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Syllabus: Policies & Information

English 127
Research Writing

Course Description 
Required Texts and Materials
Course Objectives

Late Policy
Scholastic Dishonesty / Plagiarism
Other Policies
Writing & Reading Center
Disability: Accessiblity & Accommodations
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

This document serves as the contract between students and the instructor.  (Print and read carefully!)

Prerequisite: English 101.  English 127 is a 5-credit course and satisfies the basic skills requirement for the AA, AB and AM degrees; see advisor for AS.

Course Description  y

We are bombarded on a daily basis by information and viewpoints relating to society, the world, and even ourselves.  Not only can it be overwhelming to sort through, digest, assess, make use of, discard or resist this vast outpouring of material, we can also end up as the passive recipients of information and opinions masquerading as truth, rather than as active seekers and creators of knowledge who are entitled to participate in ongoing social conversations that can have wide-ranging effects.  While this is NOT a social science course, English 127 nevertheless asks us to take seriously the premise and promise of the social sciences that we can produce—through careful research, evaluation of evidence, critical thinking, and effective writing—reliable, useful, and dynamic knowledge about human experiences and societies.  The social sciences include a number of disciplines, such as History, Sociology, Political Science, Anthropology, Psychology, Economics, and Criminal Justice, among several others.  While we cannot cover readings and issues from all of the social science disciplines in equal depth, we will address a range of questions, methods, interpretive frameworks, and organizational strategies common to most of them.

Students will read, research and evaluate social science articles and other materials—covering social, historical and political issues and debates—in order to understand their claims and conclusions, research questions, research methods and use of evidence, and strategies of interpretation (theories).  Students will conduct extensive secondary research on a topic of their choice (with instructor approval) using the library, electronic databases and the World Wide Web.  The course requires three major essays, all of which will include secondary sources documented in the American Psychological Association (APA) citation style:  the Background Essay (4-5 pages), Scholarly Review (5-6 pages), and the Final Research Article (8-10 pages).  All three formal papers will be on the same topic, though the way the topic is narrowed will evolve during the quarter.  Additional assignments include discussion forum postings, partial drafts, critical analyses of readings, annotated bibliographies, peer reviews, and a course and self assessment. 

English 127, a second-level college composition course, continues to emphasize key skills taught in English 101 but also presumes some student proficiency in them.  This course further presumes that students have a college-level mastery of the mechanics of writing, including punctuation, grammar, and basic paragraph development; therefore, the course will not actually provide instruction in these areas.  Students—by referring to a writing handbook, visiting a tutor at the GRCC Writing Center (RLC 173), and/or consulting the instructor—are responsible for ensuring that their writing does not have significant errors, and for learning to correct mechanical errors as they are pointed out.  

Required Texts and Materials  y

Booth, W. C., Colomb, G. G., Williams, J. M., Bizup, J., & Fitzgerald, W. T. (2016). The craft of research (4th ed.).  Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 

Colombo, G., Cullen, R., & Lisle B. (Eds.). (2019). Rereading America: Cultural contexts for critical thinking and writing (11th ed.). New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s. (I am also allowing the 10th edition; the page numbers will be different for most assigned articles, and I have provided alternate articles for those assignments that appear in the 11th but not the 10th edition.  You will also be able to photocopy any articles from the copy that can be found at the circulation desk at Holman Library.)

Writing handbook (any of the handbooks from English 100 or 101 will be acceptable, e.g., The Little Seagull, A Writer’s Reference, etc.)

Holman Library Class Guide: http://libguides.greenriver.edu/bahl_engl127

Standard, college-level dictionary.

Notebook or binder with blank pages for note-taking, pre-writing, reading responses, preparatory assignments, and journal writing. (This will never be collected, but you may want to use this notebook to write through some of the unposted exercises that I will assign, as well to jot down ideas, to do freewriting and explore other prewriting strategies for essays, to reflect on readings, and, in general, to express yourself to yourself, which is an important component of taking your identity as writer seriously.)  See Keeping a Writing Notebook/Journal

Binder or folder with pockets for keeping and organizing printouts of webpages, drafts and other course material. Don't try to read the course materials only on the screen.  Print them out!

