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Dr. Mark Jordan ~ ENGL 1301: Composition & Rhetoric (Composition One)

Course Syllabus

NOTE: This syllabus is subject to change during the semester. Please check this syllabus on a regular basis for any updates. Changes will be announced.



English & Foreign Languages

Course Title


Composition I

Section Name


ENGL 1301.WB8

Start Date



End Date








Three credit hours

Instructor Information:

Name, Office : Dr. Mark W. Jordan, Wilkerson Hall #220

OC Email : mjordan@odessa.edu

OC Phone # : 432-335-6549


Course Description:

ENGL 1301 focuses on applying the essential principles and techniques needed to produce college-level writing. The course emphasizes using critical thinking to write organized and grammatically correct expository and persuasive essays using various modes and strategies; students will learn modes and strategies through class instruction and through the analysis of class readings. In ENGL 1301, students will gain a basic understanding of research and documentation techniques. Requirements include multiple essays, a final exam, collateral readings, and other assignments as determined by the instructor. A lab fee is required for ENGL 1301 (Word Processing). (ICOs 1, 2, 3, 5) Prerequisite: ENGL 0370 passed with a "C" or better or a satisfactory placement score.

Course Objectives (Learning Outcomes):

Upon successful completion of this course, students will

  • Demonstrate knowledge of individual and collaborative writing processes;
  • Read a variety of texts and reflect upon and respond critically to those texts;
  • Learn to write thesis driven essays, with clear internal organization governed by a series of controlled paragraph topic sentences;
  • Learn to develop ideas by moving logically in a body paragraph from the generalization of the topic sentence to more specific clarifications;
  • Learn to understand and appropriately apply modes of expression in written communication;
  • Learn to maintain a logical movement through an essay with control of transitions, clarifications, and reasonable conclusions to ideas;
  • Learn to analyze an audience to determine the best strategies for effectively communicating with that audience; 
  • Demonstrate an understanding of some basic research techniques and how to use library resources;
  • Demonstrate a knowledge of research documentation including quotation integration, proper citation, and some knowledge of bibliographic form;
  • Demonstrate competence in using Edited American English when articulating ideas in well-organized, lucid prose that exhibits the application of the aforementioned skills.

Expectations for Engagement Ė Online Learning:

To help make the web-based learning experience fulfilling and rewarding, the following Expectations for Engagement provide the parameters for reasonable engagement between students and instructors for the online learning environment. Students and instructors are welcome to exceed these requirements.

Reasonable Expectations of Engagement for Instructors

  1. As an instructor, I understand the importance of clear, timely communication with my students. In order to maintain sufficient communication, I will
    • Provide my contact information at the beginning of the syllabus;
    • Respond to all messages within 24 hours if received Monday through Thursday and within 48 hours if received Friday through Sunday; and,
    • Notify students of any extended times that I will be unavailable and provide them with alternative contact information (for me or for my supervisor) in case of emergencies during the time Iím unavailable.
  2. As an instructor, I understand that my students will work to the best of their abilities to fulfill the course requirements. In order to help them in this area, I will
    • Provide clear information about grading policies and assignment requirements in the course syllabus, and
    • Communicate any changes to assignments and/or to the course calendar to students as quickly as possible.
  3. As an instructor, I understand that I need to provide regular, timely feedback to students about their performance in the course. To keep students informed about their progress, I will
    • Post grades for discussion postings within one week of the discussion thread closing.
    • Provide grades for major assignments within 2 weeks of the due date or at least 3 days before the next major assignment is due, whichever comes first.

Reasonable Expectations of Engagement for Students

  1. As a student, I understand that I am responsible for keeping up with the course. To help with this, I will
    • Line up alternative computer and internet access in case my primary computer crashes or my internet service is unavailable;
    • Recognize that the college provides free wi-fi and computer labs during regular campus hours to help me with accessing my course; and,
    • Understand that my instructor does not have to accept my technical issues as a legitimate reason for late or missing work if my equipment or service is unreliable.
  2. As a student, I understand that it is my responsibility to communicate quickly with the instructor any issue or emergency that will impact my involvement with or performance in the class. This includes, but is not limited to
    • Getting "kicked off" of the system during tests or quizzes;
    • Having trouble submitting assignments; and
    • Dealing with a traumatic personal event.
  3. As a student, I understand that it is my responsibility to understand course material and requirements and to keep up with the course calendar. While my instructor is available for help and clarification, I will
    • Seek out help from my instructor and/or from tutors;
    • Ask questions if I donít understand; and,
      • Access my course several times during the week to keep up with assignments and announcements.

