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Research and Writing (Rhetorically)

Learning Objectives and Course Description

WRIT 111, is designed to help first-year students become stronger writers, researchers and speakers. In WRIT 111, students will jumpstart their engagement with academic writing and research, as they contribute to a series of assignments revolving around a central goal of publication or presentation of original academic work. The course’s emphasis on research and writing is in keeping with Harpur College’s central promise to “offer an outstanding liberal arts education in a leading edge research-University environment.” The course requires students to engage in different genres for a range of audiences, emphasizes revision, and gives writers practice in critical thinking and researched argument, reinforcing the notion that writing conventions differ according to their rhetorical situations.

Writing 111 satisfies Joint (J) general education designation for Composition (C) and Oral Communication (O).  Students who successfully complete the course will demonstrate the ability to

  • Write coherently for a general, university-level audience, often with academic expectations.
  • Revise and improve writing in both content and form.
  • Write in different genres and a variety of rhetorical contexts.
  • Build arguments based on observation, analysis, and the accurate citation of academic sources.
  • Cite sources according to general academic conventions, which includes knowing when and how to integrate summary, paraphrase, and direct quotation.
  • Participate in important academic and civic conversations—that is, to add one's own perspectives to conversations on community, national, and global issues.
  • Deliver proficient oral presentations.
  • Improve oral presentations in response to peer and instructor feedback.
  • Demonstrate skill in listening to and offering critical feedback on oral presentations.

Course Structure
On many days, the class is conducted in seminar format, which means that students will engage in discussions about reading, writing, and speaking assignments and examine the rhetorical strategies used to persuade audiences. Classes raise questions, pose problems, interpret readings, challenge one another's ideas, and develop strategies for successfully completing assignments. Many class sessions include small group activities, including peer review, conferencing, drafting, and editing. Although there are mini-lectures on a variety of writing-related topics, classes spend the majority of class time engaging in collaborative discussions and activities.

Course Portfolio
This course uses a portfolio system, which means that throughout the semester students will turn in polished drafts of writing assignments for both peer review and instructor commentary, but will not receive formal grades until the end of the semester, when they submit a course portfolio showcasing their very best work. The portfolio system ensures that students have plenty of time to get feedback on, re-imagine, revise, and polish their writing. In short, it gives students the opportunity to strive for excellence. Instructor comments on early drafts may include a good faith estimate of the potential grade of a draft in progress, but such comments have absolutely no bearing on the grade students receive on their course portfolio. Instead, teachers grade portfolios holistically based on the quality of the work submitted at the end of the semester.


Process-Based Documents:

Pre-Research Narrative: WRIT 111 asks you to imagine a larger project, a research/poster presentation or article publication in order for you to delve into and write about for the semester. The Pre-Research Narrative invites you to begin an exploration of who you are and what experiences have contributed to your sense of identity in the context of WRIT 111’s expectations for you during the semester. You are asked to consider aspects of your identity and/or experiences that may spark a productive investigation and engaging writing.

Proposal: The proposal asks you to write a detailed plan for the Argumentative Research Essay that includes an analysis of Calls for Papers or Presentations that would allow you to publish or present your work outside of the course. This genre of writing is vital across disciplines and in the private and public sector, because it proves a writer has thought meaningfully about a problem, has done research, is able to describe the context of the problem, and can come up with a preliminary outcome for the potential project.

Reflection: After completing the other Process-Based Documents, you will write a one-page reflection that comments on your process that they represent. You will paperclip the reflection to the top of the bundle and include it in your portfolio. While reviewers may not scrutinize every document in the Process-Based Documents closely, they will surely see your reflection on top. This bundle of process-oriented documents offers you one more opportunity to positively influence reviewers.

Major Assignments (Product-Oriented):

Annotated Bibliography: This assignment will have you seeking out academic and non-academic writing related to a topic you are interested in pursuing. Annotated Bibliographies are working documents that help writers keep notes on essays and articles they believe will be useful for a project and provide some preliminary analysis and description of those sources in one’s own words. Basically, an Annotated Bibliography includes information about a source (author, title, etc.) in an accepted stylistic format (MLA, APA, Chicago, etc.) and a short summary describing the content of that source, often including key phrases or useful quotes.

Argumentative Researched Essay: This is the central target of WRIT 111. It is meant to equate the general kind of academic, researched, argumentative writing you will be asked to do in other disciplines. Given Binghamton University’s strength as a research institution, it’s vital that you establish a conversation you are contributing to by describing, analyzing, and synthesizing sources you’ve explored. Rather than a report, that merely observes what was said, your own voice and perspective must be part of the conversation you weave together. While the idea of publication in a journal or a presentation at an academic conference might guide your process this semester, the Argumentative Researched Essay is the form it will take that is required for this class.

