Policies for Advanced Composition

[This is a sample of a typical policy statement which includes everything from grade formulas to a brief discussion of academic honesty. Please feel free to use this in any way that you like. I would love to hear about it, too, so if you do find this page useful drop me a line [jamesraywatkins at gmail.com] or leave a comment below.]

Instructor: Dr. Ray Watkins
Class Times: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday 11 to 11:50
Location: Coleman 3130, Lecture Room and 3120, Computer Room

Note: We will alternate between the Lecture Room (3130) and the Computer Room (CH 3120). See your Syllabus for more details.Office: Coleman 3010
Office Hours:1 to 1:50 M, W, and F or by appointment
Email address : raywatkins@writinginthewild.com

Goals: English 3001 is an advanced composition course that will enhance your understanding of academic and professional writing and give you practice in producing both. Our subject matter is the world of work, and the place of writing and ideas in the modern workplace. Because this is an advanced course in writing, we will necessarily focus on honing your editorial and copy-editing expertise.

Our goals include the refinement of skills in the following areas:

1. Using bibliographic and field research — improve your knowledge of how libraries work and how to use them; improve your knowledge of how to go out into the world and collect information relevant to your interests as a researcher.

2. Critical reading — improve your ability to read critically, to question, and to evaluate what you read. In order to be a more critical reader, you have to participate in what you are reading, actively deciphering the argument in all its parts rather than passively receiving strings of words.

3. Constructing arguments — improve your ability to construct your own arguments. This skill depends on your mastery of critical reading as I have described it above. The better reader you are, the better writer you can be. Again, one of our aims is to learn to distinguish between an opinion and a reasoned argument based on carefully constructed texts, evidence, and so on.

4. Collaborative learning — improve your ability to learn from and to teach others about your own thinking and about writing. Much of your success in this course will depend on the process of drafting and peer critiques. You will practice forming honest, thorough, and constructive critiques of your writing as well as your peers’ writing, and how to make use of what you have learned from your own self-critique and that of others.

5. Clean, smart prose– improve your ability to write clear and meaningful sentences, to compose organized and developed paragraphs, and to identify and address recurring grammatical or mechanical problems specific to your own writing (these vary from writer to writer).

6. Technology — prose writing has become much more technologically sophisticated in recent years, and you will be expected to learn and fully utilize a wide range of software now routine in professional writing. Primarily, this will center on the creation of an online portfolio of your writing, built step by step over the course of the semester. Also important will be electronic mail, as well as word processing software.

Major Writing Assignments:

A. The primary task of our course is called the Writing in the Wild research project. This project includes several important writing assignments, including but not limited to:

An Annotated Research Bibliography
An Oral Report
Interview Questions, an Interview, and Research Summary
An Online Portfolio

B. You will produce the following helpful, effective, 450 to 900 word Peer Critiques:

On a (Draft) Annotated Research Bibliography
On a (Draft) Interview / Research Summary

C. You will produce the following informative and insightful 450 to 900 word Self-Commentaries:

Introduction to the Writer-Researcher
Mid Term Writer-Researcher Check
The Writer-Researcher: On the Semester as a Whole

Grades: Your final grade will be determined as follows:

Annotated Research Bibliography: 15%
Oral Report: 15%
Interview Questions / Interview / Research Summary: 25%
Average of Three Self-Commentaries: 10%
Average of Two Peer Critiques: 10%
Web Site Portfolio: 10%
Miscellaneous Course Participation / Engagement: 15%

Other Matters:

E-Mail Activity: Enrollment in this class requires an EIU e-mail account, and you must check it frequently, preferably every day for messages pertaining to the course. You will also use this account to set up and use your own course web site (the web portfolio). E-mail is the quickest, easiest way to reach me if I am not in my office. I welcome any and all questions and comments.

Regarding the Writing Center: The EIU Writing Center provides no-cost collaborative services and students may drop in or schedule appointments during working hours. I would strongly recommend that you make use of this service. Collaboration, as we shall see over and over again, is key to success in any research or writing project.

Classroom Environment: In class, I expect all of you to participate in discussions. The best way to demonstrate that you are an active, engaged, and interested reader, writer and researcher is by contributing regularly to class discussions, and by paying close, respectful attention to what everyone else has to say. If you have questions, no matter how simple or complicated, go ahead and ask me, either in class or via e-mail — chances are that other people have the same question. I do not plan to lecture in this class; I want us to contribute together to a positive, challenging, interesting learning environment. Finally, you must also be willing to give and receive constructive, insightful, frank criticism! I’m sure that all of you will work very hard on your projects, but try not to let criticism of your work hurt your feelings, and don’t hold back from offering helpful advice because you think it might hurt someone else’s feelings.

Attendance Policy: I will take attendance, and I expect you to attend class every day, on time, and be prepared to discuss the material listed for that day on the daily schedule. I consider four absences the limit, and your course grade will be dropped by a letter for each absence beyond four. Also, missing a scheduled conference meeting without prior notification will result in the automatic lowering of your grade for the current project by ten points. Call or write to me via e-mail if you have to miss a conference; I will do the same if I have to reschedule. Regarding tardiness: This is a small class, so late arrivals are disruptive. If you will not be able to arrive for this class on time because of other commitments, drop it and take another section. Finally, you are responsible for all assignments, whether you attend class or not. Get the telephone number of one or two other students in class so you can find out about missed assignments before you come to class.

Academic Honesty: I expect you to act honestly and do your own work in this class, and so does Eastern Illinois University. It is your responsibility to familiarize yourself with the English Department’s policy on plagiarism: Any teacher who discovers an act of plagiarism — ‘The appropriation or imitation of the language, ideas, and/or thoughts of another author, and representation of them as one’s original work’ (Random House Dictionary of the English Language) — has the right and the responsibility to impose upon the guilty student an appropriate penalty, up to and including immediate assignment of a grade of F for the course, and to report the incident to the Judicial Affairs Office.

One Thought on “Policies for Advanced Composition

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