Monday, January 16, 2012

Course Policies - Spring 2012

Here is a complete copy of the course policies for Sections 007 and 015 of English 101.  You can also download a PDF copy from the Moodle.


Please feel free to contact me at any time:

Ryan Edel
ENG 101, Spring 2012, Sections 007 and 015
Office Hours: Stevenson Hall 424E
Tuesday and Thursday 1-3pm
Office Phone: x2077

English 101 – Composition as Critical Inquiry is designed to help you each better understand approaches to writing in the context of academic, professional, and personal goals. The ISU English Studies Department follows Rhetorical Genre Studies approach in teaching composition, one which focuses on examining the methods and contents of writing in the light of social and cultural aims.

The syllabus which follows includes an overview of the course policies, reading assignments, and writing projects. Please let me know of any questions you may have regarding the syllabus or the course in general. You’ll each be graded based primarily on how well you meet the requirements outlined here, and I’m happy to clear up any confusion which may arise.

Philosophy and Purpose

Our focus in this course is to give you the tools to research, understand, and adapt to any writing assignment you may face in the future. We will follow the Genre Studies Model in our writing pedagogy, which is a very different model from the one you probably experienced in high school. Rather than “master” a single style of writing (e.g. the Five Paragraph Essay), you will experiment using many, many modes of written expression. Although we will address some of the more “standard” genres such as essays, poetry, and fiction, we’ll also be examining how writing has been adapted for movies, social media, and professional communication (among other genres).

It would be impossible to teach you about all forms of writing - or even all forms of academic writing. But the tools you’ll learn here in ENG 101 will help you adapt your learning to meet a variety of writing styles and conventions. My goal is not only to help you improve your writing, but to help you mature as a writer. Whether or not you choose a career in writing, I hope that you will come away from the course knowing that you are nonetheless a writer, and that your words can and will make a difference in the your own life and the lives of others.

The “Typical” Day

There is no “right” way to write - there are dozens and dozens of “good” and “correct” ways to write. Each one depends upon the context of the situation, the needs of the writer, and the intended audience. Likewise, there is no such thing as a “typical” day in our course. Each day will bring a new selection of readings, activities, and assignments - we will be continually adjusting our focus in order to better address the day’s subject and learning goals. To complicate this, much of our work will be experimental not only for you as a writer, but for myself as a teacher. As a class, we will be attempting new approaches to learning. Some of these will involve the internet, and some will depend upon physical movement within the classroom. I will be asking you to express your innermost feelings, and I will be sending you out to explore the community-at-large.

Although there will be no “typical” day for us, each day will have a certain pattern you should expect. We will almost always have either readings or group work you’ll need to complete in order to prepare for our next class. Before class, we’ll have online discussions - some on Moodle, some on Facebook - in which you share your thoughts with your classmates. These online discussions are an important part of your participation, and I expect everyone to take part frequently.

During class, we will frequently rearrange into groups to conduct research and discussions. Please do not become too attached to your chair - we’ll be changing groups often so that you have a chance to meet and interact with all of your classmates.

Open Communication Helps Us Learn and Experiment

Know that much of this course is experimental, and that some of the experiments will not work. Some activities may not help you learn as much as they should. Conversely, some activities may lead you to see writing in an entirely new light. It is my hope that you’ll keep an open mind, and that you’ll share your thoughts both with myself and with your classmates. If you ever have any questions, comments, or concerns, please let me know. You may e-mail me anytime, and I’ll respond promptly. My door is always open during Office Hours, and I’m happy to schedule meetings at times which are more convenient for you. I have included my cell phone number at the top of the page - if you have a question you need answered right away, please call or text. I simply ask that you not call after 9pm, and that any requests for extensions be sent via e-mail.

Overview: The Class Experience

Our class will involve a great deal of writing combined with response to the writing of fellow students. Throughout this course, each participant will be expected to treat other students and their work with respect. Positive and negative feedback are essential for writers to improve – it is expected that all criticism will be constructive and limited to the works submitted.

Throughout the semester, unexpected events are to be expected. I will notify you in a timely manner of any change to the syllabus or course expectations. Throughout the course, I will meet with students individually to discuss progress in the course and the quality of writing submitted. If you face any difficulty meeting a course requirement, please let me know so we can ensure your success in the course.


The course is divided into four units - the first three units are for our major projects, and the fourth unit is reserved for revision, open reflection, and discussion of what we’ve learned. Grades for each unit will depend on your submitting the homework assignments, taking part in the class discussions (both online and in-class), your contributions to the group projects, passing the reading quizzes, and your personal reflections on the nature of writing.

The fourth unit will take place during the last week of class, and it will occur in conjunction with the Writing Program’s Course Assessment of English 101. The Course Assessment is a study of how English 101 functions as a course, and it involves every section of English 101 during the Spring 2012 semester. Although I do hope that everyone will fully participate in the Course Assessment, please note that you may opt-out of the study if you wish – an alternative assignment of approximately equal workload may be submitted instead.

