Dr. Dean Taciuch
George Mason University

Spring 2013

English 302: N03 & N04
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.

Throughout the semester, you'll also learn to recognize the way(s) that knowledge is constructed (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.

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
$48.67 (this is the publisher's list price as of January 2013. If you are charged more at the bookstore, let me know)

GMU Writing Center Resources <http://writingcenter.gmu.edu>
Diana Hacker Documentation Guide <http://bcs.bedfordstmartins.com/resdoc5e>
Students as Scholars <http://oscar.gmu.edu>

Methods of Instruction

Sections N03 and N04 are hybrid courses: each section meets face-to-face once per week, with the second course meeting made up of online work. Section N03 meets on Tuesdays from 10:30 - 11:45 in Innovation 323; section N04 meets on Thursdays from10:30 - 11:45 in Innovation 323. All course assignments will be submitted via Blackboard: section N03 assignments will generally be due on Fridays; section N04 assignments will be due on Sundays (I will set the submission deadline to midnight). In addition, the BlackBoard discussions should be posted each week before that week's face-to-face class. I expect the discussion forums to be discussions: everyone is expected to post and comment on other students' posts each week (you can, of course, add comments after the week's face-to-face session).

A hybrid section requires special attention to submission deadlines, discussion posts, and course announcements. You should check the BlackBoard site at least once per weekday (and once over the weekend as well). The course assignments will be most fully explained on BlackBoard, as will any clarifications and changes to the assignments and course schedule. Announcements will of course be made in the face-to-face sessions as well, but success in a hybrid course requires attention in both the face-to face and online environments.

Students as Scholars

This section of English 302 is participating in GMU's "Students as Scholars" program. Across campus, students now have increased opportunities to work with faculty on original scholarship, research, and creative activities, through their individual departments and the OSCAR office.

Assignments in English 302 will help prepare you to be contributors to knowledge in your field, not just memorizers of facts. You will

English 302-SaS Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs)

  1. Discovery: Understand how students can engage in the practice of scholarship at
  2. Discovery: Understand research methods used in a discipline
  3. Discovery: Understand how knowledge is transmitted within a discipline, across
    disciplines, and to the public
  4. Inquiry: Articulate and refine a question
  5. Inquiry: Follow ethical principles
  6. Inquiry: Situate the scholarly inquiry [and inquiry process] within a broader
  7. Inquiry: Apply appropriate scholarly conventions during scholarly

Students as Scholars Assignments

All of the course assignments will build on and develop some of the Students-as-Scholars objectives, but these three have been designed specifically for the SaS program:

Week Assignment SLO
Week 3 Discussion Post on Wikipedia Sources 2, 3, 6
Week 6 Library Research Assignment 2, 3, 7
Week10 Wikipedia Edit Assignment 3, 5


Weekly Responses (5%)
Plagiarism Policy Essay (10%)
Research Proposal (5%)
Library Research Assignment (5%)
Summary (10%)
Annotated Bibliography (10%)
Wikipedia Edit (5%)
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. No late assignments will be accepted after April 28.

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 or late assignments will be accepted after April 28.

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.

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.

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 Tuesday Jan 22
Last day to add classes
Last day to drop with no tuition penalty
Tuesday Jan 29
Last day to drop with a 33% tuition penalty Tuesday Feb 12
Final Drop Deadline (67% tuition penalty) Friday Feb 22
Selective Withdrawal Period (undergraduate students only) Monday Feb 25 - Friday March 22
Spring Break Monday March 11 - Sunday March 17
Incomplete work from Fall 2012 due to instructor Friday March 29
Last day of classes Monday May 6
Reading Day Tuesday May 7
Exam Period Wednesday May 8 - Wednesday May 14


Course Schedule



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