Syllabus & Policies

English 1120: Composition II
Science & Technology
Ideas that are Changing the World

Course Philosophy:

The purpose of English 1120 is to continue improving your skills as a writer so that you can succeed at all other writing endeavors throughout college and beyond.  Specifically, you will learn to think and write critically, argue with evidence, and conduct primary and secondary research.

The theme of this particular section of 1120 is: Science and Technology.
The sub-theme is: Big Ideas that are Changing the World.

This semester, we will investigate big ideas in science and technology that are changing the world and HOW and WHY these innovations are changing our environments, our living spaces, our bodies and minds. You will have a great deal of freedom in selecting the innovation or idea that interests you the most, therefore each of you will have a different subject based on your individual interests. Fascinated by gene therapy? Interested in video game technology? Always wondered about string theory, cloning, the potential for space travel, the future of the internal combustion engine? In this composition class, you will have the unique opportunity to investigate and argue about any science or technology idea of your choice– as long as it fits the following parameters:  The idea has to be recent (preferably developed no earlier than 1980), and has to be actively changing some aspect of the world (social, physical, emotional, financial…how we interact and communicate, how and where we live, our transportation, our minds, aging, etc.)  As you can see, the field of ideas is broad and deep and where you go is up to you.

Critical thinking equals good writing and therefore, we will attempt to improve both. Please remember that this class is a forum for the generation and respectful communication of ideas.  As a community of scholars, we will approach all readings and subjects, no matter how controversial, with an open mind and inquiring attitude.  We should strive for an atmosphere of respect in which everyone can and should feel comfortable expressing thoughts, opinions, and ideas.  Most likely, you will encounter readings and assignments in this class that challenge you and your perceptions of others or particular situations.  Effectively responding to those challenges will help you grow as citizens and as writers, so I hope that you embrace the opportunity.

For departmental goals and objectives, please see the English 1120 Guidelines online.

Text and Materials:

–          They Say, I Say: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing. Additional handouts will be provided in class or posted on Canvas.

–          A writer’s reference such as Easy Writer

–          A good college dictionary

–          Access to a computer with internet access

–          pens, paper, stapler

–          A flash drive to save computer files, if necessary. I also recommend using to save papers and assignments


Each major paper will come with a grading sheet.  Grading sheets are changed for each paper to reflect whatever part of the writing process we have been working on in that particular unit.  To complete this course (which means earning a grade of C or better), you must attend class regularly, complete all assignments on time, prepare for class, and participate in class and project activities.  You will not receive a passing grade in this course if you do not turn in ALL the major papers. This is departmental policy. Papers turned in late will lose one letter grade per day (not class period) unless you have arranged for an extension.  Extensions must be arranged with me at least two class periods before the assignment is due.  I will not give out any last minute extensions.

Once a final draft is turned in, the project/paper is completed– there will not be any opportunities for a re-write.

If you feel that your paper deserves a grade other than the one given to you, you will need to make an appointment outside of class to talk to me.

Each project/paper will be assigned a letter grade that will correspond to the following scale:

A 90-100

B 80-89

C 70-79

D 60-69

F 0-59

Your final grade will be determined as follows:

Class/writing community participation 10%

Essay #1: Evaluation of an Argument (900-1200 words) 10%

Essay #2: Comparison/Contrast of Two Sources (1200-1500 words) 20%

Essay #3: Argument Paper (1500-1800 words) 20%

Essay #4: Research Paper (2400-3600 words) 30%

Final essay 10%

If, at the end of this semester, you have earned a C in this class, it means you did what was minimally expected of you: came to all classes and did the work.  If you want a B or an A, you must not only come to all the classes and do all the work, but you must do the work exceptionally well. The rounding up of final grades is at my discretion– a 79.5% is not a B.

Class Participation:

In addition to major papers, you will have readings, homework assignments, and in-class activities that you are required to do.  These activities will contribute to your understanding of the given subject and your growth as a writer.  I do not grade students specifically on verbal in-class participation; however, not participating in these weekly activities will have a negative effect on your grade. Habitual use of cell phones, computers and other devices will negatively affect your participation grade.

