Sample syllabus: developmental writing

Course Syllabus

ENGL 1303: Basic Grammar and Composition

Fall 2008

Department of Languages

Course Description

A prerequisite course for enrollment in ENGL 1313 (see next section for criteria). ENGL 1303 is an introduction to the principles of composition accomplished through the study of grammar, standard English usage, and rhetorical techniques and strategies. This course emphasizes basic grammar and composition and focuses on sentence structure and on organizing and developing the short essay. ENGL 1303 does not meet the Smith College requirements for either the BA or the BS degree but does carry elective credit.



ENGL 1303 is a prerequisite for ENGL 1313 if the student does not meet at least one of the four eligibility requirements.

  • A score of at least 500 on the Writing section of the SAT.
  • A score of at least 22 on the ACT English test.
  • A combined score of at least 8 (4 or more from each of the two graders) on the SAT essay.
  • A satisfactory score on the in-class diagnostic essay in ENGL 1313


COURSE OBJECTIVES (Overview/ purpose of the course)

ENGL 1303 introduces students to the basic principles of composition and usage. Students analyze essays that illustrate these principles and write essays that demonstrate their understanding of these models. This course combines instruction on six types of essays, grammar exercises and tests, and readings. Its aim is to prepare the student for ENGL 1313.

Upon completion of this course:

  • Students should be able to write a competent essay for 1313.
  • Students demonstrate proficiency in reading through discussing and writings about the assigned textbook readings.
  • Students demonstrate critical thinking and analytical ability through the discussion of reading and writing assignments.
  • Students demonstrate proficiency in written communication through writing a number of coherent paragraphs and essays.
  • Students demonstrate proficiency in oral communication through class discussion.
  • Students are able to use technology to access information for the preparation and completion of assignments.


Name:  Office Location:  Office Hours: 


Learning Resources

Course Text(s): Langan, John. College Writing Skills with Readings. 7th Ed. New York: McGraw Hill

Supplementary Text(s): College-level dictionary and thesaurus

Other Required Materials: Paper, pen, folder with brads


The undergraduate curriculum is characterized by a strong emphasis on the arts and sciences. The University seeks to provide physical resources and a campus environment that acknowledge the uniqueness of the individual and encourage the development of the whole person.


The COAH mission is to develop intellectual, moral, and aesthetic growth in its students. In accordance with College and Department goals, this course fosters intellectual ability and judgment through the study of language and rhetoric and through writing and other means of assessment.


One of the purposes of the department is to provide instruction in writing and rhetorical skills. In this course, students demonstrate effective communication through the development of writing and rhetorical skills.




August 26:

Introduction to teacher, course, and classmates.

Review of syllabus.


Bring a signed copy of the Student Contract portion of the syllabus back to the next class.



August 28:

Essay writing, pp. 4-50

Ch. 23, pp. 450-454

Ch. 24, pp. 455-468

Hwk: Review test 3, page 468

Students not on roll by Friday, 8/29 cannot attend class.



September 2:

Essay writing, pp. 51-78

Ch. 25, pp. 469-481

Hwk: Choose a physical object that is important to you. Do some significant form of prewriting.



September 4:

Description pp. 178-201 Description: art pictures

Introduction to riddles Group work: Exeter riddles


1. Write a riddle about your physical object. It should be half a page.

You want the reader to be able to figure it out by the end, but not to give it away too early nor be too ambiguous.

2. A passing certificate for the Academic Integrity tutorial from Blackboard brought in will add points to your homework grade. It is due October 2.



September 9:

Essay writing, pp. 80-104

Ch. 34, pp. 533-535 (Manuscripts)

Ch. 26, pp. 482-490

Hwk: Out-of-class essay. Bring two copies of this to class.


September 11:

Peer review of out-of-class essay.


Ch. 27, pp. 492-497

Hwk: Revise out-of-class essay



September 16: HURRICANE IKE



September 18: HURRICANE IKE


September 23:

Out-of-class essay due.

