W131:  Elementary Composition

Fall Semester 2004  This is a WebCT course.

Online Class Schedule: Tuesday/Thursday 5:00-615

We may alter the online session meeting times subject to student availability

Instructor: Virginia Relph Email: relphv@ipfw.edu  Telephone:  260/481 5441 x 19177



          Reid, Stephen. The Prentice Hall Guide for College Writers. Sixth Edition. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2003.

          Hult, Christine and Thomas N. Huckin. The Brief New Century Handbook. Second Edition. New York: Pearson Longman 2004.


A full sized, collegiate dictionary. I use American Heritage.


Course Description and Goals: The course will move from the most familiar genres, audiences, research strategies and subject matter toward less familiar, more public genres, audiences, research strategies and subject matter. Students will determine their own topics, purposes and audiences. A total of 15 to 20 pages of final, polished writing will be required. Critical reading and critical thinking will be emphasized. Upon completion of W131, the student should be able to:


1.     Read critically and write clearly and persuasively in various rhetorical contexts. Students will: Read and write a variety of texts for distinct purposes and for a variety of personal, public, and academic audiences. Written work will include several out of class texts and some in class writing. Most out of class texts should be four to five double spaced, word  processed pages and will include some type of research.

2.     For each project, students will practice the recursive stages of the writing process, such as inventing, drafting, organizing, revising, editing and practice the different processes required for different texts.

3.     Develop and support a significant and insightful main point, or thesis, in all papers.

4.     Compose texts that are focused and well developed through the use of details, examples, comparisons, statistics, and citation of authorities, among other conventions.

5.     Practice summarizing and paraphrasing material from a variety of texts.

6.     For each project, students will practice different ways of organizing and arranging ideas and content appropriate for various rhetorical contexts.

7.     Demonstrate knowledge of usage, spelling, punctuation, and diction conventions.

8.     Practice methods that will lead to greater stylistic maturity.

9.     Apply methods of inquiry appropriate to various rhetorical contexts. Students will:

10.                        Generate information using a variety of heuristics (methods) such as freewriting, brainstorming, clustering, and cubing, among other conventions.

11.                        Learn to use computer databases and indexes, printed indexes, document delivery services, and the Internet.

12.                        Use primary research methods such as observing and interviewing and incorporate the results in papers.

13.                        Synthesize materials drawn from various primary and secondary sources with students’ own ideas and experiences.

1.     Move beyond mere reporting of information to make an original contribution to knowledge.

2.     Formally document research writing using a documentation style appropriate for audience and forum B most often APA or MLA.

3.     Demonstrate critical thinking through the interrelated activities of reading and writing. Students will:

4.     Annotate, analyze, evaluate, and discuss a variety of student and professional texts, focusing primarily on rhetorical principles under study.

5.     Analyze problems or issues from a variety of perspectives, moving beyond either/or reasoning.

6.     Analyze and discuss in writing their own work through reflective memos and/or journals.




1.     Since we follow a process of planning, multiple drafts, then final copy, attendance at one chat session per week and keeping on schedule are both essential and exciting! You won't want to miss a single thrilling moment!  Online class meeting times are Tuesdays and Thursdays, starting at 5 p.m.  We have some flexibility about meeting times, so you’ll want to be present to discuss what schedule suits you best.

2.     Each student must meet with me weekly through email or during online office hours to discuss ongoing work

3.     We will schedule one-on-one conferences for each assignment, which may substitute for online discussion attendance.

4.     The deadline for papers is the end of class on the due date. Lateness will be tolerated only if arrangements are made beforehand for good reason (e.g., you were just stricken with terminal cancer). 

5.     Students will be treated as professionals. That is, it is assumed that for the purposes of this course each student is a mature adult conscientiously performing the work necessary to excel. Students should be aware that a three hour per week course requires on average a minimum commitment of 8 hours work per week and they are therefore urged to plan accordingly.




1.     Reading, explicating and discussing texts

2.     Exploring, focusing, drafting, peer critiquing, and revising activities.

3.     Writing, writing, writing, everywhere, constantly.

4.     Fascinating brief explanations of amazing but true principles of writing.

5.     Exciting and tumultuous online discussions.

6.     Paralyzingly frightening individual conferences which nonetheless yield deep insights into the mysterious process of writing.





