Engl 101

Course Syllabus

English 101 Syllabus (PDF, 914 KB ). Contains full course description, required materials, discussion of course policies, overview of class assignments, grading standards, and general course rubric. Updated: 30 November 2015.

Course Description, Objectives, and Theme

“An opinion should be the result of thought, not a substitute for it.” – Jef Mallett

Prerequisites
ACT score of 18 or above. It is your responsibility to make sure you are in the right class. You will also need basic computer and Internet skills before taking this class. It is assumed that you already have some basic knowledge and skill in grammar, punctuation, style, and usage as well as a willingness to identify and work on your own problem areas in and outside of class (for example, going to the Writing Center).

College is not high school – we want you to level up. High school is like playing the video game Mass Effect (ME) in Casual (Easy) Mode. That is a good level for a beginner, but with college you are entering higher education – thus a higher level. Entering college, then, is like playing ME in Normal Mode, without any cheat codes, with the goal of having you play at Veteran Mode (Hard), without cheat codes or even walkthroughs, by the time you graduate. You will need to access previously learned skills and then build on them to level up.

 “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, thought like a child, and reasoned like a child. When I became an adult, I no longer used childish ways.” – 1:Cor:13:11 (God’s Word translation)

Do not expect Freshman English classes to be plug-and-play, paint-by-the-numbers, or rote memorization classes. We expect you to learn to critically think, and to incorporate and synthesize and not just regurgitate information or mimic procedures. Thus, it should be no surprise that what passed for an A in high school will not pass for an A in college.

Definition
This class is a course in expository writing: writing that persuasively explains, clarifies, or argues. It involves independent critical thinking, analysis, and synthesis – skills required by all university majors and all engaged citizens of a democracy.

Objectives
Knowing how to write helps you become a better thinker – to be more organized in your thinking, and to be more capable of being able to express yourself and to persuade others.

Being a better writer will give you tools for understanding complex texts and ideas—and for exploring your own thoughts and experiences. In practicing writing you will learn to think about your audience, the needs of the situation, and the goals you have, and piece them carefully together. In addition, because reading and writing are inextricably linked, critical reading is important to being a better writer. The course objectives that support these learning goals are as follows:

  1. Read with comprehension and analyze (in discussion and writing) a variety of works anthologized in the course textbook.
  2. Use logic to evaluate and communicate in class discussion and in writing the effectiveness of various arguments.
  3. Understand and apply proper MLA parenthetical and Works Cited format in the use of integrated primary and secondary sources.
  4. Practice revision and self-editing of essays, and communicate effectively in standard written English.
  5. In addition to becoming self-editors, one general university objective is for you to become self-initiated lifelong learners by the time you graduate. Most professional occupations require good written communication skills.

Another thing to keep in mind is that this is not a stand-alone course; what you learn in this class you will apply in other courses across the curriculum (in other words, many non-English courses will require writing quality essays and research papers). And so you can say that another objective for this class is to prepare you for writing in your other courses. You will be challenged in this course, but I suspect in a good way. Be open to the learning process, stretch yourself, and absorb all of the nuances of the material. It will serve you well as you proceed throughout your education.

Themes
Many class readings and discussions will be centered on philosophical discussions, mostly regarding definition of abstract or complex concepts or ideas. Like onions (or green ogres), such concepts have many layers, and, when investigated, often lead to more questions. Why focus on definition? Effective academic, professional, and technical communications depend upon shared definitions, and most arguments can be distilled to a definition argument or contain a definition argument as a key component – getting your readers to accept your definition of a topic is a major step toward getting them to accept your overall argument.

To help write effective persuasive arguments, other readings and discussions will center on perception/audience analysis. To effectively persuade, you need to understand your audience’s perspective or point of view as well as to better understand your own; this includes finding the gaps not only in your audience’s thinking, but in your own as well.

 “The moment we want to believe something, we suddenly see all the arguments for it, and become blind to the arguments against it.” – George Bernard Shaw

Your essays will have a selection of topics to choose from, not an anything goes selection. First, while I want you to write what interests you, I have to balance that with being able to grade as objectively as possible. There are some topics which I will probably not be able to grade objectively enough and those topics will have to remain off the table. Second, I know the propensity of students to pick the least challenging subject. That may be fine for high school or below, but not for college. Third, if everyone picked a different topic, class discussions will lose their effectiveness and helpfulness toward writing your papers. As with all English classes, you will be asked to think!

“An opinion should be the result of thought, not a substitute for it.” – Jef Mallett

If having a class centered on philosophical themes is as fun to you as having a root canal without anesthesia, then you may want to switch to another instructor. But I hope you will stay and open your mind to possibilities. I hope for this class to engage and stretch our minds, and keep us active in the pursuit of knowledge and wisdom.


For more detailed course information, including, required materials, discussion of course policies, overview of class assignments, grading standards, and general course rubric, check out the syllabus (see the link above).


How to Set Someone Straight cartoon by Scott Meyer - 5 August 2009

Check your facts in a debate

Check your facts in a debate

 

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