Course Objectives  y

Students who successfully complete English 127 should have acquired or understood the skills, concepts, and attitudes listed below, which will allow them to assess and produce research-based academic writing. These will be demonstrated by three formal essays, other formal and informal writing, library and online research, critical responses to reading, discussion forums, peer reviews, and self-assessments.

  1. Writing Process: practice writing as a recursive process that includes prewriting (e.g., brainstorming, research, etc.), planning or outlining, drafting, revising, and editing; revise and edit drafts in order to produce professional quality writing and to develop appropriate language, style, and organization for specific writing contexts and audiences;
  2. Research Process: follow, and adapt as necessary, a series of steps to produce research-based writing and academic arguments, including browsing; choosing and narrowing a topic; finding, selecting, and evaluating sources; background information; annotations; scholarly review; research question; research proposal; and primary research;
  3. Information Literacy: distinguish between a range of source types and use various research tools, including library resources, electronic databases, and the internet, to find and evaluate appropriate and diverse sources;
  4. Citations, APA, & Plagiarism: understand the purpose and mechanics of documenting sources; incorporate and comment upon sources in a variety of ways; use APA style (American Psychological Association) for in-text citations and References pages; recognize plagiarism and how to avoid it;
  5. Evaluating Sources: evaluate primary and secondary sources, including non-print sources, by assessing purpose, audience, credibility, bias, diversity, originality, research methods, and interpretations from a social science perspective; be attentive to the personal, social, political, and historical relevance of the ideas, issues, methods, and debates presented in course and research materials;
  6. Academic Arguments: think critically about the elements of an academic argument, including a main claim (thesis statement) that responds to an original research question; support for the thesis or main claim with critical reasoning and reliable, relevant, and substantial evidence; warrants (premises, assumptions, values, etc.); and engagement with multiple views and opposing positions;
  7. Community and Collaboration: participate actively in creating a vibrant learning community; collaborate and engage in (online) conversation and debate effectively, equitably and respectfully; offer critical, productive feedback on the writing and thinking of others (e.g., peer reviews);
  8. Diversity: be aware of the implications of one's own and others’ social (subject) position; seek out under-represented views from relevant stakeholders on a given topic; recognize the significance of power relations, including economic, political, and social inequalities and their effects on communities;
  9. Responsibility: follow the class schedule regularly; submit assignments in a timely fashion; be prepared for (online) discussions; know and follow the policies and procedures with regard to academic and classroom expectations both in this syllabus and the GRC student handbook; be aware and take advantage of the resources available through the instructor and on campus.

Assignments  y

Major Units (Essays) Points
- Background Essay (4-5 pages) 200
- Scholarly Review (5-6 pages) 240
- Final Research Article (8-10 pages) 285
Peer Reviews 100
Discussion Forum Postings (Informal Assignments) 125
Course & Self-Assessment (Reflective Essay) 50

Note:  Each of the three “Major Assignments” (essays) requires a first and final draft for which you will be paired with a peer partner.  There are no optional units, so you must complete first and final drafts for each of the three major assignments listed above in order to get any credit for this course; otherwise you will receive a 0.0.    

You are expected to choose a single narrowed topic early in the quarter, which will be the topic that you investigate for each of the three major essays.  The first two essays, in substantially revised form, will become significant sections in your Final Research Article.  Your topic and your narrowing of it may go through many changes in the quarter, and in some rare instances students may request to change their topics altogether.  Notwithstanding the level of change that your topic undergoes, the Final Research Article is expected to be a coherent whole with relevant background and Scholarly Review sections.  See Assignments page for more details.

Although you will not receive individual comments from me on all of your preparatory work and first drafts, you will receive comments and a grade on the final drafts of the first two major essays.  In revising your assignments from the preparatory to the final draft stage, it is your obligation to incorporate feedback from your peer review partners along with my general comments and suggestions to the class; you are also encouraged to seek clarification from me at any stage of the process and/or consult a tutor at the GRC Writing Center (RLC 173).

