Dr. Dean Taciuch
George Mason University

Summer 2018

English 302: BN4 & BN5
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

By the end of this course students will be able to


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 are very strongly recommended to take English 302N.

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

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

All course assignments will be submitted via Blackboard.

In addition, we will have weekly in class exercises. We will work on these assignments in class, and you will post them to BlackBoard before the next class. Typically, these in class assignments will be done on Mondays, and due before class on Wednesdays. You may contnue to post and comment on other students' posts throughout the week.

All of the course readings are online, and should be completed by class time. We will use class time to review and work on assignments.

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


In class assignments (20%)
Discipline Awareness assignment (5%)
Research Proposal (5%)
Library Research Assignment (5%)
Plagiarism Policy Essay (15%)
Annotated Bibliography (15%)
Peer Review (10%)
Literature Review (25%)

Course Policies

Major Assignment Grading: In grading the major assignments, 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+ 97.5 – 100
A 93 – 97.4 A- 90 – 92.9
B+ 87.5 – 89.9 B 83 – 87.4 B- 80 – 82.9
C+ 77.4 – 79.9 C 73 – 77.4 C- 70 – 72.9
D 60 – 69.9 F 0 – 59.9  

The Minor Assignments (in class exercises) will be graded at the end of the course, not individually. If you post every exercise and occassionaly comment on other posts, you will receive full credit for the discussions. (Not all exercises need comments--I will indicate which ones should receive comments). You should post exercise, and comment on other's posts when appropriate.

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 July 23.

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 1 week of receiving a grade on the assignment. No revisions or late assignments will be accepted after July 23.

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.

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

Writers must 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 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.

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, gender identity, age, marital status, pregnancy status, or genetic information.  George Mason University 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.

Technology Policy: The in-class sessions will be conducted in a collaborative classroom. To make best use of this space, students are encouraged to bring laptops or tablets to class meetings. All course materials will be available via BlackBoard. Major assignments must be uploaded as file attachments (pdf, doc, docx, odf are all acceptable formats).

Class Participation: This course requires participation. In class participation will consist of class discussions, small group work, and other class activities.

Inclement Weather/Cancellation Policy: If classes are cancelled, we will try to make up the work online. If you cannot come to a class session due to inclement weather, you should be able to make up the work online--the exercises will be availble on BlackBoard

Help with the Course: Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns about assignments, grades or policies. I can be reached via email, during office hours, and of course in class.

If you are having trouble with an assignment, please let me know. We can schedule a conference (in person or online). Please do not wait until the last minute to reach out. Don't procrastinate, but if you do, don't panic. If you need an extension on an assignment, let me know as soon as you can.

You should also be aware of the various resources available for writing and research help: The GMU Writing Center and the GMU Library, both of which we will be using in the class.

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