Johnson, pp. 683-693 “The Professor is a Dropout” about Guadalupe Quintanilla

Narration, pp. 202-221

Hwk: Dr. Mom’

s Guide to College at

Read three sections and take notes.



September 25:


Ch. 28, pp. 498-502

Hwk: Narration paragraphs



September 30:

Out-of-class essay returned.

Review descriptive essay.

Narration paragraph practice

Ch. 29 pages 503-8

Hwk: Prewriting exercises for narrative essay

Rewrite your descriptive essay. Fix the errors. Turn both copies in.


October 2:

Academic Integrity certificate due.

In-class narrative essay

Hwk: As assigned.



October 7:


Comparison or contrast, pp. 287-294

Hwk: As assigned.




October 9:

Discuss the rhetorical triangle with visuals. (Writer, subject, reader)

Comparison or contrast, pp. 294-306

Ch. 31 pages 516ff

Hwk: As assigned.



October 14:

Class is only 50 minutes today due to Spirit Week.

11:00-12:15 TR class period will meet from 10:00-10:50

Comparison or contrast activity

Discuss narrative essay.

Hwk: Prewriting for comparison or contrast.



October 16:

Peer review of out-of-class essay.

Hwk: Out-of –

class essay revision.




October 21

Compare/contrast essay due.

Introduce the definition/exemplification essay. (5 paragraphs: definition, illustration #1, illustration #2, illustration #3, conclusion)

Prewriting in class.

Definition, pp. 311-31

Hwk: As assigned.



October 23:

Definition, pp. 316-323

Reading professional essay and answer questions.

Grammar, ch. 32

Hwk: Choose an abstract noun. Get online definitions and quotes.

Write your definition for this topic. Write your definition paragraph.



October 28:

Exemplification, pp. 222-242

Hwk: Write an example paragraph. Email it to Dr. Davis.

dr davis @ teaching college english . com (take out spaces)


October 30:

Dr. Davis will be out of town.

Sherry, pp. 761-766

Answer the “Reading Comprehension”


questions, numbers 1-10.

Answer the “Structure and Technique”


questions 1-4.



November 4:

In class exemplification paragraphs.

Ch. 36, pp. 544-547

Hwk: Write a complete outline for your definition/exemplification essay.


November 6:

In class definition/exemplification essay.

Hwk: Go to “Opposing Viewpoints”

database. Read two articles, one on each side, of the assigned argument topic. You will be assigned which ones you need to read. Please read those specific ones. Take notes or highlight the articles.


How do you find them?

Moody Library website

left hand side bar “Electronic Research Tools”

left hand side bar “All Indexes and Databases J-Z”

scroll down to Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center

on the right hand side are a list of topics

Click on Global Warming

find the articles that match your numbers




November 11:

Argument, pp. 349-368

Hwk:Write a paragraph each on an argument that is strong from the two sides.




November 13:

Class debates.

Out-of-class essay assigned.

Hwk:Write out-of-class argument essay.




November 18:

Peer review of out-of-class essay.

Ch. 37, pp. 550-556

Hwk: Revise out-of-class essay.




November 20:

Out-of-class essay due.

Russell, pp. 640-645

Ch. 38, pp. 557-564

Hwk: As assigned.

November 25:

Banas, pp. 700-705

Ch. 39, pp. 588-596

Hwk: As assigned.




December 2:

Argument essay returned.

Grammar test.

Hwk:As assigned.



December 4:

Discussion of final

Classification paper.

Read for an explanation.

Use the Scientific American handout as your animals to classify.

Hwk: Prepare for the final.



Final exams: December 9-12 Hwk: Have a great break and a wonderful life.


The content of this outline and the attached schedule are subject to change at the discretion of the professor.


Strategies may include any or all of the following: analyses of texts; organization of material; focus and development of ideas; editing and revising material.

Professors may use any or all of the following methods: lectures; class discussions; small group activities; journals; computer-assisted instruction research; conferences; quizzes; tests; revision exercises; Learning Center tutorials.

There may be some controversial material covered within the class. There will be some when we study argument. The teacher and the students will be respectful of differing opinions. Respect and tolerance will be required. Agreement will not.



