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Students in English 101 should be ready to begin a college-level writing course. Students are placed in English 101 if they have passed English 098, or if they achieve a minimum combined score of 10 on their initial writing placement test. Even with the homogeneity resulting from the placement program, there are likely to be considerable variations in the skills, experience, and needs of students in a typical class.
Some review of the basics of grammar, sentence structure, and paragraph development is usually essential for most students, yet they should also do the amount and kinds of academic essay writing appropriate to justify college credit. Those students who need additional practice or reinforcement of basic writing skills should be advised to make regular use of the Learning Laboratory.
English 101 aims to improve students' ability to think and analyze by engaging them intensively with texts. Emphasis is placed on using writing to develop a sustained line of thought in response to a substantive reading – a novel, short story, or nonfiction text. Students develop their ideas in informal writing and class discussion and then write interpretive essays.
Goals and Exit Criteria:
Just as the criteria for passing English 098 are directly related to the criteria for placement into English 101, so the criteria for passing English 101 are related to the expectations of instructors for students entering English 102.
To pass English 101, students’ writing should show the ability to meet all of the exit criteria for English 098 as well as the following:
1) organize and develop a substantial idea in several well-structured paragraphs;
2) use appropriate rhetorical development (description, narration, analysis, comparison, classification or persuasion) to structure ideas in an essay;
3) summarize in writing the content of an essay or article;
4) read an essay, article, or short story and develop a response to it, using support based both on personal observation as well as the text itself;
5) use a variety of sentence patterns, indicating a generally mature style;
6) use vocabulary that conveys meaning accurately and appropriately for a college student;
7) demonstrate the preceding strengths in a two-hour, text-based final exam written in class.
The Department of English requires a final essay examination in this course. Students in good standing who do not meet the exit criteria should receive a grade of MP (Making Progress) as they are likely to encounter difficulties in English 102 or other more advanced courses.
Helping Students to Meet Course Goals
In order for students to have sufficient practice, and for our composition course to be comparable to those at other colleges, students should be expected to write approximately 5,000 words during the semester – either ten 500-word essays or a combination of fewer such essays with other assignments of varying length. Revising or rewriting of assignments based on instructor comments and suggestions is expected.
Some writing should be done in class, perhaps two or three assignments. If the in-class writing is noticeably weaker, it may indicate either that the student is receiving help outside class, and/or that the student is a slow composer and is likely to have trouble with essay examinations or with career-related writing in the future. In cases where the in-class writing is poor, an instructor should be very cautious about assigning English 101 credit.
Surveys of the Department have found that there are almost as many variations of teaching methods as there are instructors. Approaches which include frequent, regular, productive contact between instructor and student emphasizing writing and improving writing are acceptable. Large-group, small-group, and individualized instruction can all work well as long as the students know what is expected of them and why. Instructors are required to construct syllabi which conform to the departmental requirements for the course.
Assistant Department Head
The College Writing course sequence includes English 101: English Composition I, English 102: English Composition II, and English 112: Report and Technical Writing. English 101 and English 102 are described in detail below.
English 112 introduces students to typical modes of workplace communication; topics include audience analysis, technical research and report writing, and Internet use. The course provides preparation for writing at the 200 level, while allowing students to continue to develop skills learned in English 101.
Only students who successfully complete English 101 go on to English 102, a course required by most curricula in the College. Exceptions occur only for those pursuing certain technology or certificate curricula that require English 112 or have no further English requirements.
The main difference between English 101 and English 102 is that writing in the latter course is expected to include analysis of secondary source material as well as primary texts, whereas English 101 students write about their own ideas in response to ideas presented by other writers. Students in English 102 are expected to continue to improve their writing skills while producing longer papers which require them to evaluate what they have read and to incorporate information from secondary sources into a coherent whole.
Papers should aim for analysis and construction of arguments. Areas of instruction include understanding and analyzing reading material, using summary, paraphrasing, and direct quotations in writing, outlining, using bibliographies and note cards, and documenting sources and preparing a bibliography. Emphasis is placed on the skills needed to locate and use research materials.
Writing assignments may consist of a single sequence building to one research paper or a number of shorter assignments of varying types and length. The total quantity of writing should be about 5,000 words per semester. Satisfactory writing and completion of a research paper (long or short), whose production is monitored by the instructor at various stages, is expected.
Specific reading and writing assignments in English 102 may vary considerably from one instructor to another. Reading may include literature or non-fiction or both. Instructors may choose one overriding theme for the whole course and focus on aspects of that theme throughout the semester.
Care needs to be taken to explain plagiarism and how to avoid it by careful use of research procedures. Plagiarism may be unconscious, the result of the inability to write a proper paraphrase, rather than the deliberate attempt to represent someone else's work as one's own. A statement on plagiarism, explaining the College’s policy, appears on page 36.
To pass English 102, students’ research paper and preliminary writing assignments should show the ability to do all of the preceding as well as the following:
1) Produce academic papers that show good development of thought and ample support for the argument presented in the thesis;
2) Master research formats, such as title page, outline, annotations, bibliographic formats, note cards and bibliographic cards;
3) Meet the instructor’s standards in finding, organizing, and presenting formal research, using either MLA or APA documentary style, culminating in a ten to fifteen-page research paper.