Approved by Faculty Senate.

University Studies Course Approval

 

 

Department or Program English
Course Number 211
Semester Hours 3
Frequency of Offering every year
Course Title Writing in Communities
Catalog Description The study and practice of writing as a means of participation in a diverse, democratic, and literate society. Development of students’ ability to understand and use writing as a means of ethical decision-making, community activism, and civic collaboration. Offered yearly. Prerequisite: English 111.
This is an existing course previously approved by A2C2: No
This is a new course proposal: Yes
(If this is a new course proposal, the WSU Curriculum Approval Form must also be completed as in the process prescribed by WSU Regulation 3-4) see attached
Proposal Category: Unity & Diversity/Contemporary Citizenship
Departmental Contact: J Paul Johnson, Associate Professor
Email Address: pjohnson@winona.edu

 

 

 

English 211

Writing in Communities — 3 s.h.

A University Studies Contemporary Citizenship Course

Proposal and Rationale

Catalog Description

The study and practice of writing as a means of participation in a diverse, democratic, and literate society. Development of students’ ability to understand and use writing as a means of ethical decision-making, community activism, and civic collaboration. Offered yearly. Prerequisite: English 111.

 

General Course Information

English 211 is an elective course in the WSU University Studies Program. The program is designed to provide a broad base of skills and knowledge to equip students for informed, responsible citizenship in a changing world. The purpose of the Contemporary Citizenship requirement is to provide students with the ability to participate as effective citizens in a democratic, multicultural, and global society. Courses in this area will focus on developing the skills and knowledge base to enhance students’ ability to make effective decisions, pursue personal well-being, work collaboratively with others, and/or participate effectively in professional or civic responsibilities.

 

This course includes requirements and learning activities that promote students' abilities to...

  1. use critical thinking to analyze contemporary issues;
  2. demonstrate effective oral and/or written communication of ideas, informed opinions, and/or values;
  3. identify, find, and use tools of information science related to contemporary issues;
  4. demonstrate the ability to work effectively independently and/or in collaborative problem-solving groups; and
  5. participate actively (e.g., class discussion, volunteerism, etc.) in issues significant to citizenship
    in contemporary society.

 

Rationale

  1. Students will use critical thinking to analyze contemporary issues.
  2. Although this class borrows liberally from classical (as well as 20th-century) rhetoric in its approach to the study and practice of argumentation, the topics of analysis in English 211 are themselves contemporary—the rhetoric of public debate, the actions of local citizens, the dialogue of engaged citizenship, and the persuasive effects of advertising media. On a daily basis, students can be expected to make use of critical thinking approaches (evaluation, synthesis, causal analysis) to study, both in class and in writing projects, the rhetoric of contemporary issues. Through a carefully designed sequence of writing projects, students will develop their critical thinking activities as they analyze contemporary issues. Introductory assignments require careful description and narration of contemporary issues and dilemmas in the intellectual, political, and local community. Other assignments require students to evaluate the ethos, logos, and pathos of public documents for their rhetorical effects; to propose a plan of action in response to a local concern; to research and report on a local community concern; and to argue, in a public forum, an informed position on a contemporary issue. Supporting classroom activities will engage students, on a daily basis, in a variety of activities, both written and oral, to support the development of critical thinking abilities: for example, draft workshops will engage students in the careful rhetorical critique of colleagues’ work, and journal exercises will provide opportunities for students to practice different means and methods of argumentation.

  3. Students will demonstrate effective written communication of ideas, informed opinions, and values.
  4. Central to the missions of the USP and the Department of English alike is the effectiveness of written communication, and this course provides multiple occasions for students to develop their abilities as they encounter complex rhetorical situations demanding carefully composed responses, and as they subject their work-in-progress to the critique of their instructor, colleagues, and other readers. As a writing course, English 211 demands effective written communication, with a series of writing projects designed to involve students in ethical, participatory, community activism. Both in class and in their writing, students will study the rhetorical structure of argument, evaluate arguments for their effectiveness, and critique their own arguments. Students will adapt the structure, content, and tone of their writing to the knowledge and attitudes of their audience. In the process of writing in different genres and for different audiences, students will practice these strategies for adapting their writing to varying rhetorical situations. Regardless of the situation, however, students will be expected to use vivid, concrete language; concise, varied sentences; unified, cohesive paragraphs; gender-inclusive English; and a college-level vocabulary. Students will further be expected to proofread, edit, and correct their final copy for common errors of spelling, punctuation, capitalization, and usage—especially in certain contexts that place an absolute premium on grammatical correctness.

