This is a course designed to build on the writing and research skills you have learned in English 101 and other college courses, and to introduce you to the specific ways of thinking, methods of research and documentation, and situations and genres of writing in the Humanities. As a General Education course, English 302 is designed to improve critical thinking skills that will be useful to you in many academic and professional settings.
Humanists are by profession readers and composers of many genres, with many purposes, and often with a wide range of audiences and performance venues. Therefore, this is primarily a course in learninghow to determine for yourself what is required of you as a writer in a range of academic and professional scenes. Among the key questions you will need to answer about a text you are reading or writing: is this a summary, an explanation, or an argument?
English 302 is also a course in developing a range of flexible writing and revising strategies so that you can meet those expectations without seriously compromising your own voice, convictions, or style.
Required text: The Bedford Researcher, Second Edition (Palmquist).
WebCT: This is a WebCT course with an intensive online component: you'll need to schedule some out-of-class access to an Internet-linked computer to meet deadlines.
Other: Please buy 2-3 basic pocket folders for essays, and a disk or memory stick to use in class.
The interlinked skills of active reading, researching, drafting, revising, and analyzing are best learned through repeated cycles of instruction, practice, feedback, and reflection. Most of our class sessions, face to face or online, will be highly interactive and involve a significant amount of focused student discussion, collaboration, and writing. You will be encouraged to find ways to link class assignments with your other interests and activities. Since you will be involved in collaborative efforts to read, analyze, draft, and revise, other students will be depending on you during class.
This course also has an online component, to provide you with peer and instructor support when you are not in the classroom, to motivate you to complete your writing assignments in regular steps rather than all-nighter brain-burners, and to prepare you for online and other public writing tasks beyond the classroom.
Good writing is more frequently a result of time and patience than of inborn talent. Students who attend regularly, keep up with the small assignments, and block off extra time each week for thoughtful drafting and focused revising usually succeed in this class.
Basic Grading Outline
Other Grading Policies
Completion Policy: All three main essays must be accompanied by a draft, and must demonstrate significant revisions from early to final draft(s). You must complete those essays plus all three Research Prep assignments listed above to earn a "C" or higher.
Participation: This is a hands-on, minds-on, laboratory-like class, with time devoted each meeting to collaborative discussion and practice. Your regular, active, and civil participation, in class and on-line, is considered as part of your final grade.
In this class, assignments will be scored on a 200 point scale:
At term-end, I round all half-points up. If you are within 1 point (no more) of a higher grade, and I have seen clear evidence of you "going the extra mile" throughout the semester -- making great improvement as a writer, taking extra care with peer workshops, breaking a sweat with your revisions, enlivening class or online discussions -- I reserve the right to give you the higher grade. There is no persuading me to do this with pleas or sad stories at the very end of the term or after the grade is recorded; my decision, once made, is non-negotiable.
Dual Submission: The dual submission option permits students to submit a paper written for English 302 to meet the requirements of another course during the same semester (or vice versa). This particular section of 302H could be an ideal place to take advantage of this option. However, be aware: This option requires prior approval from both instructors. In addition, I will require a written proposal outlining your strategies for adapting your writing from one assignment to another before I will accept a dual-submission draft for a 302 assignment. Thus you need to get an early start on any assignment you hope to engage in under the dual submission policy.
Students with disabilities
Students with documented disabilities are legally entitled to certain accommodations in the classroom. If you request such accommodation, you must present me with a contact sheet from the Disability Resource Center(703-993-2474). I will be happy to work with students and the DRC to arrange fair access and support.
Instructors in the Composition Program recognize that learning to effectively -- and ethically -- blend one's own ideas and analysis with information and evidence obtained from outside sources is a significant challenge for college writers in the twenty-first century. We thus include explicit 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.
Explanation of letter-graded evaluations used for Essays & Project Elements
A "C" denotes a competent response to the assignment: the essay or assignment 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. Essays in this range have a steady controlling idea, present some support, move from point to point in an orderly fashion, and contribute some new insights to conversations on the topic. Other projects demonstrate some awareness of the genre conventions and purposes, and some attention to content material and formal details.
