Syllabus

Course Description

Foundations of English 301 is meant to help you learn how to reason carefully and express ideas clearly. You will develop these skills as we learn together to recognize strong arguments, uncover assumptions, evaluate evidence, recognize rhetorical patterns, and infer ideas from data.

The following sections describe what you'll learn from this course, how you'll learn it, and how I'll assess your learning. Click to expand any section.

By the end of the course, you will be able to:

  1. Apply critical reading and thinking skills to texts, including the ability to accurately summarize and analyze their structure and logic.
  2. Conduct library and electronic research by locating reliable sources with which to frame an argument relevant to a current academic or disciplinary conversation.
  3. Write a coherent, clear, and cogent argument that supports claims with specific evidence, logical reasoning, and appropriate documentation.
  4. Meet the needs of a variety of audiences and rhetorical situations.
  5. Produce quality academic writing and explain what makes it effective, including at least thirty pages of reviewed and edited writing and at least twenty pages of instructor-assessed writing.

I'm sorry for all the technical mumbo jumbo—those objectives are specified by the school. Here's the same thing in basic English:

  • You'll become a better reader, able not only to understand difficult texts but to take them apart, analyze them, critique them, and retain what you learn from them.
  • You'll become a better thinker, able to spot faulty reasoning and to examine your own thinking to better come to conclusions about what is true, good, right, or practical.
  • You'll become a better writer (and researcher), able not only to produce better writing faster and more efficiently but also able to discern and discuss the difference between more and less effective writing.

Textbooks

You will use 3 textbooks this semester:

  • Everyone will read Asking the Right Questions, 12th edition, by M. Neil Browne and Stuart M Keeley. This book is only available as an ebook, which you can buy or rent from Pearson or from Amazon. You need this book immediately, and only the 12th edition is acceptable.
  • Everyone will individually choose a style guide (click here for a list of options) to become an expert in. You'll need to make a choice and purchase your book by Friday, May 3, when the Textbooks Choice assignment is due.
  • Everyone will individually choose a writing manual (click here for a list of options) to read and compose a series of reports on. You'll need to make a choice and purchase your book by Friday, May 3, when the Textbooks Choice assignment is due.

Additional Required Materials

  • Internet: You will need to have consistent, reliable broadband internet access throughout the semester.
  • Word Processing: You will need to be able to access, edit, and create files in .docx and .pdf formats. The university bookstore offers free copies of Microsoft Office to students, which will enable you to work with .docx files and create .pdf files. Adobe Reader is a free program you can download and install to view .pdf files. Additionally, computers meeting all these requirements are publicly available in on-campus labs.
  • Dropbox: Most of your work will be turned in using Dropbox this semester, which offers free, cloud-based file storage and sharing options. See Getting on Dropbox for more details.
  • Slack: We will be using Slack this semester, which is free software we can use to communicate and share files. It runs on a web browser, but you can also download an app for your computer or smartphone. You'll be required to keep up with and contribute to the conversations going on on Slack throughout the semester. See Getting on Slack for more details.
  • Printing: You will sometimes be required to print out and turn in assignments for this class, so access to a printer or money on your account to use campus printers is a must.

In order to learn what we want to learn, we will complete a wide range of assignments and activities this semester. How well you complete these assignments will help me determine how well you've accomplished the above learning objectives. There are three major papers that make up the bulk of the work in this class and which will have the biggest impact on your final grade. Details about these and all other assignments are linked to on the Assignments page.

Major Paper Learning Outcomes Achieved
Argument Analysis
  • Apply critical reading and thinking skills to texts, including the ability to accurately summarize and analyze their structure and logic.
  • Meet the needs of a variety of audiences and rhetorical situations.
Current Event Coverage Report
  • Conduct library and electronic research by locating reliable sources with which to frame an argument relevant to a current academic or disciplinary conversation.
  • Meet the needs of a variety of audiences and rhetorical situations.
Researched Argument
  • Conduct library and electronic research by locating reliable sources with which to frame an argument relevant to a current academic or disciplinary conversation.
  • Write a coherent, clear, and cogent argument that supports claims with specific evidence, logical reasoning, and appropriate documentation.
  • Meet the needs of a variety of audiences and rhetorical situations.