Participation  y

While this is a writing course, a good deal of reading is required both from our texts and from your adventures in the library, electronic article databases, and the World Wide Web.  Therefore, make sure you schedule enough hours in the week to give yourself time to read, digest, reflect on, and re-read material as necessary.  Since this is an Internet based course, participation is "virtual" but crucial nevertheless. It is vital that you read all assigned texts critically and thoughtfully before you comment on them in the discussion forums or on classmates’ writing. Identify at least one passage/quotation and formulate at least one discussion question for each assigned reading.  Be prepared to present your passage and question, share your views, engage in dialogue with classmates, participate in group discussions, write thoughtfully, and enhance your and others’ perspectives and interpretations through this process. The discussion forum makes up a substantial portion of your grade (12.5 %). Discussion assignments will be announced for each week; you should expect to post messages 3-4 times each week (with greater frequency in the summer quarter). 

Late Policy  y

All essays and assignments are due by midnight (11:59 p.m.) on the due date listed in the weekly class schedules. The three major assignments in this class each require a first and final draft.

Since you are required to write formal peer reviews for some assignments, it is especially imperative that your drafts are ready by their due times. A late first draft will mean that you will get a zero for the peer review component. However, you must still turn in all required assignments to get credit for the course, including first drafts when applicable.

For each day either the required first or final draft is late, your overall grade for the unit will be lowered by 1/3 a grade (so a B would turn into a B-, a B- into a C+, etc.). See Assignments section above to see how many points each major assignment is worth.  Peer reviews scores will be reduced by 5 points for each day they are late.  Forum postings will receive full credit if they are posted on time, half-credit if they are up to three days late, and no credit if they are three days or more late.  Note:  forum postings also may receive half or no credit if they are incomplete.

Contact me as far in advance of a due date as possible if you feel you have a legitimate exception to this policy.

Grading  y

Green River uses a 4 point decimal grading system, which corresponds to the following point totals.  I assign letter grades for major assignments, which can be translated as the middle range of the corresponding letter (except an A, which gets calculated as a 4.0). For example, a B+ will be calculated as a 3.3. 


Above Average


Average / Satisfactory


D / F

4.0        990-1000

3.9         970-989

3.8         950-969

3.7         930-949

3.6         910-929

3.5         900-909

3.4         890-899      

3.3         880-889

3.2          870-879

3.1          860-869

3.0         850-859

2.9         840-849

2.8         830-839

2.7          820-829

2.6         810-819

2.5          800-809

2.4         790-799

2.3          780-789

2.2          770-779

2.1          760-769

2.0         750-759

1.9          740-749

1.8          730-739

1.7          720-729

1.6          710-719

1.5          700-709

1.4          690-699

1.3          680-689

1.2          670-679

1.1           660-669

1.0          650-659

0.0         0-649


**Note that if your final score is below 650 points, you will receive a 0.0 for the quarter.**


While specific assignments will have their own requirements, the following is a general guide to the grading criteria for what is considered A, B, C, D, and F levels of work.


“A” work is exceptional.  It goes above and beyond the stated requirements of the assignment in terms of the creativity, ambition or complexity of ideas; or the clarity, organization, or presentation of the content.  Mechanical errors (grammar, punctuation, spelling, formatting, etc.) are rare.


“B” work is above average.  It goes beyond the minimum requirements of the assignment but not to an “A” level; “B” work may excel in some, but not the majority of aspects of the assignment.  There may be a few mechanical errors, but these do not distract the reader substantially.


“C” work is average.  It meets the expectations of the assignment and shows competency, but it does not go above and beyond the assignment in any significant way, nor does it demonstrate creative engagement with the relevant course material or assignment objectives.  Mechanical errors may be more noticeable.


“D” work is below average.  It fails to meet one or more of the assignment’s requirements but does meet some of them.  There may be frequent mechanical errors or evidence of significant carelessness in conception, composition or presentation.  


“F” work is failing level.  It fails to meet one or more of the assignment’s requirements, including the most significant one(s).

Forum Grades:  The various assignments in the Weekly Discussion Forum are worth 5 points for each posting and 2 points for each required response.  Postings will receive full credit if they are adequate, half credit if they are late (up to 3 days) or incomplete or inadequate, and no credit if they are overly sloppy or more than three days late.  Since your overall Forum score is worth 12.5% of your course grade, and since you are ensured full credit simply for doing them adequately, I highly recommend that you do not miss these assignments.  Save copies of all of your forum posts, whether as properly labeled electronic files (that you can access later as needed) or as hard copies.

