EH 120H: Advanced College Writing (Honors)
Spring 2011 | Section 01: TR 11:45-1:00 & Section 02: TR 1:10-2:25 | KHIC 301 (North Reading Room)

Dr. Rodney F. Dick, Ph. D.
Assistant Professor of English

Office: 468 Chapman Hall | Office Hours: M-F 10-11 and by appointment
Phone: (330) 823-4792 (Office) | (330) 823-2397 (English Department) | (330) 433-0219 (Home--not before 7:30 AM or after 9:00 PM, unless it's an emergency)
Email: | Syllabus online at:

Course Description: In college, writing is assigned to determine not only how much you have learned in a given course, but also how well you have integrated that knowledge and how well you can apply that knowledge. You are also given writing assignments because you learn while you write. The process of writing allows you to make connections and discoveries you likely would not make otherwise. Writing makes you smarter. The more opportunities you give your brain to grapple with new concepts, ideas, and connections, the more your brain will understand them. Think of writing as a muscle—use it and it gets stronger. Writing is foundational in all disciplines, and within and outside of the college environment, you will be evaluated officially and unofficially on how well you write.

This course will be concerned with helping you bring your own thoughts, ideas, and ways of viewing the world into the academic arena. You know by now, consciously or unconsciously, that the way you write depends on setting and audience. This is also known as the “rhetorical situation.” You write very differently in a letter to a friend than you do on a college entrance examination, for instance. This course will introduce you to the various conventions of writing in college. You will find there are different writing expectations in different classes—a lab report for biology is written and designed quite differently than an essay concerning Mark Twain’s religious views. Thus, you will learn that writing is contextual, and you will learn how to adapt to these changing contexts. Can this college writing course introduce you to every potential writing context you will ever encounter? No. But we can help you to learn to make these adjustments on your own.

If this is a writing course, why do we read so much? To sing or to play a musical instrument, you need to listen to music. If you want to be a better musician, you listen to music more carefully. To be a good athlete, you watch other athletes. If you want to be a better athlete, you watch more closely. The same goes for writing. You need to read in order to understand and feel the nuances of language. To be a better writer, you need to read more carefully. You will read a variety of written works which will serve as models for your own writing. You will read also in order to develop ideas for your writing. Interestingly, you will write to better inform your reading as well. You will be given strategies to help you read “more closely.”

For those of you concerned with how this class will help in the “real world,” consider that contemporary employers in all work fields are disturbed by the inability of young employees to write clearly and intelligently. Take this and other classes involving writing seriously. Embrace the fundamentals of sound writing and you will have a major leg up on the competition.

Goals/Outcomes: As a result of taking this course, you should be able to:

Nuts and Bolts: You will write five graded essays including one seven to ten-page investigative/research paper. Moreover, since writing is most effective when it is viewed as a process that incorporates revision, you will be expected to submit drafts of these essays. You will also:

General Education Requirement: This course satisfies the General Education requirement for "Written English" (I.B.1).

Required Texts and Materials: The required texts below are available at the college book store:

Course Work: Your grade in this course will reflect more than simply your ability to write. Writing cannot be separated from thinking, and what we know cannot be separated from our process of learning. An active process of thinking and reading and writing encourage you to take risks and grow as a writer and as a thinker. Reflecting this idea, roughly half of the work you do for this course will be process work (drafting, workshops, conferencing, participatory thinking, etc.). The work for the course will involve the following projects/assignments:

Essays: Since one major goal of the course is to get you to write regularly, you will be asked to write four mini-essays (3-4 pages each) that in some way reflect on, react to, and respond to the assigned readings for the course. While we will discuss the readings in class, the writing you do will take place completely out of class. We will meet in writing workshops to read and respond to each others' mini-essays. In addition, you will choose one mini-essay to revise which, along with your researched essay and selected other texts, will be collected into a portfolio as your final exam.

Essay #1: Entry Essay. During the first two weeks of the semester, you’ll be asked to write your first essay outside of class time that responds to a text we read and discuss in class. This essay will be graded using a rubric the English Department has devised to show you your strengths and weaknesses in writing at the beginning of your college career. After you turn in your essay, your instructor will schedule a conference with you to discuss your writing. This initial essay will be used as a writing benchmark so you can target certain areas for development and improvement throughout the semester. If you score below a 70% (C-) on this essay, you will need to sign up to work with a Writing Center tutor for one hour a week for the duration of the semester, in order to be eligible to pass the class. As with all other essays, you may be asked to revise this essay later on in the semester, for a different assignment, so be sure to keep it in your writing folder with the grading rubric and on your jump drive.

