Syllabus for English Composition I

Note: You can go at your own pace in this course. Starting on September 5, 2023, you may finish the course as soon as you are able. This means there are no weekly due dates within the course. However, there is a final completion date requirement. You must finish the final unit of this course no later than 11:58 PM on December 20, 2023 — and you must finish the first seven units the week before. So, the first six units are due no later than 11:59 PM on December 13, 2023, leaving one week to complete the final unit. You cannot submit anything after Dec. 20. Your grade for this course will be submitted at the end of the semester.



Course Description

This course emphasizes critical reading, writing, and thinking skills through writing-intensive coursework. It explores writing situations as a process focusing specifically on idea generation relating to audience and purpose, working through multiple drafts, peer “collaboration,” and revision. You must complete English Composition I with a grade of C- or better before enrolling in English Composition II.

English Composition I is a process-oriented course that emphasizes the various stages of the writing process — research, discovery, drafting, reflection, revision, and editing. Students are expected to write several revised essays, using various methods of development, throughout the semester. Students will also be expected to read and respond critically to a variety of essays.

Critical thinking skills, which may apply to all areas of study, are developed through challenging reading and writing assignments.

When you successfully complete English Composition I, you will be able to write more clearly, informatively, and persuasively in a variety of rhetorical situations, providing a foundation for future academic writing, as well as writing in your personal and professional life.
Student Learning Outcomes

  • Know how to accurately assess a rhetorical situation to determine the context, purpose, and audience for a given document.
  • Be able to select a mode of discourse appropriate to the rhetorical situation: to explore, to entertain, to inform, or to persuade.
  • Generate documents through a recursive writing process that involves discovery, drafting, reflection, and revision.
  • Explain a concept using levels of abstraction and specific detail appropriate to the rhetorical situation.
  • Explain a concept using a mode of development appropriate to the rhetorical situation: description, narration, exemplification, definition, process analysis, causal analysis, comparison, classification/division, and argumentation.
  • Develop critical thinking and reading skills.
  • Be able to organize a document in a way that helps the intended reader maximize comprehension.

General Education Outcomes

  • A student can read, retrieve, evaluate, interpret, and deliver information using a variety of traditional and electronic media. Each student writes several essays that demonstrate the validity of a thesis. Students will write responses to prompts that require the techniques of persuasive and/or informative writing. Because of the workshop nature of the class, students will frequently receive feedback on their essays from their instructor.
  • A student can speak and write effectively and respectfully as a member of the global community, and work effectively as a member of a team.
  • A student can reason analytically, critically, and creatively about nature, culture, facts, values, ethics, and civic policy.

Online Technologies

This course takes place online. Since we will not meet face-to-face, it is your responsibility to have the necessary technology and technical know-how to work effectively in this online learning environment.

This online course will utilize Spark as the learning management system. If you have trouble logging in, or viewing any of the documents and links posted, please contact your mentor or technical support.
Word Processors

All documents should be uploaded in PDF format. Also, DOC and DOCX formats are allowed.

Southeastern University students have free access to Microsoft Word (and all of Office 365) here.

You may use another downloadable or online word-processing program, like Google Docs or LibreOffice, if you prefer. However, please save and submit your work in PDF format.

This course requires using MLA formatting throughout. Please follow those conventions, including writing your name, instructor’s name (i.e., Professor Smith or James Smith), course name, and the date in the top left corner of your assignments.

Also, please make it a regular practice to give your submitted assignments descriptive filenames, including your name, the name of the assignment, and whether it is the draft or final version of the assignment (e.g., “YourName-Assignment-Draft3.pdf” or “Surname-EssayTitle-Final4.pdf”). It can be challenging for instructors to keep online assignments straight when grading dozens of documents simultaneously. Please note that punctuation in the filenames such as quotation marks, apostrophes, or other special characters may block your assignments from uploading properly.
Plagiarism and Academic Dishonesty

Students commit plagiarism when they submit another’s work as their own, either purposely or unintentionally.

Plagiarism includes, but is not limited to:

  • Having someone else write your essay;
  • Taking credit for a sibling’s or classmate’s work;
  • Copying or purchasing printed or online text;
  • Using artificial intelligence to write your assignments for you;
  • Re-using your old writing, even when you are retaking the same course; and,
  • Failing to attribute unique phrases, passages, or ideas to their original source.

