College Writing I section 242 Fall 2007 Syllabus

Instructor: Dr. Bridget Marshall                                                        E-mail:
Class Meetings: Tuesdays and Thursdays 2 – 3:15
Office Location: O’ Leary 414; appointments via e-mail or phone.        Office Phone: 978-934-4179
Required Text: Howard Mansfield, The Bones of the Earth (The Common Text)

This class operates on the idea that we are all writers.  While some of you may not particularly enjoy writing, it is still a very necessary part of your education.  Writing will help you get through school, and it will be immeasurably useful beyond school, in whatever profession you choose.  Keeping in mind the idea that you will all have many kinds of writing to do throughout your academic career and beyond, here are some course goals:

To meet these and other ends, there are five major assignments for this class, each with multiple drafts.  This is a total of approximately 25 pages of writing with 250 words per page.  You will be required to share your drafts and final essays with peers in the class.  Rather than being assignments written for me, your teacher, these essays are an opportunity to express yourself and to think critically about a variety of topics.  Outlined below are the general topics/forms of the assignments.
#1            Sense of Place: Personal Narrative and Analysis
#2            Your House and Home: Narrative adding outside (interviewed) sources
#3            Text-Wrestling: Engaging with a published text (Mansfield)
#4            Research Project: Annotated bibliography and presentation on a topic
#5             Final Portfolio: Self-assessment and revision of any previous essay assignment
Most of these assignments will involve multiple drafts, typically including an Exploratory Draft, a Mid-Process Draft, and a Final Version.  In addition to these major assignments, we will be doing a lot of other writing.  This includes in-class writing prompts (which may or may not develop into an essay), short response papers, letters to each other and to me, and other sorts of smaller writing assignments.  In other words, get your word-processor fired up, come to class with pens and paper, and be prepared to write!

Instructional Resources and Disability Accommodations: The Centers for Learning and Academic Support Services provide many resources, including tutoring in writing:  In accordance with University policy and the ADA, I will provide accommodation for students with documented disabilities.  If you have a disability, please contact the Office of Disability Services: McGauvran 363, phone: (978) 934-4338 as soon as possible. This documentation is confidential.

Class Requirements: 

Evaluation and Grading:  Grading writing is my least favorite aspect of the course, however, grades are necessary, not only to the University, but also in many cases in order to motivate students.  I don’t have a big secret formula for calculating grades.  Basically, everything you do counts in some way or other, and I record every check, every zero, and every grade. 

Breakdown of Grades:
Classroom Citizenship: 15%
Various Short Writings:  10%
Essay 1:  10%
Essay 2:  15%
Essay 3:  15%
Essay 4: 15%
Essay 5: 20%


Final grade ranges:
A: 94 – 100
A-: 90 – 93
B+: 87 – 89
B: 83 – 86
B-: 80 – 82
C+: 77 – 79
C: 73 - 76
C-: 70 - 72
D: 61 – 69
F: 60 & below

Semester Schedule

Below you will find a preliminary outline for the semester. If you miss a class, you are still responsible for what was due on the day(s) you missed and on the day you return, so ALWAYS consult the syllabus (or a classmate, or me) if you have missed or will miss a class.


Reading and Writing DUE IN CLASS on the day listed

Thursday 6 September

In-class writing sample, introductions, etc.

Tuesday 11 September

Read: Syllabus, handouts, Mansfield 3 - 8
Write: One paragraph response about Mansfield

Thursday 13 September

Read: Mansfield 11 - 18
Write: Exploratory draft for Essay #1

Tuesday 18 September

Read: Your draft
Write: Mid-process draft of Essay #1

Thursday 20 September

Read: Mansfield 19 - 34
Write: one-page summary including a quote of interest from the reading

Tuesday 25 September

Read: Comments on your draft
Write: Final version of Essay #1

Thursday 27 September

Read: Mansfield 35 -49
Write: Exploratory Draft of Essay #2

Tuesday 2 October

Read: Mansfield 51 - 69
Write: one-page response including a quote from the reading

Thursday 4 October

Read: Your responses to Mansfield
Write: Mid-process draft of Essay #2

Tuesday 9 October

Read:  re-read Mansfield so far and your own responses
Write: At least three good discussion questions