For major papers, you will have the option of either meeting with me for a grading conference to receive feedback on your work or just turning your work in for a grade and no feedback. Papers will be assigned a simple letter grade.

All other assignments will be graded as a pass or fail.

Your final average in this class will not be determined mathematically; instead it will be determined according to the following system:

Grade Received Conditions
A

Complete ALL of the following:

  • Receive an A on at least two major papers, receive no lower than a B on the third
  • Miss/fail no more than 4 everyday assignments
  • Attend at least 2 grading conferences
  • Attend office hours (or meet with me by appointment) to discuss class-related topics at least once during the semester
  • Make substantial revisions to at least one major paper and resubmit it
B

Complete ALL of the following:

  • Receive a B or higher on at least two major papers, receive no lower than a C on the third
  • Miss/fail no more than 7 everyday assignments
  • Attend at least 1 grading conference
  • Attend office hours (or meet with me by appointment) to discuss class-related topics at least once during the semester
C

Complete ALL of the following:

  • Receive a C or higher on all major papers
  • Miss/fail no more than 10 assignments
D

Do ANY of the following:

  • Receive a D on any major paper
  • Miss/fail 11–14 assignments
F

Do ANY of the following:

  • Receive an F on any major paper
  • Miss/fail 15 or more assignments

Course Policies

The following policies define how the course will run, so please be aware of them and refer back here whenever you have questions.

Attendance in this class is essential and mandatory. Missing more than 15 minutes of any class period will result in an absence, and coming to class unprepared (especially on days when we will be sharing and responding to our writing) will result in an absence.

Here are the rules:

  • You can miss three classes without penalty. This includes absences for any and all reasons: excused absences, sickness, family emergencies, weddings, dance parties, sleeping in, etc.
  • On a fourth absence, and again on a fifth and a sixth, your final grade will be dropped a third of a letter (A– becomes a B+, C becomes a C–).
  • On your seventh absence, you will automatically fail the course.
  • If you arrive after I've called your name on the roll, you will be marked tardy. Three tardies equals one absence.

Time-sensitive assignments (that is, those that require you to complete and/or post your work by a certain time so that others may see it, such as out-of-class peer reviews and online discussions) will not be accepted late. (Such assignments are clearly marked so in their assignment descriptions.)

All other assignments will be accepted late. Turn them in to your Submitted Late folder on Dropbox (see Getting on Dropbox for more details). There is no grade penalty for late work. The last day to turn in late work is 9:00pm on Tuesday, July 23

Every day in class you will need the following:

  • any readings that were assigned
  • something to write with
  • something to write on

As for readings that were provided to you as PDF files, I don’t care whether you print these out and bring them to class or access them on a device during class. What I do care about is that you are ready to discuss your reading.

If you have a laptop or tablet, I encourage you to bring it to class each day, as it will be useful during our activities. I only ask that you do not distract others with your technology usage.

We all know that technology fails us at the worst possible moment, so in this class, technology failing is not an excuse. Plan ahead. Plan multiple options. Save often. Print early. Here are some suggestions:

  • Download PDFs and other important documents to your own hard drive so that you can access them if the internet goes down.
  • Buy an extra printer cartridge now so that, when your current one runs out, you won’t be without one. When you put that cartridge in, buy the next one. It won’t cost you any more money in the long run.
  • Make a pact with a trusted friend to share each other’s printers in case of an emergency.
  • Find out where printers are all over campus, not just in one building.
  • Regularly back up your computer to an external hard drive. I have never met a person whose hard drive didn’t eventually fail (I’ve had hard drives on both Macs and PCs fail). If you aren’t backing up, you’re setting yourself up for a really, really bad weekend someday.
  • Save your currently important documents to a cloud-based drive: Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive, Google Drive, iCloud, etc. (all of them are free).
  • Regularly throw a folder of currently important documents on a thumb drive, just in case your computer gets lost and the internet goes down at the same time. It happens.

