ENGLISH 1010 Syllabus

College Writing 1, a Critical Thinking and Writing Course

Course Web Page: http://research.uvu.edu/mortensen/1010

Your Professor

I'm Professor Lee Ann Mortensen and I have a BS in Psychology, and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Utah.  Though I have written in a variety of genres, I primarily focus on neo- postmodern, sort of minimalist prose/fiction that focuses on marginalized voices in the West. If you like, you can read my sometimes upsetting, angry, funny, four-letter-word work (that means it isn't everything for everyone). I've been published in journals like Ploughshares, River Styx and Prism International.

OFFICE: Liberal Arts room CB410d--E.mail is the best way to get ahold of me during the school year.
HOURS: I'm usually in my office CB410d MW 8:30pm-9:30pm, and 4-4:30pm, or by appointment; often I'm in our classroom CB413 M & W from 1pm to 3:50pm, and 5pm to to 8:25pm where you can catch me between classes. Be sure to also take advantage of consultation days--see the Web Calendar.
PHONE: 801-863-8785 (currently isn't working)
E.MAIL: mortenle@uvu.edu.

Course Overview

What do writers need? An interesting problem, and a complex or new point-of-view about it.

You might think experienced writers have a magic gift, but what they really have is an awareness of some important writing concepts.  For instance, experienced writers know that a writing project often begins with an interesting question or problem (often an impossible-to-solve dilemma), and a desire to think deeply about that problem's complexity.  This is sometimes the hardest thing for new writers to learn.  Experienced writers also know that complex dilemmas are usually more interesting to read about (especially for college audiences) than mere vitriol (if you don't know this word, practice being an experienced writer and look it up).  Experienced writers know readers want to be at least a little bit surprised as they read, which often means the writer also has to be open to surprise--as Robert Frost says, "No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader" (Preface to Collected Poems, 1939).  Experienced writers know there are many rhetorical strategies (look up "rhetoric") that can be used to appeal to (or enrage, or entertain, or explain, or persuade, or even "merely" inform) diverse audiences (to think about rhetorical strategies and audience, look at this Cosmo ad).  Experienced writers also know there are many different processes that lead them into a "final" draft, including reading other authors to learn from their styles or their ideas (and reading multiple connotations between the lines helps), talking in groups to hear a wider range of opinions, freewriting to help see more complexly what they really think, researching to find out what knowledgeable (and not so knowledgeable) experts are saying, writing a detailed draft with exploration in mind, getting feedback on the writing to see how they can improve, and a lot of revision.  In this general education writing class, you'll be doing all of these things, and you'll become a more critical thinker, and educated person, in the process.  

Because you should know grammar by now (or know how to find out about it), we focus mostly on the other processes of writing.  If you feel you are not grammatically ready for this course, please take English 095 or 098 for grammar basics.  If you feel you are overly ready for this course, please go to the College Testing Center and take the English CLEP test, and there are many Internet sections of this course available as well at http://www.UVU.edu/disted/.

Once you have earned a passing grade for this course, you will then go on to take second semester College Writing II, English 2010 (humanities) or 2020 (sciences), which will be a deepen your ability to read and use sources in your writing. 

Texts and Other Required Expenses


Course Rules

1. Computer Usage - Be sure to pay attention to our Web Calendar for Readings and Assignment details, and then turn your work into Canvas on the day it's due. There are also lecture notes on the web Calendar if you happen to miss class.  Also watch your Canvas Announcements or E. Mail for news, clarifications, reminders, and updates.  Your on-campus UVLink E. Mail system can be set to forward messages to your most used email address (so please set this up). You should at least send me E. Mail at mortenle@uvu.edu

Lee's 1010 Course on the Web: http://research.uvu.edu/mortensen/1010

Here is the direct link to Canvas as well: https://uvu.instructure.com/

You are also required to word process most of your writing assignments (this does not usually include informal brainstorming or freewriting journal assignments).  I can help you with some computer skills if you come see me during office hours or between classes, and you can always ask for help in the CSC open labs. Don't try to type an essay on your phone or your Ipad or tablet. This often creates huge amounts of errors.

2. Read Your web Email and/or Canvas Announcements regularly - Please check your UVLink Email on a regular basis for important information, updates, questions, and lecture or assignment clarifications from me.  Your on-campus UVLink email is at https://uvlinx.uvu.edu/lumlogin/lumlogin.aspx . You can set up your UVLink Email to forward to your most used email. You can send me Email at mortenle@uvu.edu.

3. Being A True, Mature Learner - In my class you are a writer in a community of writers.  You are also a curious learner, and a thinker, and someone willing to seriously discuss issues and try new things.  Do not disrupt this writing and learning community with apathy, lack of preparation, chit chat, excuses, sleeping, overt inattentiveness, Facebooking, texting, trolling, or bad attitude.  If you choose to mistakenly pretend you are in high school, I will immediately kick you out of my classroom and have you administratively dropped (in other words, as I said above, don't waste our time).

4. NO CELL PHONES or other distracting devices or apps or ear buds etc. If I allow you to have laptops, and I tell you put away them away and face me, please close them. If I see or hear you on your phone, I will automatically deduct 5 points for each time I see you with it. This Salon article about not tweeting during Breaking Bad might give insight into multitasking problems.

5. Additional Writing Help - You can meet with me after setting up an appointment, or come to my office (see above).  You can always E. Mail me with questions at mortenle@uvu.edu.  You can also use the excellent UVU On-Line Writing Lab (OWL) for feedback on your essays, and for additional grammar tutoring, or go to their office in the library, LI 208.  Visit them at http://www.uvu.edu/owl

6. Students with Disabilities - If you have any disability that may impair your ability to successfully complete this course, please contact the UVU Accessibility Services Department (LC 312, www.uvu.edu/asd/; 863-8747). Academic accommodations are granted for all students who have qualified documented disabilities. Services are coordinated with the student and instructor by the Accessibility Services Department.