Submissions in this class will be checked with an originality program that identifies similarities with billions of internet documents, a repository of previously-submitted papers, and a variety of other publications — so any attempt to plagiarize is highly likely to get caught. This system also checks for patterns in writing by artificial intelligence (instead of by you, yourself).

Students who plagiarize will fail the assignment or fail the course, and be reported to the college for academic dishonesty (which can lead to suspension or expulsion). There may also be notes of academic dishonesty added to your official college transcripts, which could lead to difficulties in gaining admission to other colleges or universities, and when seeking future employment, all depending on the severity of plagiarism.

Southeastern University’s Academic Integrity policy states the following:

Southeastern University seeks to foster a spirit of honesty and integrity in students. The University expects graduate students at SEU to embody the same spirit of commitment to high ethical standards and academic integrity in all aspects of their participation within the program.

Therefore, any work submitted by a student must represent original work produced by that student. Any source used by a student must be documented using program appropriate scholarly references and citations…

Plagiarism is considered a serious academic offense at Southeastern University. Plagiarism undermines the educational process, and when done intentionally, violates the integrity of the community.

Plagiarism occurs when a writer (regardless of intent) uses someone else’s language, ideas, or other original material without acknowledging its source.

Plagiarism includes unattributed use of any source, in any medium, published or unpublished.

The policy also applies to incidents of self-plagiarism, resubmission, or multiple submissions (the use of a single project in two or more academic settings either at Southeastern University or another academic institution). Work submitted in another course may not be resubmitted unless both professors specifically state otherwise.

Some examples of plagiarism include, but are not limited to:

  • Quoting or paraphrasing material without attributing it to its source
  • Copying segments from the work of others without giving proper credit
  • Submitting work written by someone else
  • Allowing another student to submit their work to use as his or her own when that individual had not done the work.

Widely known facts do not require citation and do not count as plagiarism if the facts are communicated in the writer’s own words. Ideas and observations original to the writer also do not require citation.

Avoiding Plagiarism

Professors at Southeastern University work diligently to help students understand and avoid plagiarism. However, the responsibility ultimately rests on students to make sure that their work does not contain plagiarism. Students can avoid plagiarism by properly citing and quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing all material they use from sources.

Common forms of citation include parenthetical citations, footnotes/endnotes, and attributive statements such as ‘According to Smith and Rodriguez…’

Quotations include entire sentence(s), key phrase(s), or specific term(s) that match a source word for word. All quotations must be cited using the appropriate quotation format.

Paraphrases and summaries include material (usually information or ideas) taken from a source and put into a writer’s own words. All paraphrased and summarized materials must completely rephrase the original source and be properly cited.

The bottom line in avoiding plagiarism is that students must clearly indicate the material in their writing that is original to them and the material taken from sources.

The consequences of violating Southeastern University’s Academic Integrity policy are spelled out in further detail here.

So, to be clear, if you intentionally cheat by claiming another’s work as your own, failing to cite any referenced material (either from the internet or other sources), having someone else write your essay — including artificial intelligence (such as ChatGPT) — or reuse old work without instructor permission, YOU WILL FAIL THE COURSE.

If you plagiarize, there will be little anyone can do to stop the serious consequences that follow.

In any case, citing and using sources properly is more impressive in the grading process, even if you didn’t get caught.
Grading Scale


All assignments may be resubmitted up to a total of three attempts, with the latest attempt being saved as the final score. (If an emergency arises which is deserving of further attempts, please share those with the instructor, although options may be limited for a variety of factors.)

Work must be completed in order, unit by unit. Once work is submitted in a later unit, the previous scores are permanent; thus, if work is left undone, once work in a later unit is submitted, the scores will be automatically assigned a zero (0) score.

All assignment scores, within a specific unit, may be resubmitted up to three times for a new grade — as long as they are submitted before moving on to the next unit. Once students submit work to a subsequent unit, the previous units’ grades are final.

To request another attempt at an assignment, in the feedback area, please ask that it be sent back. Once returned, the scoring will be reset to zero, and the assignment will re-open for another attempt to be submitted. (Note: If the later attempt is not actually submitted, the score will remain at zero points.)

Scoring Breakdown

Below is a listing of all of the assignments in the course, in order, followed by the total points possible for each.

