use critical thinking to analyze, synthesize and evaluate ideas.

Course Description

This course will help you write prose that is clear and informative.  Clear thinking is the first step in reaching this goal.  The class discussions, quizzes, and essay assignments have been especially designed to develop your critical thinking skills in this regard.

Another key ingredient in the ability to write strong prose is active reading.  You must be able to take apart a piece of writing and analyze it on an abstract level.  Leonardo da Vinci would never have been able to paint his Mona Lisa if he hadn’t done his homework about human anatomy.  The same goes for each of you–except you will be studying the flesh, blood, and bones of written prose.  This active form of reading will help you when it comes time to do a little creating of your own on the printed page.

Average Workload Per Week

The average week in WR 122 will involve about 10-15 minutes per day of outside readings or watching video documentaries.  There are only three essays.  The first is a minimum of 2.5 pages long, the second is 3.5 pages long, and the third is 4.5 pages long.

Instructional Approach

This course is arranged chronologically and employs a modular design. Each week, students should complete all assignments listed in that week’s lesson module. These modules can be accessed by clicking the “Learning Modules” folder on the Course Menu.

Due dates for each week’s assignments will be listed in the Course Calendar  link which is available on the Course Menu.  All submissions will by due by midnight on the date specified.  Assignments within the modules may direct students to use many of the tools contained in Blackboard, including the Assignment dropbox, Discussion Board, and Quizzes. These tools will be accessible both from within the weekly learning modules, as well as from the Course Menu.

Communication Guidelines

Communicate by using the Blackboard e-mail system which can be accessed from the Course Menu. You can use Blackboard e-mail to send a private e-mail to your instructor and/or classmates. I will be checking email in Blackboard daily on weekdays. E-mail sent on weekdays will be answered within 48 hours. E-mail sent over the weekend will be answered the following Monday.

If your question or comment would be of interest to other students, please post it to the corresponding weekly Discussions area or Chat board. This way other participants can help answer questions, and all participants will benefit from the answers. Your first communication assignment is to introduce yourself in the discussion topic “Introductions.”

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the term, you should be able to use critical thinking to analyze, synthesize and evaluate ideas.  Your essays and compositions will demonstrate whether or not you have achieved this goal.

Learning yow to write is not always a clean orderly activity.  A blank page is always cleaner than one filled with ink  Messes will be encouraged in this course, so long as they are not created out of carelessness or a lack of effort.  Mistakes are a part of every good writer’s learning process.  Much of the knowledge you gain will come from revising, editing, and proofreading your work.

If you successfully complete this course with a C or better, you should have learned how to do the following:

1.  Write essays that   

•: are part of a process of inquiry—a means of discovering new ideas and new ways of thinking

•: have a clear purpose and a controlling central idea

•: are organized coherently and purposefully

•: use voice, language and structure to respond to different rhetorical situations

•: integrate multiple points of view and distinguish your own voice(s) from others’

•: are part of a recursive and social process that involves multiple drafts and being able to articulate constructive critiques of your own and others’ writing through peer workshops and conferences

•: meet a minimum word count as specified for each assignment

•: use the conventions of standard academic English and the guidelines of MLA documentation

2. Read a variety of challenging texts and in the process   

•: write a summary and analysis of a published article that identifies central ideas and supporting points

•: interact with texts through response, discussion and notes to arrive at a developed understanding of an article’s rhetorical strategies and reasoning

•: interpret and analyze concepts, knowledge, and evidence from other writers as a means of developing your own writing

•: use a variety of library and multi-media resources to locate, evaluate and interpret different sources of information

3. Engage in critical thinking that

•: reexamines received ideas and cultural frames of reference

•: is at once open and skeptical, receptive to new ideas, and yet careful to test them against previous experience and knowledge

•: probes what we know and what we are taught for underlying assumptions and contradictions

•: develops a perspective on the social construction of self and society

•: explores the role of language as a means of both shaping and challenging cultural frames of reference

•: demonstrates an ability to analyze historical precedents, hard evidence, and examples in conjunction with universal ethical standards that may transcend contemporary societal norms

Course Prerequisites

You should already have completed Writing 121 with a grade of “C” or higher.  If you have not, please contact me immediately via course email.

