Guidelines for English 071

Introduction to Academic Writing I

English 071 is designed to help students develop the reading, writing, and rhetorical skills that are crucial to their success as college writers. To this extent, English 071 can be thought of as a “preparatory” course to English 160, which also helps students develop these same skills. However, English 071 allows for more focused emphasis on both critical reading skills and effective use of grammar and language; moreover, the course provides more extensive support for drafting, by expanding the number of drafts that students produce before submitting a final, graded version. While the writing assignments will cover various genres, the ability to conceptualize, articulate, and craft a response or an argument—that is, to join a public conversation—will be a key component of the course. English 071 is informed by the concept of situated writing, the view that writing is crafted in response to a particular situation, within a certain context, that influences the genres used and forms the writing takes. Situated writing and learning involves the recognition that one's actions have effects beyond personal inquiry; learning is not a self-centered activity. Students must see themselves as agents whose actions have consequences in the outside world.

Joining a Public Conversation: English 071 holds that writing is both a way of learning about the world and a way to get things done in the world. This course is designed so that students use writing both to carry out an inquiry about an important public issue and to take a position on that issue.

•  Reading assignments help students to see that the issue under study is discussed in a variety of arenas such as academic disciplines, the workplace, the marketplace, politics, law, art, and the popular media.
•  Writing is used to allow students to articulate their positions in the context of this public conversation.

Key Concepts: English 071 provides students with a set of concepts that they can use as both readers and writers to participate more effectively in public conversations. This can include, but is not limited to, an introduction to situation, genre, language, and consequences, and/or ethos, pathos, logos, and kairos. Having become familiar with some of these terms, students should leave 071 with a deeper understanding of how conceptual frames can improve their ability to think or write critically about a text.

Writing Projects: Students complete three or four writing projects during the semester.

•  Each writing project goes through at least two mandatory drafts prior to receiving a final grade. This includes a preliminary draft that is reviewed by the student's peers and receives initial comments from the instructor.
•  Writing projects are assigned in a variety of different genres—op-ed piece, review, graphic essay, dictionary, newsletter, feature story/profile, proposal, manifesto, travel essay, dialogue, etc.—but one of these contains an argumentative component.
•  The writing projects connect to each other and to a larger conversation about an important public issue. This is an inquiry-based, topic-driven course; inquiries can be as broad as analyzing current news or as narrow as analyzing stand-up comedy or the superhero as mythology. In this regard, English 071 resembles English 161 in that both courses are driven by a single, coherent topic of inquiry around which the reading and writing assignments are organized.
•  The writing projects help students develop a position on the inquiry and explore how they might add their perspectives to the conversation.
•  Students are encouraged to take into account perspectives that differ from their own and address these in their writing.
•  Students incorporate ideas and information from various sources into their writing, using the appropriate conventions to acknowledge the sources.

Critical Reading Strategies: Students read pieces related to an inquiry that provides a consistent focus or theme for the class.

•  The reading assignments connect to each other and to a larger conversation.
•  The reading assignments present a variety of perspectives on the issue.
•  Students learn to recognize the claims made by an author and to evaluate those claims in order to begin developing their own perspectives.
•  Reading assignments are discussed to show how they describe an issue and/or have a practical impact related to the issue.
•  Students are taught how to take notes on a reading assignment in order to understand it better and make more effective use of its ideas and information in their own writing.
•  Students are introduced to citation practices and how to avoid plagiarism.
•  Instructors help students decode different kinds of textual “difficulty,” including issues of length, density, unfamiliar genres and/or conceptual frames, etc.

Classroom Writing Activities: Classroom time is spent engaging in writing-related activities that encourage active learning.

•  Classroom activities help students connect the reading assignments and writing projects to a broader inquiry.
•  Classroom activities help students understand a variety of conceptual frames and how these concepts can help or limit the way we think about a text.
•  Classroom activities help students become more aware of the processes of drafting, revising, and editing and how to use these processes more effectively.
•  Students collaborate with each other during in-class activities.
•  Students practice commenting on and editing peers' writing.
•  Students are encouraged to participate actively in both class and online discussions (on the course Blackboard site) of reading assignments and issues.
•  Technology is used to research, write, and communicate with others both inside and outside the classroom through the course Blackboard site. Emphasis is placed on familiarizing students with how to focus their online inquiries so as to yield more useful search results.
•  Instructors may cancel up to two weeks of in-class time in order to conduct one-on-one sessions with students.

Correctness: As students are expected to produce writing in a variety of genres, the notion of “correctness” may vary from project to project. However, in all cases, students will be responsible for producing language that is rhetorically effective in any given writing situation, including that of academic argumentation.

•  Classroom discussions focus on audience and how different discourse communities create expectations about what constitutes “correctness” for a given piece of writing. The 071 classroom emphasizes social contexts for academic discourse and non-standard language forms.
•  Students are taught to recognize and correct some of the most consequential errors in academic writing, including run-on sentences, sentence fragments, errors in agreement, incorrect word choices, and errors in punctuation or spelling. Consequential errors are discussed in terms of the student maintaining his or her authority within a given discourse community.
•  A minimum of ten grammar lessons are taught over the course of the semester.
•  The class's listed grammar resource (the Purdue OWL, the Longman Writer's Companion, MyCompLab, A Common Sense Guide to Grammar) is used extensively throughout the semester.
•  Students are encouraged to seek appropriate help from others throughout the writing process, including the teacher, classmates, and tutors.
•  The 071 class is collaboratively linked to the Writing Center and students are made to feel comfortable utilizing this resource.

Writing Portfolios: Evaluation of student performance in English 071 is conducted by faculty review of student portfolios.

•  In the final week of the course, each student compiles a portfolio consisting of all drafts of two writing projects (one of which is the argumentative essay) and a cover letter reflecting on their writing, what they have learned throughout the course, and why they believe they are ready to progress on to the next level, English 160, or advance past 160 and into English 161. No letter grades are given, only Satisfactory (S) or Unsatisfactory (U).
•  Writing Center collaboration: at least two sessions devoted to Writing Center group work.
•  Three major writing projects, one of which is the argumentative essay.
•  Intensive focus on grammar & mechanics instruction, with a minimum of 10 identifiable grammar lessons in the syllabus.