Shelley Reid


English 1113, Fall 2003, Overview

Oklahoma State University

Essay Assignments Short Assignments

On this long, not-very-web-friendly page you will find: course goals, grading overview, plagiarism policies, draft and final essay grading guides, revision policy, attendance and late work policies (supplemental to the OSU Composition Attendance Policy, not included here).


Course Goals

This is a course in improving your abilities to read, reconsider, analyze, plan, draft, evaluate, and revise a variety of American Academic Essays.  This course also aims to prepare you to be your own best writing instructor, so that you can continue to improve your writing skills and strategies as you move into other courses and situations.


Everybody can write; everybody can write better.

Writing requires us to learn to balance our search for our own unique voices with our willingness to respond to our audience's expectations, perceptions, and interests.

Writers read actively, responding to texts as they do to people, questioning facts and assumptions, testing their own preferences and knowledge against those of the author.

Good revisers make good writers: a good piece of writing does not happen out of the blue, and writers must anticipate and consult with their readers as they revise. 


TextsCreating America (Moser & Watters), Writing Worth Reading (Packer & Timpane), and Keys to Writing (Raimes), all at the OSU Bookstore, Cowboy Books, & Book Trader.

Etc.: Please buy 2-3 basic pocket folders to keep your essays in.

Note:  Plan to print early and often, and back-up your computer files regularly to a second disk.  Don't risk losing the work you spent so much time on.

Basic Grading Outline


25 points

Essay 1 Folder


75 points

Essay 2 Folder


100 points

Essay 3 Folder


125 points

Essay 4 Folder


25 points

Essay 5:  In-class


100 points

Reading Analysis Assignments


25 points

Write for Real Assignment


25 points

Open Note Quizzes & Class Work

Process Assignments:  Because learning how to write is as important as producing strong writing at the end of the process, in addition to earning points for the essay drafts themselves, you will earn points based upon your efforts in the drafting process, for the assignments that lead up to the essay drafts, for reflective analyses of your own essays, and for the assistance you give others. 

Completion Policy:  All final essays must be accompanied by a draft, and must demonstrate significant revisions from early to final draft(s).  You must complete all four take-home drafts and essays to pass the class.

Attendance is required.  This is a hands-on, minds-on, laboratory-like class:  you are expected to attend every class.  Missing class, even for a "good reason," may lower your final grade. See Composition Policies Sheet.

About Plagiarism

Collaboration can be allowed:  In informal or collaborative situations, the ideas shared among students take on a collective "ownership"; suggestions offered may be freely taken.  In the case of a draft workshop or informal writing -- in-class exercises, peer responses -- consulting with other students may be strongly encouraged.  Nonetheless, unless otherwise stated, the final assignment should demonstrate your own thought processes and the present your original ideas and arguments. 

You must credit other sources correctly:  When we quote from published or interviewed sources, or presenting data gathered by researchers, specific rules for citation apply.  You are expected to give credit, use quotation marks, and include full citations for any phrases, ideas, or facts that you discovered somewhere outside your own mind. 
Failure to meet academic guidelines for using published sources may result in a grade penalty, even if the error was unintentional.

Academic dishonesty has severe penalties:  Generally, any act of representing someone else's work -- another student's work or ideas or words from a published source -- as if it were your own is a form of fraud, and may result in an assignment grade of F or zero, or in a course grade of F, and/or in a formal complaint, depending on the severity of the event.  If you're stressed out, ask for help before you decide to compromise your integrity; if you're not sure, be extra cautious and give credit wherever credit may be due.

Specific Grading Information

Exploratory Essay and Complete Early Draft scores are advisory.  They carry a low grade-weight, and serve to alert you to general strengths or weaknesses.  They are meant to be relative indicators of the quality of work that has already been done and the revision work that lies ahead.  A "4" is not the same thing as a "B–", nor is a "2" equivalent to a "D."  Improvement is expected and possible in all cases.

Complete Early Draft scores

5, 4  --  Drafts receiving these scores have a clear focus; they have sufficient specific evidence to support their claims; they have intelligently interpreted the assigned reading; they flow smoothly and have coherent organization.  They have few major errors, and do not make the reader do additional work to guess at their meaning or progression.  They will nearly always still benefit from revision:  revisions will focus on further developing ideas, polishing organization or style, or fine-tuning the voice or interaction with readers.

3  --  Many early drafts will earn this score.  They generally meet the assignment requirements:  they demonstrate significant authorial attention to focus, evidence, interpretation, and organization.  Often they will need significant revisions in one or more fundamental areas of the essay assignment:  the author may not yet have settled on a single focus, may have misinterpreted the assigned reading or assigned essay approach, may have relied on too-little or too-general evidence throughout, and/or may not chosen a clear organizational path.  Essays with persistent grammatical errors may also earn this score.  These essays usually make clear what was originally intended if not yet achieved by its author; revisions will involve significant changes in the essay's structure and approach in order to live up to the author's intentions.

