Course Policies, Requirements, and Evaluation Procedures

English 102:
Freshman Composition

Section 46
Spring 1999
The University of Mississippi
Department of English

Instructor: John B. Padgett
Office: 209 Somerville
Office Hours: 2:30-3:30 TTh and by Appt.
Office Telephone: 232-7689
Web pages:
John B. Padgett (Department page)
Padge's Annex (Personal page)

Course Objectives:

English 102 is the second of a two-semester sequence in freshman composition. It resembles English 101 in several regards; however, in this course, there is a greater emphasis on academic research and argument than in the previous course.

Among the specific goals for students in this course are the following:

Required Texts:

Other texts may be posted on the course web page.

In addition, you will need a notebook (preferably a three-ring binder) to hold your in-class writing and entries in your reading/writing journal.


You are required to attend and be prepared for class. Freshman English Program policy dictates that you will be allowed three penalty-free absences. For each absence after the third, your final course grade will be lowered by one-half letter grade. In addition, you will not be allowed to make up daily work (pop quizzes, in-class assignments, etc.) missed because of absence, regardless of the reason(s) for the absence.

To be counted present, you should arrive on time and prepared for that day's activities. Failure to bring necessary materials for a given day's work — for instance, lacking an essay draft on a day scheduled for peer critiques — will be considered an absence for that day. Likewise, if you arrive more than fifteen minutes late or stay for less than two-thirds of the class (50 minutes), you will be considered absent for that day.

Course Structure and Evaluation:

Roughly the first two-thirds of the semester will be devoted to reading assignments, writing first and second drafts of five separate essays, responding to written works (both readings from the texts and essays written by classmates), and practicing writing and revision skills. The last one-third of the semester will be devoted for the most part to compiling the writing portfolio upon which the bulk of your course grade will be based. The contents of the portfolio will be drawn from the essay drafts written earlier during the semester, so the focus during the last few weeks of the semester will be almost entirely on revision.

The writing portfolio is a 14- to 28-page collection of written work which you will select to be evaluated for a grade. It represents your opportunity to choose, in consultation with your classmates and me, your best writing from English 102. You will select three of the five essays written earlier in the semester and revise them for inclusion in the portfolio. In addition, you will be required to write an opening letter in which you introduce yourself and reflect on the contents of the portfolio.

Reading Assignments

The assigned readings from the texts will provide exercises in writing and reading and in some cases will serve as the basis for the essay writing assignments. In addition, in small groups or online you will read classmates' essay drafts and respond to them, offering specific ways in which they could be improved.

Writing Assignments

Written assignments in English 102 will consist of a variety of out-of-class and in-class writing, but in general assignments will fall into one of two main categories: informal writing and essays.

(1) Informal writing will include email to an online discussion group as well as (a) responses to class activities; (b) summaries, observations, and questions about reading assignments, and (c) information pertinent to your longer writing assignments, as well as required journal entries about topics of your own choosing. The minimum acceptable length of a typical entry is the equivalent of one or two handwritten pages — roughly 300-500 words.

"Padge102": An online discussion group, titled "padge102," will be the target of most of your informal writing in English 102. It offers a writing environment similar to that of a journal, but with the key difference that your writing will be read by others. Because this course will focus primarily on argument — writing in which you attempt to convince an audience of the rightness of your positions — "padge102" will also offer you a forum in which to interact with and respond to others' writing and to receive feedback on your own writing.

You will be required to write a substantive "post" (approximately 400 words or more) on padge102 a minimum of once per week. You may write additional posts if you choose. On some occasions you will be writing on assigned tasks; often, though, your online posts will be on topics of your own choosing. Responding at some length to the posts of others also will count toward meeting the minimum requirement of one post per week. While you will not receive a grade for content, I will be checking to see that you do the work.

You must do the work on time. You may not make up work for past weeks, and neither may you post future weeks' requirements ahead of time, unless you know you will be unable to do so and get permission from me in advance.

Reading/Writing Journal: In addition to your online writing, you should maintain a journal in which you respond to the assigned readings and write preliminary drafts and explorations of the more formal essays. Occasionally you will be asked to turn in your journal for checking. Most of your journal assignments I will announce in class, so you should listen for them; not knowing about a journal assignment because of absence will not be a valid excuse for failing to do the work. Most of your work in your journal will be assigned, but whether you receive an assignment or not, you should plan to write at least one substantive entry (about one or two handwritten single-spaced page) each week on a topic of your own choosing.

(2) Essays make up the course's major writing assignments. Each is generally 4 to 6 typed, double-spaced pages. Some essay assignments may be based on the course reading materials, and most will require additional research, either from online sources and/or from the library.

For each essay assignment, you will begin with a first draft, which you will submit for a reader response from your classmates. (In some cases, this may be performed online.) Upon receiving feedback from your readers, you will then revise the essay and submit the revised draft to me, along with previous draft(s) and reader responses. I will then read it and offer my own feedback. (Again, in some instances, this step may be performed online via email.) Near the end of the semester, if you choose the essay for inclusion in the final portfolio, the essay will undergo further revision and reader response.

