We all revise

Media credit: Kennesaw State University Writing Center.

Course Description: 

ENGL 203 – Rhetoric and Composition II, Researched Writing in the Domains

Critical reading and research-based writing with emphasis on the writing process and preparing students to participate in professional and academic discussions in the three domains: Creativity and Critical Analysis, Nature and Technology, and Society and Culture. Basic research methodology, source evaluation, and collaborative projects required in all sections. Not used in calculating English major or minor GPA. Grade of C or better required to satisfy foundational studies writing requirement.

203A. Researched Writing across the Three Domains
203B. Researched Writing in Creativity and Critical Analysis
203C. Researched Writing in Nature and Technology
203D. Researched Writing in Society and Culture

Prerequisites & Notes
PRQ: ENGL 103 with a grade of C or better.

Credits: 3

Rhetoric and Writing II: Researched Writing in the Domains: English 203, section G18, meeting Monday afternoons from 3-4:15pm in Reavis 307S, Our lab will meet in Graham 140 on Wednesday, 3-4:15pm.

Welcome to a new and innovative course that will look at differences in the ways that professionals in the three areas (Humanities, Science, Social Science) express themselves in writing. More specifically, we will be looking at Creativity and Critical Analysis, Nature and Technology, and Society and Culture. During the course, you will learn how different writing styles are exactly that – styles – and not just a means of using different citations. We will examine MLA in the first segment, APA in the second, and CMS in the third. These acronyms are short for the Modern Language Association, the American Psychological Association, and the Chicago Manual of Style.

But we’ll do much more than that. You will be surrounded by students of many disciplines, and this course will show you the benefit of design thinking—the progressive use of different disciplines to solve complex problems. We will function in two modes: 1. a personal exploration of how to do collegiate research, writing in different disciplines, and forming your own educated ideas; and 2. A collective examination of problem-solving in the community and using digital rhetoric (persuading others through online work) to make a difference in a local setting.

You’ll read. You’ll write. You’ll explore, analyze, evaluate and persuade. We’ll work on finding your collegiate voice so you’ll be able to articulate your research in not only your field, but in an inter-disciplinary setting. In short, by the end of the course you will have learned how to:

  • Practice college-level research methodology and argumentation in several writing tasks
  • Engage in active critical reading and source evaluation
  • Enhance library and electronic research skills
  • Participate in collaborative research projects
  • Use a digital space to demonstrate group problem-solving through persuasion

Required Texts: Pearson Writer (access code available in Bookstore or online) and Building Bridges through Writing. Some selections from Writer’s Presence will be given to you as handouts or posted online.

Homework Submission: All assignments will be turned in to Blackboard before the assigned due date and time. You’ll find a section titled “Assignments” where you can upload your paper in Word’s .docx format. I will respond in the comments box or I will edit your papers using “track changes” in Word to give comments and editorial suggestions, and I will upload the new, commented-upon document in the same space. Any rubrics or prompts for the assignments will be uploaded in the “Readings/Information” menu and respective folders.

Late homework slows down the progression of the class, and therefore I have a strict policy on late assignments. Some will not be accepted late without a very good reason and documentation to support that reason. Others will be accepted 24-48 hours late, but with a penalty. I suggest to avoid any late papers.

Group homework cannot be late. If you are failing your group, your grade will reflect that lack of teamwork. I advise that you pretend you are at work, and your team members are your coworkers. I will be the manager. Act accordingly.

Grading Scale: All First Year Composition Courses have implemented the +/- grading scale as follows:

A     93-100

A-     90-92

B+     87-89

B     83-86

B-     80-82

C+     77-79

C     70-76

D     60-69

F     59 and below

A grade of C or better is required for core competency.

Attendance Policy: Due to the amount of group work, attendance is critical. After three unexcused absences, your grade will suffer and you face the possibility of failing the course. Excused absences must be negotiated with and through me, your instructor, or through the English department if you feel the need for extra privacy. I am very understanding when it comes to discussing different religious and holy days; special circumstances; tragedies, etc. But be prepared to provide evidence of your excuse.