Course requirements

Essays must be in five paragraphs and about 500-750 words. Out of class essays must be typed, double-spaced, and follow MLA format.

The grammar test grade is the average of the instructor’s choice of review tests and editing tests from the grammar section (Chapters 23-41) of the book. There will be no make-up exams for grammar or editing tests.


Grading standards

3 out-of-class essays (descriptive, compare/contrast, argument) 10% each 30%

2 in-class essays (narrative, definition/exemplification) 15% each 30%

Grammar tests 10%

Homework, attendance, and participation 15%

Final exam (in-class classification essay) 15%



In order to receive a passing grade for an essay written in English 1303, students must be able to write essays which conform to the following standards:

A. Content and Organization

a. A well-organized and adequately developed essay should contain at least five paragraphs, including an introduction, at least three developmental paragraphs, and a conclusion.

b. In the first paragraph, the essay should contain a clearly stated thesis that responds to the assigned topic.

c. Each developing paragraph should contain a topic sentence that supports the thesis.

d. Each developing paragraph should effectively support and develop the controlling idea of the paragraph.

Grammar and Mechanics

The essay will be largely free of such technical errors as

  • The incorrect use of the apostrophe or of the possessive
  • The omission of necessary commas or the insertion of unnecessary commas
  • The consistent misspelling of common words
  • The use of the second person
  • Inadequate pronoun reference
  • The consistent use of non-standard word for or order
  • The repeated use of any construction that would lead to misreading

An essay containing more than twelve (12) errors as outlined above will not receive a passing grade.


The essay will largely be free of such major errors as

  • The fragment
  • The comma splice
  • The fused (run-on) sentence
  • Subject-verb disagreement
  • Pronoun-antecedent disagreement

An essay containing any six (6) errors as outlined above will automatically fail. An essay that contains six technical errors and three major errors, or a like combination, will automatically fail.

NOTE: The grading standards not specifically mentioned in this syllabus will adhere to the general policy on grade as stated in the University Catalog.


Grading expectations:

Graded essays will be returned no later than two weeks after they are due.

The essays and any handouts related to them must be kept by the student and collected in a folder. This folder will be required to be complete and must be turned in before finals in order to pass the class.


Student appraisal: Faculty will administer the University’


s Student Evaluation Form.


Academic honesty

Any proof of plagiarism will result in investigation. Any proof of plagiarism will result in a failing grade for the course and possible disciplinary action by the university. Plagiarism will be discussed in detail in class.

A tutorial has been created that explains behaviors you may engage in but do not recognize as unethical. Its purpose is to inform and educate you to identify these practices and, therefore, avoid them. You will find the tutorial in a Blackboard class named Academic Integrity, and you are encouraged to complete the tutorial before priority registration for the next semester. You will earn one CLW point upon its completion.


Grievance procedures

Students should discuss all grievances related to the course with the instructor of the course. If students are not satisfied with the resolution, they may take their grievances first to the department chair, then to the College Dean, and finally to the College Grievance Committee.


Absence and tardy policies

Attendance: You should arrive in the class on time and be prepared.

If it is necessary to be absent due to school activities, please inform me before the event so that missed class work may be assigned and turned in before you leave. Any work must be completed and turned in before it is due.

Each absence will effect your grade, since points are given for being in class.

Three tardies will count as an absence. Tardies will also effect your grade.

If you miss ten 10 class periods or have 30 tardies or a combination which is equivalent, you will receive an F for your grade. Please withdraw from the course officially if you meet this absence limit.


Late work

Late work will not be accepted.


Missed tests

Make-up exams, second sitting for in-class essays, or extensions for papers will only be given for students with legitimate excuses (i.e. serious illness, death of close family member). These excuses must be verified by appropriate documentation; otherwise the grades for those exams will be zero.


Learning disabilities; describe documentation required

If you have a learning disability and need special accommodations, consult first with Lisa McNerney at 281-649-3240. She will provide information and schedule an appointment with Dr. Verna Peterson, who will write the appropriate accommodations. The Letter of Accommodations will then be sent to the professors of record for that specific quarter. The student will also be given a copy of the Accommodations Letters. This process must be repeated each quarter.