Essay #2: Critical Summary Essay. The ability to express what you know and think effectively to others is rooted in your ability to understand and articulate what others before you have said and thought. Good, effective writing starts with your ability and willingness to pay attention, observe, and spend time thinking about another's entire line of reasoning. The purpose of this essay is to get you to pay close, critical attention to someone else's argument, first, and then grow your own line of thought and argument, second. You will choose one essay from an assigned list and write a "critical summary" which has as it's primary purpose a thoughtful "summary" of the entire argument and a secondary purpose of taking a critical stance on that argument.

Essay #3: Argument Essay. Deborah Tannen wrote that there is a vast difference between "having" and argument and "making" an argument. In our country, we are inundated with argument--politicians banter on television and in debates to try to win votes, reality tv stars fight on camera while we watch--but in most cases, these argument are not intended to persuade an audience. Instead, the "fight" or argument is the purpose. Learning to craft an argument that is meant to persuade an audience is a staple of the curious and educated mind. For this essay, we'll practice "making" an argument.

Researched Essay. Good research (and good writing for that matter) is rooted in observation and curiosity. For this essay, you'll be asked to solve a problem or explore something that's interesting to you. But to do this, you'll have to build your knowledge and grow your perspective (i.e., do research). You'll conduct both primary (in the field) and secondary (in the library) research to help give your own ideas a larger context--to show that you're credible. When you're through, you'll be a mini-expert in that area.

Portfolio: Simply defined, a portfolio is a collection of writing. However, in this class, since one goal is to get you to think critically about revision, your portfolio will also be a record of your revisions to various essays you choose to collect. Additionally, portfolios are meant to have a reflective component. Thus, your portfolio will include your meta-cognitive essay (Essay #4) that explores your growth as a writer over the semester, your reflection on the essays you've chosen, and a discussion of your process of revision. Ultimately, your portfolio is both process and product. It will include:

Participation. Participating in class means you will be in class and on time. It also means that you are prepared for class, have done the required readings, have sufficient copies made where necessary, participate honestly and cooperatively in class activities, and contribute regularly to class discussion. Participation also considers your attendance at and full participation in the writing workshops. These are not unusual requirements, but rather they are the expected norm for class participation at the college level. THIS CLASS IS AN ACTIVE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT. This means you will be actively involved in running the class, making choices about readings, lead the class discussions and activities, as well as shape the projects. In addition, students are required to meet with me three times during the semester in one-on-one conferences to discuss essays they have chosen to revise and include in the portfolio (mini-essay and the researched essay). Not doing so (and not being fully prepared for these conferences) will affect the participation grade for the course.

Writing Workshops: Students will meet in writing groups of 3-4 to read and respond to each others' writing. Because effective writing doesn't happen in a vacuum or in isolation, it is essential that, in these writing workshops, each student reads and responds to all other students' drafts. These responses will help the writer, but reading your peers' essays will also strengthen your own reading, thinking, and writing skills. These are not "grammar" workshops. In fact, we may NEVER address grammar, punctuation, or spelling issues. However, these writing workshops are a place to discuss these issues and any other writing issues, in general. Students will meet in writing workshops five (5) times over the semester. Each student will be responsible for writing an informal response to other students' essays for each workshop.

Grading Your Writing: As you can see below, the bulk of the grade you'll earn for this course is for the portfolio. However, because you'll be doing a lot of writing, and I want you to take it all seriously, everything you write for this class will be graded:

Essays (Essays 1-3)
Researched Essay
Portfolio (Including Meta-Cognitive Essay and essay revision)
Writing Workshops and Miscellany

Grading Scale: The final grading scale will be:

B+ = 87-90% C+ = 77-80% D+ = 67-70% F = below 60%
A = 94-100% B = 84-87% C = 73-77% D = 63-67%  
A- = 90-93% B- = 80-83% C- = 70-73% D- = 60-63%  

Course Features and Policies: Much of class time will be time spent working on writing, discussing writing with other students, and seeking materials necessary to different writing projects. In order to make the most of this opportunity, students are expected to:

Documentation Style: Because the content of this course is general academic writing, we will be using MLA documentation style in this course.  MLA style is covered in the Raimes handbook.

