of revision. The formal texts you write during the semester will not be considered final until you hand in your Portfolio at the end of the semester.
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.
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.
Course Components: Reading, Discussing, Writing
The reading assignments will involve reading instructional chapters in The Call to Write or The Prentice Hall Handbook as well as supplementary materials provided by the instructor in the form of handouts (digital or paper). Students may be responsible for going online to access and print personal copies of digital handouts. These will be available on the course website or from the Library’s E-Reserves. Specific instructions will be provided any time a digital handout is assigned.
Discussion is a term that refers to several different class activities to extend or enhance your thinking on assigned material: class-wide, large group discussions; collaborative, small group discussions; and individual response papers. Students are expected to attend each class prepared to engage in any of these discussion activities when materials are assigned.
The writing assignments for this course reflect our intention to explore three broad types of essay writing: expressive, expository, and persuasive. The expressive writing you do will ask you to draw on your personal experience, your personal observations and perspectives on the world that surrounds you, and your personal response to texts we explore. The objective writing you do will ask you to acquire and/or develop critical thinking skills such as analysis, interpretation, and synthesis. The persuasive writing you do will challenge you to practice an ethical form of persuasion, highly valued in the culture of academia, by learning how to construct a rational argument.
The reading, discussion, and informal writing you do throughout the semester will combine to form your PARTICIPATION grade at the end of the semester. Absence or lack of preparation for any of the assigned classwork or homework will affect your participation grade. The formal writing assignments you do will combine to form your ESSAY grade. If you fail hand in one of your formal essays you cannot receive more than a “D” for your final course grade, regardless of your other scores. If you fail to hand in more than one of your formal essays, you will receive an “F.” Your final course grade is calculated by compiling your PARTICIPATION, ESSAY, and PORTFOLIO scores.
15% Paper #1: Expressive
15% Paper #2: Objective Writing
20% Paper #3: Persuasive: Writing
20% Paper #4: Independent Project
25% INFORMAL WRITING, PREPARATION, AND PARTICIPATION
5% PORTFOLIO W/ CHECKLIST AND QUESTIONNAIRE
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 2006), at which time (after the 10th week of the semester) you may retrieve your folder from my office or from one of the English department secretaries on the 5th floor 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 four 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 four absences your final grade may be lowered according to the severity of your absenteeism and my own discretion. 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.
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, high-quality 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. The number is 436-2121. Writing Center hours will be posted shortly after the start of the semester.
Office of Services for Students with Disabilities. I will make accommodations 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.
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).
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.
Writing Assignment Sequence
Four formal writing assignments and several informal ones will punctuate the course. There are no exams, although when significant reading is assigned I may choose to give quizzes to assess preparedness. Your writing, your active engagement with the materials we explore, and your participation in class activities are the sole determinants of your course grade. Keep all completed homework and classwork in case of a discrepancy between my records and yours. All formal and informal writing, when returned to you, must be stored in a Writer’s Portfolio, a sturdy two pocket folder with your name on the front. This portfolio will be checked soon after midterm (to make sure you’re maintaining it properly) and handed in to your instructor at the end of the semester. All graded writing is placed in the Writer’s Portfolio and provides a hard record of your work in the course.
All informal writing is scored according to a point system, with most activities worth 3 points, though sometimes there will be activities worth more. Formal writing is scored by use of a rubric which reflects my belief in a holistic approach to evaluation, and attempts to provide students with a clear, objective understanding of how their grade is derived. Five equal criteria are applied to determine the quality of your essay: focus, development, organization, style, and correctness. For each of these criteria, students can score “Achieved” (100), “Acceptable” (75), or “Not Achieved” (60). All essays can be revised and resubmitted for re-evaluation as long as the revision is accompanied by the original and a note explaining what you attempted to improve in your revision.
Brief Description of Assignments
Paper #1: Expressive: Memoir, Open Letter, or Response to Literature
Readings: The Call to Write: chapters 1, 2, 4, 5 and handouts (poems, short stories)
Students will read and discuss materials, literary and non-fiction, related to the broad topic of identity. We’ll explore the question of how we come to be the people we are now. Like the characters in many of our readings, we’re all in the process, consciously or unconsciously, of “finding ourselves,” discovering that inner core, and it’s an ongoing, dynamic process. One student wrote, “Being in college gives me a chance to see what it’s like being free from restrictions. I can become more my own person and who I really want to be.” Finding out “who you are” or who you really want to be might mean exploring your past in a memoir. Or it might mean you choose to explore your present—where you are right now—your current ideas and attitudes—in an open letter. Literary works like short stories and poetry, though brief, can be powerful catalysts for self-discovery. Perhaps one of the readings we share will spark some response in you that you feel is worth sharing publicly.
Whatever your choice, the expressive essay provides you with an opportunity to explore some chosen aspect of your self, your identity, with the purpose of communicating who you are to the world around you.
Paper #2: Objective: Profile, Brochure, Fact Sheet, or Web Page
Readings: The Call to Write: chapters 7, 8 and handouts
As a class we’ll study a topic (to be announced) in order to become familiar with the ways in which several forms of objective writing can be usefully applied. Once these forms, or “genres,” are sufficiently demonstrated, students will then choose their own topics of interest to produce objective writing that either profiles, reports upon or critically reviews its subject.
Paper #3: Persuasive: Argumentative Casebook with Persuasive Conclusion
Readings: The Call to Write: chapters 3, 9, 10
Students will have the opportunity to work in teams for this assignment. Each team will create one substantial casebook aimed at fully informing open-minded readers about a controversial, debatable issue. The casebook will also include an argumentative conclusion designed to persuade readers to take a particular position on that issue, which the team has arrived at through careful study of the casebook materials. The means of persuasion will be based on the model of rational argument discussed in class and detailed in a handout which will be distributed (“Guide to Rational Argument”). To facilitate the search for proper sources for the casebook, our class will attend an orientation session at Francis Harvey Green Library. The orientation will help students become familiar with the many complex search strategies needed to successfully navigate the library’s wealth of information. Learning to critically evaluate information, whether from a library or Internet source, is one of the several important educational objectives of this project.
Paper #4: Independent Project: Critical Response to Reading Culture
Readings: The Call to Write: review chapters 3, 9, 10 and read chapter 11
Ideally, college students are at a stage in their educational careers when they undertake the challenge of becoming independent, critical thinkers. Instead of being dependent on others to dictate how they must think, they embrace the opportunity to think for themselves. Emerging from passive habits of dependency isn’t always an easy or comfortable step to take, but it’s a necessary part of the process of becoming fully educated. College students are therefore expected to form their own judgments about the information presented to them and the information they discover independently. It’s this ability to present an informed, respectful, and reasoned discussion on any significant topic that truly marks an educated person. For this assignment you will choose a topic based on your observation of some aspect of American culture and craft a response in the form of a commentary. This assignment, which caps off our semester, asks you to bring all of your writing skills to bear. The commentary may be expressive, objective, or persuasive depending on the context. It can be a blended combination of all three. The writer needs to have learned which approach is most appropriate at any given point in the paper. When is it useful to write expressively, offering your own unique perspective and sharing your personal experience with readers? When is it most effective to gain objective distance and explore your subject objectively? What information do your readers need? What’s the best way to present it to them? What analysis can you provide? What ideas might readers object to? Are you going to try to persuade readers who may object to your views, simply acknowledge differences, or ignore them?
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(s).
Questions? Contact me.
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2001-2008 by Stacy Tartar Esch.
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