English Department ENG 112

Appendix B:    Course Description for ENG 112 (Writing Arguments)

Note: This ENG 112 course description shows one way course objectives and requirements might be achieved. Instructors teaching ENG 112 will collectively determine a range of suitable texts, assignment sequences, and teaching goals for all course sections. In keeping with the Liberal Education Program's commitment to ongoing and evolving assessment, norming sessions and portfolio assessments will be used to revisit and adjust those decisions each semester.

I.    Catalog Description:   
ENG 112: Writing Arguments. Development of critical reading and writing skills with a focus on intellectually demanding texts. Emphasis on source-based argument writing. By assignment only. Prerequisite: ENG 110 or placement exam. 3 credits

II.    Purpose
ENG 112 fulfills the Liberal Education Program (LEP) Tier 1 Written Communication competency requirement. ENG 112 is a prerequisite for all "W" courses; it is a pre- or co-requisite for all other Tier 2 courses. 

ENG 112 is a second-semester, 3-credit course that draws on the skills students develop in their LEP Tier 1 First-Year Experience (FYE) and Critical Thinking courses. Students in ENG 112 analyze complex arguments that represent multiple points of view on a themed topic and then write several different types of sophisticated arguments that reflect the conventions of inquiry, claim and support, academic honesty, and correctness practiced by academic  readers and writers.
The required competency demonstration is satisfied by an end-of-semester portfolio assessment; students practice regular peer and self-assessment throughout the course to prepare them for the portfolio assessment and to prepare them to accurately assess their own work in future courses. Artifacts from the ENG 112 portfolio will be suitable for inclusion in the Tier 1 portion of the proposed electronic portfolio all students will maintain while completing Tiers 1-3 of the LEP. 

Together, ENG 112, FYE, and Critical Thinking provide first-year students a Tier 1 curriculum in academic argument writing, academic inquiry, and critical thinking that fosters the broad interdisciplinary aims of the LEP and the specific departmental aims of English and the Composition Program.

III.    Key Elements
The purpose of the Written Communication Competency is to provide students the tools to comprehend what they read, to discover new ideas, to refine their thinking, and to express their thoughts cogently in writing. In our contemporary society, the capacity to grapple with complex thoughts and to communicate effectively in written form is of ever-increasing importance to the students' personal, professional, academic, and public lives.
This course meets all of the Key Elements for a Tier 1 course in Written Communication by building student competencies in

A. Argument Comprehension.  Summarizing and analyzing sophisticated texts by evaluating evidence and the validity of author's claims.
B. Argument Construction. Making a coherent written argument that gives background information, presents a reasonable claim, and uses a range of evidence to support the claim.
C. Academic Honesty. Avoiding plagiarism by properly using primary and secondary sources, including paraphrase, summary, and accurate citations (in an appropriate citation style). 
D. Audience Awareness. Using the conventions of multiple genres to communicate effectively with particular audiences.
E. Correctness. Demonstrating control over Standard English language usage (grammar, spelling, tone, style, semantics, and syntax) and revising for accuracy, clarity, and depth.

ENG 112 asks students to demonstrate their ability to use multi-stage reading and writing processes in order to analyze and construct sophisticated written arguments in several genres that abide by the conventions of claim formation and support, academic honesty, and correctness practiced by academic readers and writers.

IV.     Sample Syllabus
A.    Learning Goals and Outcomes
Like most rhetoric and composition programs in the US, the SCSU Composition Program has adapted learning goals and objectives for its first-year courses from the Outcomes Statement for First-Year Students jointly authored by the Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC) and the Council of Writing Program Administrators (WPA). 

The CCCC/WPA Outcomes Statement for First-Year Students organizes first-year composition course learning goals and outcomes into the following categories:

1. Rhetorical Knowledge
2. Critical Thinking, Reading, Writing
3. Writing Processes and
4. Writing Conventions

English 112 learning goals and outcomes align with LEP Tier 1 Key Elements of Written Communication Competency, Creative Thinking Embedded Competency, Creative Drive Area of Knowledge and Experience, and Rational Thought Discussion of Values.

1.    Rhetorical Knowledge
•    ability to apply rhetorical concepts such as audience, situation, purpose, genre, appeals, claims, and support to comprehend and evaluate a piece of writing
•    ability to use appropriate voice and tone for audience and purpose
•    ability to use appropriate conventions of format, structure, and language for audience and purpose
•    ability to recognize and join ongoing academic conversations

2.     Critical Thinking, Reading, and Writing
•    ability to identify rhetorical concepts such as audience, situation, purpose, genre, appeals, claims, and support
•    ability to interpret, evaluate, and incorporate outside texts
•    ability to develop own point of view in relation to others
•    ability to engage in question-driven inquiry
•    ability to use writing as a way of thinking through ideas & discovering own point of view
•    ability to evaluate own strengths and weaknesses

3.     Processes
•    ability to engage with a substantial number of texts
•    ability to propose, plan, and undertake source-based Writing Arguments that involves multiple tasks and drafts
•    ability to use reference materials and student/instructor feedback to revise writing