Writing Communities:

During the second week of the semester the class will be divided into writing communities that will foster collaboration and assist you in idea generation and development, drafting, revising, and editing.  These communities will also collaborate on group projects and are expected to remain the same throughout the semester.


Please check your e-mail daily.  I will send many e-mails for various reasons.  If you e-mail me a question, I will generally respond within 24 hours, most of the time sooner.

Format for Projects/Papers:

All papers and writing assignments should be typed, double-spaced, on one side of the paper only, with 1” margins on all sides. Please use printer ink that produces copy dark enough to be easily legible.  Use Times New Roman and 12 point font size. Place your name, instructor, course number/section, and date in the upper left-hand corner of the first page. No separate title page should be used. Place your title above the text on page one, and double space above and beneath it. The title should not be underlined. Page one need not be numbered; all subsequent pages should be numbered in the upper right-hand corner. All papers must be stapled or paper clipped.


This is a writing course that involves many in-class discussions, activities, and group work.  If you are not here, you and your classmates will not benefit.  Therefore, you are expected to be in your seat, awake, prepared, and ready to begin the day’s work at the beginning of class. Attendance will be taken at the beginning of each class. During the semester you are permitted three (3) unexcused absences. Be advised that unexcused absences beyond the number three may result in a final grade of FA (failure due to absence) at my discretion.  This is departmental policy.  Any work missed or not turned in due to an unexcused absence will receive zero credit unless you have arranged for an extension ahead of time. Tardiness means you are 15 or more minutes late to class. Three tardies equals one unexcused absence. Additionally, if you fall asleep in class or arrive unprepared and unable to perform class requirements (talking, reading, writing), you may be given an unexcused absence at my discretion.  If you miss class for an excused absence, you are responsible for finding out what you missed, making up any missed work and obtaining materials and information from that class. Documentation for an excused absence must be turned-in to me within one week of your return to class.

Office Conferences:

Think of my office as an extension of the classroom and use my office hours to discuss any aspect of your reading or writing: problems, questions, papers you’re working on, ideas you wish to develop, strategies you’d like to try, and so on.  I am also available by appointment. During the course of this semester you are required to schedule at least two conferences with me. Missing a required conference will count as an unexcused absence.

Snacks and Technology:

Please be polite and respectful to your fellow students.  Drinks and snacks are fine as long as they don’t distract you or your classmates.  All electronic devices (iPod, Blackberry, cell phone, pager, beeper, etc.) must be silenced and kept out of sight during class.  Do not answer your phone, text message, or otherwise play with your electronic devices during class.  I reserve the right to either take away the device until the end of class, or ask you to leave for being disruptive.  If you are asked to leave class for being disruptive, it counts as one unexcused absence.


University policy pertaining to plagiarism can be found in the online guidelines and in the Tiger Cub. Whenever you decide to use a source other than yourself in your writing, remember that you must appropriately cite your sources, even if you are just writing about an idea that you got from another source. Plagiarism in any form—from receiving an unreasonable amount of assistance on papers such as having your mom or a friend edit or rewrite it, to outright stealing/borrowing/buying someone else’s work (words, phrases, or entire papers)—will not be tolerated.  Cheating and plagiarism are serious violations of the Student Academic Honesty Code (Title XII) and will be treated according to the procedures outlined in the Tiger Cub. Don’t cheat: your original thoughts and ideas are much more interesting anyway.

Withdrawal from the Course:
Following the University guidelines, students who wish to withdraw from a course with a grade of “W” can do so, without penalty, before mid-term.  After mid-term, students cannot drop a course unless exceptional circumstances exist, with the approval of the Dean and a signature from the instructor indicating whether the student was passing (“WP”) or failing (“WF”) the course.

Special Accommodations:

Any student who requires special accommodations due to a defined disability should obtain appropriate documentation and meet with me as soon as possible.  At this meeting, please bring a copy of your Accommodation Memo and an Instructor Verification Form.  If you do not have an Accommodation Memo but need accommodation, make an appointment with the Program for Students with Disabilities, 1244 Haley Center (334-844-2096).  All matters pertaining to your disability and accommodations will be handled in the strictest confidence.