  5. Students will identify, find, and use tools of information science related to contemporary issues.
  6. Successful citizenship demands a thorough knowledge base, and much of the work of this course will demand rigorous library and field research. The ability to find, locate, evaluate, and use information relevant to the subject matter is crucial to the community service writing project in particular. Students will use WebPALS (including the online catalog, ERIC, EAI, etc.) and other current databases (such as Lexis–Nexis, FirstSearch, J-Stor, Project MUSE, and Encyclopedia Britannica) for their research writing. To an equal extent, students will practice strategies for field research—interviews, direct observations, surveys, document review—and incorporate their material into writing for variety audiences. Some of the work for the course will demand accurate, purposeful use of MLA documentation format, though given the variety of rhetorical situations students encounter in the course, other systems and strategies for documenting source material will necessarily be used as well.

  7. Students will demonstrate the ability to work effectively independently and/or in collaborative problem-solving groups.
  8. Successful citizenship demands the ability to work both independently and collaboratively, and English 211 provides multiple occasions for guided work in both. Most writing for the course is done independently—though not in a vacuum—as students keep individual journals, compose individual papers, and reflect critically on their own written use of the language. However, as befits the social, participatory nature of the citizenship requirement, a major emphasis of the course is collaborative in nature. The major course project in "Writing for Communities" is a collaborative community-service project that includes (1) an extensive, collaboratively-researched and -authored report; (2) a collaboratively-produced public document with a clear message for a specific audience; and (3) an individually-composed public commentary on the subject, written for a specific publication. Although some of the work is completed individually, the success of the project (described in greater detail in the course syllabus) is dependent upon the ability to work effectively in a collaborative problem-solving group, one that must in turn collaborate effectively with others.

  9. Students will participate actively (e.g., class discussion, volunteerism, etc.) in issues significant to citizenship in contemporary society.

On a daily basis, students will engage in discussion of ethical, political, and sociolinguistic issues that are relevant to contemporary citizenship, and they will explore these issues both in class discussion and in informal writing activities. Although the scope of issues is indeed broad, the binding cement is the study of the written use of language in the public sphere. English 211 not only "discusses" contemporary citizenship, however: it practices contemporary citizenship, with students composing letters, opinion pieces, research reports, and public documents, all for consideration in the public sphere, where real readers are motivated by real concerns. The collaborative community service-project described both above and in the attached syllabus provides a significant, concentrated, extensive opportunity for active participation. As but one example, a group might (1) use field and library research to investigate the use and/or abuse of mind-altering drugs at youth "raves," composing a 15-page research report for all local community youth groups; (2) produce a series of "public-awareness" flyers for distribution in the schools; and (3) have individual group members compose public commentaries for publication in the local media.

 

English 211

Writing in Communities — 3 s.h.

A University Studies Unity & Diversity / Contemporary Citizenship Course

Sample Course Syllabus (will vary from instructor to instructor )

The study and practice of writing as a means of participation in a diverse, democratic, and literate society. Development of students’ ability to understand and use writing as a means of ethical decision-making, community activism, and civic collaboration. Offered yearly. Prerequisite: English 111.

 

General Course Information

English 211 is an elective course in the WSU University Studies Program. The program is designed to provide a broad base of skills and knowledge to equip students for informed, responsible citizenship in a changing world. The purpose of the Contemporary Citizenship requirement is to provide students with the ability to participate as effective citizens in a democratic, multicultural, and global society. Writing in Communities will focus on developing the skills and knowledge base to enhance students’ ability to make effective decisions, work collaboratively with others, and/or participate effectively in professional or civic responsibilities.

 

This course includes requirements and learning activities that promote students' abilities to...

  1. use critical thinking to analyze contemporary issues;
  2. demonstrate effective oral and/or written communication of ideas, informed opinions, and/or values;
  3. identify, find, and use tools of information science related to contemporary issues;
  4. demonstrate the ability to work effectively independently and/or in collaborative problem-solving groups; and
  5. participate actively (e.g., class discussion, volunteerism, etc.) in issues significant to citizenship
    in contemporary society.