Self-plagiarism refers to submitting work done in previous classes, and it is not allowed. Please do not choose the same or closely similar topics from previous work for your major papers in this class. If there is any question about this, talk to me first.

Likewise, it is not permitted to use work done for another class this semester in this class as well, or vice versa; this is called a multiple submission. If you want to make the topic of a paper for this class similar to a topic being used in another class you are taking this semester so as to minimize your workload and maximize your learning, you can do so provided you, me, and the other professor have a conversation about it first and set clear guidelines for what will be expected.

If, for any reason, you are unsatisfied or upset or offended or have any other grievance concerning me or this class, you have the right to have your concerns addressed. The proper protocol for this is to first contact me, and I will do everything in my power to make sure things are set right. If for any reason you feel unable to approach me directly—in person or by email—you may contact the chair of the English Department, Mark Bennion, whose contact info is readily available at byui.edu. If you skip these steps and go directly to the dean, a vice president, or someone else, your actions will only lengthen the time it takes to receive satisfaction, as those individuals will inevitably refer your concern back to Bro. Bennion and myself.

Federal law (FERPA) prohibits me from discussing your private information (grades, etc.) with anyone who is not authorized to receive that information, which includes your parents unless you have specifically signed a release granting them access.

Living a high standard of morality and ethics is a requirement not only for this class but this school. This includes everything from your behavior in class discussions to your work outside of class. Presenting the words or ideas of others as if they were your own is dishonest and unethical. It also denies you the opportunity to grow as a reader, writer, and thinker (the reasons why someone seeks higher education in the first place). If you are having difficulty with an assignment, please come see me so that I can help. Challenging semesters happen to the best of us, and an anxiety to do well in school can become overwhelming, especially if life outside of school is disrupted with trauma, tragedy, or other trials. However, there is no excuse for ever resorting to cheating or plagiarism. It will always be wrong. My door is always open, so if you feel overwhelmed about an assignment or a reading, please don’t be afraid or too proud to come and ask for help. Plagiarism or other forms of cheating (including unethical contributions to your work from a roommate, spouse, or friend) will result in an F for the course, as well as a report of the incident to the Department Head, the Dean, and the Student Judicial Programs. All work you do for this class must be yours, and all your work for this class must be written for this class. Saving all your drafts and notes is a good idea in case you need to show your writing process.

Please familiarize yourself with BYU-Idaho’s statement concerning academic honesty. Note in particular the school’s official definition of plagiarism:

  • Direct Plagiarism: the verbatim copying of an original source without acknowledging the source
  • Paraphrased Plagiarism: the paraphrasing of ideas from another without attribution, causing a reader to mistake these ideas for the writer’s own
  • Plagiarism Mosaic: the borrowing of words, ideas, or data from an original source and blending this original material with one’s own writing, without acknowledging the source
  • Insufficient Acknowledgment: the partial or incomplete attribution of words, ideas, or data from an original source

If you're reading this, congratulations: You've found the secret policy. Send me a direct message on Slack that includes the phrase "Might solve a mystery, or rewrite history," and you will receive extra credit equal to one missed or failed assignment—that is, missing or failing one assignment (not a major paper, of course) will not count against your average, as explained in the "Grading" section above.

The message must be received before class on Wednesday, April 24, for you to receive credit.

In compliance with applicable disability law, qualified students with a disability may be entitled to reasonable accommodation. It is the student’s responsibility to officially register his or her disability and disclose to the teacher any special needs he or she may have before the end of the first week of class.

I have made every effort to ensure that the course materials and activities for both the onsite and online portions of this class are universally accessible as defined by the Disability Services Office, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. However, I am not perfect. If anyone requires additional accommodations to access course materials or participate in course activities, or if I can just make life easier by instituting some kind of change, please let me know and I’ll be only too happy to help.