A "B" rewards a strong example of academic writing and thinking. In addition to meeting the "C" level requirements, an essay or project demonstrates 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 demonstrates that the writer is also a thoughtful reviser and is conscious of his/her writing, his/her audience and purpose, and the generic conventions of the task. It engages the reader, and has few if any grammatical errors.
An "A" celebrates essays and projects that are an ease and a delight for the reader—and that probably provided some moments of satisfaction for the writer. Even more than in a "B" assignment, it is easy to see that the author anticipates and responds to possible reader questions, uses a wide range of supporting evidence, engages the reader in a provocative conversation, pays attention to small details, takes risks as s/he writes and revises, provides unexpected insight, and/or uses language with care and facility. The apparent effortlessness of these pieces of writing usually conceals plenty of blood, sweat, tears, and hours that the writer spent drafting, seeking feedback, and revising.
"D" and "F" level assignments do not meet the basic expectations of the assignment.
Optional Revision Policies:
Major elements of the Primary Text folder, Secondary Text folder, and Research Prep folder may be re-revised after being graded for a possible new grade -- either through a Complete Revision or a Revision Memo.
1. Before undertaking a Complete Revision, you must schedule a Revision Conference with me. You should come to this conference -- face to face or electronic -- prepared to explain and ask questions about your plan for your revisions.
2. Complete Revisions must themselves demonstrate substantial change to the focus, support, approach, or organization of the text in addition to comprehensive error correction, or they will be returned with no grade change. Substantial change may be thought of as change to at least 15-20% of the essay's text; you must address widespread issues as well as providing small fixes. Revised essays must, however, retain the original text's topic and approach; revision does not mean "write a new essay."
3. Complete Revisions will result in a new assignment grade: thoughtful revisions usually result in a 5-8% improvement, though some grades improve by 10-20%.
4. You may instead choose to write a RevisionMemo, to earn up to 1 point (2-3%) on a Folder grade. You must use standard memo form and style. In about 250 words, you should include actual examples of improvements you would make ("For instance, in paragraph 3 I would add two sentences about the research article I found on zebras") along with explanations of why the changes would improve your writing. Memos that only repeat my comments or that provide vague ideas will earn no points.
5. Complete Revisions and Revision Memos must be completed within two weeks of the essay's return to you. You must resubmit the original assignment and instructor comments with the revision or the memo.
Space: When you listen to other views, write notes to yourself about new topics, work with others' writing, and voice your reactions and analyses for others to learn from, you increase your own depth and breadth of learning. In a collaborative, workshop-based class, as with band practice or team sports, attending is both a physical and a mental process, and is crucial to your success.
Activities in each class meeting will be recorded and valued at .5 to 1 point per class. Peer review, quizzes, assignments, and discussion will contribute to this score. Students who miss a class are responsible for turning in any required work, but will not be able to "make up" the missed participation point(s).
You should also be actively present in face-to-face meetings. Students who are sleeping, reading the newspaper, IM-ing or surfing unrelated websites, answering cell phones, or working on assignments for other classes (etc.) are not actively present and thus may lose class participation points. If you are seriously unprepared for class or group work you may lose class participation points. Any serious breach of good classroom conduct may cause you to lose all participation points.
Please plan to be on time for each face-to-face class. If you are frequently late, you may lose participation points. However, in an emergency I would rather have you come late than not at all.
Virtual Classroom note: Being "late" to a VC class -- missing a first deadline by more than 10 minutes -- will incur a half-point deduction to your participation grade. Missing a deadline by more than 12 hours without advance arrangement will cause a 1-point loss. See VC page for more detail.
Time: Lateness is allowed for, but as in most places in our society, it will not be without consequences. The quickest way to come to hate a writing class is to fall behind in it.
Late assignments are those arriving any time after the start of class on the due date. If you need to, you can email me a copy before class to avoid the grade penalty, though you will still need to turn in a hard copy. If you drop off a late assignment to my mailbox in Robinson A 487, send me an email to let me know. Do not place assignments near, on, or under my office door.
Generally, late assignments lose 5% immediately, and then an additional 5% of their value for each calendar day (5pm to 5pm) they are late. A folder due Wednesday at the start of class would lose 5% if turned in before 5:00 pm that day, lose 10% if turned in by 5:00 pm Thursday, and lose 30% if turned in the following Monday. Late assignment drafts for workshop days -- face to face or virtual -- incur a daily penalty worth 5% of the final assignment's value.