2, 1  --  When an author's intentions are not clear or his/her arguments are too thin or disorganized to support the essay's purpose, a draft will earn a lower score.  Such drafts are difficult to read, lacking focus or relying entirely on vague generalizations that require the reader to guess at meanings; they may have serious, distracting grammatical errors.  The author may have misunderstood the assignment, misread of one or more of the assigned texts, invested minimal time in the essay drafting process, and/or have had some confusion about the expectations of a university-level academic audience.  Aconference with the professor before revising is strongly recommended; substantial changes may be necessary for the final essay to earn a passing score.

Process Bonus Assignments:

Because learning processes and strategies of being a good writer & reviser is crucial to your future success, many CED assignments will incorporate Process Bonus Assignments.  Completing one or more optional PBAs could simultaneously help you improve as a writer while lessening some of the grade-induced stress of turning in an early draft.

Final Essay Scores and Folder Total Scores will have letter-grade equivalents; you can divide points-earned by points-possible and use standard 90%-80%-70% breakdowns to see how you stand.  Generally,

A "C" level grade (70-79% of possible points) 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, moves from point to point in an orderly fashion, and contributes to the classroom conversations on the topic. 

A "B" level grade (80-90%) highlights a strong example of academic writing and thinking.  In addition to meeting the "C" level requirements, such an essay 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 if any errors.

An "A" level grade (90-100%) marks an essay that is a delight for the reader.  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.  They should be revised after consulting with the professor.

Optional Revision Policy: 

Essays #1, #2, & #3 may be re-revised for a possible new "Final Essay" score (lateness penalties or incomplete folder assignments cannot be changed through essay revision). 

1.  Before completing an Optional Revision, you must schedule a Revision Conference with the professor.  You should come to this conference prepared to explain and ask questions about your plan for your revisions.

2.  Optional Revisions must themselves demonstrate substantial change to the focus, support, approach, or organization of the essay 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.  Revised essays must, however, retain the original text's topic and approach; revision does not mean "write a new essay."

3.  Optional Revisions must be completed within two weeks of the essay's return to you. 

4.  Optional Revisions should be resubmitted in a folder with all earlier essay parts and a new Post Script.

Addition to Common 1113 Attendance Policy

Be aware that if you miss several classes early in the semester and then get a terrible case of mono, your earlier record will not stand to your advantage.  It's not the 5th absence that sinks you:  it's the four that came before it.  It's best just to plan to attend all classes.

Please plan to be on time -- exactly on time, not 90 seconds late -- for each class.  If you are habitually late, you may accrue an absence.  However, in an emergency I would rather have you come late than not at all; if you sleep through your alarm one day but can rush to get here 20 minutes late, please try to make it.

You should also be actively present: focused on the classroom task at hand.  This implies brain awareness as well as the basic courtesies of formal social gatherings.  Students who are dozing off, reading the newspaper, writing letters, carrying on private conversations, answering cell phones, or working on assignments for other classes are not wholly, actively present and thus may be marked absent for the day.  If you are seriously unprepared for class or group work -- having absolutely no draft for a draft workshop, for example -- you may be marked absent for the day.

If you know in advance that you will be absent, please notify me, in writing if possible, and well in advance, and make arrangements to complete the necessary assignments.  Please keep track of your own absences.

Addition to Common 1113 Late Work Policy: 

Late assignments are those arriving any time after class on the due date.  If you have completed an assignment but cannot make it to class, you can email me a copy before class to avoid the grade penalty.

Note: There may be situations in which it is to your advantage to take the extra time to complete an assignment, even with the grade deduction. 

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.)

Computer Crises are neither Rare nor Natural, and most of them can be avoided or controlled with good advance preparation.  Assignments which are late because of a crashed disk, a crowded lab, a jammed printer, a power outage, or an untimely pushing of the wrong button will earn sympathy but will also earn the 5%-per-day grade penalty. 
Back up your files, print often while in process, and print final assignments before the Last Minute to lessen the risk of computer-generated angst.

Amnesty Pass Policy for Late Work:  You are hereby granted one Amnesty Pass for the semester.  For any one assignment except a Final Essay Folder, you may be up to two weekdays (or one weekend) late without penalty.  (Missing a draft workshop may still cause you to lose peer review points.)  Amnesty Pass Invocation must be noted in writing at the top of the first page of the late assignment and cannot be taken back to be used for another assignment.  I won't automatically credit late papers.







Last updated January 2007 Email Shelley Reid