Advanced Composition    

Spring 2019

Distance Learning
CRN 10447
Dept. Of English
Prof. Joyce Johnston

Office Hours Wednesdays 10:30-noon
Room 206, Robinson Hall B
Skype: joyce.johnston48

This section of English 302 uses Blackboard and PBWiki as course software.  Access Blackboard at http://mymasonportal.gmu.edu.  After logging in using your MasonLive user ID and password, click on the Courses tab at the upper right of the screen.  Then click on the course name to access the Blackboard course folder. Both the Course Schedule and the Course Policies can also be accessed on the professor's website, available at http://mason.gmu.edu/~jjohnsto


Methods of Instruction

Honor Code;
Student Safety



In the university catalog, the focus of English 302 is listed as a required part of the Mason Core Integration Requirement in Written Communication. It is described as follows: "Intensive practice in writing and analyzing expository forms such as essay, article, proposal, and technical or scientific reports with emphasis on research related to student’s major field." English 302 will help prepare you understand how knowledge is created and transmitted in your field or discipline; understand key methods and conventions of scholarly research in your field or discipline; articulate and refine your own question for scholarly inquiry; situate your investigation in an ongoing context or conversation in your field; and design a final project that adds new perspectives to the conversation. Advanced composition will help you engage in scholarly inquiry as you work on narrowing a research question and engaging with your discipline or field of study.

Throughout the semester, you will also learn to recognize the way(s) that knowledge is constructed in business-related disciplines, adapt your writing to common purposes and audience needs, conduct and synthesize research, use computer technologies as part of your research and writing process, and produce writing that employs the organizational techniques and genres typical in each discipline.  

Building on the strong basis in textual analysis gained from your 200-level English courses, this section will emphasize types of writing that will serve the more than 3,550 undergraduate students in the School of Business pursuing majors in such fields as ACCOUNTING, INFORMATION  SYSTEMS AND OPERATIONS MANAGEMENT, MARKETING, MANAGEMENT and FINANCE Students should endeavor to develop a flexible, literate writing style appropriate to a mature mind both in and out of these areas. Development of an individual, yet field-appropriate vocabulary and tone are primary, as is development of audience awareness. Familiarity with research techniques and sources--whether cyber, human or paper--is also essential.

Since English 302 is an upper-division course, please familiarize yourself with the English Department's description of and requirements for the course to be sure that you meet the criteria.


The section is organized around the concept of branding within a business environment. The semester's work follows an arc starting with your brand as an individual, then looks at the brand created by your major within academia, next investigates the image represented by membership in one or more professional associations, culminating in a final research project matching your desired personal brand with the brand already created by your optimal  future employer. Finally, you have the opportunity to improve your profession by becoming an effective leader.

The course also uses a business-sector tool--the SWOT analysis--to evaluate the strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities in each of the steps in that progression.
  Brand analysis and later the Situational Leadership model will also feature prominently in the career planning section of the course.


All students who enter English 302 must meed the following requirements:
Students majoring in Computer Science or Engineeering must take English 302N. All students in the School of Business are very strongly recommended to take English 302B.


Full instructions for submitting a portfolio and taking an essay exam to attempt to waive English 302 may be found on the Waiver of English 302 page. 
Any student who does not waive the course MUST take it in order to graduate, since it is one of the Foundation Requirements in Written Communication.

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George Mason University's Mason Core is designed to complement work in a student's chosen area of study.  These classes serve as a means of discovery for students, providing a foundation for learning, connecting to potential new areas of interest and building tools for success in whatever field a student pursues. Learning outcomes are guided by the qualities every student should develop as they move toward graduating with a George Mason degree.  Through a combination of courses, the Mason Core program helps students become:

Critical and Creative Scholars
Students who have a love of and capacity for learning.  Their understanding of fundamental principles in a variety of disciplines and their mastery of quantative and communication tools enables them to think creatively and productively. They are inquisitive, open-minded, capable, informed, and able to integrate diverse bodies of knowledge and perspectives.

Self-Reflective Learners

Students who develop the capacity to think well.  They can identify and articulate individual beliefs, strengths and weaknesses, critically reflect on these beliefs and integrate this understanding into their daily living.

Students who are tolerant and understanding. They can conceptualize and communicate about problems of local, national and global significance, using research and evaluative perspectives to contribute to the common good.