Sometimes, losing 5% of a 10% assignment in English 302 is a better choice than failing your calculus exam or driving 90 MPH on the interstate shoulder or having a nervous breakdown at 1 am. See also Crisis Pass, below.
Lateness due to Rare, Uncontrollable Natural Disasters will not usually incur penalties; it is your responsibility to provide explanation/documentation of such occurrences. (The flu is not rare, and a lack of parking spots is not a natural disaster; these may be crises for you, but one expects a certain number of crises as part of the life we all deal with.)
Computer Crises are neither Rare nor Natural, and most of them can be avoided or controlled with good advance preparation. Lateness due to electronic disasters will earn sympathy but will also earn the grade penalty. Back up your files, print often while in process, and print final assignments before the Last Minute.
Crisis Pass: For any non-VC assignment you may be up to two days late without penalty -- or you may be one day late with a VC assignment (though you may still lose class participation points). To qualify, you must state in writing at the top of the first page of any late assignment that you are using your Crisis Pass.
Revising a piece of your own writing is more than just fixing the errors that were marked on your essay draft -- that's editing, which you should do after you revise.
Revising involves re-seeing your essay from the eyes of a reader who can't read your mind, knowing you won't rest satisfied that you were as clear and as thorough as possible.
Revising also requires you to think on a large scale, to extrapolate: if a reader remarked that you didn't have enough evidence in paragraph three, you should also take a close look at paragraphs two and four to be sure that you also provide substantial evidence for their claims.
Most importantly, being a good reviser lowers your stress during the first draft: if you know you can catch problems later, you don't have to worry about getting it right the very first time.
If a sentence in one of your sources -- electronic, audio, video, or print -- by an author named Shelley Reid goes like this . . .
Citation rules are intricate and convoluted,
YOU MAY use it in your essay in any of the following ways (citation style shown is "MLA" print style; for "APA" style, or for non-print sources, check your handbook):
1. Full Quotation With Correct In-Text Citation:
2. Partial Quotation with Paraphrase of General Ideas and Citation:
3. Partial Quotation; Author's Name Not Given in Sentence but Cited:
4. Paraphrase In Your Own Words of This Author's Copyrighted Ideas; Citation:
5. Statement of Known Fact or Common Knowledge -- General Information not Unique to This Author:
YOU MAY NOT use information in any of the following ways:
1. Direct, Unacknowledged Use of Author's Ideas and Phrasing:
2. Citation of Author Without Acknowledgment of Borrowed Language:
3. Borrowing "Just A Few Words" that are Unique to This Author:
4. Borrowing "Just A Few Words" Without Full Quotation and Citation:
5. "Lazy Paraphrase": Borrowing Unique Ideas and/or Sentence Structure:
6. Rearranging Words To Mis-Represent the Author's True Ideas:
Quotations need to be used with care: remember, your ideas and words must remain the focus of your writing. Don't let someone else dictate your ideas or write your essay!
Follow these 5 steps to help you stay in control of your words and ideas: S-L-I-C-E like a surgeon!
1. Select the best quotation. Be sure it matches exactly what you want to say, or shows exactly what you want to argue against. Consider: do you want to show the author's own example, or are you looking for a statement of his/her general argument? Do you want to show the author's style or the author's idea?
2. Limit your best quotation to the minimum effective size. Think about having a 10-word limit (this is a suggestion, not a rule!): given the general point an outside author is making, which phrase or idea is most original, most provocative, most unexpected, most well-written?
3. Integrate your quotation into your own sentence: avoid Unidentified Flying Quotations (UFQs). You should clearly identify whose language you're borrowing; you may also want to explain to your reader something about the outside author's expertise, just to help show how powerful your new evidence is.
4. Cite all quoted material on the spot. In many college classes, the Modern Language Association ("MLA") format will be accepted: the author's last name and the page number appear in parentheses. If you give the author's name in the tag phrase, you need only give the page number. Check the punctuation to get it exactly right!
5. Explain how the quotation is connected to your idea. You know that words and ideas can be quoted out of context and can be interpreted to mean many different things. Is the glass half empty or half full?
Last updated January 2006.Email Shelley Reid