Thursday 11 October

Read: Comments on your draft
Write: Final Version of Essay #2

Tuesday 16 October

Read: Mansfield 73 - 85
Write: Exploratory Draft of Essay #3

Thursday 18 October

Read: Mansfield 87 - 94
Write: Mid-Process Draft of Essay #3

Tuesday 23 October

Class cancelled for Conferences this week – attendance required! Bring your draft & materials for the paper

Thursday 25 October

Class cancelled for Conferences this week – attendance required! Bring your draft & materials for the paper

Tuesday 30 October

Read: Mansfield 95 - 107

Thursday 1 November

Read: Your Draft and also your Research notes from the library session
Write: Final Version of Essay #3

Tuesday 6 November

Read: Your sources (at least two) for the Research Project
Write: At least 2 entries for your annotated bibliography

Thursday 8 November

Read: Your sources (at least two NEW ones) for the Research Project
Write: At least 2 new entries for your annotated bibliography

Tuesday 13 November

Read: Mansfield 111 – 118; re-read your own essays from class so far
Writing: One-page assessment of your own essays from class so far

Thursday 15 November


Tuesday 20 November

Read: Mansfield 119 -131 AND 133 – 151; electronic assignment TBA

Thursday 22 November


Tuesday 27 November

NO CLASS: Online conferences as you work on your research; you must contact me via e-mail with a status update on your research project and meet at least once with your presentation group

Thursday 29 November

Research Project Group Presentations as scheduled in class

Tuesday 4 December

Research Project Group Presentations as scheduled in class

Thursday 6 December

Read: Mansfield 153 – 168; select one of your essays to revise and bring TWO CLEAN COPIES of it to class to exchange with peers
Writing: One-page response to Mansfield

Tuesday 11 December

Read: Two essays by peers
Write: A letter to each author

Thursday 13 December

Read: Your essay & responses
Write: A good revision of your selected essay for Essay #5 (final)

Final Exam Day

Final Portfolio due: Final Revised essay, one other graded piece of writing, and 2-page cover letter about your writing process and progress

About Academic Honesty

Here is some information on academic dishonesty from the University’s official policy:
Academic dishonesty is prohibited in all programs of the University.  Sanctions may be imposed on any student who has committed an act of academic dishonesty. Academic dishonesty includes but is not limited to:
Cheating - use, or attempted use, of trickery, artifice, deception, breach of confidence, fraud, or misrepresentation of one's academic work.
Fabrication - falsification or invention of any information or citation in any academic exercise.
Plagiarism - representing the words or ideas of another as one's own work in any academic exercise.
Facilitating dishonesty - helping or attempting to help another commit an act of academic dishonesty, including substituting for another in an examination, misrepresenting oneself, or allowing others to represent as their own one's papers, reports, or academic works.

Unintentional plagiarism is still plagiarism.  You must cite all sources that you use, including online sources.  Also, remember that “using” a source includes DIRECTLY QUOTING, PARAPHRASING, AND USING IDEAS from any source.  There is nothing wrong with “getting help” from other writers, just be sure to acknowledge it by using quotation marks or author/page citation appropriately.  Please take the time to give proper credit to the work of other authors.  It is a matter of respect – for yourself, for other authors, for your classmates, and for me.

I know that it is easy to find information and indeed whole papers on the internet.  You should know that it is also easy for me to find these sources.  If I suspect you’ve done this, I will take the time to find the source, and it is very likely that you will be caught.  Please don’t waste your time or mine by plagiarizing a paper.  If you’re having difficulty with a writing assignment, please talk to me before the day it is due.

The bottom line on plagiarism is, if you are caught plagiarizing on a paper for my course, you will receive an “F” for the entire course.  I’m quite serious about enforcing this plagiarism policy, and quite unsympathetic to any excuses for plagiarism.  It would be unwise to test me on this point. 

Some Advice:

Come to class prepared.  Bring your book, paper, and writing implements every day.  Bring a draft – a printed, readable copy – on days when writing is due.