Thinkers and Problem-Solvers

Students who are able to discover and understand natural, physical and social phenomena; who can articulate their application to real world challenges; and who approach problem-soving from various vantage points.  They can demonstrative capabiity for inquiry, reason and imagination and see connnections in historical, literary and artistic fields.


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.


• CORE: Articulate and refine a question, problem, or challenge.

• ETHICAL: Identify relevant ethical issues and follow ethical principles.

• DISCOVERY: Distinguish between personal beliefs and evidence.

• METHOD: Gather and evaluate evidence appropriate to the inquiry.

• METHOD: Appropriately analyze scholarly evidence.

• CONTEXT: Explain how knowledge is situated and shared in relevant scholarly contexts.


DISCIPLINE BASED GOALS: Students who successfully complete ENGH 302 will be able to adapt their reading and writing to meet the expectations of their academic discipline and future workplace. They will be able to demonstrate the ability to: 
  1. apply critical reading strategies that are appropriate to advanced reading in their academic discipline and in their possible future workplaces
  2.  recognize how knowledge is constructed in their academic discipline and possible future workplaces, attending to issues such as kinds of claims or questions posed by advanced or professional writers 
  3. understand evidence considered sufficient to support arguments 
  4. analyze the rhetorical situations—audience, purpose, and context—of texts produced in their academic disciplines and in possible future workplaces produce writing—including arguments or proposals—that is appropriate for a range of rhetorical situations within their academic disciplines and possible future workplaces, with particular attention to textual features such as common genres 
  5. use appropriate organizational strategies, as well as style, tone, and diction 
  6. demonstrate mastery of document design and expected citation formats related to their academic discipline 
ADVANCED WRITING GOALS: Students who successfully complete ENGH 302 will demonstrate that they have continued to develop their research and writing strategies to an advanced level; they will be able to: 
  1. use writing as a tool for exploration and reflection in addressing advanced problems, as well as for exposition and persuasion
  2. successfully employ strategies for writing as a recursive process of inventing, investigating, shaping, drafting, revising, and editing to meet a range of advanced academic and professional expectations—including, when given appropriate time for drafting and editing, the ability to produce documents in Standard Edited American English that are generally free from error 
  3. collaborate with others as they write, through peer review, group projects, and/or consulting with outside experts (writing center tutors, librarians, subject-matter experts, workplace informants, etc.) 
  4. identify, evaluate, and use research sources (print and electronic), to include advanced online library searching of databases pertinent to their disciplines and the critical use of web sites 
  5. employ a range of appropriate technologies to support their researching, reading, and thinking, with particular attention to the ways that advanced students and professional locate, analyze, organize and share information

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All course readings will be done online, using uploaded articles, links provided in the syllabus, and material e-mailed to the class by the instructor. Please note that online readings are no less required than paper texts are in other classes.

A research handbook is highly advisable, as students will be expected to use their appropriate professional format flawlessly by the end of the semester.  For the School of Business, the format is APA, so the handbook is the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Assocation (6th edition.) This is available at the GMU Bookstore, or any commercial bookseller, including Amazon.  Be sure to acquire the current (6th) edition, as previous versions have significantly different formatting.

Diana Hacker's A Writer's Reference (7th ed.) is an optional but extremely valuable resource for questions of grammar, usage and research documentation.  It contains a section on APA formatting, so could be substituted for a research handbook. There is also an alternate version titled A Writer's Reference with Resources for Multilingual Writers and ESL (7th ed.)  A good general guide is Writing with Sources: A Guide for Students (3rd edition) by Gordon Harvey.  The paperback version can be purchased from the GMU Bookstore for about $10.00.  If ordering elsewhere, the ISBN number is 97816246665547


HARDWARE: Since this class is a distance learning section, it is BYOD (bring your own device.) Students must use their own personal electronic devices to class every day to participate in class activities Smart phones are generally NOT adequate to this purpose due to the difficulty of extended writing on such small screen sizes. You will need access to a Windows or Macintosh computer with ast least 2GB of RAM and access to a fast and reliavlew broadband internet connection (e.G., cable or DSL).  Also, allow for the amount of hard disk space you will need to store the work you do in the course

SOFTWARE: The course will be conducted using Blackboard's course folder, available at https://courses.gmu.edu.  Therefore, you will need a browser and operating system that are lilsted compatible or certified with the Blackboard version now available. Log in using your Masonlive user name and password, then click on our course folder.  At the top of the course menu on the left, you will see a link to a video titled Orientation to Our Blackboard Home Page, which explains how to navigate in our course. Online courses typically use Acrobat Reader, Flash, Java, QuickTime, and/or Real Media Player. Your computer should be capable of running current versions of these appllcations. Also, make sure that your computer is rotected from viruses by downloading the latest version fo Symantec Endpoint Protection/Anti-Virus software for free here. 