4.     Conventions
•    ability to meet audience expectations for organization and support for claims
•    ability to effectively integrate sources into their writing
•    ability to avoid plagiarism
•    ability to use standard English grammar and mechanics
•    ability to correctly use MLA documentation style

B.    Assessment
Instructors should include a variety of reading and writing assignments supported by classroom instruction such as:

•    Write-to-learn exercises that ask students to analyze the rhetorical elements of arguments, critically examine multiple authors/points of view, develop their own points of view in relation to other writers, reflect on their own writing process, and evaluate strengths and weaknesses of their own and their peers' writing
•    A sequence of 3 different types of source-based argument essays: i.e., arguments of fact, definition arguments, evaluation arguments, causal arguments, humorous arguments, or proposals
•    ENG 112 Self-Evaluation Essay as the final essay of the 3-essay sequence
•    20-25 pages of revised, polished, write-to-communicate argument writing, including self-evaluation writing (Self-Evaluation Essay assignment and rubric attached)
•    150-250 pages of reading (including student essays, textbook readings providing writing instruction, and 4-6 core texts on a common theme that represent an active academic conversation across multiple genres and disciplines)

C.    Sample Syllabus
In this sample syllabus instruction in writing arguments is provided via Andrea A. Lunsford and John J. Ruskiewicz, Everything's An Argument, 5th ed. New York/Bedford St. Martin's, 2010. Suggested topics appear below.

Instructors may use this or similar materials to provide explicit writing instruction in multiple genres of and rhetorical principals of writing arguments. 

In this sample syllabus the core texts represent an active multigenre, multidisciplinary academic conversation concerning the theme of food; the authors introduce lines of inquiry and arguments about 

•    the ethical and health implications of current means of food production and distribution
•    the origins and implications of western cultural beliefs about the body in relationship to food
•    the history and implications of labor practices in the US food industry   
Instructors may use this or similar theme and materials or develop alternative themes and materials that  allow instructors and students to develop several related lines of inquiry that both draw on students' interdisciplinary interests and extend their ability to analyze, understand, and join academic conversations in writing.

D.    Sample Course Schedule
Week 1
Core text #1: excerpt from Michael Pollan, The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals. New York, Penguin, 2007.
Purposes of Argument
Occasions for Argument
Kinds of Arguments
Audiences for Arguments
Appealing to Audiences
Arguments Based on Emotion: Pathos
Arguments Based on Character: Ethos
Arguments Based on Facts and Reason: Logos
Faculty development: a beginning of semester goal-setting session based on the results of the previous semester's portfolio assessment, a beginning of semester faculty development workshop, and a  beginning of semester norming session

Week 2
Core text #2: Robert Kenner, dir. Food, Inc. Magnolia Home Entertainment, 2009.
Rhetorical Analysis
Academic Arguments


Week 3
Core text #3: excerpt from Susan Bordo, Unbearable Weight: Feminism, Western Culture, and the Body. 2nd ed. Berkeley: U. of Calif. P, 2004.
Composing a Brief Rhetorical Analysis
Understanding the Purpose and Audience of Arguments You Analyze
Examining Appeals to Pathos, Ethos, and Logos
Examining Arrangement and Media in Arguments
Examining Style in Arguments

Week 4
Composing A Causal Argument Essay
Understanding and Categorizing Causal Arguments
Formulating and Developing Claims

Week 5
Composing a Causal Argument Essay
Causal Claims and Academic Argument
Drafting and Revising Causal Arguments

Week 6
Core text #4: excerpt from Barbara Kingsolver, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life. New York: Harper Perennial, 2008.
Workshop/Peer Review: Causal Arguments


Week 7
Composing a Proposal Argument Essay
Understanding and Categorizing Proposals
Developing Proposals
Faculty Development: midterm norming session

Week 8
Composing a Proposal Argument Essay
Proposals and Academic Argument
Drafting and Revising Proposal Arguments

Week 9
Core text #5: excerpt from Anthony Bourdain, The Nasty Bits: Collected Varietal Cuts, Useable Trim, Scraps, and Bone. New York: Bloomsbury USA, 2006.
 Workshop/Peer Review: Proposal Arguments

Week 10
Core text #6: excerpt from Eric Schlosser, Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal. New York: Harper Perennial, 2005.
Revising Causal and Proposal Arguments for the Final Portfolio
What Counts as Evidence
Evidence and the Rhetorical Situation
Using Evidence Effectively

Week 11
Revising Causal and Proposal Arguments for the Final Portfolio
Intellectual Property, Academic Integrity, and Avoiding Plagiarism
Documenting Sources: MLA Style

Week 12
Composing a Self-Evaluation Argument Essay
Understanding and Categorizing Evaluations
Evaluations and Academic Argument

Week 13
Composing a Self-Evaluation Argument Essay
Developing an Evaluation Argument
Criteria for Self-Evaluation: ENG 112 Goals and Objectives

Week 14
Workshop/Peer Review: Self-Evaluation Argument

Week 15
ENG 112 Final Portfolio Assessment and post-assessment discussion