Because there is writing due most days, you need to work hard to keep up with it.  Sometimes student schedules lead one to take some time off with the expectation of getting back to it later.  This is a very bad idea for this course especially, since the multiple drafts, in-class peer response, and comments from me will happen on a pretty tight timeline.  Falling a little bit behind in this class usually leads to falling WAY behind, and often, to very bad grades.  I urge you now – at the beginning of the semester – to set aside regular (ideally, daily) time to read and write for this course.  Developing good study habits now will serve you well as we get to the busiest time of the semester, when you have longer papers due for me, not to mention the lab reports, exams, and other obligations to all of your courses.

Save everything you write for this class.  When I collect a paper, I expect you to turn in all drafts, short assignments, and peer response work associated with this essay.  Practice good organization and save everything.

Back up your computer files by saving to a disk, burning a CD, saving to the University network, or another safe and secure source.  You can even e-mail papers to yourself.  Whatever you do, keep your backups up to date.  Computers break, get stolen, get locked in cars and dorm rooms, and are otherwise unreliable.  You are responsible for backing up your system.  Please do it.

College Writing Grading Standards
(borrowed and adapted from
The A paper (Superior)
The Superior paper is written far above the minimum standards I have outlined for the assignment.  It includes all the positive qualities of the B paper listed below.  In addition, it displays originality, imagination, vitality, and a personal voice for the author.  But the principal characteristic of the "A" paper is its rich content and analysis.  The quality, quantity, clarity, and density of the information delivered is such that the reader feels significantly taught by the author, sentence after sentence, paragraph after paragraph.  The "A" paper is also marked by stylistic finesse: the title and the opening are engaging; the transitions are artful and related to the argument of the paper, not mere window dressing; the phrasing is tight, fresh, and specific; the tone enhances the purpose of the paper.  Finally, the "A" paper shows a subtlety of logic that often escapes the more straightforward "B" paper; it makes strong claims while anticipating nuance, special circumstances, and irony.  The "A" paper, because of its careful organization and development, imparts a feeling of wholeness, clarity, and strength of argument.
The B paper (Good)
It is significantly more than competent.  Besides being almost free of mechanical errors, the "B" paper delivers substantial information--that is, substantial in both quantity and in relevance.  Its specific points are logically ordered, well-developed, and unified around a clear organizing principle that is apparent early in the paper. It has positive value that goes beyond the avoidance of error, but it lacks one or more qualities that would bring it close to perfection.  It may develop an idea fully and accurately but lack elements of originality.  It may have all the qualities of an A paper except naturalness of organization, or it may be marred by improper form, inappropriate style, or occasional obscurity.  Stylistically, the opening paragraph draws the reader; the closing paragraph is both conclusive and thematically related to the opening.  The transitions between paragraphs are, for the most part, smooth, the sentence structures varied.  The diction is more concise and precise than that of the "C" paper.  In general, a "B" paper offers substantial information with few distractions.  The B paper, then, is a complete paper in fulfilling the assignment, but lacks something in organization, clarity, richness of detail, quantity of information, or cleanness of style.
The C paper (Adequate):
It is generally competent but lacks intellectual rigor; it meets the assignment, has few mechanical errors and is reasonably well-organized and developed.  The actual information it delivers, however, seems thin and commonplace.  One reason for that impression is that the ideas are typically cast in the form of vague generalities--generalities in presentation of theory, experimental findings, or even application examples.  The paper may not be developed fully, its logic may be unconvincing or its organization, paragraphs, or sentences weak.  Stylistically, the "C" paper has other shortcomings: a weak opening paragraph, a perfunctory conclusion, strained transitions, choppy and monotonous sentence patterns, and diction marred by repetition, redundancy, and imprecision.  Occasionally, a paper may rate an A or B in content and receive a C because of errors of form.  Just as often, a paper may be relatively correct in form, but its content may be uninspired or thin, thus warranting a grade no higher than C.
The D paper (Unsatisfactory):
This paper is largely faulty, often because of errors of form or mechanics, but it does not warrant complete disregard.  It may contain little or no content, it may simply restate arbitrarily selected material from the sources, or it may lack coherent organization.  It does, however, have some saving graces: a spark of originality, an important argument buried in incoherent syntax, some mastery of sentence skills, or a relative grasp of organization.
The F paper (Not acceptable):
Its treatment of the subject is superficial; its theme lacks discernible organization; its prose is garbled or lacking in clarity or style.  Mechanical errors are frequent.  In short, the ideas, organization, and style fall far short of acceptable college writing.