CO150.16 College Writing


About this Course

CO150 works to prepare you for the kind of thinking and writing you will be doing as scholars. We'll begin with a personal narrative, writing based on your own experience and conclude with a research paper that asks you to integrate sources and varied points of view with your own thinking.

Course Goals

  • Writing
  • Evaluating Writing
    1. You need to learn how to evaluate writing, your own and others. By evaluate I mean many things: how to respond to writing in its formative stages; how to seek from and give to your classmates helpful advice on the writing you all do; how to see what is working in a piece, what isn't, and what can be done to change it; how to judge the effectiveness of a finished piece; how to analyze writing so that you can set writing goals for yourself; and how to evaluate yourself for the grade you receive in this course.
  • Your Documented Essay
  • Course Policies of  Importance

    You will write 6 essays. Three in unit one, a small proposal essay in unit two, and two essays in unit three.

    You will also keep a journal. Journal entries will include the short evaluation essay you write for each of your main essays; your research log;  in class writing assignments that we may do; in class on-line discussions will be considered part of your journal (interactive collaborative journal, if you like), as will e-mail messages.You will write, at least once or twice a week, peer reviews of writing for other writers in class. The type of response you give will vary during the course of the semester; you will be asked to try many kinds and ways to give feedback. Some of these may work better for you than others, but it's important that you try them all to see what does work for you.

    You are expected to attend every class. This is crucial because it is a collaborative class and the one common time of the week you and your peers have set aside to work on writing. Now of course emergencies do occur. You are allowed two absences for the year before subsequent absences effect your grade. The allowed absences are to cover emergencies and religious holidays. Don't waste them. Emergencies include illness (get a note); and family emergencies. Emergencies do not include needing to a catch a ride to the Cape that leaves before class; skipping class to study for a test in another class; going to pick someone up at the bus station. You are only allowed two cuts, not two cuts plus emergencies. The only way you won't be penalized for missing more than two classes is if each and every cut is for an emergency. If you miss once for no good reason, and then have a tonsilectomy that causes you to miss three classes, you will still be penalized on your final grade for the one miss that was frivolous. If all your absences are due to emergencies or religious holidays, then-and only then-they will not affect your grade.

    An absence is defined by the following:

    In other words, if you were supposed to complete a draft to be peer reviewed, and you have not completed it, you will be marked as absent. Not doing homework is the same, then, as missing class.

    I use a contract grading system that looks at the course as whole. In a final conference, we will review your course portfolio and the written reviews we exchange, as well as your attendance and work completion records. We will work together in the conference to come to a grade for you for the course. Other than that one time, you will not be graded; there will be:

    Here's how it works. If you do all the work in the class, do it on time, and don't miss more than two classes, I  guarantee you a C. This means that when we discuss your grade, we'll assume a C for effort (you can't get A's for effort), and then we'll add grades for achievements. Because I believe the work I assign will help you, if you do it diligently, improve, we should see some improvement. However, absences, defined both as not coming to class or not completing work do when you do come, will lower your starting point. For those of you who have more than two absences, I will deduct from the C and then we will assess achievement up from the lower grade. Each absence over two cost you a half grade down from a C. I set this policy because coming and having the work done insures that you are learning. Students who miss class a lot almost always don't do the work they would have done had they been in class. In this course, which is work-centered, coming to class is a way for you and I to keep track of your progress and to make sure you are able to do as expediently as possible the collaborative work of the course. My part in this will be to keep track of your work and to help you to get it done.

    When we consider your final grade, keep these thresholds in mind:

    I encourage you to speak freely and openly about whatever you wish in this class as it relates to the writing you're doing or the way the class is run. To make it possible for everyone to enjoy that freedom, certain ways of discussing and disagreeing need to be kept in mind. Remember that you are young, relatively, and that your experiences, for the most part, are fairly limited. You will be coming into contact with ideas and points of view vastly different than your own. It's important that you consider them fairly.

    This doesn't mean rejecting what you think or believe, but it does require that you not dismiss anything automatically because it differs from what you believe. It helps to be curious, to be kind, to be fair. If you disagree with someone's ideas, make sure you criticize the idea and not the person (no ad hominen attacks). If you disagree with someone's thinking, make sure your aren't simplifying their argument; you don't want to simplify opposing arguments to better maintain your own (That's setting up strawmen.).

    Don't be fooled by the procedures of experimental thought. You can't control for all variables in life, and so you can't assume that a choice is always possible between a or b. Avoid either/or thinking. Now I say this knowing that you probably all have some beliefs that are definite, cast in stone. But it helps to see things in context and to consider fully the circumstances that place an idea or issue.

    This does not mean, however, that all ideas are equal. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but not all opinions are equally as good. So distinguish between allowing someone their right to an opinion and judging the worth of that opinion.

