Dr. Dean Taciuch
George Mason University

Fall 2011

English 302: N13 & N14
Tuesday & Thursday 10:30 – 11:45 (N13); 12:00 – 1:15 (N14)
West 1001

Course Syllabus

Course Description

English 302 is an Advanced Composition course; this section will focus on the writing and research needs of students in the Natural Sciences. Although we will make use of technical formats (such as professional journal articles and literature reviews), the focus will be on conducting secondary research, organizing the results of the research, and presenting your interpretations of your findings to appropriate audiences, including interested non-experts.

Course Goals
This course is designed to build on the general writing skills and techniques you have acquired in 101 and other university courses, and to prepare you for completing advanced level writing, analysis, and research tailored to your major discipline and possible future workplace.  We will, therefore, practice the various genres of writing you are likely to encounter. Throughout the semester, you'll also learn to recognize the way(s) that knowledge is constructed in the sciences (focusing on your own discipline or career interest), adapt your writing to common purposes and audience needs, conduct and synthesize research, use computer technologies as part of your research and writing process, and produce writing that employs the organizational techniques and genres typical in your discipline.
Students must have completed or transferred in the equivalent of English 100/101, 45 credit hours, and any required general-education literature course designated by their college or major. Students should take a version of English 302 that connects to their major field. Students in the School of Engineering and students in the School of Management are very strongly recommended to take English 302N or English 302B, respectively. If you are enrolled in a different version, you should contact your adviser immediately to see what actions to take.

General Education
This course is part of the GMU General Education Program, which is designed to help students prepare for advanced work in their major field and for a lifetime of learning. For more information on the mission of the General Education Program, consult the University Catalog or visit http://provost.gmu.edu/gened/

Textbook and materials

Available from the campus bookstore:
Bergmann, Linda S. Academic Research and Writing. Longman. 2010. Paper.
ISBN-10: 0321091841 ISBN-13: 978-0321091840
$42.60 (this is the publisher's list price as of August 2011. If you are charged more at the bookstore, let me know)

GMU Writing Center Resources
Diana Hacker Documentation Guide
Edge.org 2008 World Question Center

Weekly Responses (10%)
Plagiarism Policy Essay(10%)
Research Proposal (5%)
Library Research Assignment (5%)
Summary (10%)
Annotated Bibliography
Literature Review (15%)
Personal Research Report (10%)
Peer Review (5%)
Research Paper and Reflection (20%)

Course Policies

Grading: In grading essays, I use the following general criteria:

A "C" level grade (70-79%) denotes average college-level writing and achievement.  The essay is a competent response to the assignment:  it meets, to some degree, all the assignment requirements, and demonstrates that the author has put significant time and effort into communicating his/her ideas to his/her targeted audience.  It has a thesis, presents some support, and moves from point to point in an orderly fashion; sentence-level errors do not significantly prevent comprehension.  Essays that do not meet these criteria will not earn a "C."

A "B" level grade (80-89%) highlights a strong example of college writing and thinking.  In addition to meeting the "C" level requirements, such an essay goes further in some way(s): it demonstrates some insight into the "gray areas" of the topic, provides original or very thorough support that is tightly woven into the overall argument, reads smoothly at both the sentence and paragraph levels, and/or exhibits a personal "voice" or style.  It has few sentence-level errors.

An "A" level grade (90-100%) marks an essay that engages the reader in a provocative conversation.  Even more than in a "B" essay, its author anticipates and responds to possible reader questions, uses a wide range of supporting evidence, engages the reader in a provocative conversation, provides unexpected insights, and/or uses language with care and facility.

"D" and "F" level essays do not meet the basic expectations of the assignment.

I calculate final grades by converting the letter grades to a 100 point scale using the following values:

A+ 98-100

A 94-97

A- 90-92

B+ 87-89

B 84-86

B- 80-83

C+ 77-79

C 74-76

C- 70-73

D 60-69

F 0-59


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 credit for this course.

Late Assignments: Unless you make prior arrangements with me, late assignments will lose 5% (1/3 of a letter grade) per day. The grade penalty 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 Dec 1.

Plagiarism: Plagiarism means using the exact words, opinions, or factual information from another source without giving that source credit. Writers give credit through the use of accepted documentation styles, such as parenthetical citation, footnotes, or end notes; a simple listing of books, articles, and websites is not sufficient.

This class will include direct instruction in strategies for handling sources as part of our curriculum. However, students in composition classes must also take responsibility for understanding and practicing the basic principles listed below.

To avoid plagiarism, meet the expectations of a US Academic Audience, give their readers a chance to investigate the issue further, and make credible arguments, writers must

Writers must also include a Works Cited or References list at the end of their essay, providing full bibliographic information for every source cited in their essay.

While different disciplines may have slightly different citation styles, and different instructors may emphasize different levels of citation for different assignments, writers should always begin with these conservative practices unless they are expressly told otherwise. Writers who follow these steps carefully will almost certainly avoid plagiarism. If writers ever have questions about a citation practice, they should ask their instructor!

Instructors in the Composition Program support the George Mason Honor Code, which requires them to report any suspected instances of plagiarism to the Honor Council. All judgments about plagiarism are made after careful review by the Honor Council, which may issue penalties ranging from grade-deductions to course failure to expulsion from GMU.

Attendance: I will not take attendance, but it is not possible to do well in this course without regular attendance. Class discussions of the readings are necessary for the papers, exercises, and the research project. Topics will develop from the class discussions.

Students with disabilities: If you are a student with a disability and you need academic accommodations, please see me and contact the Office of Disability Services (ODS) at 703-993-2474. All academic accommodations must be arranged through the ODS.

GMU Nondiscrimination Policy: George Mason University is committed to providing equal opportunity and an educational and work environment free from any discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, or age. GMU shall adhere to all applicable state and federal equal opportunity/affirmative action statutes and regulations.

GMU Email
Students must activate their Mason email account and check it regularly. For privacy reasons, all class-related emails will be sent only to students' official GMU email addresses.

Important dates

First day of classes; last day to submit Domicile Reclassification Application; Payment Due Date

August 29

Labor Day, university closed

September 5

Last day to add classes—all individualized section forms due

Last day to drop with no tuition penalty

September 6

Last day to drop with a 33% tuition penalty

September 19

Final Drop Deadline (67% tuition penalty)

September 30

Selective Withdrawal Period (undergraduate students only)

October 3 -
October 28

Columbus Day recess (Monday classes/labs meet Tuesday. Tuesday classes do not meet this week)

October 10

Thanksgiving recess

November 23-27

Last day of classes

December 10

Reading Day

December 12

Exam Period

December 13 - December 20


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