Scholastic Dishonesty / Plagiarism y

If you submit other people’s ideas, language, interpretations and comments as your own without proper citation (telling us where you got the passages or ideas), you may fail the assignment or even the course.  Students suspected of scholastic dishonesty will be referred to the Dean of Transfer Education for further action.

 Scholastic dishonesty includes having others do work for you, doing work for others, and plagiarism. Plagiarism is when you knowingly copy or use an outside source without properly referencing it (using MLA citation guidelines), including ideas, paraphrasing, and outright reproduction of passages. More information about citations is available at: http://libguides.greenriver.edu/academic-honesty/citations.  

Although some of your work will be collaborative (such as the panel presentation) and you will get feedback from your classmates, any final submission must be your own. Do not have anyone else, including friends and family members, edit your work either for its style and language use or for mechanical errors. The only authorized source of outside help is the GRC Writing Center (located in RLC 173). Keep a record of each visit and any drafts on which you have received comments and assistance.

Other Policies y

Writing and Reading Center y

The Writing and Reading Center, located in RLC 173, provides Green River students with professional, one-on-one consulting services at all stages of the writing process. Whether you have a question about grammar and usage or need help brainstorming ideas or focusing essays, faculty and student tutors are there to help. There is no need to make an appointment, just drop by. While you are there, take advantage of the excellent resource library and online exercises. Though the Center cannot guarantee you error-free papers, they can help you to improve in the areas you choose to work on with a tutor, and make you feel more confident about your written work.

Disability:  Accessibility and Accommodations  y

         Green River College is committed to creating a positive, accessible environment for its students, employees, and visitors. The College continues to increase the accessibility and usability of all college resources to meet the needs of its diverse community.

         Green River College is committed to providing access to all who visit, work and study on campus. The College will provide reasonable accommodations for individuals with disabilities, with advance notice of need. If you require accommodations, please contact Disability Support Services as soon as possible to determine eligibility and/or request accommodations.

         Accommodations are determined on a case-by-case basis. Please contact Disability Support by email at dss@greenriver.edu; by phone at 253-833-9111, ext. 2631; TTY 253-288-3359; or in person at the Student Affairs and Success Center, Room 210, to request accommodations. For additional information, please visit www.greenriver.edu/dss.

         The accommodations authorized on your forms should be discussed with your instructor. All discussions will remain confidential. Accommodations are not provided retroactively, so it is essential to discuss your needs at the beginning of the quarter. Additionally, only accommodations approved by Disability Support Services will be provided. This syllabus is available in alternate formats upon request.

         Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you wish to discuss your situation further or if any needs arise during the quarter.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion  y

While this course is conducted on the Internet, we are still committed to establishing a community of learners, readers and writers. Respect for the diversity of perspectives, histories, experiences and identities that exists in any community is crucial for its productive functioning. This class may, to varying degrees, examine and have you produce writing relating to issues of gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality, class, and disability, all of which can be controversial and generate impassioned and even confrontational positions. Since you are taking this course during a time of numerous unresolved international conflicts and tensions, it is also important that you are thoughtful and circumspect rather than disrespectful and hateful with regard to Middle Easterners, Muslims, Arabs, immigrants, soldiers or other relevant groups as various issues arise. 

In seeking to understand and engage in dialogue on any topic, we are interested in comprehensively and critically surveying the range of views available. In an academic environment (and hopefully elsewhere), our own engagement with these issues must not include demeaning remarks and insults, stereotypes, careless generalizations, or the refusal to allow people opportunities to present and develop their views publicly. Any environment that claims to encourage dialogue, as opposed to confrontation, is relatively fragile. The danger is not only that some participants may be offended or hurt, but also that they may be silenced.

Any student engaging in sexual or racial harassment, deliberately creating a hostile environment, or who does not alter his or her participation after a complaint has been put forth and explained will be reported to the Vice President of Student Affairs.  If you encounter a problem and do not feel comfortable talking to the instructor, you may wish to contact Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (OEDI), Counseling Services, International Programs, Disability Support Services, or Veterans Affairs.