English Composition 101 with a Biology focus - Fall 96

Section 013 - MWF, 11:30 am - 12:20 pm

Virginia Montecino
Robinson A - 112-D
Office hours - M, W, F - 10:30 - 11:20
English Department
George Mason University
e-mail address montecin@gmu.edu

Course Description: The critical reading and writing skills covered in this course are designed to prepare you for college writing. Science will be the lens through which we will explore ways of knowing and experiment with approaches to writing and research in different contexts. You will read and analyze writing by scientists, other published writers, as well as each others' writing . The readings, discussions, and experiments with writing style are designed to give you a good foundation as a writer. You will learn more about yourself, and about choices you can make with voice, language, style, and form when writing. This is a workshop-style class. My philosophy is that you learn to write by reading writing , experimenting with writing, and getting feedback from your class members and from me. RE -visioning and revising your writing is an integral part of the writing process. Much of your learning will come from critiquing each others ' writing. This exposure will give you insight into your own possibilities as a writer.

Goals for this course include:

Required texts: Guide to Finding Information - The George Mason University Libraries; Norton Textra Connect for Word for Windows(package which includes Writing Essentials. by Rodriguez, Tuman).

Web sites of interest (See my web page for more useful sites.

Course Requirements and Grading:
For English 101 your grade will primarily depend upon your writing skill and how it improves over the semester. Other factors will be participation in networked writing, writing logs, discussion, participation in class and small group projects and in peer response. The grade range for 101 is A, B, C, and NC (no credit). No credit means you must take 101 over. A is superior writing; B is above average; C is average. For details see last page. If you are absent for a class exercise, quiz, etc, you can't make it up. I cannot give you individual tutoring on what you missed when you were absent (If you have a bona fide emergency, please see me). Late papers will downgraded a whole letter grade. Once I have returned papers I will not accept papers for that assignment. I will not accept a late research paper. If you do not have your paper responded to by your response group and/or do not come on peer response day, I will not comment on that paper for revision. (Keep all "footprints" of drafts, brainstorming, notes on papers. I may ask to see them). All papers except the research paper may be revised and turned in within one week from when I returned it to you. (Revising does not automatically get a better grade. Re-visioning your paper means stepping back and looking at your paper anew, not only making minor editing changes that I or class members suggest). See the statements on plagiarism and copyright at the end of the syllabus. I encourage you to conference with me about your work-in-progress.

Assignments and grading standard:

45% (15% each) for three (3) polished short papers: Topic #1 (draft due 9/11; paper due 9/13) - What is good writing?; Topic #2 (draft due 9/27; paper due 10/2)- Virtual fly lab - process/description - report; Topic #3 (draft due 10/16; paper due 10/22)- analysis of science article (rhetorical approach, audience, purpose, etc.)

25% - written research paper proposal (11/13)- 5% ; formal research paper in APA style (draft due 11/20; paper due 11/25)- 20%; (I will only accept research papers if the required research paper proposal was submitted and approved, I saw a draft-in-progress, and your paper was turned in on time.) No credit will be given to papers for which I have seen no evidence that it was worked on in conjunction with this class. Plagiarism is an honor code violation and, at the very least, will result in a failing grade. Please read the statement on plagiarism below.

15% - group Internet project - collaborative paper and oral report, critiquing Web sites on science-related topics for content, audience, purpose, credibility of site. Oral reports begin 12/2

15% - class participation (includes writing log/journal, peer response, class activities). A major component of your participation grade will be the Writing Log/journal - with at least Three (3) pages per week. You will be keeping writing logs based on a variety of topics, including, write ups of three (3) university events you attend, class readings, e-mail messages that relate to class activities, new insights into your writing and revision, ideas informed by your biology class, brainstorming about topics, experimental writing, impressions of web sites you discovered for your research. Keep your log in a two pocket folder, using dated loose pages (that gives you the flexibility to have many kinds of entries. I will periodically ask for your journal entries with no advance notice. So bring your journals to class.

Participation in computer networked writing assignments and discussion , using a program called Norton Textra Connect.