Evaluation: The course has a total of 1000 points, which will be distributed as follows:

Attendance and Participation: 100 points / This is outlined in the Attendance Policy section above.

Domain Expertise Essay: 50 points / This essay describes your expertise in your area of study and/or professional interest. This project will help you find a topic for your final research paper.

Documentation Style Sheet: 50 points / You will need to find out what documentation style is predominantly used in your domain (APA, MLA, Chicago, etc.). You will then write out and turn in several examples of in-text and reference page citations.

Source Responses:  100 points (50 points per response) / You will find, read, and respond to articles from academic and nonacademic sources, both to become more familiar with academic writing as a genre and to become conversant with an issue in your domain. You will be turning in two responses.

Source Conversation: 50 points / This essay introduces a topic and discusses several possible stances on that topic (for, against, neither for nor against, etc.). You will evaluate the credibility and usefulness of the sources as well. You will need to cite your sources with in-text citations and a references page that follows the conventions of your domain.

Collaborative Research Project: 250 points / Throughout the semester you’ll be working with a diverse group of students to first propose a community issue that you will attempt to solve, online, using a persuasive speech campaign that identifies quantitative and qualitative data from all three modes that we will be exploring. Each member of the group will be responsible for writing about her or his domain of expertise. After the community issue, you will come up with a solution campaign outline that details how your group will tackle the issue. Then you will write a complete and thorough draft of each member’s campaign message(s), and finally implement your campaign on a website.

Community issue: 50 points

Solution campaign outline: 50 points

Draft: 50 points

Implementation of campaign: 100 points

Individual Research Project: 200 points / In conjunction with your collaborative research project, you will take your community issue, and, using your groups qualitative and quantitative data that you have uncovered/discovered to write a documented, persuasive essay with multiple drafts. You will take a stance on the community issue, and defend that stance while addressing the opposition’s concerns and possible rebuttal.

—Thesis Statement and Outline: 25 points

Research Paper Draft 1 (half draft): 25 points

—Research Paper Draft 2 (full draft): 50 points

Research Paper Final Draft: 100 points

ePortfolio: 100 points / Short for electronic proposal, this assignment will use Google Sites or your personal website to showcase your work to colleagues and potential employers.

Final Reflection: 100 points / Added to your ePortfolio at the end of the course, you will reflect upon your experiences and learned knowledge using one of the three research paper styles, citing your own work or work that influenced you. This will be 1000-1250 words, and will be a thought-out, planned essay that demonstrates how you arrived to the end point of the semester, what you learned, what didn’t work, and how you arrived to some of the choices you made with your group and as an individual.

A Statement on Plagiarism: I’m an authoritarian on “hard” plagiarism. It’s not that I have no patience or that I’m merciless and cruel—I simply believe that now you are in college it is time to think critically about what you write, who you borrow from, where your ideas come from, and how you demonstrate that to the public. There are different levels of plagiarism: Directly copying someone’s work and passing it along as your own (the most grave of offenses); remixing material and passing it along as your own (offensive because you are not conveying where your earned your material); and then there’s what I call the gray water of phrasing—an amalgamation of what is perceived as fact or a statement but you read it somewhere; the mix-tape of the mix-tape, where the reproductions of ideas are muddled; the multimedia/multimodal ideas that have been altered from one medium to another, or from one genre to another (like the use of something serious and data-driven, but turned into satire and comedy). The first level—don’t go there. The second level—your proofing should be your insurance; when in doubt, cite it out; although not as egregious as the first level, I take not citing sources seriously. The third level—this is safe ground, for the most part. If your ideas fall under this category you won’t feel the plagiarism hammer.

Students caught plagiarizing in the “first” or “hard” level face an immediate failing grade and possible dismissal from the class. This includes copying one another’s work. Don’t do it. 

Students caught plagiarizing in the “second” or “soft/remix/not citing” level face an immediate reduction in grade and possible failing grade on the paper/project.

