English 102: College Writing and Research

English 102: College Writing and Research


English 102 Spring 2014 Course Description

College Writing and Research—English 102, Spring 2014

Section 077:Tu/Th 11:00-12:15, Merrill 211

Section 094: Tu/Th 12:30-1:45, AUP 104

Section 102: Tu/Th 2:00-3:15, AUP 104

Instructor: John MulvihillOffice hours: 10:00-10:45 Tu/Th in Curtin

Office: Curtin Hall, Rm. 516 516, and by appointmentafter 3:20

E-mail: Tu/Th

Above all, I believe that we must learn to think with the help of others, and through them to attempt to think for ourselves.

— Luc Ferry, A Brief History of Thought, 93

Important Info

Prerequisites: EPT score of 3 or above; a grade of C or better in English 101.

Student Accessibility Center (SAC): If you work with an advisor at the SAC, please bring your VISA statement to me within the first week of class. If you are concerned that you might have a learning disability, visit the SAC office in 112 Mitchell Hall.

Student Academic Misconduct Procedures

ESL Sections of English 102

If you grew up speaking a language other than English, you can be proud to know more than one language . You can also complete your English requirement AND strengthen your academic English by taking English as a Second Language (ESL) writing courses instead of writing courses designed for native speakers of English. For more information, contact Cathy Kaye, ESL Writing Course Coordinator: Curtin 678, 229-6180, .

Required Texts and Materials

• Lester and Lester, The Essential Guide: Research Writing Across the Disciplines, 6th ed.

• Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkenstein, They Say/I Say, 2nd ed.

Student’s Guide to the First-Year Writing Program at UWM, 2013-14 edition

• Other readings as assigned

• Loose-leaf paper for class notes and in-class writing

• Folder to hold your writing assignments and drafts throughout the semester.

• Laptop that you can bring to class.

You will need to purchase the Student’s Guide at the University Bookstore.There are also copies ofThe Essential Guide and They Say/I Say at the University Bookstore. However, the bookstore never orders as many copies of a text as there are students registered for a course, figuring that many of you will purchase textselsewhere (such as from an online bookseller). So, check the bookstore first; but you may have to purchase The Essential Guide and They Say/I Say somewhere else. You will need these texts early in the semester; so purchase or order now.

You will also need continual access to a computer and be prepared to print off and make copies of numerous documents.If you do not own a laptop, you can borrow one for four hours or longer from the Media & Reserve Library desk in the lower level of the west wing of the library.


English 102 introduces students to college research and writing and the particular types of inquiry and critical thinking associated with this type of work. This course will help you make the move from being passive consumers of knowledge to active producers of it. You will learn how to enter into dialogue with the ideas and work of others, contribute to that dialogue, and expand your own reading, writing, and thinking processes.

In this course, we will be reading published academic (scholarly) texts with an eye toward exploring how other writers employ research, write rhetorically, and add to various bodies of knowledge through their intellectual work. As we learn how to do this, you will embark on your own project where you too will engage in similar “critical inquiry.”

But you will also be reading and using nonacademic texts: popular magazines, newspapers, organization websites, even blogs—recognizing the appropriate use of these in the conversation you create in your research project.

The Topic/Theme

In many sections of English 102 there is little or no limitation on the subject of your research project. However, this is a “themed” section of English 102. The topic is, most broadly speaking, our relations with the physical environment: land, water, air, and wildlife. The examples used in this section of 102 will be environmental, and your project, if it is not wholly concerned with an environmental issue, must have some environmental aspect. Let me give some examples. A student might choose to investigate whether organic farming is truly less environmentally harmful than “factory” farming, or whether it was correct to allow the gray wolf to be hunted, or whether fracking can be done safely—these are wholly or largely environmental questions. But a student interested more in business might choose to investigate job outsourcing to developing countries—perhaps asking, is it ethical?—and include in that investigation the environmental impact of job outsourcing. Such a project would have only a small environmental component—perhaps a couple of paragraphs—but that would be enough.

The topic is increasingly relevant: human societies continue to make decisions that cause environmental damage, with consequences for their well-being—both physical well-being and economic. Consider, for example, President Obama’s words on climate change in his second inaugural address:

We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms. The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it. We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries — we must claim its promise. That is how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure — our forests and waterways; our croplands and snowcapped peaks. That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God. That's what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared.

