English Composition I

COURSE syllabus AND RESOURCES

Course Description

English Composition 1 provides students with the rhetorical foundations that prepare them for the demands of academic and professional writing. In this course, students will learn and practice the strategies and processes that successful writers employ as they work to accomplish specific purposes. In college, these purposes include comprehension, instruction, entertainment, persuasion, investigation, problem-resolution, evaluation, explanation, and refutation. In addition to preparing students for academic communication, this core-curriculum course prepares students to use writing to realize professional and personal goals. Accordingly, class discussion and readings will address the function of rhetoric and of composing processes in a variety of contexts, with attention to various audiences. Throughout the course, while engaged in a diversity of composing endeavors, students will learn to respond constructively to their peers’ texts and to use peer responses (along with extensive instructor feedback) to improve the quality of their own work.

Learning Outcomes

After taking English 1, students should be able to:

  • Organize compositions using the writing process as a systematic and on-going strategy
  • Organize essays effectively by using focused paragraphing to support ideas appropriately with specific and credible evidence Identify sources appropriate to the assignment
  • Cite sources properly
  • Demonstrate critical reading and thinking skills by integrating the ideas of others through the analysis and synthesis of information
  • Adapt writing to various audiences by refining sentences for clarity, variety, and appropriate diction
  • Employ grammatical conventions suitable to audience and purpose

Learning Philosophy

As an instructor of a writing course, I believe my job is to help you to discover your own writing process; in other words, how do you think and communicate best through writing? What steps do you need to take? What strategies can you use? I also believe that reading texts of all kinds, thinking critically about your reading, and being able to communicate those thoughts to others are three fundamental components of life-long learning.

Writing is an experiential learning process, which means that student’s learn best by applying what they are learning in the classroom. This means that to become a better writer, students must write daily. Therefore, in order to get the most out of this class, as a student, you will get out of this course as much as you put into it.

Communication is a vital part of learning. I encourage you to share your concerns with me, as I will also share my concerns about the course with you. If you send an email, I will respond as promptly as I can.

Required Materials

  • Roen, D., Glau, G, and Maid, B. (2012) The McGraw-Hill Guide: Writing for College, Writing for Life. (3rd Edition)

Recommended Materials

  • A portable USB storage device
  • A college-level dictionary

Course Outline

This course is divided into five learning units or modules. Each unit will cover one particular type of writing or genre. In each unit, the student will learn to use the strategies taught in class in order to write solid academic essays exploring various topics of interest.

  • Unit 1: Writing to Share Experiences
  • Unit 2: Writing to Inform
  • Unit 3: Writing to Analyze
  • Unit 4: Writing to Evaluate
  • Unit 5: Writing to Convince

assignments and Major Papers

Students will write five essays on various topics in order to demonstrate knowledge of the genre’s explored in the course. Each essay is worth 100 points. In addition to the major papers, in-class writing assignments will be give weekly and students will be awarded participating points (up to 10 per week) for participating in classroom activities. Pop quizzes and a final exam will cover content learned throughout the semester.

  • Essay 1 – A Narrative on a Shared Experience
  • Essay 2 – A Summary of an Important Issue
  • Essay 3 – An Analysis of a Public Document
  • Essay 4 – A Review of Media
  • Essay 5 – A Commentary on a Trend or Phenomenon

Course Expectations and Grading

Grading Criteria for Writing Assignments

These criteria define the categories essential to the success of an essay. Essays are evaluated based on these elements, each of which must fulfill a specific function to support the overall effectiveness of the essay.  Depending on the assignment, certain criteria may be weighted more than others, and the instructor’s assignment may establish additional, more specific criteria.

Thesis. The thesis is the central idea of the essay that is appropriate for the assignment, gives the essay a controlling sense of purpose, and establishes a sustained and consistent focus. The thesis statement concisely expresses the main idea and previews the supporting ideas.

Audience. The content and style are tailored for the intended audience.

Organization.

Essay. An essay demonstrates a logical progression of ideas, provides clear and smooth transitions among ideas, and uses structure appropriate to an academic essay.

Body Paragraph Structure. A body paragraph includes a main idea expressed in a topic sentence strongly tied to the stated thesis, unified supporting details, and clear connections among ideas.

Introduction and Conclusion. An introduction captures the reader’s attention, transitions to the topic by giving context or background information, and presents the thesis statement. A conclusion reemphasizes the essay’s thesis and main ideas and provides a sense of closure.

Support.

Development of Ideas. A well-developed essay supports the thesis with ample evidence; uses a variety of specific examples, quotations, or other details; and explains the evidence to show its connections to the thesis.

Level of Thought. The essay presents clear, sophisticated, insightful ideas that recognize the complexity of the topic without inaccuracies or errors in reasoning.