Instructorís Course Policies:

1.0     This course is not self-paced.  Although as with any web course, students have the freedom to work the course when their own schedule best allows, the boundaries to this freedom are the due dates for various minor assignments, tests, and essays.

2.0      Work submitted late for any reason may be penalized five points per weekday (or in shorter terms, ten points per weekday). Any exceptions are entirely at my discretion. Normally, no extension will be granted if the request is made after the assignment deadline has already passed, but must be requested no later than the day the assignment is due.

3.0      Major work (excluding the final exam) submitted over one week past the due date will normally receive no higher than an F (or lower, if incomplete). Daily work normally earns a zero after one week past the due date. No work is taken after semesterís end. Any exceptions in any case are at my sole discretion.

4.0      All assignments must be submitted in the required file format (normally Rich Text) via Blackboard. Any exceptions are at my sole discretion.

5.0      Any student missing the final exam normally receives a zero for the final exam grade. Depending on the studentís grade average, this will often result in failure of the entire course.

6.0      Plagiarism in any form is not allowed.  Please see the Plagiarism link, which is from my 1302 website but the information of which applies equally well to this course.  The penalty for flagrant, intentional plagiarism is an F for the course.  If I suspect a student of plagiarizing, if necessary I will insist that the student meet with me personally and defend his or her claim of authorship of the paper in question.  In the case of a student taking the course at a significant distance from Odessa College, I will require that student to arrange a telephone meeting, proctored by some authority who can ensure the student is actually the individual enrolled in the course.

Required Readings/Materials :

1.0 No textbook need be purchased for this course.  My website is the textbook: <http://www.odessa.edu/dept/english/mjordan/>

2.0 Some students may wish to buy a grammar handbook (optional; sold in bookstore)

3.0 Equipment and Supplies:  Every student must have daily extended access to a computer with Internet connection, web browser, email capability, file attaching capability, and word processing capability. Also useful is a USB drive or some alternative means of backing up important files such as essays, etc.

Course Requirements (Lectures, Assignments and Assessments):

1.0     Several major, multi-paragraph pieces of writing (60% of course grade; exact percentages depend on number of essays written).  Students will usually write five major essays prior to the final exam, which is an in-class essay.  All are to be written using the Three-Part Writing Format as taught in class.  Essays run in length from a minimum of 1000 words (about three pages, double-spaced) to a minimum of 1250 words, with greater development (detailed examples, etc.) resulting in higher grades, all else being equal.  Essays also focus on various different writing modes and/or writing purposes; additionally, at least one essay asks the student to learn and demonstrate basic research and documentation techniques.  Instructions for each essay are given in writing.

2.0     Error logs consist of sentence-by-sentence correction of grammatical errors I mark in your formal essays. I prefer to focus on grammar in this way, rather than using tests or exercises. Specific instructions on how to do these error logs can be found in the Errorlogs web link. These error logs, when combined with other minor assignments (e.g., peer critiques, partial drafts, etc.),will count 10% of your course grade. NOTE: During short terms, if Discussion Boards are not used, this element counts 20% of the course grade.

3.0     Various minor reading and/or writing assignments (10% of course grade when combined with item 2.0).  Typical such assignments are quizzes, partial essay drafts, peer critiques, etc.

4.0     Class participation (Discussion Boards) will count 10% of your course grade. This will be judged on several factors chosen to reflect not only quantity of participation but quality as well. Criteria may include such factors as number of days participating, number of messages sent, amount of pertinent questions asked, amount of topics or persuasive points introduced in discussion, and general imaginativeness and focus demonstrated.  Note:  this element may not apply during summer term classes.

5.0      The final exam will also be an essay similar to the previous ones, and counting 20% of your course grade.  At my discretion, I may choose to permit students to do final exam essays at home, like the other essays, or on the other hand students may be required to take an on-campus, timed final just as my traditional 1301 students do. For students living at a distance, this requirement, if necessary, can be handled by arrangement with the student's own college testing center or other similar secure testing environment.

Grading Policy:

In the Odessa College grading system pertaining to overall course grades for this and most courses, the standard range is A ~ B ~ C ~ D ~ F, as shown below.

