English 102.003, Written Argument and Research
"Exploring the Moral and Ethical Dimensions of American Institutions"
Dr. Susan L. Stewart
Hall of Languages 221
Office Hours: M/W 10:30-11:30; M 3:00-4:00, or by appointment
Welcome to English 102, Written Argument and Research. I'm looking forward to getting to know you through classroom activities and through your writing. This is a challenging course, but rest assured, if you faithfully attend class, complete and hand in all of your assignments on time, participate in creating knowledge for yourself and others in the class, and are thorough in your work, you will be well on your way to success in this class.
According to the Undergraduate Catalog, English 102 "provides students with advanced training in communication skills emphasizing the writing and reading of argumentative prose and adapting writing to alternate audiences. Students will write weekly, including such texts as journals, reading response logs, summaries of argumentative texts, argumentative papers, and longer papers integrating secondary research."
As the title of the course suggests, you'll be studying and writing arguments and become more fully acquainted with research and documentation. Please don't confuse what you will be doing with writing standard "research" papers wherein you identify the positives and negatives of some controversial topic. Rather, what you will be doing is much more nuanced and will hopefully produce more complex texts. I expect you to engage in what Douglas Downs calls "honest inquiry" wherein you attempt "to understand opposing positions in order to reach agreement" (40). In order to accomplish that, you'll be writing on topics in which you have interest and which are relevant to you, but you will accomplish that by examining the moral and ethical dimensions of various institutions. By "institution," I mean formal and informal organizations that are deeply embedded in our culture and thought processes. For instance, education, government, politics, capitalism/consumerism, democracy, the media, television, health care, religion--even the internet--are institutions that contribute to and influence the way we live our lives. You will also engage in field (primary) and textual (secondary) research and will draw from any number of resources to inform your work. Whatever you write about, however, it must be timely, relevant, and affect you in some way. To give you an idea of topics that would be suitable for exploration:
See what I mean?
Essentials of Argument, Nancy V. Wood (Packaged with a
How Good People Make Tough Choices, Rushworth Kidder
An "Essay File" purchased from bookstore
A three-ring binder (1.5" or 2")
Several floppy disks (or some sort of mass storage device such as a jump drive or CD)
You'll need to have a copy card (with money on it) in case of printing emergencies.
I use a holistic portfolio system of grading. That is, I look at everything together, as though it is a living cluster of work. Everything counts. I look at the amount of work you do as reflected in various drafts, how you respond to your peers, how you contribute to the classroom as a place of learning, your in-class work, how thorough your work, portfolio, and casebook are, and your writing (including style, tone, voice, purpose, audience awareness and appropriateness regarding your audience).
I will give advisory grades regarding your essays throughout the semester; however, these are not set in stone. You have the opportunity to revise (see, however, my policies regarding late work). Indeed, when I respond to your papers, I will respond with an eye toward revision. Consequently, I seldom note usage/punctuation issues unless they are pronounced, but I do expect you to hand in clean, error-free copy at the end of the semester. Please note that advisory grades of A (or B and so on) do not guarantee an A (or B and so on) for the portfolio.
The Portfolio: It is critical that you keep everything you do in a notebook, for I use a portfolio method of grading. That means you need to keep every assigned piece of writing that you produce whether it's a peer response, an unannounced in-class writing, first, second or final drafts, etc. Everything means everything, for I won't maintain grades throughout the semester (although I will keep track of whether you have handed in your work). Rather, at the end of the semester, you'll compile all of your work in a three-ring notebook. I'll look at your portfolio, make sure it's complete, read your revised essays, and figure your grade from there. If you forget to include something or lose something, your portfolio is incomplete. It's unlikely that an incomplete portfolio will get a grade higher than a D.
When you hand in a paper for the advisory grade, you'll also need to hand in everything you've done up to that point for that project. This I am defining as a project. Keep these projects together and intact and compile them for the final portfolio.
Revision: I anticipate that you'll be revising several papers throughout the semester. After I have returned your papers with advisory grades on them, you will have two weeks to revise those papers. I will not accept late revisions.
If you're not in class, you'll have a difficult time assembling a complete (and therefore passing) portfolio. In other words, arrive at class on time and ready to write and work. Be here. That's all there is to it. Do not ask to leave early. Use your time wisely; it'll cut down on homework time. Absences will ultimately hurt your grade. If for some reason you miss class, it is your responsibility to check the website and contact one of your classmates and find out what you missed (A few words of warning: if you miss class, do not contact me and ask "did we do anything important?")
I understand that emergencies arise, but if it appears that you'll be missing more than 3 or 4 classes, you should consider taking this course when you can devote the necessary time required by this class. I do keep track of attendance and I don't give "free" absences. Excessive absences will negatively affect your grade. I define excessive absences as more than 3 absences. If you get into the 4 or 5 area, it will be a challenge to make better than a C. If you have 6 absences or more, I reserve the right to drop you from the class.