Required Texts

Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, by John Perkins (ISBN 978-0-452-28708-2) [REQUIRED]

From Critical Thinking to Argument, by Sylvan Barnet and Hugo Bedau. (ISBN 978-0-312-60161-4) Third Edition only. [REQUIRED]

Little Seagull Handbook, by Bullock and Weinberg. (ISBN 978-0-393-91151-0)  [REQUIRED]

A Pocket Style Manual, by Diana Hacker. (ISBN 978-0-312-66480-0) Fifth edition only. [Recommended]

Extra Credit [Optional]:  Read one book from the list of five possible choices in the extra credit part of the course:

  • Lolita by Nabokov (Only Part I is required for Lolita; the other books below require the entire books be read.)
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by Rowling
  • Dracula by Stoker
  • The Da Vinci Code by Brown
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Larsson
  • Brave New World by Huxley
  • Nineteen Eighty-Four by Orwell

Participation Expectations

You are expected to enter the course on a weekly basis to work on the lessons, check email, and participate in discussions. Prompt participation in discussions is especially important when group work is involved since others in your group are depending on your input. Each time you log into the course be sure to check for any new announcements, email and discussion messages, and calendar postings.

Activities, Assignment, and Assessments

During this term, you will be asked to participate in weekly discussions, submit peer reviews, compose essays, and complete quizzes

Evaluation of Assignments/
Assessments

Grades are based on your essays, peer review submissions, quizzes, and participation in class discussions. I will post grades within one week after the due date. Be sure to check the My Grades for individual scores and feedback.

Grading Criteria:

Activity Percentage Points each Total
Discussions (10) 10% 10 100
Quizzes (8) 8% 10 80
Peer Reviews (2) 15% 85 170
Essay1 18% 180 180
Essay2 22% 220 220
Essay3 25% 250 250
Extra Credit Essay (analysis of approved novels from a sociological perspective)

-or-

Extra credit Discussion and Quiz (about the US economy) for 20 points extra.

Students may not do both of these extra credit assignments–only one of them.

[9%]

[20]

[100]

[20]

[100]

[20]

Total 100% 1000

Grading Scale:

Letter Grade Total Final Percentage
A 900 – 1000
B 800 – 899
C 700 – 799
D 600 – 699
F < 600

Late Work & Make-up Policy

Assignments must be completed on time in order to earn full credit. (Late assignments will be graded upon the instructors discretion)

Name Changes

Kirk asks that you DO NOT ask other students to call you by any name other than what is in the system.  Likewise, please do not use any other name than what is in your gradebook when posting essays (with headers).  Sometimes Kirk prints out essays to grade by hand and he has no idea who you are if you use another name in the header than what is in the grade book.  Thank you for understanding.  For an online class in which people do not see your face, this method works much better and helps to avoid misunderstandings.

Instructor Availability

Generally speaking, the instructor will check e-mail and other assignments, such as participation in the discussions five days per week, normally Monday through Friday.  The instructor does not work seven days per week, and will not check e-mail on weekends, unless he will be taking his two days off in the middle of the week on that particular week.  Do not expect the instructor to check his e-mail on weekends.  If the instructor is home and not out of town, he will check e-mail on weekdays.  On most occasions, if the instructor will be gone for more than 24 hours during the week, he will post a “pop up” announcement to that effect.  If he does take his two days off in the middle of the week, he will check his e-mail during that particular weekend.