Children in classroom

Children do not belong in a college classroom. If there is an emergency and you need to bring your child with you, you may do so if your child is not ill and does not disturb the class. If your child disturbs the class, you will need to leave so that the rest of the class can learn. Your child may not attend the class on a regular basis.


All major papers for this course will be submitted to the plagiarism prevention software, on or before a paper’


s due date. No paper will be graded without meeting this requirement beforehand. A separate handout will be provided to give detailed instructions on this process which needs to include the class identification number and class password.

In accordance with FERPA, and to best protect the students’ privacy, no personal identification (e.g., name, social security number, H number) should be uploaded with the text of student papers. However, Turnitin will ask for the student’s name and e-mail address when setting up a personal account. This identifying information will be used by the professor to evaluate the student’


s paper and cannot be viewed by other faculty or students. To further increase confidentiality, the student may choose to use a pseudonym (false name) when setting up his or her personal Turnitin account.

If a pseudonym is used for Turnitin, the student must provide this identifier next to his/her typed name on the paper copy which is submitted to the professor. Five (5) points will be deducted if the professor is unable to easily match the paper copy to the Turnitin submission of the student’


s paper.


Classroom Behavior Expectations

Students are full partners in fostering a classroom environment which is conducive to learning. In order to assure that all students have the opportunity to gain from the time spent in class, students are expected to demonstrate civil behavior in the classroom. Unless otherwise approved by the instructor, students are prohibited from engaging in any form of behavior that detracts from the learning experience of fellow students. Inappropriate behavior in the classroom may result in a request for the offending student to leave the classroom.

Classroom behaviors that disturb the teaching-learning experiences include the following behaviors: activated cellular phone or other device, demands for special treatment, frequent episodes of leaving and then returning to the class, excessive tardiness, leaving class early, making offensive remarks or disrespectful comments or gestures to the teacher or other students, missing deadlines, prolonged chattering, reading newspapers during class, sleeping, arriving late to class, dominating discussions, shuffling backpacks or notebooks, disruption of group work, and overt inattentiveness.”



Early Alert

As an instructor, I am committed to your success, not only in this class, but in all aspects of HBU life . To ensure that every student takes full advantage of the educational and learning opportunities, HBU has implemented an Academic Early Alert Referral System (EARS). If I think you would benefit from some of these special programs or services available to you, I will make the appropriate referral. You, in turn, will be expected to take advantage of the help offered to you.

Email Policy

All university and class email communication will be sent to your HBU email account. You are responsible for checking this frequently. If you choose, you may reroute your HBU email to another email address. Your emails should be in a professional format with correct spelling, capitalization, and grammar.


English Faculty





This course is one which makes sure that you are prepared for your college level courses. College requires a lot of writing and this course will help you improve your writing fluency.

I am not expecting that you are an expert writer, but that you are willing to learn. Consider yourself an apprentice in this writing class.

My philosophy of education:

I believe that practice makes, if not perfect, at least more competent; therefore I give lots of writing assignments. The positive aspect of this is two-fold: the students are learning by doing and if the students mess up a single assignment, they will not have substantially lowered their grade.

In addition, for the first major paper, I offer the opportunity to rewrite. This is a way for the student to learn what is wrong with their particular paper and, hopefully, how to correct it so that they will not repeat their mistakes with the next paper.

Because I know that the writing is practice, and that some students have never written essays of any type before, I offer a way to improve the students’


averages through additional writing. This will vary from semester to semester, but includes, at least, an opportunity to write one letter or additional paper for extra credit.

I also believe that work should be spaced throughout the semester so that the papers are due, and at least one graded and returned, before the drop date. When other classes have their crunch time at the end of the semester, we are taking it easy.

I do not think that a holiday is an opportunity to assign extra work, so the break assignment is no longer than a usual assignment.

Citations available for pictures.

Dr. Davis 8/23/08

Chapter 32 pages523ff

Ch. 33. pages 526ff

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