When you turn in a project, you will be asked to check Educator and list the days you were absent or tardy and record that on your Project Checklist.
Late Papers and Complete Portfolios
I seldom accept late papers and only when you have made prior arrangements with me. If you fail to hand the paper in on time without making prior arrangements with me, that will likely result in a zero for the project. There is no revision opportunity for late papers. And remember, in order to have a complete portfolio and thus pass the course, you will still need to hand that paper in. If there is a pattern of late papers, it is unlikely that you will make a C or above for the course, and you run the risk of failing the course.
You will be engaging in writing peer responses during class. If you are not in class for peer response, that will automatically lower your grade. If you do miss class during peer response days, you are responsible for writing and receiving peer responses on your own.
Computers and the Internet
You need to have access to and be willing to work with computers and the internet. As I indicated above, our culture is your text. One way of accessing that culture is through the internet. If you do not have access to a computer or are opposed to using one, you will need to take a section wherein computers are not as critical to the classroom environment. Most of the work I assign will be listed on my website, and some of the readings can only be found through links I provide. Additionally, you will need to have access to the Educator website, as I might require that you post written materials to the Discussion Board, and this is where you will store an electronic version of your essays. Your grades are also available there. Thus, you will need ready access to the internet.
Saving Your Texts
This is crucial. Save your texts in more than one place. Because floppy disks are notoriously unreliable, do not depend on those alone. My advice is to use 2 or more of the following:
Americans with Disabilities Act Statement
According to TAMU-Commerce policy, "Students requesting accommodations for disabilities must go through the Academic Support Committee. For more information, please contact the Director of Disability Resources and Services, Halladay Student Services Building, Room 303D, 903-886-5835." It is only under these conditions that I will make the accommodations you require.
Cell Phones in the Classroom
Use some common sense and be smart about this, for I have a real problem with cell phones in the classroom. It's rude, disrespectful, and disruptive to accept or make phone calls, to text message, or play games. Just don't. The only cell phone permitted in this class is a cell phone that is turned off. That means you should not receive or answer calls or text messages. If there is cell phone incident, I reserve the right to ask you to leave class, which will count as an absence.
Since this is a class in argument and argumentation, I encourage and expect you to disagree with others (including me) in this class. However, it is imperative that you at all times express your thoughts with civility. Having said that, and according to TAMU-Commerce policy, "All students enrolled in the University shall follow the tenets of common decency and acceptable behavior conducive to a positive learning environment."
You are responsible for indicating when you have used specific words, sentences, or paragraphs, which belong to other writers. These words, sentences, or paragraphs should be designated via quotation marks and in-text citations. Additionally, identify when you use ideas from other sources. If you use the exact wording of something you've read or if you paraphrase it, provide a specific citation indicating where you found your information. If in question, cite it, and indicate that you've cited it by using quotation marks and in-text citations. Think of it in these terms: knowledge is a commodity, especially in the academic community. If you had a brilliant idea, or a wonderful way with words, would you like it if someone used your idea or words without acknowledging you? More specifically:
If I discover that a student has engaged in fraud, the student
will receive an F for the class. Rebecca Moore Howard defines fraud in the writing
classroom as "Handing in a paper that somebody else wrote" ( 488).
That can mean a purchased paper, one that is taken from a file of papers, one
that is given by or taken from another person, one that is copied from the internet
or some other source, or any similar instance. Further, "Insufficient citation;
failure to mark quotations; failure to acknowledge sources; and taking brief
strings of discourse from a source and patching them verbatim or slightly altered,
into one's own sentence" or "patchwriting" will be a problem
as well. For instance, I follow Howard's advice regarding insufficient citation
and "excessive repetition" when she suggests that instructors "give
an F for an insufficiently cited paper; a reduced grade for excessive repetition,
in which summary masquerades as analysis; and a required revision for patchwriting"
(488). If, by the end of the semester, students do not succeed in overcoming
the obstacles associated with the above, it is unlikely that they will pass
the course. Further, according to the Texas A&M University-Commerce Code
of Student Conduct 5.b[1,2,3], penalties for students guilty of academic dishonesty
include disciplinary probation, suspension, and expulsion. See also the following
Downs, Douglas. "True Believers, Real Scholars, and Real True Believing Scholars: Discourses of Inquiry and Affirmation in the Composition Classroom." Negotiating Religious Faith in the Composition Classroom. Ed. Elizabeth Vander Lei and Bonnie Lenore Kyburz. Portsmouth: Heinemann, 2005.
Howard, Rebecca Moore. "Sexuality, Textuality: The Cultural Work of Plagiarism." College English 62 (2000): 473-91.