Turnaround Time on the Grading of Essays

The instructor generally returns essays within eleven days of the posting due date for a particular essay assignment, and sometimes his turnaround time is quite a bit faster than that.  He will not return essays within eleven days of when they were posted if they were posted early since he tends to wait until the due date and then grade the essays in batches, and not individually.  The instructor will not take longer than fourteen (14) days to return essays, although it is quite rare for him to take that long and it only happens in case of a personal emergency, such as an extended illness that prevents him from grading papers within his 7-11 day standard turnaround.

Comments and Feedback on Essays

The instructor tends to provide comments on the first essay with more of an eye on grammar and style, although he does follow the grading rubric precisely (see the table of contents in this folder).  On Essay Two, he focuses a little more on content and style, and will not always cite the precise reasons why the grammar portion of a student’s grade was docked if grammar is a problem–particularly if the student is not writing up to WR 90 standards, which emphasizes writing in complete sentences that are free of accidental fragments, comma splices and run-ons.  If a student obviously uses a fragment for dramatic effect, that is not a problem since this style is utilized in contemporary journalism, although it should not be overdone in any single essay.  When grading Essay Three, the instructor focuses primarily on the argument applied, and the soundness of the journalistic sources / hard evidence.

Comments about grammar and style frequently cite Hacker’s Pocket Style Manual for the student to “bone up” on academic concepts, such as comma splices or fragments.  If the student did not buy a copy of Hacker’s text, the instructor will not spend a great deal of time explaining the concepts that are explained in Hacker’s style guide.  He may ask the student to buy the textbook.  If a student does own a copy of the text and diligently reads it, trying to understand the concepts and still does not, he or she should feel free to ask the instructor about the concepts until he or she is fully satisfied that he or she understands them completely.

The instructor does not read through entire rough drafts before they are posted to be graded.  Essays One and Two can be rewritten, so this is the time for students to incorporate suggestions provided by the instructor in an attempt to earn a higher grade on an essay.  Students are welcome to ask specific questions about passages in any essay they are writing.  Questions about research, documentation, and content are also welcome.

Complaining about Course Theme: Not the Same Thing as Debating a Particular Point of View in a Discussion or an Essay

If a particular student lapses into “venting” about the course theme in a discussion or in an essay, that student will be asked to write the discussion or essay over again.  “Venting” will not be graded or evaluated.  Refuting a particular conspiracy theory through the use of hard evidence will be greatly valued.  It’s also fine, of course, to agree with the conspiracy theory under discussion.  Either way is fine, just so long as the student does not lapse into generalized statements about how he/she loathes politics, or can’t stand conspiracy theories in general.  This type of generalization will not help to forward the learning process for anyone.  Please see the section titled, “Disclaimer,” which appears at the bottom of the Table of Contents for the unit in which this syllabus appears, if you would like to read an in-depth clarification about the inappropriateness of “venting” about the course theme in assignments.  This said, any student should feel free to email the instructor about anything at all in the course that makes him or her feel uncomfortable.  That is entirely appropriate and certainly encouraged to help keep the learning environment vibrant and open.

Academic Integrity (rules about cheating, plagiarism, or sharing work)

Cheating is against Chemeketa policy. Cheating includes any attempt to defraud, deceive, or mislead the instructor in arriving at an honest grade assessment, and may include copying answers from other students or using unauthorized notes during tests. Plagiarism is a particular form of cheating that involves presenting as one’s own the ideas or work of another, and may include using other people’s ideas without proper attribution and submitting another person’s work as one’s own. Violations of the cheating policy will result in a grade of ‘0’ for the assignment in question, and may result in a failing grade for the course at the instructor’s discretion. For further information review the institution’s Academic Integrity Policy.

Students with Disabilities

Chemeketa is committed to supporting all students. If you plan to use academic accommodations for this course, please contact me as soon as possible to make arrangements. Accommodations are not retroactive, but begin when the instructor receives the OSD Approved Academic Accommodations form from the student (this form may be submitted via email). To request academic accommodations for a disability, please contact a counselor in the Disability Services Office in Building 2, Room 174.  This office is located on Chemeketa’s main campus.

 

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