90-100 = A = 4.0 gradepoints; 80- 89 = B = 3.0 gradepoints; 70- 79 = C = 2.0 gradepoints (the lowest transferable course grade); 60- 69 = D = 1.0 gradepoints (a passing course grade, but not accepted by most colleges and universities to which you might wish to transfer) Below 60 = F = zero gradepoints

In my evaluation of individual assignments, I use a similar range as shown above from "A" to "F," where "A" = 95, "F" = 55, and so forth. Additionally, a grade of A, B, C, or D may be shown with a minus (-) or a plus (+) with the minus equaling a "2" and the plus an "8". For example, a "B+" on an assignment equals 88 points; a "B" equals 85 points; a "B-" equals 82 points. The A, C, and D ranges work the same way. I also on some occasions may give the following grades:

Below 55 = F- (may be given when an assignment is turned in but in such a condition that even the most generous evaluation cannot justify giving even 50 out of 100 possible points; used rarely. The actual point value may range anywhere from 10 to 50 points, at my discretion.)

Zero = No points (when an assignment is not turned in at all).

Summary of Assignments & Activities

Note: Essay assignment topics may change! These topics are those used last semester.



Item Name



Time Frame

Essay One

Social Issues

Persuasive purpose; argumentation mode.  Choice between two topics.  Worth 10%

Essay One usually takes approximately four weeks of the course.  Basic rhetorical concepts and the required writing format must first be taught before work on the essay itself can be begun.  Feedback is give on partial drafts before the final draft is begun.  The pace of all essay units depends in turn on the pace of student learning in the classroom, along with other variable factors.  Specific due dates will be announced in class.

Essay Two

Classification by Qualities



Informative purpose; classification mode.  Broad topic choice.  Students explain how someone is competent at a particular skill by describing the key qualities of that skill, with examples.  Worth 10%

The normal time frame for Essay Two is between two and three weeks.

Essay Three

Comparison /


Expressive / informative purpose; comparison / contrast mode. Various topics may be used. Example: Contrasting good and bad mentors on the basis of several common qualities, used well or used poorly.  Worth 15%

Essay Three generally takes between three and four weeks of the semester.

Essay Four

Using Secondary Sources

Persuasive purpose; argumentation mode.  Range of topic choice usually narrow; to be announced in class.  Students research a particular topic of broad social relevance, and argue a position using research findings presented as direct quotes and cited using MLA format.  Worth 15%

Essay Four generally takes between three and four weeks of the semester.

Essay Five

Cause / Effect

Primarily informative; cause/effect mode.  Broad range of topic choices.  Students may describe either the causes or effects of some specific situation involving the use of some "quick fix" approach.  Worth 10%

Essay Five generally takes between one to two weeks of the semester.

Final Exam Essay


Some Part of What Makes Us Human

Primarily expressive; definition mode.  Broad range of topic choices.  Students define, using some mode of their own choosing, some particular part of what makes us human (an emotion, a belief, a behavior, etc.).  Worth 20%

This Final Exam essay must be written in class during the assigned exam period of two and a half hours.  Students choose topics beforehand and may bring outlines from which to work.

Student Evaluation of Instruction:

The SEI process for face-to-face and online courses is scheduled for the week of November 26th.

Special Needs:

Odessa College complies with Section 504 of the Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. If you have any special needs or issues pertaining to your access to and participation in this or any other class at Odessa College, please feel free to contact me to discuss your concerns. You may also call the Office of Disability services at 432-335-6861 to request assistance and accommodations.

Learning Resource Center (Library):

The Library, known as the Learning Resources Center, provides research assistance via the LRC's catalog (print books, videos, e-books) and databases (journal and magazine articles). Research guides covering specific subject areas, tutorials, and the "Ask a Librarian " service provide additional help.

Student E-mail:

Please access your Odessa College Student E-mail by following the link to either set up or update your account: http://www.odessa.edu/gmail/. All online assignments or correspondence will be submitted using your Odessa College email.

Technical Support:

For Blackboard username and password help and for help accessing your online course availability and student email account contact the Student Success Center at 432-335-6878 or online at https://www.odessa.edu/dept/ssc/helpdesk_form.htm.

Important School Policies:

Information regarding student support services, academic dishonesty, disciplinary actions, special accommodations, or studentsí and instructors' rights to academic freedom can be found in the Odessa College Student Handbook.

Welcome ~ Getting Started ~ Syllabus ~ Assignments ~

Writing Process ~ Errorlogs ~ Email ~ Three-Part Format ~ About Me ~ Links

work: 432.335.6549
surface mail c/o Odessa College, 201 W. University, Odessa TX 79764