English 1010

Introduction to Writing

Utah Valley State College
Spring 2008
Section 028: T/Th 11:30-12:45, PS 002

“The more people’s standpoints I have present in my mind while I am pondering a given issue, and the better I can imagine how I would feel or think in their place, the stronger will be my capacity for representative thinking, and the more valid my final conclusion, my opinion.”
--Hannah Arendt


Instructor: Ryan Simmons
Office: LA 114H
Phone: 863-6290
E-mail: simmonry@uvsc.edu
Office hours: MWF 11:00-12:00, T/Th 1:00-2:00, or by appt.


Ackley, Katherine Anne, ed. Perspectives on Contemporary Issues: Readings Across the Disciplines. 4th ed. Boston: Thompson Wadsworth, 2006.

Harris, Muriel. Prentice Hall Reference Guide to Grammar and Usage. 7th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2008.

NOTE: Each student enrolled in English 1010 has paid a fee of $3.00 for photocopying of course materials.

Course Description

This course is meant to help you develop the skills of a polished and credible writer of non-fiction analytical prose. It focuses on various forms of persuasive writing, on the assumption that nearly all writing has a persuasive component: whether you are trying to convince your reader to hire you, to agree that your analysis of a scientific or cultural event is the most logical one, or merely to accept that you are a credible source of the information you are putting forward, the techniques practiced in this course will help you make your case effectively. The course emphasizes self-assessment (the ability to identify your own strengths and weaknesses and practice particular skills accordingly) and revision, and will culminate in the production of a writing portfolio that puts your abilities on display in their best light. The ambition of the course is to prepare you for writing you will do in future course work, in your career, and as a participant in a democratic society.

Course Goals

By the end of this course you should be able to

  1. identify and solve obstacles that arise during the writing process;

  2. identify your strengths and weaknesses as a writer, building on the strengths and mitigating the weaknesses;

  3. exhibit the discrete skills of academic writing, such as the citation of sources and usage of Standard Written English;

  4. advance your ideas and opinions in an engaging and persuasive manner.


This course will use portfolio assessment to provide feedback and produce your grade. This means that, rather than being assigned an individual grade for each essay, you will produce a portfolio of your best, polished writing, which will be submitted twice for a grade: at midterm and at the end of the course. You are responsible for working with me to revise your writing until each essay is as polished as you can make it, incorporating substantive research into at least one essay, and ensuring that you have demonstrated the major skills required in order to complete the course.

Here is a minimal, non-comprehensive list of skills that your portfolio should demonstrate (derived from the "Outcomes" statement for all 1010, 2010, and 2020 sections at UVSC):

In submitting your midterm portfolio, you will check off those of the above items that you believe you have demonstrated. In the final portfolio, it is expected that you have demonstrated each of these skills.

Grading and Revision

Three short, analytical essays will be assigned during the course. Generally, these essays will be extensions of weekly group readings and discussions (see the following statement on “Group Discussion Leadership”). Each essay will have a specified due date (see the schedule attached to this syllabus) by which you should submit it in order to receive written feedback. No essay may be included in the portfolio that has not been submitted to me before. Late work is governed by the “Late Papers” policy described below; please note that submissions that do not conform to this policy are ineligible for inclusion in either portfolio—i.e. they will receive no credit, and thus could cause your portfolio to receive a failing grade.

Revision of each essay is encouraged; in fact, in order to succeed in the course, you should expect to revise the essays included in your portfolios numerous times. Each paper will receive a detailed sheet of written feedback following its initial submission. At any point during the course, however, you may ask me to read an essay and discuss it with you. Generally, the system that works best is for you to submit the paper and make an appointment with me; I will read it and may make some written comments, but find it most helpful to speak to you directly about your work in progress.

Finally, one of the three essays will be revised to fulfill the course requirement of a “research-supported persuasive essay”—essentially a fourth essay, as the process of revision is likely to reshape the essay so that it is substantially new. To fulfill this requirement, you will incorporate (and properly cite) research into previously-composed work to bolster its effectiveness as exemplary academic discourse. Additional details will be distributed later during the semester.