Check email regularly, preferably daily. Any student not regularly using his or her GMU email account must set that account to forward to the student's preferred email address.  Failure to do so will mean that the student will not receive any class notices, warnings of missing assignments or individual contact from the instructor, all of which are sent to the class list maintained by the Registrar's Office. In return, please email the instructor at jjohnsto@gmu.edu with any questions or concerns.

If using a PC, use either Chrome or Mozilla Firefox as your browser. Blackboard, our course Learning Management System, does not play well with Explorer. If using a Mac, use Safari and Mac OS10.5 or higher. If necessary, you can set up a Mac or a computer running Linux with Boot Camp or virtualization software so Windows will also run on it.

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Students are responsible for verifying their enrollment in this class. Deadlines are included in the Course Schedule for this class as well as the GMU Schedule of Classes.

For Spring 2019, the Last Day to Add classes is Tuesday, Jan. 29.  The last day to drop is Friday, Feb. 22.

Web Withdrawal (formerly known as Selective Withdrawal) lasts from Monday, Feb. 25 to Friday, Mar. 29, but incurs a 100% tuition penalty.  After that, withdrawal requires the approval of the Dean and is only allowed for nonacademic reasons.  The web withdrawal option may be used no more than three times in a student's undergraduate career at George Mason and must be completed within the dates above. See the GMU Office of Undergraduate Affairs for withdrawal procedures


In accordance with English Department policy, each student will submit a minimum of 3500 words in the course of the semester, which will serve as the basis for the course grade. Any student with a documented disability which could impact the completion of this requirement must notify the instructor at the beginning of the semester, using a Faculty Contact Sheet.  Students needing documentation must contact the Office of Disability Services, located in SUB 1, Room 4205, phone number (703) 993-2474.  Documentation is required to obtain course adaptations to ensure that students recieve appropriate support and assistance for success in the class.


All assignments must be submitted to Blackboard with the exception of the Disciplinary Resources Wiki, which is completed entirely within PBWorks. The instructions file for each assignment contains the link to submit it when finished.

It is the student's responsibiity to retain a copy of work submitted in case of submission problems, plus all graded files until the final course grade appears on their transcripts at the end of the semester.

If extraordinary cirmcumstances prevent a student from submitting to Blackboard on time, it is his/her responsibility to email the assignment to the instructor before the due date to avoid late penalties.  

IMPORTANT: Both the Research Paper and the visual presentation project on situational leadership have non-negotiable due dates due to the necessity of submitting final grades in time for graduation. They cannot be submitted late.


The instructions for each assignment include the correct title for the file(s) submitted.

Assignments MUST be submitted in Word (.doc or .docx) format. The ONLY exception to this is screen shots of quizzes, which may be submitted as JPEG or PDF files.  No other file types will be scored. If using a Mac or  a Word equivalent like Open Office or Libre Office, it is the student'sresponsibility to ensure that his/her submissions can be read in Word 2016.


Extra credit is not awarded in this class.


All assignments should be submitted to Blackboard on time.

Late work may be delayed in being graded and returned; delay is usually one week but may be more. Please keep this in mind, especially near the end of the semester.

Students should retain all graded files until the final course grade appears on their transcripts at the end of the semester.

IMPORTANT: Both the Research Paper and the visual presentation project on situational leadership have non-negotiable due dates due to the necessity of submitting final grades in time for graduation. They cannot be submitted late.


Be aware that writing is a time-intensive activity.  The Registrar's Office suggests 2-3 hours per week per credit hour, but composition courses can easily take a little more time.  It is thus very difficult to make up any significant amount of lost time. Anyone who must unavoidably miss class activities is advised to notify the instructor promptly to avoid falling behind.  In an online class like this one, course work and deadlines go on as scheduled, regardless of weather-related closings, unless there is a network outage or Blackboard crash.

If a major religious holiday will interefere with the ability to participate inclass activities or submit an assignment on the due date, it is the student's oblilgation to provide the prpofessor with the date(s) within the first two weeks of the semester.  See the Mason University Life Religious Holiday Calendar for dates.

