Academic Writing--Syllabus for Spring 2010


The St. Martin's Guide to Writing, 8th edition
(I will use this text for background)

(Class meets on Monday, 16:20-17:50)

This syllabus is subject to changes, updates, and additions if circumstances warrant it.

On this website, I may also be posting additional exercises and information, so please check here often.

During the spring semester, we will cover techniques for planning and developing an argumentative/persuasive essay. Given that English is a second language for this class, I believe it will be helpful for you to write short in-class passages often, either in groups or individually.
Teaching methods will likely include the following: in-class exercises and writing, peer review, lecture, and objective final exam OR one out-of-class Argumentative Essay based on the *“Research Challenge” (You will receive a separate handout regarding this challenge).
The final writing examination OR the “Research Challenge” for this class will count as 15% of your Spring semester score for third-year academic writing. (The two main courses will account for the other 85%, and your other professors will evaluate that percentage.) Breakdown:
Argumentative Essay Exam (15 points total) = 15%


Argumentative/Persuasive Essay (*“Research Challenge”):

3 drafts (of the same paper, 2 points each) = 6%

Final version of paper = 6%

Selection of topic, definition of audience,
and development of thesis statement = 1%

Development of possible topic sentences = 1%

Development of counterarguments = 1%
Avoid the temptation of cutting and pasting passages from the internet and other sources in your paper without adding quotations and internal citations. If your submitted final paper or final exam essay is plagiarized in any way, you will lose all 15 points, and your name will be submitted to Professor Oncevska.
If you select the Research Challenge, attendance is necessary, given that you will be writing in class and working, both alone and in groups, on exercises related to your paper. Therefore, I will continue keeping attendance records. If, for any reason, you must be absent, please ask a colleague for any notes or handouts (except the major handouts–I will keep those for you). Also, check this website for updates.
Submission of homework:
Last semester, most of you were able to submit your work electronically, and I found that, generally, this has worked out very well.

Therefore, I am going to ask that you try to submit your drafts electronically, instead of handing in paper copies.

When you submit electronically, I will read it on the computer and make comments directly on screen. I will return your work and my comments electronically. In any case, please bring print versions of your drafts to class for any impromptu exercises.

To make electronic submission much easier, I have revised the submission protocol:

1. If you use Microsoft Word, you still must submit a .doc or .docx file as an attachment; I’m just not set up to accept any other type of word processing program. So, please, do NOT submit any other kind of file! Make sure your full name is on the attached file, upper right hand corner preferred.

2. You may submit your electronic submissions single-spaced. I will convert it to triple spacing on my end when I mark your letters and essays.

3. If you do not have access to Microsoft Word (or if you have a version that offers only limited use), you may submit your work in the body of your e-mail message. I will move it to a Microsoft Word file and give you a print out of your marked essay.

4. An alternative to Microsoft Word: Google documents, which is a FREE open-source word processing program, accessible from any browser, from anywhere in the world:
Keyword phrase in browser: “Google Docs” or “Google Documents”
On Google Docs, your document is stored online and accessible no matter where you are, so no need to carry around a flash drive.

You will need a gmail account, however, and you will need to submit that gmail address to me. Also, I’m still learning this application, so be patient if I make errors. My gmail address is msjennifersiegel [at], same user ID I use for my Yahoo! email.

However, if you are without internet, you may still submit a typed paper document, but be aware that I seem to offer better and more detailed comments electronically. In addition, my comments to you are more readable.
For paper copies, homework must be typed--no handwritten work, please. I will not accept it. Homework submitted in paper form must be double-spaced (with your name in the upper right-hand corner). Please staple your pages together.

You must submit your assignments on time; each exercise and homework assignment leads into the next skill and unit. Therefore, this course will not work well if you try to submit all your assignments during the last week of class. In fact, I will not accept a pile of late work at the end of the semester.
Department handouts, this website, and other materials as needed.

I will post additional handouts on the website, distribute copies in class, or place items on reserve in the library. You will also need the APA guide, which we used last semester.
Please bring writing supplies to class, including a notebook, loose paper for in-class writing, and pencils or pens, so that you don’t find yourself in the embarrassing position of having to beg your colleagues for supplies.
Semester Folder:
You are responsible for keeping your handouts, in-class writing, submitted and graded assignments, drafts, class notes, and syllabus well-organized and bringing them to class each week.
* * *

This is a preliminary schedule, subject to updates, changes, and additions as warranted.
Week 1:
Introduction to semester. Updated and new questionnaire. Distribute “President Obama’s Victory Speech” and “What is a Argumentative/ Persuasive Essay?” Discussion of Argumentative/Persuasive essay.
Week 2:
Homework: questions on the last page of the Obama speech. Preliminary research, three areas to consider: 1. Discussion of sources (print and electronic): books, scholarly journals, newspapers, popular magazines, and niche publications. 2. Defining validity/ credibility of sources. Important questions to consider: Who is the author? What are his/her credentials? Is the author writing from his/her position of authority within his/her specified field of expertise? 3. What is the validity/credibility of the publication itself in terms of authority and reputation? Choosing a topic, defining your audience, and developing a thesis.
Week 3:
Homework: Choosing a topic, defining your audience, and developing a thesis (1 point). Topic sentences and body paragraphs.
Week 4:
Homework: Topic sentences and body paragraphs (1 point). Counterarguments.
Week 5:
Homework: Counterarguments (1 point). The introduction and the conclusion. Drafting: Putting it all together.
Week 6:
Homework: First Draft due (2 points).
Week 7:
Bring a copy of your first draft to class for possible peer review.
Week 8:
Homework: Second Draft due (2 points).
Week 9:
Bring a copy of your second draft to class for peer review.
Week 10:
Homework: Third Draft due (2 points).
Week 11:
Bring a copy of your third draft to class for peer review.
Week 12:
Catch-up week.
Week 13:
Bring a copy of your preliminary revision of final version for peer review.
Exam Week:
Final Writing Exam (Option #1) OR Submission of Final Argumentative Essay (Option #2)
* * *

If you have any questions/concerns, e-mail or see me after class or during my office hour.

Also, if there is ANYTHING in this syllabus or ANYTHING I say in or out of class that you don’t understand, please ask me, either in person or via e-mail. This includes definitions of words, cultural references, slang, historical facts, etc.

In the U.S., we have a saying: “The only stupid question is the question left unasked.”

So please ask. That’s why I’m here.

Links to Various Readings, Notes, Exercises, Handouts, Prompts, etc.

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