Midterm Portfolio (25%): The midterm portfolio will contain two of the first two revised essays, and generally should demonstrate more than half of the skills listed above. Though you will be graded holistically based on the essays’ overall effectiveness, your evaluation will focus on those skills that you assert (via a checklist you fill out) that you have accomplished.

Final Portfolio (50%): The final portfolio must contain three essays, one of which (the research-supported persuasive essay) will build on an earlier product by incorporating research. The essays should demonstrate a bulk of material and a range of skills. Two of the essays will have previously been assessed in the midterm portfolio, although you may continue revising them after midterm. You are responsible to decide which and how many essays will most fully demonstrate your writing skills. The portfolio must include the Research-supported Persuasive Essay. Some of the essays will have already been assessed in the midterm portfolio, although you may continue revising them after midterm.

Group Discussion Leadership (10%): As part of a group of 3-4 people, you will lead classroom discussion for one day during the semester, based on one or more reading your group has assigned. Group assignments and details will be distributed separately, but here are some essentials: The reading(s) may be selected from Perspectives on Contemporary Issues; if you wish to assign a reading that is not collected in this text, please ask my permission. All readings should be of some cultural relevance--i.e., something should be at stake regarding the topic you discuss. To foster good discussion, you'll also assign a discussion question, to which each class member will write a one-page response prior to the class period. Readings and discussion questions should be announced (and a copy should be provided to me) at least one week prior to your discussion date.

Participation (10%): Being a strong participant in the class means being present both physically and mentally. If you miss more than two class periods, you can expect a participation grade no higher than a "C," although it may be lower. If you miss more than four class periods, your participation grade will automatically drop to "E," regardless of other factors. Excessive absence (six class periods or more) is sufficient grounds to fail the course. I reserve the right to consider lateness as a partial absence, and to assess how much class time you have missed. In determining the number of absences you have accumulated, no distinction will be made based why you were absent. Use absences sparingly; being sick for two days counts the same as skipping two days. If you cannot help accumulating so many absences that they hurt your grade, you may consider dropping the course.

On the other hand, you can earn a higher grade in participation by reading the assignments carefully before coming to class, bringing forward your questions and thoughts during class discussion, and listening responsively--and responding thoughtfully--to what others have to say. Regularly completing the one-page responses that are part of the group discussions, and participating helpfully in the discussions led by others, carries substantial weight.

Peer-editing (5%): Each paper's due date will be preceded by a peer-editing session, during which you will collaboratively offer comments on other students' drafts. This portion of the grade will assess your ability to provide full, useful feedback in writing. On peer-editing days, you will be counted absent for one hour unless you have a substantive draft in hand (multiple pages of prose, not an outline), even if you are physically present. Peer-editing normally cannot be made up if you were absent or without a draft. I reserve the right to determine exceptions to this rule; these will not be made unless an absence was both unforeseeable and unavoidable.

Group Discussion of Drafts

As a regular course practice, we will examine individual students' writing, locating both strengths and areas that require improvement. The writing samples selected will be representative of other class members' efforts, and their authorship will remain anonymous. Please let me know privately if you would prefer not to take part in this exercise.

Disability Accommodation

If you have a disability that may influence your ability to meet the requirements of this course, please contact the UVSC Accessibility Service Department (Room BU145) as soon as possible. Any necessary accommodations, as arranged by the Accessibility Service Department, will be made.

Academic Honesty

Any course work that is found to violate UVSC's standards of academic honesty will be dealt with as laid out in the college's statement on "Student Rights and Responsibilities." Please read these standards, and the consequences for violating them, carefully, noting that the repercussions are always severe. In particular, be aware that plagiarism is a severe violation of both college policy and the policy of this course.

Plagiarism, or the use of others' 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 UVSC, 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 UVSC's statement on Student Rights and Responsibilities, which appears in the college catalogue. Please refer to http://www.uvsc.edu/engl/studentresource/plagiarismpolicy.html to read the department's full statement on plagiarism, and speak to your instructor if you have any questions about avoiding plagiarism.

