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Syllabus: Policies & Information

English 127
Research Writing

Course Description 
Required Texts and Materials
Course Objectives
Late Policy
Scholastic Dishonesty

Special Needs
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

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

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), Literature Review (5-6 pages), and the Final Research Article (12-15 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.  

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.

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.). (2016). Rereading America: Cultural contexts for critical thinking and writing (10th ed.). New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

Writing handbook (any of the handbooks from English 100 or 101 will be acceptable, e.g., A Writer’s Reference, The Bedford Handbook, The Longman Handbook for Writers, etc.)

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
- Literature Review (5-6 pages) 240
- Final Research Article (12-15 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 literature 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 GRCC 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 between 2-3 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.

Scholastic Dishonesty y

You are bound by the Student Code of Conduct in the GRCC Student Handbook. This category includes having others do work for you, doing work for others, and plagiarism. Plagiarism is when you copy or use an outside source without properly referencing it, including ideas, paraphrasing, and outright reproduction of passages.  Save all materials, including rough drafts, short assignments, preparatory notes, and final versions; you may be required to submit these upon request. Students suspected of scholastic dishonesty will be referred to the Dean of Academic Education for further action, which may result in a failing grade for the assignment or for the entire course.

In this course you will be working in groups and by yourself. While you will get feedback from your cyber-classmates on early drafts, the final work must be your own. Do not have anyone else edit your work either for its style and language use or for mechanical errors.  The only authorized sources of outside help are the GRCC Writing Center (located in RLC 173; online consultation may be available; check hours during summer quarter) and the Tutoring and Resource Center (located on the second floor of the Holman Library). Keep a record of each visit and any drafts on which you have received comments and assistance.  

It is also possible to plagiarize yourself! If you submit work already completed for one course as original work for another, you are plagiarizing. However, if you wish to substantially revise or re-think a piece of writing you have already done, discuss your intentions and goals with me beforehand.

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.

Special Needs  y

If you believe you qualify for course adaptations or special accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act, it is your responsibility to contact the Disability Support Services Coordinator in the LSC and provide the appropriate documentation. If you have already documented a disability or other condition through the Green River's Disability Support Services Office, which would qualify you for special accommodations, or if you have emergency medical information or special needs I should know about, please notify me during the first week of class. You can reach me by phone at 253-833-9111, extension 4223, or you can schedule an office appointment to meet me in SH 120-36 during my posted office hours or at another mutually determined time. If this location is not convenient for you, we will schedule an alternative place for the meeting. If you use an alternative medium for communicating, let me know well in advance of the meeting (at least one week) so that appropriate accommodations can be arranged. See https://www.greenriver.edu/campus/campus-resources/disability-support-services/ for more information.

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.