Dr. Dean Taciuch
George Mason University

Fall 2017

English 302: N13 & N22
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.

Course Goals

This course participates in the Students as Scholars (SaS) program, a university-wide initiative that encourages undergraduate students to engage in scholarly research.  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 (http://oscar.gmu.edu).

At the end of the course, the Office of Institutional Assessment and the Composition Program will collect random samples of students' final research projects to assess the effectiveness of the Students as Scholars Program. This assessment has no bearing on your grade in the course.

Below are course goals and learning outcomes for the composition program and the SaS initiative.


Students must have completed or transferred in the equivalent of English 100/101. Students should also have completed 45 credit hours and the Mason Core literature requirement. Students should take a version of English 302 related to their major field.

Please note that computer science and electrical engineering majors in The Volgenau School of Engineering must take ENGH 302N. Students enrolled in another version of ENGH 302 should contact their adviser immediately.

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/

Students as Scholars

English 302 participates in GMU's "Students as Scholars" program. Across campus, students 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

and design a final project that adds new perspectives and/or data to the conversation

Textbook and materials

There is no required textbook for this class. We will use several online texts, however.

Writing Commons Open Textbook

GMU Writing Center Resources

GMU Library Tutorials

UNC Writing Center Handouts
< http://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/>

Perdue OWL

Students as Scholars

Methods of Instruction

Sections N13 and N32 are online (Distance Learning) sections with no face-to-face meetings. I will be available for office hours in Robinson A, room 401C. I can also be reached via email.

All course assignments will be submitted via Blackboard.

In addition, we will have weekly BlackBoard discussions. The discussion are due on Wednesdays, but I also expect everyone to post and comment on other students' posts throughout the week.

An online course 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 explained on BlackBoard, as will any clarifications and changes to the assignments and course schedule.

New videos and notes will generally be posted on Tuesdays. Archived lectures and PowerPoint slides will be available in the Class Notes and Lectures folder on the Course Content Page.


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+ 97–100
A 93–97 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 Nov 26.

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 Nov 26.

Plagiarism: The Composition Program's Statement on Plagiarism
Plagiarism means using 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 endnotes; 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. If student writers ever have questions about a citation practice, they should ask their instructor.

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

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). 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; full semester waitlists removed Aug 28
Labor Day – University closed Sept 4
Last day to add classes—all individualized section forms due
Last day to drop with no tuition penalty
Sept 5
Last day to drop with a 33% tuition penalty Sept 19
Final Drop Deadline (67% tuition penalty) Sept 29
Midterm progress reporting (100-200 level classes) Sept 25 – Oct 20
Selective Withdrawal period Oct 2 – Oct 27
Columbus Day recess
(Monday classes/labs meet Tuesday. Tuesday classes do not meet this week)
Oct 9
Incomplete Work from Spring/Summer 2016 due Oct 27
Thanksgiving Recess Nov 22 – Nov 26
Last Day of classes Dec 9
Reading Days
Reading days provide students with additional study time for final examinations. Faculty may schedule optional study sessions, but regular classes or exams may not be held.
Dec 11 – 12
Exam Period Dec 13 – Dec 20
Winter graduation ceremony Dec 21
Degree Conferral Date
Dec 23

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