Tentative Schedule:( subject to change according to needs of students)

M, 8/26 - Reminder to get OSF1 e-mail accounts. What is a writing community? Overview of course requirements. In class writing on perceptions of self as a writer: How would you classify yourself as a writer on a continuum from inexperienced to experienced? What kinds of reading do you do? What kinds of questions do you ask yourself when you read for information? For pleasure? What kinds of writing have you done in the past year? Relate a positive writing experience. What strengths do you think you can bring to the writing process? What areas do you think need work? Why did you choose this biology- focused section of English 101?

W, 8/28 - Group discussion. Be prepared to discuss the articles on using plain language in writing and avoiding unnecessary jargon in scientific writing. Paper #1 - Due 9/13 on What are the main concepts (restated in your own words) you learned about good writing from reading the articles? Also write about which article you feel had someone like you in mind for its audience, and why? Why do you think the other one was not intended for you as a reader? Do you disagree with any of the authors' assumptions about good writing? Why? If the articles appealed to you for different reasons, explain why. Do the authors follow their own principles as stated in their articles. Provide evidence to explain why or why not? Has your impression of what makes "good writing" changed since reading these articles? How might what you learned from reading these articles change the way you write or reinforce your impressions of what constitutes good writing? Log entry - carrying "keep it simple" to the extreme: creating a one syllable word paragraph.

F, 8/30 - Bring Norton Textra Connect (Word for Windows version) to workshop. Post your one syllable essay on Norton Connect for class discussion. Class response to one syllable word paragraph.

M,9/2 - Labor Day Holiday

W, 9/4 - Introduction to e-mail and lynx. Preparation for discussion and brainstorming after Friday's discussion.

F, 9/6 - Asynchronous class discussion on e-mail based on questions about "Is Science Censored?" and "How to Put Hyped Study Results Under a Microscope. Discuss some science-related topic in the news, that could affect your life, positively or negatively. Did you hear contradictory information? What parts of the information do you think the popular press might leave out? Did the information change any of your attitudes or behavior - change in diet, lifestyle, concerns about your future? What ethical issues are at stake?

M, 9/9 - Draft of Paper #1 due. Post paper # 1 on Connect for peer response. (last day to add classes).

W, 9/11 - Searching on the web - explanation of group Internet Research Project - Explore Internet sites and writing a collaborative paper critiquing the audience, purpose, content, and credibility of the sites. Presenting the web site and your oral report to the class. You can work on this report throughout the semester and present your findings at the end of the semester. I will ask for updates on your progress.

F, 9/13 - Paper #1 due. X-Libris library research via remote access from classroom computer lab. Bring a list of possible topics you might want to explore for your major research paper.

M, 9/16 - Real (not virtual) Library Visit.

W, 9/18 - Refining/narrowing library research strategies

F, 9/20 - Paper #2 - Assignment - Create your own mutant flies at the Virtual Fly Lab on the Internet. Part I - Write the process you went through, in your own words, to create your fly. What steps did you take? What are the scientific terms for the flies' characteristics? Describe the characteristics of the parent flies in non-scientific terms (color, shape, texture, relative size). What did you think the resulting offspring would look like? Describe in non-scientific detail what the offspring ended up looking like. Part 2 - Write about what you learned from using this virtual fly lab. What were some of the challenges you had with writing about a process and using description? Do you feel you were successful? Can you think of some ways in which a virtual lab has advantages over a real lab experience? Under what circumstances might a virtual lab be a disadvantage? How might a scientific description of the process differ from your description of your process? On a separate page, make a list of the scientific words you had to look up - and write the definitions.

M, 9/23 - Class Connect assignment - discussion critiquing two articles on Dinosaurs and DNA (authors credentials, audience, purpose, content, supporting evidence, tone, language). Explanation of Paper #3. Begin finding an article for Paper #3 (an analysis, based on the principles above, of an article in a newspaper or popular magazine). Article due for approval 10/4 (just the magazine article). Paper #3 draft due - 10/16 (also bring a copy of the article that day) analysis of article paper due 10/22 (attach article to your paper).

W, 9/25 -Workshop on Paper #2 [ last day to drop with no tuition liability]

F, 9/27 - Draft of Paper #2 due - post on Connect. (last day to drop wo. dean's permission).

