Michael L. Goldberg
B CUSP 101
Offers an interdisciplinary approach to composition, including generating a compelling topic; the articulation of a thesis; the development of supporting evidence; the ability to draw conclusions from the evidence, clear organization of the essay, correct mechanics; awareness of audience, and knowledge of resources for research. Prerequisite: may not be taken for credit if previously earned a minimum grade of 2.0 B CUSP 114, B CUSP 134, or ENGL 131. Offered: A.
This writing course is fully integrated with "The Human Place in Nature" (CUSP 107). Most of the writing instruction will take place online, although there will be some in-class activity. (In the same way, some of CUSP 107 will take place online.) By combining the two courses, students will be able to work on their writing along with a problem-based "discovery course" so that we can go deeper into the content area while still paying attention to composition skills.
The course uses a "portfolio" approach that stresses improvement over time, using constant feedback from the instructor and peers. I use a variety of methods to help students pinpoint their areas of strengths and weaknesses so that they can more easily build on the former and overcome the latter. Students will complete a series of smaller assignments leading up to more substantial essays and reports.
Students will be posting some of their writing (after revision) on a publicly available blog that will confront the issue of improving human's relationship with nature. (See description for "The Human Place in Nature," CUSP 107). There will also be an assignment that will include sending a "Letter to the Editor" of a publication. Students will also be sharing their writing with each other in secured online locations. In this way, students will experience writing as a communal activity (as opposed to one based solely on the relationship between the instructor and student) with wide application as students, and more important, as citizens and participants in the global economcy.
Student learning goals
Identify, comprehend and describe the major components of a wide variety of texts, especially scholarly sources.
Use the entire writing process to create effective prose for the appropriate context.
Write with care and precision while also taking appropriate intellectual risks.
Produce complex, persuasive argument within a scholarly context
Develop knowledge of the rhetorical conventions of different types of writing (with a special emphasis on academic writing), ranging from structure and paragraphing to tone and mechanics.
Create, apply and transmit knowledge responsibly and ethically.
General method of instruction
About 30 minutes per week of the in-class time will be devoted to short lectures, discussion and/or workshops about writing. Most of the instruction will take place through online assignments and discussion, inclusing specific feedback from the instructor. Students will do online exercises intended to improve their specific writing needs.
Students are expected to have at least a basic command of high school writing composition. Although I can provide some individualized instruction in basic grammar and sentence structure via online exercises and the Handbook, that is not the focus of the class. Students who feel they do not have this basic command are encouraged to take a "developmental English" course at a Community College before taking any UW Composition course at the 100 level or above.
Class assignments and grading
Most of the writing assignments will be between 250-750 words. There will be one report on research of 1000-1250 words, and one essay with revision of 100-1500 words. Most assignments will be analytical or argumentative.
Students will receive a scoring rubric for all of their assignments, with specific criteria for each category that is assessed. However, these grades are advisory only--the final grade is based on the students' self-assessment (with evidence) that analyzes their improvement over time and their command of the different assessed categories at the end of the course. This approach allows students to be graded based on where they end up in the course. However, lost points for incomplete, late or missed assignments cannot be made up.