Guidelines for English 160

Academic Writing I: Writing in Academic and Public Contexts

At UIC, the first required writing course encourages students to participate in ongoing public conversations about vitally important issues. The ability to conceptualize, articulate, and craft a response or an argument—that is, to join a public conversation—is key to a successful undergraduate education at UIC. English 160 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 160 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.

•  Course 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 Rhetorical Concepts: English 160 provides students with a set of concepts—situation, genre, language, and consequences, as well as ethos, pathos, logos, and kairos—that they can use as both readers and writers to participate more effectively in public conversations. Here's how the course uses these key terms:

•  Situation: histories, cultures, communities, and individual experiences that influence reading and writing; identities shift within this context
•  Genres: the forms that have evolved in response to repeated situations that shape reading and writing.
•  Language: the words, sentences, organization, and design of a text that influence a reading audience
•  Consequences: the ideas and actions among a public audience that the text inspires, that may be intended or unintended
•  Ethos: the credibility of the writer and the credentials that s/he wields, that strengthens an argument
•  Pathos: the emotional appeal that the writer makes to an audience
•  Logos: the reasoning and logic of the argument as the writer presents it
•  Kairos: the right public opportunity or situation for the writer to make her or his argument with the maximum impact, factoring in previous rhetorical attempts

Writing Projects: Students complete 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 which receives initial comments from the instructor.
•  Writing projects are assigned in a variety of different genres—op-ed piece, feature story/profile, project proposal, manifesto, film review, travel essay, dialogue, etc.—but one of the four is an argumentative essay.
•  The writing projects connect to each other and to a larger conversation about an important public issue.
•  The writing projects reflect the fact that public issues are discussed in many different situations, using many different genres and styles.
•  The concepts of situation, genre, language, and consequences, as well as ethos, pathos, logos, and kairos are used as practical tools to help students to see what's at stake and to write more effectively.
•  The writing projects help students develop a position on the issue and explore how they might add their perspectives to the conversation?
•  Students are encouraged to take into account perspectives that differed from their own and address these in their writing.
•  Writing is used both to inform a public audience about an issue and to take action in a specific situation related to the issue.
•  Students incorporate ideas and information from various sources into their writing, using the appropriate conventions to acknowledge the sources.

Reading assignments: Students read pieces related to an issue or set of issues from a wide variety of genres and situations

•  The reading assignments connect to each other and to a larger conversation about an important public issue.
•  The reading assignments reflect the fact that public issues are discussed in many different situations, using many different genres and styles.
•  The concepts of situation, genre, language, and consequences, as well as ethos, pathos, logos, and kairos are used as analytical tools to help students understand the reading assignments.
•  The reading assignments present a variety of perspectives on the issue.
•  Students are taught to recognize the claims made by a reading assignment 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.

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

•  The classroom activities help students connect the reading assignments and writing projects to a larger public conversation.
•  The classroom activities help students use the concepts of situation, genre, language, and consequences, as well as ethos, pathos, logos, and kairos, to understand the reading assignments and to write more effectively.
•  The classroom activities help students become more aware of the processes of drafting, revising, and editing and use these processes more effectively.
•  Students collaborate with each other in classroom activities.
•  Students are taught to comment on and edit another person's 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.

Correctness: Students are responsible for producing clear, correct, and coherent prose in English 160.

•  Classroom discussions focus on how the situation and genre of a piece of writing create expectations about correctness in writing.
•  Students are taught to recognize and correct the most consequential errors in writing, including run-on sentences, sentence fragments, errors in agreement, incorrect word choices, and errors in punctuation or spelling.
•  The class's grammar handbook is used as a crucial resource.
•  Students are encouraged to seek appropriate help from others throughout the writing process, including the teacher, classmates, and tutors.

Writing Portfolios: Evaluation of student performance in English 160 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 a 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 161.