Absence and Tardiness: The most concise way to describe this policy is to simply say that students are expected to be in class, on time and prepared. There are no excused absences in this course, only those without penalty. Students can miss class up to four times without penalty. Five absences will reduce the student's final grade by one half grade (ex. A to A-) or 5%. Six absences will reduce the student's final grade by one full grade (ex. A to B) or 10%. Seven absences or more can result in automatic failure for the course. In addition, being on time is as important as being in class. Avoid being late to class as much as is possible.

Writing Workshops: Over the semester, students will meet with peers and me in a series of writing workshops. In these workshops, we will read and respond to each others' essays. It is fundamental that students attend and be prepared to fully participate in these workshops. As a result, students can miss only one (1) workshop without negative consequences (though you'll miss out on the points). Workshop absences count against absence totals for the class. More than one absence will constitute a zero (0) grade for participation.

Grade Appeals: Should a student feel as though a grade on a particular assignment is unfair or inaccurate, that student has the option of writing a "Grade Appeal Letter" to the professor. This letter should identify the student, the work in question, the grade assigned, and a detailed explanation of why the grade should be changed, to what grade it should be changed, and how that new grade was identified. Students retain the right and are encouraged to review course records whether they choose to appeal a grade or not.

Course Misconduct and Plagiarism: All work done for this course must be written by you specifically and originally for this class. Plagiarism is the active and deliberate attempt to pass off someone else's ideas and / or words as your own. Students caught cheating, plagiarizing, or otherwise violating MUC codes of conduct or the policies outlined in this syllabus will be disciplined appropriately (and swiftly). Take this seriously; your professor does; the consequences for fraudulent, and even sloppy, work are too serious.

Late and Missing Work:You have the option of turning in their written work in hard copy or, when requested and approved by me in advance, electronically via email. Regardless of the form, all required assignments and projects must be turned in on-time and complete. Computer/software incompatibility, not saving documents properly, and problems printing do not qualify as viable reasons for not having work ready on time. In addition, you must complete and turn in a drafts of all the major projects in order to pass the course. It is your responsibility to contact me if the established due dates cannot be met for professional or personal reasons. Exceptions can be made only by my discretion and on an individual basis.

Additional Course Materials: Although the work of the course has been described here, other handouts describing in more detail the assignments of the course will be distributed in class.

Writing Center Tutorials and The Writing Center: Located in room 233 of the KHIC, the Writing Center offers tutorial assistance to MUC students across disciplines, academic levels, and abilities. Staffed by peer tutors, it provides responsive support adaptable to the needs of most student writers.The Writing Center can help student writers in any stage of the writing process, anywhere from thinking about an assignment to editing and proofreading a paper. Writing tutors are experienced academic writers from widely varied disciplines and majors, so they can help with creating research papers, writing lab reports, preparing for essay exams, revising resumes and cover letters, and most other writing tasks. Writing Center tutors are trained to help students improve their written work; more importantly, tutors are trained to enable students' better understanding of the writing process, of writing at the college level, and of their individual strengths and needs as writers. As a part of a requirement of this course, each student must meet with a Writing Center tutor at least once for every essay (except for the Entry Essay) as stipulated in class. The WC schedule is as follows:

Sunday: 6-10 PM
Monday-Thursday: 9 AM - 10 PM
Friday: 9 AM - 3 PM
Saturday: Closed

FYE Writing Center
FYE students can also take advantage of the FYE Writing Center Satellite located in the Faculty Office in Cunningham Hall. The FYE WC will be open for drop-in hours and operate on by a first-come, first-served basis.

The American with Disabilities Act (ADA): In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), all qualified students enrolled in this course are entitled to reasonable accommodations. Any student with a documented disability needing accommodations is responsible for contacting The Center for Student Accessibility Services (in the Hoover-Price Campus Center) and the professor, as early in the semester as possible. All discussions will remain confidential.

Note: The professor reserves the right to suspend the aforementioned policies at his discretion. While this syllabus is as complete as possible, changes may occur and the professor reserves the right to make changes in grading, scheduling, and assignments, as he deems necessary or prudent.

Course Schedule:

Note: Readings and projects are due at the beginning of the class on the day assigned. All assignments MUST be typed and printed out before class begins (when appropriate).

[NPB] = The Norton Pocket Book | [TSIS] = They Say I Say | [KFW] = Keys for Writers | [HO] = handed out in class | [ANGEL] = on reserve through ANGEL

T 11

Introduction to the class; discuss the syllabus

READ: Syllabus

In Class Writing: What do you think you know about writing for college?