Class Discussions—attendance/participation in discussion, whether in chat or on discussion board: 25%

Informative paper 10%

Class leadership, including leading online discussion or discussion board exercise 10%

Evaluation paper 10%

Exams and exercises 10%

Persuasive paper 15%


Argumentative paper 20%


More on grading standards:


1.     Miscellaneous, above, includes bulletin board writing exercises and in class writing, prewriting, rough and polished drafts, peer critiques, freewriting, individual email conferences and Writing Center visits.

2.     No matter what your final average may be, you must turn in all four papers and all exams to pass the course.

3.     You must ask permission to change topics and show all required prewriting and drafting work for the new paper.

4.     Plagiarism (handing in someone else's writing and claiming it is yours) is dishonest, loathsome, slimy, stupid, repulsive, usually obvious, self destructive, subtly irritating, and boldly enraging. Therefore, besides losing the esteem and trust of the instructor, plagiarists caught will be vigorously excoriated, reported to the Dean of Students, the chair of the student's department and the dean or director of the student's school or division, and given an F on the paper and/or in the course, at the whim of the instructor. In the event a plagiarist is allowed to remain in the class, the plagiarized paper must be made up even though the grade remains F.




1.     A page is 8½" x 11" with 1" margins all around, double spaced in Times Roman 12 or equivalent.

2.     All papers must be submitted via email or by posting to the bulletin board.

3.     Because we will be doing peer critiques, students will need to make copies of papers available for others to read via the class bulletin board. Instructions will be provided.

4.     When you turn in the final copy of a paper, all previous drafts (2 per paper before final draft) must have already been submitted via email/bulletin board.


Class Schedule

This schedule is subject to change.  All readings must be prepared before class commences.




Week 1

24/26 Aug


Read:  Reid – Chapter 5 – pp. 151 165. 

Discuss: Your writing process; your goals for the course.

Assignment I – Read and Respond

Week 2

31 Aug/2 Sep

Read: Reid, Chapter 4 – Read, annotate and respond to Ehrenreich

Discuss: Collaborative Peer Review Process
Assignment: Informative – Read and Respond paper

Student Discussion – You may lead a discussion of a portion of the assigned reading, or any topic related to your composition process, or how to handle writing problems

Week 3

7-9 Sep


Read :  Review Reid, Chapters 4 and 5

Discuss: Collecting and shaping

Write: Collaborative Peer Review – Revised Informative draft

INFORMATIVE paper is due Next Week!

Student Discussion


Week 4

14/16 Sep


Read:  Reid, Chapter 9

Discuss: The Nature of Persuasion; comparison and contrast review

Assignment:  Persuasive Essay

Assignment I due

Assignment II – Persuasion/Problem-solving

Week 5

21/23 Sep


Read:  Read and Respond to Tannen’s “The Argument Culture”

Discuss:  Tannen pp. 401 405 in Reid

Write:  Response to Tannen

Student Discussion

Week 6

28/30 Sep


Read:  Reid, Chapter 10

Discuss: The Nature of Argumentation and its role in academic writing

Write: Very rough draft of problem solving paper

Student Discussion


Week 7

 5/7 Oct

Read Reid, Chapter 6

Revise your draft; Collaborative Peer Review

Write: Revision and Editing   problem solving draft

Discuss:  Using evidence, quotes, and sources.


Assignment II due

Week 8

12/14 Oct


Fall Break 11 & 12 October. Class canx for 12 October

Review Reid Chapters 4, 5, 6, 9, 10.

Midterm Exam

Week 9

19/21 Oct


Read:  Review Reid, Chapter 10

Discuss:  Using evidence, quotes, and sources.

Assignment:  Argumentation


Assignment III – Argumentation

Student Discussion

Week 10

 26/28 Oct

Read Reid, Chapter 12, Review Chapter 5

Discuss: Research   accomplishments to date; where research will take us from here

Write:  Very rough draft of argumentative paper

Last day to withdraw –

Student Discussion


Week 11

 2/4 Nov

Review Reid, Chapter 12

Write:  Revised draft for peer collaboration

Discuss:  Review use of sources, quotes, MLA style



Assignment III due

Week 12

9/11 Nov


Read:  Reid, Chapter 8


Assignment IV- Evaluation

Week 13

16/18 Nov5

Assignment:  Evaluation



Week 14

 23 Nov

Thanksgiving break 24-27 November.  Class canx 25 November


Week 15

 30 Nov/2 Dec


All assignments/revisions due

Week 16

 7/9 Dec



Finals week

13-17 Dec 


Final Exam