 

As class requirements and activities are discussed and listed below, they will refer to objectives in the above list by letter. In addition, this course addresses the following English Department goals, including requirements and learning activities that promote students’ abilities to... bulletread critical texts, expository prose, and [other] types of writing that have frequently not been used in the curriculum of the major, including the writing of their fellow students. (Goal 4) bulletwrite in several modes and for different audiences and purposes, with an awareness of the social and critical implications these shifts raise. (Goal 5) bulletunderstand how their education translates into lives and careers outside the classroom, [particularly] … in social and ethical issues important to citizens of a changing world and democratic society. (Goal 6)

 

Texts and Supplies bulletrhetoric: Flower, Problem-Solving Strategies for Writing in College and Community bulletreaders: Ervin, Public Literacy; Escholz and Rosa, Language Awareness bullethandbook: Lunsford & Connors, EasyWriter (or equivalent)

 

Journals

The journal will be a collection of responses to readings and other short assignments, including many exercises, some of which students will complete in class. Writing in the journal need not be "polished" to earn credit, but it must be thoughtful. Its purpose is to help students achieve critical thinking as readers, flexibility as researchers, and fluency as writers (cf. outcomes a, b, c, d).

 

Major Writing Projects (may vary, but always include community service project)

  project description length due points
  a case study drawing primarily on field research, narrate a case study of an ethical dilemma in writing for a public audience (a, b) 1000 words week 3 10
  an evaluation of a public document using techniques of rhetorical analysis, evaluate a written public document for its ethical consideration and persuasive effect (a, b, c) 1000 words week 5 10
  an action letter address a letter to a public figure, agency, or forum articulating a plan for community action (a, b, c) 200-400 words week 7 10
  a collaboratively-authored research report with your colleagues (and in collaboration with a local agency), identify, research, and report on a community problem; the report should describe the problem in detail and with effective language, and it should offer one or more proposed plans for action (a, b, c, d, e) 5000 words week 10 25
  a collaboratively-authored public document with your colleagues, plan, design, and publish a document for public audiences, one which can be kept and revised by one or more local agencies (b, d, e) negotiable week 12 25
  a public commentary based on your research for the community project, compose a public commentary piece for a local, regional, or national media outlet (a, b, d, e) 500 words week 14 20

 

Conferences & Draft Workshops

Individual conferences and scheduled workshops will provide opportunities to receive structured, constructive feedback before work is evaluated. Classmates will read the work carefully and critically, responding to specific strategies, details, claims, and evidence. And either in conference or on revisions, instructor feedback will be aimed at helping each student rethink and revise for rhetorical effect (a, d).

 

Community Service Project

The major course project in "Writing in Communities" is a collaborative community-service project that includes (1) a collaboratively-researched and -authored report; (2) a collaboratively-produced public document with a clear message for a specific audience; and (3) an individually-composed public commentary on the subject, written for a specific publication. As one example, a group might (1) use field and library research to investigate the use and/or abuse of mind-altering drugs at youth "raves," composing a 15-page research report for all local community youth groups; (2) produce a series of "public-awareness" flyers for distribution in the schools; and (3) have individual group members compose public commentaries for publication in the local media (a, b, c, d, e).

 

Evaluation and Grading

Class participation will be evaluated by the following: bulletJournals: timely, purposeful, engaged completion of 100% of assigned journal entries (a, b, c, d) bulletPapers: complete, timely, purposeful, engaged submission of assigned drafts (a, b) bulletConferences and Workshops: active, tolerant, communicative, well-prepared participation (d) bulletPresentations and Participation: well-prepared, articulate, purposeful participation in class (e)

Student writing projects will be evaluated by the following:

bulleta developed ability to read use critical thinking strategies for comprehension, evaluation, & interpretation (a) bulletan ability to engage and persuade critical audiences in different rhetorical situations (b) bulletconvincing evidence of an ability to research thoroughly, to think critically and articulately (c) bulletsound arguments, unmarred by fallacies, implementing alternative points of view (a, b) bulletclearly-presented organizations, with consistently helpful cues: forecasts, transitions, summaries, etc. (b) bulletconcise, intelligent, qualified claims, supported with specific evidence from authoritative sources (a, b, c) bulletcorrect documentation in appropriate formats (c) bulletconsistently accurate, purposeful quotation and paraphrase — from library and field research sources (c, d) bulletefficient, varied sentences and rhetorically effective, accurate language (b) bulletcorrect, rhetorically effective use of punctuation, usage, & mechanics conventions (b) bulleta developed ability to achieve use writing as a means of participating in community service (e)