R 13

READ: Preface and Introduction, p. xi-14 [TSIS]
READ: Ways into Writing, p. 3-11 [KFW]

Choose your best essay. Be able to defend why it's good.

T 18 READ: Carr, "Is Google Making Us Stupid" [ANGEL]

Respond to Carr--Do you agree/disagree? What makes it an effective/ineffective argument?

Introduce Essay #1: Entry Essay

R 20

Discussion of Entry Essay

Giving and Getting Feedback

READ: Giving and Getting Feedback and A student's annotated drafts p. 43-45, 46-49 [KFW]

DUE: Essay #1: Entry Essay (bring three copies to class)

In class: Discuss Entry Essay--Was it a piece of cake? Are you confident you "aced" it?

T 25

Entry Essay Conferences--No Class

READ: Your and two other students' entry essays

Entry Essay Conferences (Mon 1/24-Mon 1/31)

Respond to your and other students' entry essays

R 27

They Say

READ: Chapters 1-3, p. 15-47 [TSIS]


Look at examples of the "they say" in Olsson, Obama, Goldwasser, and Dowd [TSIS]

Look for examples of "they say" in your Entry Essay

Introduce Essay #2: Critical Summary Essay

READ: Developing Paragraphs and Essays, p 27-40 [KFW]
Look for examples of "they say" in Carr
R 3 READ: Critical Summary Examples [ANGEL] Look for examples of "they say"
T 8

READ: How to Use, Integrate, and Document Sources, p. 145-160 [KFW]

Documenting what "they say": summary, paraphrase and quotes

R 10


Bring in one copy of Essay #2 draft for in-class reading

T 15 Essay #2 Conferences--No Class

DUE: Essay #2: Critical Summary Essay Draft for Writing Workshop (bring three copies to class)

Essay #2 Conferences (Wed 2/16-Mon 2/28)

R 17

I Say

READ: Chapters 4-7, p. 49-97 [TSIS]
READ: Writing and Analyzing Arguments, p. 51-69 [KFW]

Look at examples of the "I say" in Campos, Stevens, Bartlett, Peacocke, and Freidman [TSIS]

Introduce Essay #3: Argument Essay

T 22 READ: Zinczenko, p. 153; Balko, p.157 [TSIS] Look for examples of "I say" in Zinczenko and Balko
R 24 READ: Cornell, p. 119; Walsh, p. 131 [NPB] Look for examples of "I say" in Cornell and Walsh
T 1   Bring in one copy of Essay #3 draft for in-class reading
R 3


Look at examples of "tying it all together" in The Economist, Graff, Friedman [TSIS]

March 5-13 SPRING BREAK--No Classes SPRING BREAK--No Classes
T 15

Essay #3 In class review and peer critique


R 17

The Research Process and Tying It All Together

READ: Chapters 8-10, p. 99-132 [TSIS]; The Research Process, Searching for Sources, and How to Evaluate Sources, p. 99-133 [KFW]

Introduce Researched Essay

DUE: Essay #3 Draft for Writing Workshop (bring three copies to class)

Essay #3 Conferences (Fri 3/18-Wed 2/30)

T 22

Mixing Primary and Secondary Research Methods

READ: Student examples [ANGEL/HO]

R 24

Making Research Personal

READ: Forman, p. 91 [NPB]

T 29

Rooting Research in Observation

READ: Fox, p. 83; Locatelli, p. 75 [NPB]

R 31

Reflective and Meta-cognitive Writing | Begin Portfolio Compilation

READ: Buenzle, p. 3; Green, p. 5, Vallowe, p.8 [NPB]

Introduce Essay #4: Meta-Cognitive Essay

T 5 No Classes--Researched Essay Conferences

Researched Essay Conferences (Mon 4/4-Thurs 4/14)

R 7

READ: Samples Student Meta-Cognitive essays [HO]

T 12


READ: Revising, editing, and Proofreading, p. 40-50 and Style, p. 351-380 [KFW]

R 14 Peer-review of Researched Essay Bring in one copy of Researched Essay draft for in-class reading
T 19 SCHOLAR Day--No Classes SCHOLAR Day--No Classes
R 21 Last Day of Classes Due: Portfolio
FINAL FINAL Conferences

Final Exam: Individual Conferences (Finals Week--Sign up sheet located outside my office--Chapman 468)

Sat., May 7 Commencement  
Last updated on January 4, 2010