Because the course is somewhat experimental, I do not have a pre-defined rubric with percentages for each assignment and project. Instead, I will adjust the grading systems to reflect the needs of the course. My aim is to maintain a good balance between reading and writing, between absorbing genre and producing it. Each of the first three units will count toward 25% of your final grade, and the final week’s Course Assessment will count 10%. The remaining 15% will be based on your portfolio revisions and overall progress as a writer and participant.

A note about grades: writing, by its very nature, is a subjective art. Much of the grading in this class will be based on your effort and progress. For the major projects, some of the grading will be based on how effectively your work communicates to the reader, the sophistication of the message, and the depth of insight revealed. Success in writing is largely measured by how well a writer illuminates the human experience through the page. I do not grade based on whether I “agree with” or “disagree with” a given work, but rather by how well it conveys the theme described.

However, this is only a portion of the grading. In evaluating your work, I will focus more on your discussions on writing. I will be looking to hear what you’ve learned about writing, how you’ve applied it to producing your project, and how well you feel you’ve succeeded. I am not looking for perfection in any of our production - instead, I am looking to see that you are actively engaged in learning how to understand and produce the given genres.

You will also note that this is a very writing intensive course. Given the importance of experimentation in writing, none of the regular assignments will be graded for content - as long as you submit a valid piece, you will receive full credit. In these weekly assignments, I want you to use these assignments to take risks with form and subject, so feel free to write whatever is on your mind regarding the assignment prompt.

Assignment Format Requirements

We will be working with several different file format during the course. However, I do have some general guidelines you should follow in all your assignments, particularly with file names. If I cannot identify who submitted a piece, I won’t be able to credit your grade.

Rules to live by:

  • Always include your name in the filename. I ask that you start with your first name followed by your last name - this is how I sort files.
  • Always type your name at the top of the assignment (inside the file). On the off chance I need to print your work, this is the only way to distinguish your paper from the twenty others I’ll be printing out that day.
  • After your own name, give the assignment name in the file name and on the assignment itself. Note: this is not the title of your piece. This is what I call the assignment in the syllabus. This is how I know which grade your assignment will credit.

Why this is important

As we study genres, you should cultivate the genre of interpersonal online communication. Think about what you would do with an attachment that had no name and no context. If you were a television producer at ABC, you’d probably delete the file labeled “Lost.” You’d be like “What is this? Why am I looking at it? Why is this thing taking up space on my hard drive?” Now if the file was labeled “J.J. Abrams - My Awesome New Television Series - Lost,” then that would be a different story altogether.

For Major Projects, an archival PDF file is required. Simply “Save as PDF” or “Print to PDF” and upload the new file to the STV 250 server.
DOC, DOCX, RTF, and ODT are acceptable but discouraged. I cannot open Pages files.
Filename: First and Last Name – Assignment (e.g. C:William Shakespeare – Sonnet.doc)
Margins: (1” all sides, max 1.25” on left and right),12pt font, Double Spaced
Header: Name, Assignment, Title, and Page Number (e.g. Will Shakespeare, Sonnet, “How Do I Love Thee”, page 1)

Works which do not meet format guidelines may require resubmission.


Daily, on-time attendance is essential for the learning process. Please note the following attendance policies:

I can only excuse a maximum of two absences during the semester. If extenuating circumstances will require you to miss more than two classes, then you must contact the ISU Dean of Students Office. Appropriate make-up work is required for all absences, both excused and unexcused.

Illness and Family Emergency: Your physical and emotional health is very important, and absence due to illness and/or family emergency will be excused. Except in cases of hospitalization, please e-mail me before class time if you will be absent due to illness. In cases of serious illness (missing two or more days of class or assignments) please visit the Student Health Center. Arrange with your academic advising office to notify your instructors regarding extended absence.

Other Excused Absences: Religious holidays are excused – please notify me at least a week beforehand if you will be absent for religious observance. Academic conferences, graduate school interviews, and ISU-sanctioned varsity sporting events may also be excused at the instructor’s discretion. Notify me as soon as possible regarding these events. You must provide documentation of the event and transportation arrangements (e.g. e-mail from coach, letter from graduate school).

Unexcused absences: Two unexcused absences are unpenalized. For each unexcused absence after two, your final course grade will be reduced by half a letter grade - eight unexcused absences will result in automatic failure in the course. Please note: No more than two absences may be excused without notification from the **ISU Dean of Students Office.

Tardies and Late Arrival: I do believe in “better late than never,” but arriving late is somewhat disruptive for your classmates and your own learning. I understand the difficulty of being on-time for early morning classes, but we must make use of every minute we have available. If you arrive late to class, I will record the number of minutes you are late. During the course, these missed minutes will be added together. If the total minutes missed begins to approach half of a class period, this may count against your grade as an unexcused absence.

