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Class Syllabus

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ENG 114 – 39 : Intro to Composition



Course Description:

Welcome to Eng 114 – Intro to Composition. Here you will begin to learn about, identify, and practice writing with basic elements of academic composition, expanding your awareness of academic writing as a genre with specific expectations and requirements, while also building on your previous writing experiences and strengths coming into the classroom. While closely dissecting a wide variety of essays that we will be using as models, you will learn to recognize the basic components of strong academic writing while striving to incorporate those elements into your own work. The class will emphasize 


  • structural skills (writing a strong thesis, organizing paragraphs around clear topic statements, paragraph development toward a conclusion, paragraph transitions), 
  • mechanical skills (sentence structures, developing style/tone, punctuation and grammar expectations, document formatting), 
  • rhetorical skills (adopting various kinds of argument strategies, audience consideration, acts of persuasion, understanding context)
  • research skills (paraphrasing/summarizing/quoting, annotating texts, MLA citation, library search functions). Lastly, you will begin to advance your sense of writing academic essays as an extended process which will increase your ability to read actively (writing while you read, reading critically), brainstorm initial ideas/assumption/intuitions, create and heavily revise multiple drafts, rework original ideas with the incorporation of research, edit developed drafts to strengthen and clarify key ideas, proofreading for minor errors, and to self-evaluate and self-critique finished work. Crammed into this small paragraph, it might look like writing overload, but spread out across our time together this semester, you will have a lot of time to think through, question, practice, and develop these new skills through a range of different tasks, responses, and assignments.


Finally, I should mention my belief that writing skills are a kind of muscle memory that are developed through active reading and writing time, through repetition and practice, and by increasing your difficulty comfort level. Just as in sports, weight training, or learning a musical instrument, real and observable gains in writing skills will only come to those who commit to focused and disciplined daily practice, attention, and time devoted to reading and writing. This class is an introduction to writing skills geared toward academic writing. You won't master these skills in our short time together, but you will become aware of a wide range of ideas, techniques, and strategies for writing that you can continue to work on well beyond our time together. Strong writing skills are useful not only for scholastic study, but also in the work force and in your own personal intellectual and creative development. Writing is a way of thinking, of exploring what you know and what you don't, of testing ideas of your own (or others), and of finding a shape and form for your encounters with the world. To grow as a writer is to grow as a thinker and to expand your creative capacities as a human being. For real. 


Course Goals:

  • You will compose a minimum of six short essays, two of which will be written in class; at least two of these essays will be no less than 750 words.
  • You will apply the following three organizational patterns to plan, structure, and develop essays: comparison/contrast, cause/effect, and argumentation; additional patterns may also be used.
  • You will develop and write effective opening, closing, and body paragraphs, applying appropriate techniques for each type of paragraph.
  • You will identify appropriate transitions to improve coherence and apply techniques to improve unity.
  • You will paraphrase, summarize and quote from other sources and correctly use this material within at least one essay.
  • You will locate information on a topic and use the fundamentals of parenthetical documentation (MLA style) to incorporate basic research into your writing.
  • You will interpret and analyze essay models in the textbook and apply this critical reading to self-generated writing.
  • You will identify and correct sentence-level errors in your own writing.
  • You will compose a minimum of 5,000 words for this course, including both formal and informal writing.

Required Textbooks:

1)    Langan, John. College Writing Skills with Readings, 9th edition. ISBN: 0078036275 (amazon)


Assignments and Grade Point Value:


  • Essay 1 - 100
  • Essay 2 - 200
  • Essay 3 - 300 
  • Essay 4 - 400
  • Mid-Term Exam - 200
  • Final Exam - 200
  • Homework - 300  (12 homework responses, 25pts each)
  • Participation - 800
    • Attendance (see policy below)
    • Attentive (-25pts for tech distractions)
    • Prepared (-25pts for not having all materials)
    • Engagement (asking questions, offering examples, reading aloud, focused writing) 


Passing Grades:

  • 1600 - 1900 = C
  • 1900 - 2200 = B
  • 2200 - 2500 = A 



Late Work:


All work is to be printed out in hardcopy (double-spaced) to turn in on the assigned due dates, unless otherwise instructed.


Weekly Response writing will not be accepted late. It is graded complete or incomplete.


Essays can be turned in one class following the due date if you have emailed me your paper by the due date and the hardcopy you turn in is identical. Otherwise, a paper can be turned in late at the beginning of the first class following the due date, with a loss of 15% (a B+ paper becomes a C). You will not be able to turn in late work beyond that first class after a paper’s due date.



Attendance Policy:

You are counted absent when you do not show up to class, or you attend less than 75 minutes of a single class session.


You will be permitted 3 absences without penalty for the semester. These are your emergency/sick days. Save them for emergencies/sicknesses. Each absence after your 3rd will lower your final participation grade by 100 points.


You will be dropped from the course upon your 8th absence. If you miss 4 classes in a row, you will be dropped from the course. When we are past the last day to drop a course, you will instead receive a failing grade. You do not need to inform me of or provide documentation for your absences. 


Late/Partial Class Policy:


Arriving to class late or leaving class early will count as 1/3 of an absence (see policy above). In other words, three lates/partial classes will equal one absence.  



Academic Dishonesty:

SWC’s plagiarism policy is as follows:  “Academic dishonesty of any type by a student provides grounds for disciplinary action by the instructor or college.  In written work, no material may be copied from another without proper quotation marks, footnotes, or appropriate documentation.”

Evidence of plagiarism will be grounds for a failing grade and referral to the Dean for review and/or potential further action. It is your responbility to know what counts as plagiarism and academic dishonesty. Never hesitate to ask me questions about using research, citing/documenting resources, or plagiarism. There’s no question too simple or basic to feel shy about. 

Writing Center:

The Academic Success Center is where you will find the Writing Center which is there to provide FREE tutoring and assistance with every and all aspects of the writing and research process. Take advantage of this free service and get help with any aspect that you know tends to trip you up (writer’s block, researching issues, grammar and vocabulary, transitions, thesis, organization of ideas, brainstorming, etc. ).


See me early in the semester or provide me with Disability Support Services (DSS) documentation to get any and all assistance you need to excel in this course. I will go out of my way to make sure the classroom is an environment where you can thrive as long as I’m made aware in advance of what I can do, in conjunction with DSS, to ensure a workable/accessible space.


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