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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Kimberlee Gillis-Bridges
ENGL 281
Seattle Campus

Intermediate Expository Writing

Writing papers communicating information and opinion to develop accurate, competent, and effective expression.

Class description

"Life is bewildering, and what's interesting, it seems to me, about coming to new places, as well as about coming to writing, is that you get to feel things that are altogether strange and unfamiliar to you. One mark of a novice traveler is his impulse to attribute qualities to places that then allow him to feel at home. By insisting that places conform to the truth he already knows, he is imposing upon them a whole series of expectations, untenable and invariable, that the locations cannot accommodate. . . .The real story lurks underneath—in history, in the environment itself, and in the people living there now."—Frances McCue. The Car That Brought You Here Still Runs: Revisiting the Northwest Towns of Richard Hugo. Seattle and London: University of Washington Press, 2010. 4.

In this course students will work individually and in groups to research Seattle communities in the Chinatown/International District and the Capitol Hill neighborhood. We will focus on what we see when we arrive in these new places, and what we discover as we bring together various ways of knowing where “the real story lurks.? The instructor and UW librarians will train students in a variety of research methods, including observation, census data, local history, local and regional newspapers, mapping, community web sites and interviews. Throughout the research process, students studying the same neighborhood will share information and respond to each other’s ideas-in-progress. Students will write in a range of genres: unobtrusive observations, field notes, researcher’s notebook entries, posters, individual research reports, exploratory reflections and co-authored projects. Writers will receive frequent peer and instructor feedback on their work. The course concludes with individual students’ reflecting on what they have learned and on how their writing in this class transfers to other writing occasions. The design and topic of this course accommodate a broad range of disciplinary approaches to understanding urban communities.

Student learning goals

1.Employ a variety of research methods (observation, interview, video recording, photography, library research of newspapers, maps and government documents) to investigate a selected Seattle community and evaluating the effective uses and limitations of research methods;

2.Independently develop research questions informed by course readings and activities and formulate and revise conclusions throughout the research and writing process;

3.Synthesize, analyze and draw connections among research data;

4. Produce complex written, oral and/or multimedia work that demonstrates awareness of audience, purpose and specific genre conventions and strategically incorporates appropriate evidence;

5. Use writing to learn and reflect on learning; and

6. Work collaboratively with teachers, librarians and peers.

General method of instruction

Discussion, small-group work, research, frequent graded and ungraded writing, revision based on feedback from instructor and peers.

Recommended preparation

While 281 has no formal prerequisite, this is an intermediate writing course, and instructors expect entering students to know how to formulate claims, integrate evidence, demonstrate awareness of audience, and structure coherent sentences, paragraph and essays. Thus we strongly encourage students to complete an introductory writing course before enrolling in English 281.

Class assignments and grading

Researcher's notebook entries, three essays, a collaboratively authored community profile that integrates group members' individual research projects, and a poster presentation.

Grades in English 281 will be computed by points, with 400 points equaling a 4.0, 300 points a 3.0, and so on. If your total falls between grades, I will round up if you score one to five points below the higher grade and round down if you score one to four points above the lower grade. For example, 274 points equals a 2.7 and 275 points a 2.8. Students who score less than 65 points total will receive a 0 for the course, as the UW grading system does not scale grades lower than .7.

Apart from researcher’s notebook entries and peer reviews, which are graded on a credit/no credit basis, points for each assignment will be awarded based on quality of work submitted. I will distribute grading criteria with all assignments. Each component of the course is worth the following number of points:

•Participation, Homework, Peer Review and Researcher’s Notebook: 100 points •Essays: 220 points •Community Profile Group Analysis: 20 points •Poster Conference Presentation: 60 points


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Additional Information
Last Update by Kimberlee Gillis-Bridges
Date: 06/20/2011