Expression.

Use of Standard Written English. The essay is written in Standard English without errors in sentence boundaries, spelling, punctuation, mechanics, and grammar.

Style. The student writes in a consistent, academic tone, using varied sentence structure and accurate and precise word choice.

Use and Documentation of Sources. The essay accurately quotes and paraphrases credible sources, effectively balances source material with the writer’s own ideas, and cites and documents correctly according to the standards of the discipline.

Format. The essay is formatted according to the standards of the discipline.

Assessment of the Grading Criteria

Essays may earn grades ranging from A to F. The quality of each of the twelve elements above determines the letter grade, as described below.

A Paper (Excellent)

To earn an A, a paper must meet all of the criteria below:

  1. The paper fulfills all the basic requirements of the assignment (for example, topic, purpose, length).
  2. The paper supports its thesis with a thorough development of ideas entirely tailored to the intended audience.
  3. The thesis and ideas in the paper are consistently original and insightful and demonstrate a sophistication and complexity of thought.
  4. The organization of the paper is consistently logical and coherent, and the paper exhibits a mastery of basic paper components (introduction, conclusion, and body paragraph structure).
  5. If sources are required, the paper accurately uses and correctly documents credible source material to add insight, sophistication, and complexity to the paper’s ideas.
  6. The paper demonstrates a high level of understanding and skill in the use of Standard English, style, and format.

B Paper (Good)

To earn a B, a paper must meet all of the criteria below:

  1. The paper fulfills all the basic requirements of the assignment (for example, topic, purpose, length).
  2. The paper supports its thesis with a substantial development of ideas consistently tailored to the intended audience.
  3. The thesis and ideas in the paper effectively combine original and insightful observations with commonly accepted ideas (generated by class discussion, for example).
  4. The organization of the paper is mostly logical and coherent, and the paper exhibits a strong ability to incorporate basic paper components (introduction, conclusion, and body paragraph structure).
  5. If sources are required, the paper accurately uses and correctly documents credible source material to supplement its ideas.
  6. The paper demonstrates understanding and skill in the use of Standard English, style, and format, with, at most, only a few errors, rather than any pattern of consistent error.

C Paper (Satisfactory)
To earn a C, a paper must meet all of the criteria below:

  1. The paper fulfills all the basic requirements of the assignment (for example, topic, purpose, length).
  2. The paper supports its thesis with an adequate development of ideas that are consistently appropriate for the intended audience.
  3. The thesis and ideas in the paper are generally clear and logical, perhaps relying primarily on commonly accepted ideas (generated by class discussion, for example).
  4. The organization of the paper is generally logical and coherent, and the paper indicates competence in basic paper components (introduction, conclusion, and body paragraph structure).
  5. If sources are required, the paper uses the minimum required amount of credible source material and documents it, with only occasional errors.
  6. The paper demonstrates competence in the use of Standard English, style, and format, with occasional errors.

D Paper (Deficient)

To earn a D, a paper will exhibit one or more of the weaknesses below:

  1. The paper only partially fulfills one or more of the basic requirements of the assignment (for example, topic, purpose, length).
  2. The paper’s development of ideas is insufficient to support its thesis adequately, or the ideas are not consistently appropriate for the intended audience.
  3. The thesis and ideas in the paper are not consistently clear or logical, or they may rely entirely on commonly accepted ideas (generated by class discussion, for instance).
  4. The organization of the paper is not consistently logical and coherent, or the paper indicates awareness of but not competence in basic paper components (introduction, conclusion, and body paragraph structure).
  5. If sources are required, the paper uses sources but does not meet the minimum source requirements, uses source material inaccurately, or uses sources that are not credible; though documentation may be in place, the paper contains frequent documentation errors.
  6. The paper contains consistent errors in use of Standard English, style, or format.

F Paper (Failing)

To earn an F, a paper will exhibit one or more of the weaknesses below:

  1. The paper fails to fulfill one or more of the basic requirements of the assignment (for example, topic, purpose, length).
  2. The paper largely fails to develop ideas to support its thesis, or the ideas are consistently inappropriate for the intended audience.
  3. The thesis and ideas in the paper are consistently unclear, illogical, or incomplete.
  4. The organization of the paper is consistently illogical or incoherent, or the paper indicates lack of awareness and lack of competence in basic paper components (introduction, conclusion, and body paragraph structure).
  5. If sources are required, the paper fails to use sources, does not meet the minimum source requirements, uses source material inaccurately, uses sources that are not credible, consistently fails to document source material fully or correctly, or includes plagiarized source material.
  6. The paper contains pervasive errors in use of Standard English, style, or format.