Public Opinion Piece: Finally, after you’ve done all this work, mostly for academic audiences, your public opinion piece will showcase how you might re-envision what you’ve you learned and what you’ve come to believe for a different, particular audience. This is not just a revision of your Argumentative Researched Essay, but a thoughtful new creation that explores how arguments and rhetoric change to fit different and/or non-academic audiences. For this assignment, you will envision yourself writing an editorial post to a professional blog.

Course Portfolio: This course uses a portfolio system, which means that throughout the semester you will turn in polished drafts of writing assignments for both peer review and instructor commentary, but will not receive formal grades until the end of the semester, when you submit a course portfolio showcasing your very best work. The portfolio system ensures that you have plenty of time to get feedback on, re-imagine, revise, and polish your writing. Instructor comments on early drafts may include a good faith estimate of the potential grade of a draft in progress, but such comments have absolutely no bearing on the grade you receive on your course portfolio. Instead, teachers grade your portfolio holistically based on the quality of the work you submit at the end of the semester.

In your course portfolio, you will resubmit your Process-Based Documents (including your Pre-Research Narrative, Proposal, and Reflection), Annotated Bibliography, Argumentative Researched Essay, and Public Opinion Piece. The Process-Based Documents are a collection of documents that are process-oriented. They will open a window on the work you’ve done and the progress you’ve made over the semester. They are meant to serve as a slight balance to the product-oriented documents because they offer a window on your work in the class since the beginning of the semester. The product-oriented documents (the Annotated Bibliography, Argumentative Researched Argument, and Public Opinion Piece) will be more seriously scrutinized based on the resulting documents, rather than the process that informed them. Thus, over the course of the semester, you will receive different kinds of feedback on the different documents. Your teacher will focus feedback on the process-based documents in order to help with the development of your project. Your teacher will offer feedback on your product-oriented assignments based on the graded rubrics for Characteristics of Good Writing for the course with an eye towards improvement in your writing.

Because your course portfolio constitutes 60% of your grade, it is paramount that you revise your writing rigorously, taking into account feedback from peers and your instructor as well as your understanding of the WRIT 111 grading criteria. Note: Teachers will not accept course portfolios that contain papers on topics they have not previously commented upon or approved. If your portfolio contains work that has not been previously commented upon or approved, you will receive an “F” for the course.


Guided Workshop Presentation: Once during the semester, you will be asked to prepare your work (a draft in progress) for the next major assignment due (see the list of major assignments above). You will bring copies of the draft for each of your classmates and your instructor, which you hand out at the beginning of your workshop. In class, you will describe your progress on your project, briefly discuss what you’ve brought, and provide a few detailed questions or observations that you’d like touched on in the feedback. Then, you will read your work out loud to the group. Afterwards, your classmates and instructor will take over and make constructive suggestions and observations, while you remain silent and listening. Feedback on the oral component will be focused on suggestions to improve your performance in the upcoming Ted-Like Presentation. However, you will also receive feedback on the piece of writing you are workshopping.

TED-like Presentation: For this assignment, you will create an individual oral presentation related to your Public Opinion Piece. Consider this a standalone presentation that introduces, expands on, or riffs on your work done for the POP. 

Grade Breakdown

  • Class Preparation and Participation:           10% of course grade
  • Major Assignment Completion:                     10% of course grade
  • Oral Presentations:                                           20% of course grade

Includes two oral presentations, timely and satisfactory completion of class readings and homework, and your overall participation in the course.

  • Course Portfolio:                                                60% of course grade

Includes your final revised drafts of the Process-Based Documents (paper-clipped together), Annotated Bibliography, Argumentative Researched Essay, and Public Opinion Piece. This grade is established by two different instructors, your instructor and another. 

Portfolio Team Grading
Course portfolios are evaluated by the classroom instructor and at least one additional WRIT 111 instructor. If these two instructors do not agree on the same letter grade, then a third instructor evaluates the portfolio and helps the team come to consensus on a grade. The team grading system brings instructors together for productive small-group discussions of teaching and grading throughout the term, allows instructors to coach students as they draft and revise their writing, and ensures that the grades students receive are representative of the common grading standards endorsed by the First-Year Writing program as a whole. Instructors meet weekly to discuss teaching and grading and report these discussions back to their students. In turn, students are better prepared to revise their work for the course portfolio.

At the end of the semester, students submit a course portfolio, which includes revised versions of their writing. Course portfolios are graded with a simple letter grade: A, B, C, or D (Fs are reserved for students who miss too many classes, do not fulfill assignment guidelines, do not submit all drafts, do not submit course portfolios on time, or engage in plagiarism.). Classroom instructors then adjust students' portfolio letter grades with a plus, minus, or no adjustment to reflect students' engagement in the course. The course portfolio grade—the grade agreed upon by at least two instructors—constitutes 60% of the course grade.

Last Updated: 2/8/17