Reading Together and Alone

In the first weeks of the semester we’ll work to understand the particular requirements of an English 102 research essay. Then you’ll practice finding sources, creating the all-important research question, and summarizing and analyzing sources.

For the last two-thirds of the course, you will be working on your own specific research project—with the condition that your research must be related to the course topic.

Critical Inquiry

Together, we will work to engage in what is called critical inquiry or critical research. That is, rather than being expected to learn a set of facts from reading about a subject, you will be expected to work, individually and collectively, to approach a text from various angles and to think and re-think the subject and ideas at hand. You will not only be identifying the main ideas of an author and summarizing them in your writing; you’ll also be questioning, critiquing, evaluating, commenting on, adding to, considering, and otherwise “adding value” to what has already been said. Think of it as a process of synthesis: You will be considering what someone has written by bringing to it the thinking of others on the subject, as well as your own experience and thinking, and end by producing something rather new—something that in some way differs from what other writers have said, but something you could not have produced without having read and considered and been provoked by those texts. That is, you will be producing ideas and arguments in relation to the ideas and arguments of others, just as those before you did.

The Topic and the Focus

This is not a course in which you learn socio-environmental history (though you will pick up something about that). It’s a course in which you learn research writing by researching a particular topic, a particular question. Here’s a capsule summary of what you will be doing in the research phase:

You will choose some environmental problem or issue or situation—global, national, regional, or local; past, current, or on the horizon; one with serious or even critical implications. You will research the problem, particularly how human choice played a role in causing it or worsening it, or might play a role in mitigating it, preventing it, and/or solving it. In the research essay itself you will frame the issue as a question and provide your readers a way of perceiving or understanding the problem by explaining howmultiple sources(interpreters and commentators) have framed the problem/issue/situation and perhaps its solution and by utilizing terms, concepts, frames, and questions drawn from our common reading and the additional reading you do individually.

There are thousands of possible research questions. For example:

• Is it worth spending the money to keep Asian carp out of Lake Michigan?

• Should all college campuses be made eco-friendly?

• Why did decision makers not anticipate the unintended consequences of China’s Three Gorges Dam?

• Do the benefits of using DDT in developing countries outweigh the risks?

You will be generating an equally complex question and not so much answering it as analyzing and critiquing what has been said about the issue in scholarly and non-scholarly sources.This is NOT your high school research paper, as we’ll discuss the first few class periods.

Readings and Writings

For the first two weeks we’ll be figuring out some of the differences between the research essay as you presently understand it and the research essay expected in English 102 (see the “goals and outcomes” listed on p. 7 of the Student’s Guide). We’ll go on to practice the various steps for a research project. I will also make available copies of some final research essays from previous sections of 102 for us to critique. And we’ll look at(anonymous) samples of student writings from this semester and past semesters.

Some students resist the idea that they can learn anything substantial from discussions of the writing of other students (as opposed to getting comments on their own writing). But in fact you can learn a great deal. Any teacher will tell you that he or she has learned more from teaching something than from being “taught” it. So when you consider the writing of your classmates, think of yourself as a teacher identifying for them what in the writing is good (and why, and good for what) and what doesn’t seem successful. In the process, you’ll absorb your own “teaching.” You will need to collect and keep all copies of papers distributed for class discussion, and you should make a habit of taking notes on discussions of them.

Instructor’s Role

I will be a facilitator, a coach, a resource, an advisor. My goal is to help you learn to do academic research as it is conceptualized by the UWM First-Year Writing Program and to pass this course.

In regard to class discussions in particular, I cannot guarantee their quality. I have had the experience of carrying out the exact same lesson plan in two different sections of a course (the same room even, one section meeting directly after the other) and having one discussion be lively, the other flat. So discussions will depend on what each of you can contribute, how well you can make the discussions work as collective attempts to interpret and learn about particular writings and readings and about writing and reading in general. Your responsibility—both to yourself and to others in the class—will be to participate as fully as you can in those attempts. During class meetings, you should therefore always be prepared to speak meaningfully about the issue under discussion.

Instructor’s and Classmates’ Comments

I will make comments on someof your writings and research paper drafts, comments that I hope will help you see where and how you are succeeding (or not) in exploring and communicating your ideas. I—and your classmates—will focus on helping you to consider how and why you have made sense of a text in a particular way. We’ll ask you questions; prompt you for elaboration; push you to ask more questions; tell you where we don’t understand something you’ve written; and tell you where we think your writing is working.


