WRT 120: Effective Writing I

Sections 80 (M 4:15-7; Main 300)







Dr. Robert Fletcher

Main 541

Office Hours: M 2-3, 7-9, WF 11-12

Phone: x2745



Course Description:  This general education writing course is designed to foster your growth as writer, reader, and thinker.  The catalog description says that the course will emphasize “explanation of the writing process, practice in writing, and feedback.”  Consequently, though I may occasionally take some time to talk about key concepts and methods of composition, the main instructional methods in the course will be discussion and workshop, with me coordinating activities and guiding you, collectively and individually, in your own work.  In class you can expect to read and discuss your own writing, the writing of other students, and the published writing of professionals.  You should expect to be challenged to write in new ways, to reflect on your writing experiences, and to learn the rhetorical conventions of a variety of social and academic contexts.  We will focus on writing as a process that involves planning, drafting, revising, editing, and reflecting.  Some of these activities will be done on your own, some in class workshops, and some in conference with me or a Writing Center tutor.  Your growth as a writer will probably depend on how much time and enthusiasm you put into these course activities.


Course Objectives:  As with other general education courses, this course is designed to meet a specific set of general education goals. In this course, students should

  • learn to communicate effectively in writing
  • learn to think critically and analytically
  • learn to respond thoughtfully to diversity
  • prepare to lead productive and contributing lives.


  • Trimbur, John.  The Call to Write. 3rd edition.  Longman, 2005.
  • Harris, Muriel.  Prentice Hall Reference Guide.  6th edition.  2006.


Plus, through a computer at home or in a lab, you must be able to access the Blackboard course site (http://blackboard.wcupa.edu), which we will use extensively throughout the term.  The software we will be using for peer review and paper submission requires the Shockwave 8 player.  There will be a prompt at the site for downloading the free player.

Course Requirements and Evaluation:  All students are expected to come to class prepared for discussion or workshop and to complete all assignments on time.  Formal writing assignments will receive letter grades, which will be assigned grade points at semester’s end.  Quizzes will be given a numerical score, and other activities will be graded on a check, check+, check- basis.  Here is more specific information about the activities:

Formal writing assignments.  There are four formal writing assignments in the course, totaling approximately 4500 words or eighteen pages: a literacy narrative (memoir), a commentary, a review, and a website.  Part of your grade for these assignments will be determined by your completion of drafts on time (up to one full grade may be deducted if you fail to submit drafts on time).  Your writing for this course will be evaluated against explicit standards for formal writing. (75% of grade)

Informal writing assignments and exercises.  Other than the argument exercise (assigned Sept. 26), these will be occasional and at my discretion.  They may include reading quizzes.  (10% of grade)

Participation. Reading, writing, and contributing to discussions and group work are all included here. Note: reading assignments should be completed before class on the date specified in the schedule.  (10%)

Portfolio. You are required to submit a portfolio of all your finished work for this course at the semester's end. In addition to your papers and the link to your website, it should include a completed portfolio checklist, which you can download and print out from the Department website (http://www.wcupa.edu/_academics/sch_cas.eng/portlist.htm). Your portfolio must also contain a completed self-assessment survey, which will be distributed to you later in the semester.  (5%)

Extra Credit.  You may receive extra credit by conferencing with a tutor at the Writing Center and working further on the project in response to this feedback.  The credit will take the form of an extra 1/3 of a grade on your project.  In order to receive this credit, you must submit proof of attendance (ask at the center) and a paragraph explaining how your developed/revised the project in response to the advice.

Course Policies and Other Information:

Late Assignments: Papers or other assignments submitted late will have 1/3 of a grade deducted for each day (not class period) that passes after the due date. I will not accept any assignment more than 1 week late.

Academic Dishonesty or Fraud: "Plagiarism is using another's words or ideas without appropriate acknowledgement" (MLA Style Manual 4). In formal essays, "acknowledgement" means using conventions of citation such as the quotation marks and parenthetical note in the previous sentence. Even if you paraphrase someone's words, you must provide a note showing your debt. When in doubt about how to use sources in your writing, come to me with your questions. NOTE: I take academic dishonesty seriously—and I’m very good at detecting it!—and I will pursue disciplinary actions according to university policy if I suspect it.