A Statement on Departmental Use of Your Work: The English department randomly and anonymously selects student work at the end of each semester for assessment purposes. Student folders, in print and/or electronic form will be kept by the First-Year Composition program for a minimum of four weeks into the following semester. Occasionally, some work may be kept longer and used anonymously for program assessment. If you wish that your work not be used for program assessment, please inform your instructor in writing as soon as possible.

A Statement on the English Department and YOU: If you enjoy/ed taking this course and/or other English courses, please take a moment to consider joining forces with us. We have mentorship opportunities, a diverse and highly qualified staff, and we’d love to keep those passionate about English among the rest of us passionate people in the realms of literature, rhetoric, digital rhetoric, linguistics, composition, etc. Please consider taking additional English classes and/or signing up for the major or minor in English. For additional information about these options, please contact askenglish@niu.edu or come visit us in Reavis 216!

Students with Disabilities: First, the policy:

Northern Illinois University is committed to providing an accessible educational environment in collaboration with the Disability Resource Center (DRC). Any student requiring an academic accommodation due to a disability should let his or her faculty member know as soon as possible. Students who need academic accommodations based on the impact of a disability will be encouraged to contact the DRC if they have not done so already. The DRC is located on the 4th floor of the Health Services Building, and can be reached at 815-753-1303 (V) or drc@niu.edu.

Second, my personal account: I am a service-connected disabled veteran. I am registered with the DRC, and have been since I have arrived. I also serve on President Baker’s committee for students with disabilities. In short, I may not know how you have been impacted by a disability, or your background, but I do know how to negotiate the system, and I would gladly assist you.

A Statement on Our Class Being a SAFE Place:

I have no tolerance for discrimination in any fashion. To be up front, I have spent many years studying the women’s movement, feminism, black history, African history, religion, transgendered vs agendered vs cisgendered, etc. I also have conducted and taken many seminars on building a SAFE environment for all.

Calendar of dates, assignments, events [WP=Writer’s Presence / BB=Building Bridges / HO=Handout / PW=Pearson Writer]: 

Aug. 24-28: Introductions/Syllabus; Section 1 of 3: creativity and critical analyses section; BB: Chapters 1-2, paying close attention to pp. 9-10, table 1.1, pp. 18-20, pp. 23-26 (but still read the rest of the material in both chapters!!).

Aug. 31-Sept. 4: 8/31 Domain Expertise Essay due. Intro to blogging.

Sept. 7: LABOR DAY

Sept. 9: Further blogging information. Start writing your Source Responses, due 9/14. READ Chaps. 4, 5. Focus on: “The Research Process,” “Primary and Secondary Research,” “Library Research,” “Online Research,” “Evaluating Sources,” and “Avoiding Plagiarism” in Chap. 4. REALLY FOCUS on Chap. 5: Writing in the Arts and Humanities! There might be a quiz next week, depending on class participation.

Sept. 14-18: Documentation Style Sheet due 9/14 || Source Responses begin 9/14; due 9/21 || Quiz?

Sept. 21-25: Source Responses due 9/21 before class time. NO CLASSES. Individual conferences

Sept. 28-Oct. 2: Form official groups 9/28; Source Conversations draft 1 due after working with groups; Section 2 of 3: nature and technology section

Oct. 5-9: 10/5 Source Conversations Final due. Begin work on project ideas

Oct. 12-16: Develop community issue, due 10/16

Oct. 19-23: Develop solution campaign outline, due 10/21; begin group draft

Oct. 26-30: 10/28 group draft due; begin individual projects simultaneously

Nov. 2-6: Individual thesis statement and outline due 11/2; Half draft due 11/6; Section 3 of 3: society and culture section

Nov. 9-13: Full individual draft due 11/13.

Nov. 16-20: The implementation of online campaign is due 11/16; presentations 11/18

Nov. 23-24: Individual conferences


Nov. 30-Dec. 4: E-Portfolios due 10/4; Final individual paper due 10/4; Final reflection due 10/4


Dec. 7-12: FINAL EXAMS


TEN TIPS FOR STUDENT SUCCESS (as per the Huskie handbook):

1. attend your classes

In many courses, attendance and participation are tracked to factor into the final grade. Students who regularly attend class benefit as professors share valuable information, answer questions, and provide study strategies. The research is clear: “Attending class helps students pass courses, graduate from college, and increase their future earning potential” (Randy Moore, University of Minnesota, 2006).