Since group work is conducted online, it is crucial that each person contribute meaningfully to the group to which s/he is assigned, especially  in a business writing section, since the business world is so highly collaborative. Therefore, participation in the class environment is an important part of the semester grade, especially for the civility blog, the wiki project and the peer reviews of research papers.  The instructions files and scoring rubrics for these activities explain the type and level of participation required. It is not possible to earn an "A" in this class without timely, meaningful group contributions.

Active presence in online conversations is essential.  This implies brain awareness, without other distractions, as well as the basic courtesies of formal social gatherings. A student who is seriously unprepared for class or group work--having no draft ready for group mates to critique, for example, will lose class participation points for that activity.  Any serious breach of good online conduct may cause the loss of all participation points.


The instructions for each assignment include the correct title for the file(s) submitted. 

Assignments MUST be submitted in Word (.doc or .docx) format. The ONLY exception to this is screen shots of quizzes, which may be submitted as JPEG or PDF files.  No other file types will be scored. If using a Mac or  a Word equivalent like Open Office or Libre Office, it is the student'sresponsibility to ensure that his/her submissions can be read in Word 2013.


Any questions or correspondence should be directed to the instructor's GMU email address: jjohnsto@gmu.edu. All GMU-related correspondence is handled through that address and ONLY that address. When contacting the instructor about a message sent to the class list, students should be sure to reply to the instructor's email address rather than to the entire list.  This places class communications within the requirements of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

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It is University policy that in all Mason Core English classes (English 100, 101, 201 and 302), students must achieve a grade of C (73) or higher to receive credit for the course. Students with averages of C- or lower will receive an NC (No Credit) for the course.  Students can keep track of their grade in the course folder in Blackboard by clicking on My Grades in the Course Menu.

It is also university policy that all students in English 302 must successfully complete a major research assignment in order to earn credit for the course.  In our case, this is the Research Paper. 

It is the policy of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, which houses the English Department, that once final grades have been recorded, instructors should not accept any additional work from a student to change a grade.

In addition, the University requires that students submit a minimum of 3500 words in course of the semester, upon which the course grade is based.


Each assignment, as well as the final course grade, is based upon a total of 100 points. Grading ranges are:

A+ 100-97.5% | A 97.4-93% | A- 92.9-90% | B+ 89.9-87.5% | B 87.4-83% | B- 82.9-80% | C+ 79.9-77.5% | C 77.4-73% | C- 72.9-70% | D 69.9-60% | F below 60%.


Essays are graded using the following general criteria:


Assignments are individually graded on a scale of 0-100, as described in the previous section.  They are then assigned percentage values (sometimes known as weights) to calculate the final semester grade.  Calculations are handled by Blackboard's grade book function.

In ascending order, weights/percentage values for course assignments are:

Quiz on Course Policies
1, 3, 6
Class Civility Blog and Survey
3, 6
What is Your Academic Discipline? Worksheet
5, 7
Quiz on APA Format
1, 5, 6
Peer Review of Research Paper
1, 2, 3, 4, 7
Memo on Choosing a Professional Association
3, 4, 6, 7
Plagiarism Test
1, 3, 5, 7
Personal Branding Analysis
2, 3
Visual Presentation: Becoming an Effective Situational Leader
5, 6
Disciplinary Resources Wiki and Assessing Your Wiki Group's Functioning 15%
2, 3, 6
Research Paper on Professional Branding
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

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There are four MAJOR WRITING ASSIGNMENTS for this course, each in a different format. Each assignment has an instructions containing goals, skills developed by the assignment, procedures to complete the assignment, and grading criteria. There are also help files supplementing each assignment, designed to provide support in locating materials and/or developing needed critical analysis and research skills.

  1. The Disciplinary Resources Wiki--prepares for research in a specific field of study by constructing a simple database--a wiki--that identifies some basic resources, scholars, organizations, questions, issues and writing conventions
  2. Memo on Choosing a Professional Association--compares three professional associations that offer valuable opportunities for networking, hiring, reading materials, conferences/training, outside contacs and benefits to an aspiring professional.  IMPORTANT: this is the only assignment that can be rewritten for a higher grade.  Specific conditions apply; see Instructions file for details.
  3. Visual Presentation on Becoming an Effective Situational Leader--synthesis project combining skills from the three other majr assignments. Analyzes attributes needed in students' business careers at the management level.
  4. The Research Paper--reviews current professional, scholarly and media knowledge about a proposed corporate or government employer. Identifies contact points between the corporate brand and the student's personal brand and values. Successful submission of a complete paper by the due date is required to earn credit for this course.  At a minimum, a complete paper must contain an title page, abstract page, body with internal citations for sources and a references page.


Four SHORT WRITINGS will establish appropriate online behavior norms, used for critical reading, writing and reflection on research material:

  1. A class blog in which students compare appropriate with potentially challenging topics for online interaction, followed by a survey to establish a class code of conduct for a business environment
  2. A worksheet designed to introduce and reinforce the concept of an academic discipline
  3. Peer review of classmates' research paper drafts
  4. A personal blog reflecting on writing progress and issues in each of the four major assignments, which also supports the university's Students as Scholars/QEP objectives


Three QUIZZES, taken online, will cover concerns in business research and writing.

  1. The first will cover parallel structure used in lists, resumes and bullet point formats like Prezi or PowerPoint.
  2. The second will test proficiency with formatting research papers, internal citations and references in APA style, as required by the School of Business.
  3. The third will review plagiarism and intellectual property. It is a prerequisite for acceptance of the research paper, which in turn is required in order to pass the class.  
After the due dates for the quizzes, students will be expected to use these elements accurately and appropriately, with grade penalties if this goal is not achieved.  Otherwise, grammar will be taught in this class only occasionally, on an as-needed basis. Please consult the instructor if a particular grammar question arises.

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George Mason University has an Honor Code, which requires all members of this community to maintain the highest standards of academic honesty and integrity.  Cheating, plagiarism, lying and stealing are all prohibited.   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.


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

• put quotation marks around, and give an in-text citation for, any sentences or distinctive phrases (even very short, 2- or 3-word phrases) that writers copy directly from any outside source: a book, textbook, article, website, newspaper, song, baseball card, interview, encyclopedia, CD, YouTube video, movie, etc.

• completely rewrite—not just switch out a few words—any information they find in a separate source and wish to summarize or paraphrase for their readers, and also give an in-text citation for that paraphrased information

• give an in-text citation for any facts, statistics, or opinions which the writers learned from outside sources (or which they just happen to know) and which are not considered “common knowledge” in the target audience (this may require new research to locate a credible outside source to cite)

• give a new in-text citation for each element of information—that is, do not rely on a single citation at the end of a paragraph, because that is not usually sufficient to inform a reader clearly of how much of the paragraph comes from an outside source.

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


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 adheres to all applicable state and federal equal opportunity/affirmative action statutes and regulations.

George Mason University is also committed to a campus that is free of sexual misconduct and incidents of interpersonal violence.  If you experience or witness such an incident, contact the Title IX Coordinator's Office at (703) 993-8730 for available options and resources at the Office of Diversity Services and Programs. This office works specifically with  African Heritage, Hispanic/Latino, Asian/Pacific American, American Indian, and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning populations. 

The Student Support and Advocacy Center , available at (703) 993-3686, offers educational programming, one-on-one consultations, and resources in the areas of interpersonal violence, personal wellness, and alcohol and drug use. Students seeking additional counselling or advice should contact Counseling and Psychological Services at (703) 993-2380.   In an emergency, call Crisis Link at (703) 527-4077 or go to Online Crisis Chat.  You may also call the campus police at (703)-993-2810, especially if a problem arises at night when daytime offices are closed.

The University Catalog is the central resource for university policies affecting all students, faculty and staff conduct in university academic affairs.  Other policies are available at http://universitypolicy.gmu.edu/.  All members of the university community are responsible for knowing and following established policies.


The University Writing Center: The Writing Center is one of the best resources you will find on campus. The center’s website offers a wealth of online resources for student writers. You can schedule a 50minute appointment with a trained tutor to help with any phase of the writing process. You can obtain assistance with papers by visiting the online writing center. Go online, call, or drop in to make an appointment

The University Library: In addition to a wealth of printed resources, the library hosts around 150 electronic databases indexing hundreds of journals. GMU is also a member of the Washington Research Library Consortium (WRLC), which means you have hasslefree access to the library resources of eight area universities! Please take some time to explore the library’s offerings; you may also instant message the library with any questions. In our distance learning environment, the library's Online Education Services are particularly helpful

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