Old Habits, New Strategies

A previous version of the Student’s Guide stated that your first-year college writing experience “is an opportunity not only to build on but also to review and rethink your habitual strategies for writing.” The students who have the most difficulty in the first-year writing courses are commonly those who want UW composition courses to be the same as their previous English or writing courses. But they won’t be the same. So allow yourself to try new strategies. To say that you like your writing processes and strategies “just as they are” is not acceptable. You will be expected to critically self-examine not only your work but your writing processes in order to improve upon them.

The goals of the class are as follows:

• To review the close reading skills you developed in English 101 and thereby further develop your critical thinking and reading.

• To introduce you to the demands of college research writing

• To familiarize you with research methodology and practice

• To involve you in every aspect of the writing process: prewriting, drafting, revising, and editing

• To encourage you to provide effective feedback to others


A Student’s Guide to the First-Year Writing Program at UWM provides specific information and policies for the courses making up UWM’s first-year writing program, including English 102. You are responsible for becoming familiar with the policies described there. (See pp. 15-22.)

In addition to the policies presented in the Student’s Guide, I will provide you with specific policies on how your work for English 102 will be evaluated and how your grade for the course will be affected by absences and by missing and late work. For reasons that are explained below, you should plan to attend every class meeting,submit all work on time, and keep copies of your work for reference.


Because you will be doing a lot of course work during class time, in a collaborative or “workshop” setting, attending every scheduled class period is vital to the course. Students who miss class discussions find themselves at something of a loss during later discussions or for writing assignments.

• Administrative drop. Any student who does not attend the first week of class will be dropped from the course.

• You can fail because of absences.Because the class discussions contribute directly to your ability to respond effectively to the assignments, it is crucial that you attend all class meetings. As the Student’s Guide explains (pp. 15-16), UWM’s Composition Program has a strict attendance policy: If you miss more than the equivalent of two weeks of classes (e.g., more than four 75-minute classes), you will receive an F for the class and must repeat it (p. 15). I have no authority to make exceptions to this. There are no “excused” absences, only a fixed number of allowed absences. As the Student’s Guide explains, you should save your absences for “unavoidable and unexpected” occurrences—illness, accidents, religious observances, courtroom appearances, childcare emergencies, and the like.

• Tardiness.Being present for a class means being there for the entire scheduled class meeting time. I consider lateness and leaving early partial absences. Accumulated partial absences will count toward your absence limit. Generally speaking, a combination of three of these sorts of absences will equal one regular absence. If you are late, it is your responsibility to check with me after class to be sure you have been marked tardy and not absent. If you are unsure how many classes you have missed, you can always check with me.

• If you are absent, it is your responsibility to obtain the assignment that I distribute during that class period before the next class period, and to complete any work that is due the next class. You can obtain assignments on the course D2L site. Assignments and other documents handed out in class will be posted on the D2L course Web site before or soon after that class period.

• If you have to missclass, let me know. I will work with you in the event of an extended illness, but you must communicate with me.

• If you are absent, you will not be able to make up most of the work that we do in class.

• Keeping up through D2L.The D2L course website allows you to keep up with written assignments even when you cannot make it to class. Assignments and other documents will be posted on the course D2L site before or soon after that class period. I will look for your completed work in the course D2L Dropbox by the due day/time.

For other information on what happened in any class you missed, check the “Announcements” page of the course D2L site.

E-mail Account

You are expected to check your e-mail every day for class updates and individual and group messages. If your main e-mail account is one other than the UWM one, be sure to have your UWM e-mail automatically forwarded to your main account.

D2L (Desire2Learn)

The course D2L site is an essential part of this class. For help with using D2L, go to GetTechHelp.uwm.edu or call 229-4040.

(1) You will be able to access assignments and handouts for this course on our Desire2Learn (D2L) course website.

(2)You will be submitting assignments to D2L, unless otherwise instructed. This allows me to easily download your assignments and post samples and excerpts of samples back onto the site for you to then download and print copies of.When you submit an assignment to the D2L Dropbox, attach it in one of the following formats: .doc (Office 2003), .rtf (Rich Tex Format), or .docx (Office 2007). I cannot open and read documents in .odt or .pages format. But you can convert to .doc from those formats.