Except for those selected for the final writing portfolio, individual essays will not be evaluated for a grade. Each student will select a single essay from those already written to serve as the basis for the student's midterm grade, but that grade represents only the student's progress to that point in the semester; it does not necessarily reflect what the student's final grade in the course will be.

All essay drafts are due on the date assigned. Failure to have drafts on assigned dates will result in an absence on that day; failure to have other written assignments on the date due will result in a daily-work grade of "zero."


In order to pass the course, students must complete all assignments.

Your course grade will be calculated according to the following percentages:
Final writing portfolio 70 %
Daily work/participation 25 %
Final exam  5 %

"Daily work" will include all informal writing, reader responses, class participation, and work produced in small-group activities. The day on which the final exam will be held will be announced later in the semester.

The final writing portfolio will be turned in the last week of class. The portfolio will be judged on the basis of such criteria as content, organization, diction, sentence style, and its overall effectiveness of purpose. It will be judged as a whole. The essays which constitute the portfolio will not receive individual grades.


All essay drafts must be produced by computer word processing. If you do not have access to a word processor of your own, Macintosh computers are available at the University Writing Center, which has been relocated this semester in Kinard Hall because of renovations to Bondurant Hall. Consultants there can acquaint you with the word processing software available there. The Writing Center telephone number is 232-7689.

The Writing Center's consultants are also trained tutors who can assist you in specific problem areas in your writing or in your overall writing process. .

Students needing access to email accounts may use the IBM and Macintosh computers in the Weir Hall labs.

Each member of this class must subscribe to the course mailing list, padge102, unless you can demonstrate to me in writing why this would prove an undue hardship to you. If you are excused from subscribing to the mailing list, you will be required to turn in weekly typewritten journals of at least two double-spaced pages in lieu of posting to the list.

To subscribe to padge102 send the following message

subscribe padge102


Shortly thereafter, you should receive a message from the Majordomo system confirming your subscription.

To post messages to the list, send them to Please be careful typing that address; note the exact spelling of "listserv" (no "E" on the end). Also, use lowercase letters when typing the address to ensure that it is properly sent.

Students who do not yet have an E-mail account may obtain one at the Help Desk in Powers Hall. Other locations may also be set up on campus to accommodate students. You will need your student ID card (a photocopy of it will be made), and you will need to read and sign an appropriate use policy. If you need IBM or Macintosh software, take a 3.5-inch floppy disk with you.

For additional guidance on how to use computers on campus, call the Help Desk at 232-5222.

In no case is a computer malfunction or access problem a valid excuse for not having work on assigned due dates.

Academic Honesty:

Plagiarism is a serious form of cheating. To plagiarize is to claim another's ideas or writing as one's own. In a sense, it is a form of stealing.

Plagiarism can take several forms. Students often associate the term with writers who copy entire passages from a book, magazine, encyclopedia, or other printed source and turn them in to an instructor as their work. This is, perhaps, the most blatant form of plagiarism as well as the easiest for instructors to detect. After all, English instructors have spent years studying style, and they can usually recognize a passage lifted from Time magazine or other sources with distinctive styles. In fact, instructors can usually recognize professional writing, even if they cannot immediately identify its source.

But plagiarism takes several other forms. For instance, students plagiarize when they borrow ideas from other writers without giving them credit. In this case, students might not even use the other writer's language; nevertheless, they are stealing the writer's content. Students also plagiarize when they present another student's work as their own. Thus, documentation involves more than just citing the source of direct quotations.

Because plagiarism is such a complex concept to come to grips with in its entirety, take note of the following summary definition:

  1. Plagiarism includes the literal repetition without acknowledgement of the writings of another author. All significant words, phrases, clauses, or passages in a student's paper which have been taken directly from source material must be enclosed in quotation marks and acknowledged either in the text itself or in the endnotes.
  2. Plagiarism includes borrowing without acknowledgement another writer's general plan, outline, or structure of argument in the creation of one's own organization.
  3. Plagiarism includes borrowing another's ideas and representing them as one's own. To paraphrase the thoughts of another writer without acknowledging is to plagiarize.
  4. Plagiarism includes allowing any other person or organization to prepare the paper and submitting it as one's own work.
Plagiarism in this course will not be tolerated. Any student who turns in plagiarized work in this course will be dealt with severely. Penalties for plagiarism include, but are not limited to, failure in the course, suspension, and permanent expulsion from the university.

Students are responsible for acquainting themselves with the University of Mississippi's policies regarding academic dishonesty. For more information, read the sections on "Academic Discipline Policy" in the M Book: Handbook of Standards and Activities, A Guide for Students.

The Freshman English Program:

The Freshman English Program has an established set of requirements and policies that are set forth in a separate document. That overall policy statement is available on the Freshman English Program's website at I also will be distributing a copy of it to students within the next couple of weeks. It is the student's obligation to familiarize him- or herself with the program's policies and requirements and to agree to abide by them.

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Copyright © 1999 by John B. Padgett. 
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