M, 9/30 - Workshop on Paper # 2

W, 10/2 - Paper #2 due. Connect small group workshop on analyzing an article.

F, 10/4 - Bring article (for approval) you will analyze (for style, audience, language, etc.) for Paper #3

M, 10/7 - Workshop on analysis of article

W, 10/9- Conferences/ progress report/workshop

F, 10/11 - Conferences/progress report/workshop

M, 10/14 - 15 - Columbus Day Holiday

W, 10/16 - Draft of Paper #3 due. Peer response

F, 10/18 - Prepare for Group Project

M, 10/21 - Paper #3 due.

W, 10/23 - Discussion of requirements for Paper #4 - Research Paper Proposal (Due 11/13); Research paper (Due 11/25). No revision of research paper after it is turned in. I will not read research papers without an approved research paper proposal. In Writing Essentials, read Ch 6 on research writing, and Ch 11 (for APA style of documentation).

F, 10/25- Class discussion of HeLa cells articles. Examination of the rhetorical methods (in relation to audience and purpose) the authors use to hold the general audience's attention.

10/28 -Narrowing the search down. Review your FLOW Library Guide. Searching X-Libris (Bring to class a list of 4 possible topics in order of preference (#1 being your first choice). Write down some reasons why you would want to write about each of these subjects. How do you think knowing more about each of those subjects would enrich you or be valuable information you could share with readers? Who do you think would be interested in knowing about these topics?

W, 10/30- Setting up your proposal and using the reference page option on Connect.

F, 11/1 - workshop/conferences on research paper topics

M, 11/4 - workshop/conferences on research paper topics

W, 11/6 - Draft of Research Paper Proposals due. Post on Connect for peer response

F, 11/8 - peer response to proposals

M, 11/11 - refining proposals

W, 11/13 - Proposals due

F, 11/15 - Refining thesis statements (Read pp 13-14 in Writing Essentials). workshop on research papers

M, 11/18 - Group workshops on Internet project

W, 11/20 - Research paper draft due for peer response.

F, 11/22 - Research paper draft due for peer response

M, 11/25 - Paper #4 - Research paper due.

W, 11/27 - Workshop on group Internet projects

[11/28-Dec 1 - Thanksgiving Recess]

M, 12/2 - Oral reports on Internet Projects

W, 12/4 - Oral reports on Internet Projects

F, 12/6 - Oral reports on Internet Projects. Turn in writing journal/log and individual contribution to Group Internet Project.

F, 12/13 - Exam Day

Grading Standard

English Department Statement on Plagiarism
Plagiarism means using the exact words, opinions, or factual information from another person without giving that person credit. Writers give credit through accepted documentation styles, such as parenthetical citation, footnotes, or endnotes; a simple listing of books and articles is not sufficient. Plagiarism is the equivalent of intellectual robbery and cannot be tolerated in an academic setting. Student writers are often confused as to what should be cited. Some think that only direct quotations need to be credited. While direct quotations do need citations, so do paraphrases and summaries of opinions or factual information formerly unknown to the writers or which the writers did not discover themselves. Exceptions for this include factual information which can be obtained from a variety of sources, the writers' own insights or findings from their own field research, and what has been termed common knowledge. What constitutes common knowledge can sometimes be precarious; what is common knowledge for one audience may not be so for another. In such situations, it is helpful, keep the reader in mind and to think of citations as being "reader friendly." In other words, writers provide a citation for any piece of information that they think their readers might want to investigate further. Not only is this attitude considerate of readers, it will almost certainly ensure that writers will never be guilty of plagiarism.

Plagiarism and the Internet
In addition to the plagiarism statement, above, I want to advise you that users of the Internet also have to be aware that text and graphics accessed electronically must also be cited, giving credit to the sources. You must get permission from the original source to use graphics on a website. This material includes but is not limited to e-mail (don't cite someone else's e-mail without permission), newsgroup material, information from Web sites, including graphics. Copying someone else's Web page and format is, in effect, stealing that person's or institution's intellectual property. The unique format of a hypertext document's markup language is also subject to copyright and shouldn't be duplicated. Making links to a site is, at this time, okay.

See the list of Web sites addressing Copyright and the Internet on my home page.

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