Attendance: You are permitted one absence during the semester, excluding those for major medical problems, which will be handled on an individual basis.  You may use this absence for any reason (death in the family, sick day, job interview, car breakdown, field trip, whatever).  In cases of extreme illness or emergency that will require prolonged absence, you are responsible for contacting Dean of  Student Affairs, whose office will contact your professors and make appropriate recommendations.  If you miss too much of the semester--even with a legitimate medical excuse--I may have to ask you to withdraw.  After the one cut, your participation grade in the course will be lowered two grades for each cut.

Students with Disabilities:  We at West Chester University wish to make accommodations for persons with disabilities.  Please make your needs known by contacting me and/or the Office of Services for Students with Disabilities at ext. 3217.Sufficient notice is needed in order to make the accommodations possible.  The University desires to comply with the ADA of 1990.

Commitment to Diversity:  West Chester University’s Mission Statement says, in part, “We appreciate the diversity the members of our community bring to the campus and give fair and equitable treatment to all; acts of insensitivity or discrimination against individuals based on their race, gender, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, abilities, or religious beliefs will not be tolerated.”   In accordance with West Chester University’s commitment to diversity, I believe that everyone in my classroom should feel safe.  I have completed the University’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender Ally training.  In becoming an ally I made the commitment to offer a safe space for all of my students, not just those who identify as LGBT.  If you or someone you know would like to know more about this program, please feel free to see me during my office hours.

Support Services:  The Writing Center (Main 203) can provide you with free help with any aspect of your writing.  Call 610-436-2121 for an appointment.

Schedule of Topics, Readings, and Assignments
(Note: This schedule is an ideal that I hope we can approximate; check with me if you miss class to see if anything has changed.

Unless otherwise noted, readings are to be completed BEFORE CLASS.










Introduction to course and course website; paper #1

presented; brainstorming and planning workshop



Over the next

two weeks


Trimbur pp. 2-36, ch. 5;

Harris 2a, b and c (Planning, pp. 4-12)

Post questions about assignment and reading to Bb

study group (see assignment sheet for specifics).  Do

the homework assignment posted at Bb.






Writing workshop

Trimbur ch. 16; Harris 2d-2e (pp. 12-18)





Complete rough draft of paper #1 due to Bb peer readers by noon




Feedback from peer readers due by noon



Harris 61d (497-504)

Mandatory attendance at conference this week




Final draft of paper #1 and self assessment due by noon


Analyzing the Rhetorical Situation and Arguments

Trimbur chs. 2 and 3 plus pp. 714-17

Argument exercise assigned




Exercise on analyzing arguments due by noon






Paper #2 assigned: Commentary; writing workshop

Trimbur ch. 9

Bring your notes, draft-in-progress, and other materials to class.


Fall Break






Complete rough draft of paper #2 due to Bb peer readers by noon




Feedback from peer readers due by noon




Mandatory attendance at conference this week




Final draft of paper #2 and self assessment due by noon


 Paper #3 assigned: Review

Trimbur chs. 11 and 17



Revising and editing workshop

Trimbur ch. 24 and perhaps other readings TBA

Complete rough draft of paper #3 due; meet in Anderson 019.








Attendance voluntary




Final draft of paper #3 and self assessment due by noon


Final Project: Writing for the WWW;

WYSIWYG authoring programs

Trimbur ch. 20; Harris 61a-c (485-97)

Meet in Anderson 019.  You will

choose your subject/paper for your website by end of class.


Basics of HTML and Web Style

A Beginner’s Guide to HTML (PDF document at Bb);

browse the Yale Web Style Guide, second edition

Meet in Anderson 019.


Website workshop


Meet in Anderson 019.

Submit website plan at beginning of class.






Website workshop


Meet in Anderson 019.  Draft of website due by end of class


Revision and presentation of class websites and other activities;

 Common final exam (if required) TBA

Trimbur ch.23 (and perhaps ch. 22)

Meet in Anderson 019.

Final version of website due with portfolio