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Learning Objectives and Course Description
WRIT 111: Coming to Voice fulfills a Joint (J) General Education requirement in Composition (C) and Oral Communication (O). The course is designed to help first-year students become stronger writers, speakers, and critical thinkers through featuring assignments that allow students to explore their personal, civic, and academic interests, particularly on salient issues in contemporary society.
WRIT 111 requires students to engage in different genres for a range of audiences. It treats writing as a process, emphasizes revision, and gives students practice in critical thinking and researched writing, reinforcing the notion that writing conventions differ according to their rhetorical situations. The course's emphasis on civic discourse is in keeping with one of Binghamton University's central missions: to help nurture in students a sense of responsibility for adding their voices to important public conversations.
On many days, the class is conducted in seminar format, which means that students will engage in discussions about reading, writing, and speaking assignments and examine the rhetorical strategies used to persuade audiences. Classes raise questions, pose problems, interpret readings, challenge one another's ideas, and develop strategies for successfully completing assignments. Many class sessions include small group activities, including peer review, conferencing, drafting, and editing. Although there are mini-lectures on a variety of writing-related topics, classes spend the majority of class time engaging in collaborative discussions and activities.
This course uses a portfolio system, which means that throughout the semester students will turn in polished drafts of writing assignments for both peer review and instructor commentary, but will not receive formal grades until the end of the semester, when they submit a course portfolio showcasing their very best work. The portfolio system ensures that students have plenty of time to get feedback on, re-imagine, revise, and polish their writing. In short, it gives students the opportunity to strive for excellence. Instructor comments on early drafts may include a good faith estimate of the potential grade of a draft in progress, but such comments have absolutely no bearing on the grade students receive on their course portfolio. Instead, teachers grade portfolios holistically based on the quality of the work submitted at the end of the semester.
Binghamton Writes: A Journal First-Year Writing. 3rd ed. Plymouth, MI: Hayden McNeil, 2011. Print.
Graff, Gerald, Cathy Birkenstein, and Russel Durst. "They Say, I Say" with Readings: The Moves that Matter in
Academic Writing. New York: Norton, 2009. Print.
Miller, Richard E. and Kurt Spellmeyer. The New Humanities Reader. Binghamton University 2011 3rd ed. Mason,
OH: Cengage, 2011. Print.
Ruszkiewicz, John J. How to Write Anything. Boston: Bedford, 2009. Print.
Personal Essay: This assignment asks students to write an essay that considers the relationship between a memorable aspect of their personal experience and its broader political, social, cultural, educational significance. The experience can be common, intense, tragic, or even humorous, but it must also reveal its relationship to the way we negotiate our lives, our political beliefs, or our roles in society.
Opposite Editorial (Op-Ed): This assignment asks students to respond to a public issue in the form of an Opposite Editorial. Unlike an editorial, which represents the collective views of a newspaper's staff, an Op-Ed represents the views of the writer alone. Engaged citizens write Op-Eds to give their viewpoints public expression.
Researched Argument: Building on earlier assignments, the Researched Argument asks students to collect different kinds of research on a social, cultural, or disciplinary issue that interests them.
Course Portfolio: For the course portfolio, students will comprehensively revise and resubmit the three essays they have written in this course.
Rhetorical Analysis Presentation: A Rhetorical Analysis asks students to examine the strategies of persuasion within a text, analyzing and assessing the techniques used, reading the text closely, making strong claims about it, and mining the text for evidence of support. For this assignment, students will divide into small groups, engage in rhetorical analysis of an essay from The New Humanities Reader, and present it to the class.
Research Presentation: For this assignment, students will create an individual oral presentation to introduce the class and the instructor to their Researched argument, establishing what has already been written and said on the issue explored, and adding their interpretations and perspectives to the conversation.
FEEDBACK AND GRADING:
Classroom Participation and Oral Presentations
Classroom participation and oral presentations make up 20% of students' course grades and are holistically evaluated by the course instructor based on appropriate participation guidelines, which include: the quality and consistency of contributions to class discussions and activities, timely and satisfactory engagement in and completion of assignments and readings, and the quality of oral presentations. One's classroom participation and oral presentations grade is also influenced by factors such as consistent attendance—students can't do well if they don't show up regularly.
Portfolio Team Grading
Course portfolios are evaluated by the classroom instructor and at least one additional WRIT 111 instructor. If these two instructors do not agree on the same letter grade, then a third instructor evaluates the portfolio and helps the team come to consensus on a grade. The team grading system brings instructors together for productive small-group discussions of teaching and grading throughout the term, allows instructors to coach students as they draft and revise their writing, and ensures that the grades students receive are representative of the common grading standards endorsed by the First-Year Writing program as a whole. Instructors meet weekly to discuss teaching and grading and report these discussions back to their students. In turn, students are better prepared to revise their work for the course portfolio.
At the end of the semester, students submit a course portfolio, which includes revised versions of their writing. Course portfolios are graded with a simple letter grade: A, B, C, or D (Fs are reserved for students who miss too many classes, do not fulfill assignment guidelines, do not submit all drafts, do not submit course portfolios on time, or engage in plagiarism.). Classroom instructors then adjust students' portfolio letter grades with a plus, minus, or no adjustment to reflect students' engagement in the course. The course portfolio grade—the grade agreed upon by at least two instructors—constitutes 80% of the course grade.
Last Updated: 10/10/11