Notification: It is the responsibility of the student to notify me of unavoidable absence due to illness, family emergency, religious holiday, or other extenuating circumstance. Students remain responsible for all assignments due during absence. Failure to notify me beforehand or to complete the make-up work may result in an excusable absence being counted as unexcused.

The Standard Make-Up Assignment is a three-page write-up regarding the day’s in-class activities. This is required for all absences, both excused and unexcused. Please see me for specific details for each make-up assignment.

Rule of Thumb: If you will miss class or be delayed, e-mail me as soon as you can. Even if you oversleep and class is already over, e-mail me. There is nothing so terrible that it cannot be fixed through the assignment of make-up work. Unless I never see or hear from you, of course, in which case I can’t assign work to make sure you’re keeping pace.

Deadlines and Copies

As much as is practical, this will be a paperless course. Deadlines are specified for each assignment to be posted online. All regular assignments must be posted online to the specified website by the date and time specified, and you must then provide the URL links to myself and your classmates as specified by the assignment. This is particularly important because we will be using a variety of online services during this course. These services have been selected in order to maximize the in-class and out-of-class collaboration between students, and you will never be required to register for any online service which requires a user fee. It is the responsibility of each student to ensure that you are properly registered and able to log in before the deadline for each assignment. Unfortunately, failing to register for Facebook, HubPages, Blogger, or other appropriate web services cannot be accepted as a valid excuse for missed work. If you do have any trouble in working with a website, please let me know beforehand – my goal is to challenge you by assigning the use of online collaboration tools, and I’m happy to provide assistance to make sure everyone is able to use these tools to the fullest.

This said, websites do occasionally malfunction. If you are unable to post an assignment to the website, regardless of the reason, then you must e-mail the assignment by the deadline. In cases of workshop pieces, please send me a text message if you are unable to post your workshop piece to the online forums. Except in the event of extenuating circumstances, requests for extensions will only be accepted 24 hours before the assignment deadline.

Citation and Plagiarism

Creative work is by definition original. All works submitted for class are to be the sole creation of the student. Themes and literary devices from other writers will likely influence your work, and open discussion of works-in-progress is encouraged. When you reference another source, proper citation (in keeping with the standards of the genre) is required.

In my experience, I’ve noted a great deal of confusion among students regarding what constitutes plagiarism. Unfortunately, the easy “share” buttons of social media and the ready duplication of copy-and-paste have left many of us with the habit to taking “snippets” of material from outside sources. These are not bad habits – they simply must be coupled with the appropriate use of citation. If you include any images, lines of text, or ideas from an outside source, simply include a note to let your readers know the original source of the material. We will discuss different modes of citation (such as Modern Language Association and standard hyperlinks), but writing a “perfect” citation is less important than providing your readers with enough information to track down your original sources.

Please let me know if at any time you have questions regarding citation or plagiarism. In cases where sources are not properly cited, the final grade for a project may be lowered by up to one letter grade. Flagrant plagiarism – i.e. presenting the work of another as your own – will be addressed according to the policies set forth by ISU’s Community Rights and Responsibilities Office Plagiarism will result in grade reduction, possible failure of the course, and possible additional sanctions.

Personal Conduct

Creative work requires a safe atmosphere for all participants. All students will be treated equally and fairly. Behavior counter to a productive professional environment will not be allowed (e.g. name-calling, personal insults, threats). Per university regulations and standard ethics, no acts of discrimination, sexual harassment, or violence will be tolerated. Students who violate these principles may be marked absent and asked to leave. In cases of repeated or blatant violations, students may be referred to the Community Rights and Responsibilities Office or other appropriate campus offices.

In Class

Respect for your classmates depends upon respect for the course itself. When present in class, please focus your attention on the discussions at hand. I will strive to make our discussions fun and educational - I prefer that you not check Facebook or personal e-mail during class time unless needed for collaboration. Anyone who repeatedly violates this
policy may be marked absent and asked to leave.

No food or drink (except water in a container with a cap) is permitted in the computer labs. If you do have water, please place it in your bag or on the floor to prevent any from spilling on the electronics.

Artistic Freedom versus Classroom Appropriate Material

Genre studies is a very broad field, and we can potentially draw material from not just written works, but other cultural modes of expression (e.g. fashion, politics, and pornography). However, our freedom as artists must coexist with our responsibilities as members of the academic community. During this course, we must confine our public projects and examples to materials which are appropriate for the classroom. For the regular weekly assignments (which will only be read by me), you may consider and discuss any material of interest. Materials to be shared in class or online must be acceptable to a larger, PG (possible PG-13) audience. No works which exhibit or promote pornography, explicit violence, or illegal activities may be shared in the classroom without explicit instructor permission. When in doubt, please check first - I’m happy to review any material to let you know if it’s suitable for the classroom atmosphere.


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