Shelley Reid .

English 1213, Spring 2004, Overview

Oklahoma State University

Go to Essay Assignments Go to 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, and 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, analyze, plan, draft, and rewrite essays that cross disciplines and formats, and that involve substantial formal research.  It's also a class in learning to connect abstract research to concrete, local issues that intersect with your own life, since the best writing comes from writers who have a stake in it and a reason for it, however tenuous.  We'll look at reading, researching, and writing as interlocking tasks that are part of our responsibility as community citizens.

Writing Class Fundamentals

1.Everybody can write, and we can all learn to write better than we already do -- college chemistry majors, future English teachers, and professional authors alike.  Writing is much more a skill than a talent, and so can be taught, learned, and, most importantly, practiced

2.The American Academic Essay is a kind of "common tongue" that allows educated citizens to communicate with each other.  It also requires you to think critically and logically, and to have significant knowledge of your topic.  We will thus emphasize research and analysis skills, and work on polishing your academic-essay writing.

3.Writers read actively, responding to texts as they do to people, questioning facts and assumptions, testing their own arguments against those of the author.  Writers also need to know how their own readers might react.  This class will develop your skills as a reading writer.

4. Writers revise, because a good piece of writing does not happen out of the blue.  This class will help you become a highly-aware reader of your own prose, so that you can improve it.  

5.   Writers always write for an audience, and frequently write in collaboration with one or more friends, colleagues, supervisors, or fellow group members.  In the "real world," employees and community members need to work collaboratively.  So this class will ask you to do your thinking, drafting, and revising collaboratively and with a well-tuned sense of audience needs.


TextsSpeculations,Writing Worth Reading (Packer & Timpane), and  Keys for Writers (Raimes), at the OSU Bookstore, Cowboy Books, & Book Trader.

Etc.  Please acquire 2-3 basic pocket folders to keep your essays in, and at least two floppy disks to store files on (please note: you should always have a back-up copy of your work).

Weights & Measures  (See the Points Breakout sheet for full details)

Basic Grading Outline


25 points

Essay 1 Folder


75 points

Essay 2 Folder


125 points

Essay 3 Folder (Bibliography & Essay)


125 points

Essay 4 Folder


25 points

Essay 5:  In-class


75 points

Reading Analysis Asgts. & Research Reflection Asgts.


50 points

Open Note Quizzes & Class Work

500 points

Total Score

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 their early drafts, 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 the Composition Policies Sheet on the back of this packet.

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 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.  A conference with the professor before revising is strongly recommended; substantial changes may be necessary for the final essay to earn a passing score.

Note about complete early drafts:  Each "early draft" essay should be a complete essay, already organized, supported, and polished to the best of your current abilities.  Your draft essay should also meet the designated length and topic requirements.

If your essay draft is incomplete at the time of the workshop, or if it is turned in after the workshop, you may lose points from your Draft score for that unit.  If the essay is seriously incomplete at the workshop, you may have an absence counted against you.  Late drafts also forfeit their right to a speedy and timely return to you.   If you miss a workshop entirely, you may lose all Draft points and all Peer Review points for that essay.

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, & #3B 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 drafts and comment sheets; you must complete a new Post Scriptfor your revised essay.

Addition to Common 1113 Attendance Policy: 

Plan to attend all classes.  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 7th absence that sinks you:  it's the six that came before it.

Please plan to be on time -- exactly on time, not 90 seconds late -- for each class.  If you are frequently late, you may have an absence marked against you.  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.  Except for school events, no absences are "excused."  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 June 2008.Email Shelley Reid