  1. Unit One Quiz (10)
  2. Introduce Your Uniqueness (10)
  3. Syllabus Quiz (2)
  4. Unit Two Quiz (10)
  5. Draft Personal Narrative Essay (2)
  6. Peer Response (Personal Narrative Essay) (5)
  7. Revision Plan (Personal Narrative Essay) (5)
  8. Personal Narrative Essay (150)
  9. Published Restaurant Review Essay (10)
  10. Unit Three Quiz (10)
  11. Draft Restaurant Review Essay (2)
  12. Peer Response (Restaurant Review Essay) (5)
  13. Revision Plan (Restaurant Review Essay) (5)
  14. Restaurant Review Essay (150)
  15. Comma Quiz (24)
  16. Unit Four Quiz (10)
  17. Draft Print Ad Analysis Essay (2)
  18. Peer Response (Print Ad Analysis Essay) (5)
  19. Revision Plan (Print Ad Analysis Essay) (5)
  20. Print Ad Analysis Essay (200)
  21. IEE Idea Guide Quiz (10)
  22. Unit Five Quiz (10)
  23. Evaluating Sources Assignment (10)
  24. Source Integration Assignment (10)
  25. Unit Quiz Six (10)
  26. Annotated Bibliography Assignment (50)
  27. Draft Issue Exploration Essay (2)
  28. Peer Response (Issue Exploration Essay) (5)
  29. Revision Plan (Issue Exploration Essay) (5)
  30. Issue Exploration Essay (200)
  31. Reflection Paper (50)
  32. Closing Remarks (15)
  33. Ready to Submit (1)

The total points possible in the course is 1,000.
Controversial Content Warning

Please note that this college course is intended for college-level students with the maturity to read, discuss, and write about controversial topics (possibly including violence, sexual conduct, profane language, and other issues of privilege and oppression such as racism, classism, sexism, etc.) in a mature and academic way. Furthermore, please note that every student taking this course should understand that some college courses deal with human relations or social issues that contain material that — while not appropriate for many high school students — is generally considered to be appropriate for college students. To proceed in this course, you are declaring that you have read and understand this policy and that you feel mature enough to take the course at this time.
Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

It is a federal violation of law for a faculty member to discuss your academic record with anyone except an appropriate college official. If your parents or any other person wishes to discuss your academic performance, you must provide that information to them yourself, because professors are unable to discuss academic records with anyone else.
Instructor Expectations

You will work with your instructor throughout the semester, and your instructor should respond to student contact through the Spark message inbox (or alongside your assignments) within one business day. Additionally, your instructor will typically grade submissions within three business days. In return, professors ask that students follow the suggested pacing guides — or work to complete their coursework earlier. Please note that students who do not follow the pacing guide, and procrastinate submissions until the end of the semester, may find that feedback will be slower, less detailed, and less personalized which,  admittedly, could result in lower grades overall.
Semester Deadlines

The Fall 2023 semester runs from September 5, 2023, through December 20, 2023.


Due Dates

The assignments in the final unit are due on the final day of the semester, with no exceptions. All assignments in previous units are due one week before the final day of the semester. No late submissions will be accepted for credit, so please plan ahead and avoid waiting until the last minute (when a technical issue, power outage, emergency, etc. could occur and prevent you from submitting your work before the deadlines).
Pacing Guide

Because your instructor will typically take several days to closely review and grade your assignments, it is strongly recommended to submit assignments following the pacing guide (below) and avoid waiting to submit multiple assignments near either of the two deadlines (Units 1-6 ending December 13; Unit 7 ends December 20).

A typical semester is 15-16 weeks in length (four months). Note, this is a sample pacing guide. You are not required to follow it. Importantly, you may choose to go at a faster pace.

  • Unit One: September 5 – September 20: 16 days
  • Unit Two: September 21 – October 6: 16 days
  • Unit Three: October 7 – October 22: 16 days
  • Unit Four: October 23 – November 7: 16 days
  • Unit Five: November 8 – November 23: 16 days
  • Unit Six: November 24 – December 12: 19 days
  • Unit Seven: December 13 – December 20: 8 days

SEU Policies

Additional college policies, including info on FERPA, Disabilities, Title IX, and Triggers, can be found here:
Assignment Submissions and Resubmissions