2. make a good start

Students whose first-year grade point average falls below a “C” and/or who withdraw from a number of courses during their first semester sometimes experience difficulty catching up. If study habits need improvement or if personal counseling is needed, you should seek assistance from the campus resources offered. Help is always available; however, no one may know you need help unless you take the initiative.

3. meet with an academic advisor regularly

Students gain from academic, intellectual, and vocational interaction with faculty. Neither the Undergraduate Catalog nor folklore from fellow students can provide the guidance, stimulation, and insights of regular conferences with an academic advisor. For students undecided about a major,
the Academic Advising Center is the best place to work out a schedule of courses that will help them make maximum progress toward a degree in the field they eventually choose.

4. follow your four-year degree path

NIU has developed four-year graduation plans for every major. The goal of the degree paths is to promote student success by guiding you to the completion of an undergraduate degree within a reasonable amount of time. Degree paths show the proper timing and pacing of major and general education requirements and assist you in taking ownership of your education. They can also help you prepare for meetings with your academic advisors. The four-year time frame reinforces the notion that the average student should be able to graduate within four years.

5. participate in MAP-Works

MAP-Works is a first-year success program for new freshmen and transfer students. This survey-based tool helps students establish roots and develop positive habits in order to succeed at NIU. Participation in MAP-Works increases first year success by accomplishing the following:

  • Providing early intervention to students who may benefit from additional assistance;
  • Aligning student expectations with actual outcomes;
  • Cultivating student involvement; and
  • Facilitating the social and emotional transition to college.6. Become involved in First-Year Experience, Themed Learning Communities, or other first-year programs.NIU offers programs (UNIV 101, UNIV 201, Student-Faculty Links, First-Year Success Series, Transfer2Transfer, and REACH) that are specifically designed to provide new students with opportunities to get connected at Northern. Students who become involved in campus life are more likely to persist in and be satisfied with their college experience. See pages 3 and 24 for more information on First-Year Connections and other high- impact first-year programs.

6. Become involved in First-Year Experience, Themed Learning Communities, or other first-year programs

NIU offers programs (UNIV 101, UNIV 201, Student-Faculty Links, First-Year Success Series, Transfer2Transfer, and REACH) that are specifically designed to provide new students with opportunities to get connected at Northern. Students who become involved in campus life are more likely to persist in and be satisfied with their college experience. See pages 3 and 24 for more information on First-Year Connections and other high- impact first-year programs.

7. get involved in campus life

Much learning and personal development occur outside the classroom. There are more than 200 clubs and organizations at Northern to meet any interest and need; also, you can create your own activity. A student involved beyond the classroom tends to view the university as a collection of human beings rather than simply as buildings made of bricks and glass. Students are encouraged to check with Student Involvement & Leadership Development, Campus Recreation, the Student Association, a faculty member in their college, or a residence hall staff member to find avenues for involvement. Every organization is looking for active participants.

8. work

Working for wages is a necessity for many students, but work is also a means of making friends, decreasing boredom, and, if the employment is on campus, of becoming involved in the university. Statistics reveal that students who work on campus are more likely to complete their education. A word of caution: Don’t overdo it. Work should be limited to a maximum of 15-20 hours each week.

9. live on or near campus

At least half of your learning experiences will take place outside the classroom, often in the living environment. Residence hall and group housing arrangements are recommended for the support they provide to student residents. Students who live at home and commute often find it more difficult to become involved.

10. carry a “full load”

To complete the graduation requirement of 120 credit hours in 8 semesters requires an average load of 15 hours per semester. It is best to complete at least 15 hours each semester or as close to this number as your personal situation allows. Unnecessary course withdrawals may require you to spend an extra semester or more in pursuit of a degree. Almost any type of needed assistance is offered by one of many student support offices.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *