Dr. Dean Taciuch
George Mason University

Spring 2010


English 302: B12
Course Syllabus

Course Description

English 302 is an Advanced Composition course. Although we will make use of technical formats (such as proposals and professional journal articles), the focus will be on conducting secondary research, organizing the results of the research, and presenting your interpretations of your findings to appropriate audiences.

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Course Schedule


Learning goals and Objectives

English 302 focuses on the research process. In this course, you will be conducting secondary research by reading and analyzing the writings of others, forming your own opinions and recommendations (a working thesis or hypothesis), then gathering more information via research to support or modify that opinion into a final thesis.

The course will make use of the peer-review process, and you will revise your theses as you find more information. Information that contradicts your thesis cannot be ignored if it is relevant (and contradiction doesn't automatically imply irrelevance). Rather, the thesis will need to explain the apparent contradictions.

We will also develop writing and document design skills for standard business documents, such as letters and résumés. By the end of the course, your writing styles should be more polished, and you should have familiarity with business writing conventions as well as research skills.

Texts and Online Readings

Thaler and Sunstein, Nudge. Revised and Expanded edition

Writing Center online resources
Nudge blog


Exercises (5%)
Preliminary Essay (5%)
Summary (10%)
Customer Letter (5%)
Short Report (10%)
Research Assignment (10%)
Research Proposal (5%)
Annotated Bibliography (15%)
Peer Review (5%)
Research Paper (20%)
Presentation: (10%)

Grading Policies

Grades on the essays will be based primarily on the quality of the writing. I value clear, focused writing with plenty of examples. The audience for the essays will be the class itself, and I expect the papers to be written with this audience in mind.

Grades on the annotated bibliography will be based primarily on your evaluations of the sources and secondarily on the citations themselves.

A note on final grading: You must earn the grade of C or better in this course to receive credit for it and to fulfill this portion of the English composition requirement in General Education. A grade of C- or below will not be sufficient to receive Gen. Ed. credit for this course.

Late Assignments: Unless you make prior arrangements with me, late assignments will lose one letter grade per day. The lost grades cannot be made up by revision.

Revisions: The essays may be revised for a higher grade, but they must be substantially revised. You cannot lose a grade by revising, but a higher grade is not guaranteed. I have found that B papers (or higher) are often more difficult to revise, since serious revision requires thoroughly changing the essay's structure, and B papers usually have a fairly good structure. C papers (or lower) often respond more dramatically to revision, since the major changes they require are often more straightforward. I recommend revising C papers or lower only. If you plan to revise a B paper, please see me beforehand so we can discuss a revision strategy.

All revisions must be submitted within 2 weeks of receiving a grade on the assignment. No revisions will be accepted after April 23.

Honor Code and Plagiarism: George Mason University has an Honor Code, which requires all members of this community to maintain the highest standards of academic honesty and integrity. Cheating, plagiarism, lying, and stealing are all prohibited.

All violations of the Honor Code will be reported to the Honor Committee. I consider the unacknowledged use of source materials to be plagiarism. Improper citations must be corrected, but improper citations alone will not get you sent to the Honor Committee.

Other Course Policies

Disability Statement: If you are a student with a disability and you need academic accommodations, please contact the Office of Disability Resources at 703.993.2474. All academic accommodations must be arranged through that office.

Enrollment Policies and Dates: Verify your enrollment in the class by checking PatriotWeb. Schedule adjustments should be made by the deadlines published in the Schedule of Classes:

Last day to drop with no tuition penalty: Feb 2
Last day to add: Feb 2
Last day to drop with 33% tuition penalty: Feb 9
Last day to drop/ 67% penalty: Feb 19
Selective Withdrawal period: Feb 22-March 23
Spring Break: March 8-14
Incomplete Work from Fall 2009 due: March 26
Last Day of classes: May 3
Reading day: May 4
Exam Period: May 5-12