  • SUBMIT WORK IN ORDER: You should submit work in each unit in the order they appear in the course. If you skip over any assignments, and move on to a later unit, the work from the previous unit(s) will be marked as zero points and can’t be made up.
  • Please note: Some students find it helpful to do the “peer review” assignments before attempting a rough draft of the same essay. Thus, within a specific unit, the “peer review” assignments may be completed in any order.
  • To be clear: You may read ahead on the assignments. Indeed, it is often a very good idea to familiarize yourself with the upcoming readings, assignments, and videos, as early as possible. Further, you may begin work earlier, if you like — while saving your progress offline — before submitting it in the prescribed order. This could help provide some extra time, to clear your thoughts and gain a fresh perspective, between writing a rough draft and editing its final version.
  • USE INSTRUCTOR FEEDBACK: After submitting a draft for a major essay, you must create a revision plan and revise your essay using your instructor’s feedback.
  • If you want to try again on an assignment, you will need to specifically request that it be sent back, in the comments/feedback area on the specific assignment. If there is some reason for needing more than three attempts on an assignment, please contact your instructor with your request and explanation.
  • WARNING: Submitting the same draft as your final version, or submitting before your instructor provides a score and feedback, may result in zero (0) points being awarded. Work submitted late in the semester may remain ungraded in the time remaining, and students may be unable to proceed in the course as quickly as they like (or need). Thus, whenever possible, students should try to complete the course well before the end of the semester.
  • This English course requires significant reading, research, and writing. Because of the workload, and because writing skills take time to develop, this course should be started as soon as possible. It should not be postponed until later in the semester. This single variable — whether students begin early or late in the semester — has proven to be a key factor to success in this course.
    • Smaller assignments may be resubmitted up to three times for a better grade — as long as you resubmit them before moving on to the next unit. Once you have moved on to a subsequent unit, the previous unit’s grades are final.
    • The system will record the score from your final submission (not necessarily the highest score).
    • English Composition I includes six major assignments: Personal Narrative Essay, Restaurant Review, Print Ad Analysis Essay, Issue Exploration Essay, Reflection Paper, and Annotated Bibliography — all marked in the assignment description.
    • The six major assignments in this course can also be revised and resubmitted up to three times for a better score.
    • DUE DATES: The assignments in the final unit are due on the final day of the semester, with no exceptions. All assignments in the first six units are due one week before the final day of the semester. No late submissions will be accepted for credit, so please plan ahead, and avoid waiting until the last minute (when a technical issue, server overload, power outage, emergency, etc. could occur).
    • PACING GUIDE: Because your instructor will typically take several days to closely review and grade your assignments, it is strongly recommended to submit assignments following the pacing guide — or earlier! — to avoid waiting to submit multiple assignments with either deadline looming.

    Required File Formats

    When submitting essays in this class, you must submit them as PDF files, which is preferred, or as Word files (.doc or .docx), which are allowed. Files with .gdoc or .pages extensions will be sent back, ungraded. See this webpage for your free access to Microsoft Office 365:

    Please give your submitted assignments descriptive filenames with your name, the name of the assignment, and whether it is the draft or final version of the assignment (e.g., “yourname-assignment-draftORfinal.pdf”). This helps prevent confusion over which is the final or draft versions when being compared during grading.

    All assignments longer than one page (250 words or more), should be submitted as an attachment, using MLA format, unless directed otherwise. Also, please remember to change the date on your later drafts or final versions in the MLA-formatted heading.

    If you have any questions or concerns about this course, please contact your instructor directly, either through the Message system in Spark, or in the comments/feedback area of individual assignments. If you have questions or concerns about the Spark program or would like to discuss withdrawing from the course, please contact your mentor.

Scheduling Your Studies

What may also work best for you is to set a daily schedule that is based on your normal daily events, with studying for this course set after a specific daily event. For instance, you might work on this course every day, right after breakfast, or after a morning shower. Or, you might set a schedule where you work on the course on weekdays after getting home from school or work. Or, it could be after an afternoon nap, after watching Jeopardy, or anything else.

The key, for me, has been to do it after I finish something else that I do every day. After a few days, my mind is automatically preparing to work at that time — whether it’s after a meal, some daily ritual, or whatever else I’m in the habit of doing.

If you can get on a daily schedule, and work as quickly as you can, without skimping on learning what you’d like/need to, I suspect you’ll be done with the coursework well before the end of the semester. That would generally mean more individualized feedback and, thus, a higher grade, too. Plus, you have the rest of the semester to yourself!

Writing well, fortunately, is a skill, so anyone could do it. However, it takes preparation/study, and practice/hard work, to improve and do well.

That’s how this course works.

That’s how writing works.

That’s how life works.

So, please get to work without delay. The coursework is unforgiving for those who delay beginning.

If you have any questions, about any of this, please ask! I am happy to help you!