    This can be tricky. You probably know from experience that if someone tells you an idea you have is stupid, that it feels like they're calling you stupid. Our thoughts and ideas come from inside us, from our experiences and histories, so offering them is risky sometimes. Sometimes when you're disagreeing with an idea and trying not to attack a person, you can, if you're not careful, still hurt the person. Don't use this as reason not to be honest; learn instead how to be honest in ways that are constructive.

    And above all remember that while we can tell black from white, man from woman, there's a lot more we don't know about one another, things that can't be seen. There are those of us who may be Catholic, Muslim, Protestant, Jewish; gay, straight, or bisexual; depressed, content, or anxious; struggling, cruising, or shifting gears. Don't use language, then, that will inadvertantly denigrate or hurt another person because quite often the hurt can be invisible and all the more painful for that.

    You will write a short evaluation essay for each of the final drafts of first five essays.

    I want you to write an evaluation essay about each of your essays. The individual "evaluation essays" will each be in the neighborhood of 1-2 typed pages in length; they should be single-spaced, and carefully proofread.

    Each essay ought to do these things, in something like this order:

    Say what you were "doing" in the piece, and set that "doing" in a rhetorical context. For example, "I was explaining how to do X to someone like my younger sister. As I explained, I was a gentle authority figure--not the impatient elder, the parent, but a sympathetic coach." Or, "As I wrote this piece, I was reflecting on X aspect of my experience. I was writing, chiefly, to myself, so that I could understand what happened, but I could imagine also that what I wrote would be read by my father, as he found this piece on the dining room table, or in my closet or a trunk ten years from now." This is important so that I know who your intended audience is and what you attempted to say to them. Knowing this will help me evaluate the piece's effectiveness.

    Describe the choices you made. Relate these choices to who your audience is and what you wanted to tell them. : e.g. "I decided to begin the essay with an anecdote because I thought it would grab my audience-students like me who are new to a large university-and at the same time provide an example of stress." If you aren't conscious of having made any choices as you wrote, reread the essay and ask yourself what else you could have done at some key points, such as the opening and closing paragraphs to name but two, and then ask what choice you didn't make and could have.

    Say what aspect of this piece you like the most or that you feel to be the most successful. Why is this so? Also recall what you were trying to do and describe how this aspect of the piece worked toward helping you do that.

    Say what aspect of this piece you like the least or that may have been most a problem. Why was it a problem? How did it detract from what you wanted to do?

    What changes would you make in this piece if you had the time and urge to rewrite it and why?

    Review your revision process. That is recall the movement from first thought to final draft, and give a brief overview of the revisions you made and why. Include in this overview mention of the peer advice you received. To what degree did you use it? What advice did you receive? If you didn't use it, say why not.

    Give a summary evaluation of the piece-- in absolute terms, and also in comparative terms (relative to previous essays).

    After you give a summary evaluation, identify a writing goal for your next essay. Be specific. This is merely to be something you want to do differently with your writing--it can work from a strength or weakness, or from a point of revision you wanted to take up again. Note the goal is to do something different, not necessarily better. So for example if you notice that all your introductions sound the same or start the same you might set as your goal to do a different kind of introduction. Now it may or may not be an improvement, but that's not important; what is important is that you try to do something different. Experiment!

    If this is the evaluation for your second essay or beyond, how well did you do at meeting the goal you set in your previous essay evaluation?

    Peer reviews are forms of written and oral feedback you give to each other. They're important because they provide a writer with guidance during the writing, not just after. A good peer review allows the writer to make adjustments--if they so choose--as they're composing. They sometimes help the writer see something in a new or different way as well.

    You may feel uncomfortable with the idea of giving your peers advice. This usually stems from a few reasons. One is that students misconstrue what a peer review is. They think they'll need to read an essay the way a grammar cop does, and not being expert grammarians, don't feel up to the task. Another reason stems from the first, and is basically a general lack of confidence.

    My feeling is that you are all intelligent (you're in college after all). That you can read and write and think and thus you can learn how to give a writer intelligent advice and commentary. You'll even learn how to proofread.

    You'll note that I say 'learn'. I don't necessarily expect you to know how to give a wonderful peer review. Heck, I've been commenting on writing for 15 years now and I don't always say stuff that's useful. But what you don't know how to do, you can learn how to do.

    During the first three weeks, in fact, you'll be more responsible for feedback to one another than I will be. I will read the peer reviews you write, and will give you comments on those. I may ask you to rewrite a peer review. And why not? When you think about it, a peer review is like an essay; in some ways it's better as an

    essay than some of the other writing you'll do in this class. It has a real audience (the writer), a real topic (the writing), and a real purpose (to help the writer).

    Peer reviews are writing that matters. They're important. They help you to read writing thoughtfully, like a writer, and that in the long run helps you with your own writing; they also help the writers know how their stuff is working.

    Classes Meet MWF from 10-10:50 in Eddy 2.

    My Name and Office Hours:

    · Nick Carbone
    · 310 Eddy Hall
    · Monday and Wednesday, 11-noon.
    · Phone: 491-7864
    · E-mail:

    Required Texts: The Prentice Hall Guide for College Writers, by Stephen Reid