Late Paper Policy

Essays are due at the beginning of class on the stated due date. As stated above, no essay may be included in your portfolio that has not been submitted to me previously. Late essays will be accepted according to the following guidelines:

ON TIME: These essays will be returned promptly with detailed written comments. As you continue to revise, I will give you as much additional feedback as you would like on subsequent drafts.

ONE OR TWO CLASS PERIODs LATE: These essays will not receive a grade penalty; however, they will be examined at my convenience and cannot be expected to be returned as promptly. Comments may be less exhaustive than those on "on time" work. You must take the initiative to solicit any additional comments.

THREE OR FOUR CLASS PERIODS LATE: These essays will receive no written comments, although you can still solicit feedback in person. They may, however, be included in the portfolios.

MORE THAN FOUR CLASS PERIODS LATE: Essays in this category are not acceptable, and cannot be used in the portfolio. Turning work in this late (or failing to submit it at all) may cause you to fail the portfolio and/or class.

PORTFOLIOS: The midterm and final portfolios are expected on time without exception. It is your responsibility to make sure each portfolio is in my hands by its due date. The midterm portfolio will be docked one letter grade for each class period it arrives late. Due to grading deadlines imposed by the college, the final portfolio must be submitted on time to receive credit; failure to submit the final portfolio on time will cause you to receive a failing course grade. .

Other Essay Policies

  1. Out-of-class essays must be typed (10 pt. or 12 pt. typeface) and double-spaced, and have a one-inch margin on all sides. A title page is not necessary. Please provide page numbers and a title.

  2. Essays are not assessed based on length, but rather on their ability to capture and persuade a reader. This ability arises from correctness of prose, and also from factors including clear expression, thoughtful organization, originality, completeness, and adequate support.

  3. Any materials incorporated from outside sources must be cited completely and correctly using a standard academic citation style such as MLA, APA, or Chicago.


Th 1/3 Introduction to course
T 1/8 Review: Avoiding plagiarism; READ: English Department Plagiarism Policy, "How to Avoid Plagiarism," "Common Questions and Answers"; handout: Krauthammer, "Have One on Me, NASA"; Lynch, "Saving My Cat: Why No Price Was Too High"
Th 1/10 READ: Moody, "Sacred Rite or Civil Right?"; Kotlowitz, "Colorblind"; Bacon, "How Much Diversity Do You Want from Me?"; Ehrenreich, "Warning: This Is a Rights-Free Workplace" (Perspectives pp. 412-417, 442-447, 689-692)
T 1/15 Attend any Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemoration event (schedule appears at http://www.uvsc.edu/events/mlk; *Response 0 due*
Th 1/17 Group 1 leads discussion; *Response 1 due*
T 1/22 Come prepared to talk about your essay-in-progress
Th 1/24 Peer-editing; Essay One draft due
Th 1/31 Habits of effective writers; READ: Donna Britt, "You Don't Have to Die of AIDS" (handout)
T 2/5 Group 2 leads discussion; *Response 2 due*
Th 2/7 Group 3 leads discussion; *Response 3 due*
T 2/12 Come prepared to talk about your essay-in-progress
Th 2/14 Last day to drop course; Peer-editing; Essay Two draft due
Th 2/21 Conferences
T 2/26 Problem-solving; READ: Michael Kinsley, "Abolish Marriage" (available via Blackboard Vista)
T 3/4 TBA
Th 3/6 Group 4 leads discussion; *Response 4 due*
T 3/11 Group 5 leads discussion; *Response 5 due*
Th 3/13 NO CLASS - Spring break
T 3/18 Come prepared to talk about your essay-in-progress
Th 3/20 Peer-editing; Essay Three draft due
Th 3/27Evaluating and incorporating research sources
T 4/1 Citation workshop/TD>
Th 4/3 Citation workshop, continued
Th 4/10 Writing samples from the research-supported persuasive essay
T 4/15 Course wrap-up
Th 4/17 Conferences
Th 4/24 FINAL PORTFOLIO DUE, 11:30 a.m., LA 114H
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