8. Remember, no children (or pets unless service animals) are allowed in classrooms at UVU--see the Wee Care center for day care information.

9. Final exams cannot be taken early.

10. Attendance - Because this class relies on writing and critical thinking demonstrations, in-class computer activities, group discussions, peer review workshops, attendance is extremely important.  


If you are late more than 3 times, or if you leave very early more than 3 times, this will count as one of your allowed absences.  Because you are allowed to miss 5 class periods, explanations for absences or lateness are not required or desired before, during, or after class.  Just be aware that even if you only miss 2 classes, your grade might suffer.  

Simply not missing classes doesn't raise your grade. You have to listen, participate, and apply what you're learning.

If you do miss class, please do not interrupt class to give me excuses or ask me what's going on.  Consult with a responsible class mate afterward to see what you missed.  Exchange phone numbers with trusted classmates (this can also help later if you wish to form an outside workshop after class).

If you miss a peer review/workshop day, you will automatically have 10 points deducted from your total.  If you are bothered by this policy, you can write me a five page, double-spaced, logical justification for why you believe this is an unfair practice. See extra credit below.

11. Late Work- For any assignments turned in late, you will lose 5 points.  Obviously, this will add up and cause your grade to drop no matter what kind of writer or thinker you are. See extra credit below.

--subject to change--see Canvas Assignments for details.

1. UVU Grading Guidelines - see UVU policy by clicking here. Just because you "need" an A doesn't mean you will be able to earn an A. Your grade for the course is determined by how many points you get out of the total (between 400-600).  Each assignment builds on the previous one, and there are not a huge amount of total points, so missing even one assignment can make your grade go down.  If you have a dispute about a graded assignment, we can discuss things with civility. If this is not satisfactory, you are allowed to write me a three page, double-spaced, logical justification for why you believe you deserve a better grade.

2. Graded Activities - Along with completing assigned readings, attending outside lectures, and doing small exercises, you will keep your written work to include in a final portfolio that demonstrates your overall improvement as a writer, a critical thinker, and a researcher. This porfolio may contain:

As a way to help you with the above essays, you may also complete the following shorter assignments (see the course calendar for details):


  • 6-8+ Journal assignments (informal, handwritten or blog style, for prewriting, and detailed research notes) - 5-10 pts each

  • Up to 8 Writing Exercises/Analyses - 10-30 pts each

  • Up to 4 analytical reading reactions and replies, 600+ words, double-spaced in Canvas- 30 pts each

  • 1-2 Outside Lecture Analytical Reactions - 600 words, 30pts each

Other Assignments:

  • Class attendance, participation, and in-class activities, and workshops - 150 pts (unless you miss 5 or more classes)
  • As an educated person, and as part of our other assignments, you will also read one intellectually stimulating book--Outcasts United--for this class to be followed by an essay or oral presentation in Powerpoint as your Midterm (or some other digital medium) - up to 100 pts

Make Up (for up to 2 absences max), and Extra Credit Possibilities:

  • If for some reason you miss a workshop, or get a low score on an assignment, you can watch a contestable documentary or attend a humanities-based lecture. You may watch PBS shows like Frontline (available online or in our UVU library) or perhaps the Ethics in the 90's videos in the UVU library (there are over 26).  Find the call numbers at our UVU Library Catalogue. You can complete up to 2, 600 word analytical reactions for up to 15 extra points depending on the quality of your work.

  • Anyone can get 5 extra points per session (up to 4 visits total) with the UVU OWL (on-line writing lab or LI 208; go to http://www.uvu.edu/owl/ to set up a session), or 5 extra points per visit (up to 4) to the Writing Lab (LI 208).  Submit English 1010 assignments well in advance of the due date to get this extra credit. Calling for an appointment is recommended : 801-863-8936.

These points and assignments are subject to change. See the Web Calendar for assignment details (Canvas is mainly a place to turn work in).

Grade is based on a percentage of the total points. If you have 95% of the points or higher, you get an A. If you have 90% of the points, you get an A-. If you have 87% of the points, you get a B+, and so on. 


Academic Honesty/Plagiarism Statement: Plagiarism, or the use of othersí words or ideas without proper attribution, is an impediment to your education and to the educational mission of Utah Valley State College. Under the policy of the English and Literature Department of UVU, work that has been plagiarized must receive a failing grade. A distinction is made between unintentionally plagiarized work, which must be corrected in order to be considered for a passing grade, and intentional plagiarism, which will be forwarded to the Office of the Dean of Student Life as a disciplinary matter in accordance with UVUís statement on Student Rights and Responsibilities. Evidence of intentional plagiarism will cause you to fail this course. Please refer to www.uvu.edu/courseinfo/engl/plagiarism_policy.html  to read the departmentís full statement on plagiarism, and speak to your instructor if you have any questions about avoiding plagiarism.



Completing all your assignments will likely give you a higher grade than your overall writing grade. Your final grade does have to reflect your writing ability, however.   Attending class each day, participating, being a thoughtful critic, reading well, doing your daily prewriting, having work that takes some risks, and making good, brave revisions can certainly put you in a higher grade category, so do not feel like there is no hope even if your writing is still inexperienced (or boring). The fewer late assignments, the better, obviously.

So, what might be the best writing?


Email Me with syllabus questions: mortenle@uvu.edu

Then start checking your daily assignments on our web calendar. Canvas is where you upload your assignments.



Copyright © Lee Ann Mortensen 2017