Syllabus and Course Overview

[MS Word document here]

WOC SoSe 2014
Di 16:15 – 17:45 Rm 3.205

Instructor: Timothy D. Robbins
Twitter: @HandonthePlow
Skype: trobbins1981
Office: 0.414
Office Hours: Do. 10:00 – 12:00 and by appointment


Student Learning Outcomes

Students who successfully complete this course should be able to:

Compose a formal academic essay in English, in which they

  • demonstrate paragraph unity, support, and coherence,
  • provide and integrate concrete support within paragraphs,
  • write effective topic sentences and appropriate transitions,
  • write clear and varied sentences including precise coordination and subordination,
  • write in a confident voice, differentiating between inadequate, adequate, and superior presentation of ideas,
  • craft lucid and effective thesis statements, and
  • structure and develop a logical argument in prose.

Edit writing assignments, where they

  • recognize and correct major grammatical errors,
  • use commas and periods correctly,
  • select and employ proper word choices, and
  • offer constructive peer feedback and determine possibilities for revision

Speak publicly, in both formal and informal contexts, where they

  • apply writing-process principles to oral assignments,
  • demonstrate appropriate selection of topics and materials, clear organization, effective presentation, and
  • display the ability to adapt to audience, setting, and occasion.

Conceive and construct a coherent argument in outline form.

Identify main ideas in reading assignments and create concise summaries of these ideas.

Use a range of digital platforms and social media for assignment submissions, peer review, and topic research.




  • Zemach, Dorothy E., and Lisa A. Rumisek. Academic Writing: From Paragraph to Essay. Thailand: Macmillan       Publishers, 2003. Print.
  • MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. 7th ed. New York: MLA, 2009. Print.



Schedule and Assignments:

April 8 Course Overview and Introductions.

April 15 The Writing Process, Presentations, MLA format.

April 22 Paragraphs. Due: Presentation topics and groups.

  • Read: Academic Writing, pg.11-20. Complete exercises. PDF: AcademicWritingWeeks2-3
  • Write: Revise the paragraph. Send it to my email.

April 29 Topic Sentences, Concluding Sentences.

  • Write: Rewrite your paragraph with stronger topic and concluding sentences.

May 6    Argument Development and Logic.

May 13 Thesis Statements.

May 20 Introductions and Conclusions

May 27  Punctuation

  • Write: Punctuation Worksheet. Revise your essay for punctuation and grammar errors.

May 31  Practice Exam: 12-14, location to be determined

June 3    Practice Exam Review

  • Collect: Your practice exams from my office on Monday.

Read: My comments and corrections on your exams and on your  essays.

June 10  Outlining an Essay.

  • Write: Create outlines for your practice exam and Google Doc essays. Submit both outlines to me.

June 17   No Class

June 24    Coherence.

  • Read: Academic Writing, pg.78-87.
  • Write: Re-write your practice exam and essay. Send them to me.

July1      Style and Register.

  • Write: Style and register worksheet.

July 8      Practice Quiz.

  • Write: Final revisions on practice exam and Google Docs essay.

July15    Final Review and Essay Practice.

  • Study: Practice for the final exam!



Presentation: Students are required to give an oral presentation, in groups of two or three, related to the general theme of advertising. Presentations should be organized like essays with introductions, conclusions, and structure. One of the most important aspects of your presentation is that it should generate class participation and conversation. Therefore questions, group work, and activities are encouraged. Groups should be organized by the third week of class. Topics need to be approved by the fourth week of class. If your presentation requires PowerPoint, video, or other media, please inform the instructor at least two weeks before your presentation. Be concise (especially in the introduction and background info).You will be cut off if your presentation runs too long (45 minutes minimum, 50 max).

Practice Exam: An ungraded essay exam will be held on May 31 from 12pm to 2pm.

Final Exam: The final is a timed essay exam. Place and time to be determined.



Attendance: Do not miss more than two classes

Classroom Conduct: This course is led by passionate and thoughtful discussion. Please refrain from texting (I know it’s difficult), checking Facebook (even harder), talking (talk to me instead!) or sleeping (just stay home).

Plagiarism: It’s quite simple, don’t do it. I am always available (via email or office hours) to discuss the guidelines and requirements of proper citations. I am a master at gauging students’ writing styles. So, when students develop an unbelievable diction and mastery of the essay form just in time for the final paper, I grow suspicious. I will catch you, I always win!

Late Work: Why are deadlines important? On the student end, they admittedly feel arbitrary. After all, I’m not in the business of giving you a return deadline (although I personally pride myself on rapid turnaround times). Instructors set aside time to grade essays, and careful evaluators will read each essay twice, possibly three times, to offer thoughtful comments and helpful advice. I like to be in a certain cast of mind when assessing these essays, and if a handful are missing, it throws the whole elaborately wrought system for a loop. That being said, given enough time, a deal can usually be made. If you have trouble meeting a deadline, please inform me well beforehand (at least a week) and we will try to reschedule something that works for both of us.


Sprachpraxis: Essay Writing Tips


Use spell check! Bad spelling will undermine your argument.

Use English punctuation;

Commas come after each word in a list of three, four, or five or more items;

Use the proper apostrophe symbol;

Do not use punctuation marks unless you know how to use them.

Quotation marks should be used “correctly,” and the punctuation marks should be put “inside of your quotes.”

Use third person pronouns (he, they), not first person (I, we) or second person (you).

Do not start sentences with ‘and,’ ‘or,’ or ‘but.’

Do not use contractions (can’t, won’t, etc.)

Do not repeat the same filler (or hedge) words over and over (such as ‘however’).

Avoid run-on sentences.

Count your words as you write.



Use Times New Roman size 12 font.

No title page,

One inch (2.5 centimeter) margins,


Only one space after a period,

Essays must be 600 words (± 10%),

Essays must consist of EXACTLY five paragraphs,

Do not argue both sides of the topic,

Mark your paragraphs (indent consistently).



Write a strong thesis. It must be one sentence.

Use clear topic sentences.

The introduction and conclusion should be relevant to the essay’s main points.

Neither conclusion nor introduction should be longer than the body paragraphs.

Supporting paragraphs should all be similar in size.

Do not use a counterpoint paragraph (your thesis and argument should express only one side).

Outside sources are not necessary or even encouraged, but if you use them, you must cite them!




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