Core 110: Effective Writing
Preface to Instructors
The course in effective writing enjoys a long and rich history at King's College, a history shaped by faculty devoted to the art of writing and dedicated to leading students to respect language and evidence, use rhetoric responsibly, and write imaginative and thoughtful prose. The English department's approach to teaching writing emphasizes the process of writing and includes strategies such as drafting, peer-editing, and one-to-one conferencing.
With the implementation of the new Core Curriculum in 1985 and in cooperation with other faculty at the College, the department began to refine an approach to teaching that was already student-centered by stating the objectives of CORE 110: Effective Writing not in terms of what instructors and the course would do, but, rather, in terms of what students should know and be able to do as a consequence of taking the course. Further, the department believed that a common learning experience for King's students and a collaborative spirit among instructors would be ensured if every syllabus included the objectives and goals defined below.
Instructors of Effective Writing might use in their individual syllabi the following items from this Master Syllabus:
- The Introduction
- Objectives and Goals
- The Grading Pyramid (Appendix A)
A course in college-level composition with emphasis on writing clearly, effectively and interestingly for a variety of purposes and audiences. Individual conferences, writing workshops, journal writing and regular writing assignments encourage practice in each step of the writing process. A library unit introduces the student to the use of sources in informational writing. Required of all freshmen. Offered each semester. 3 hours. 3 credits.
The liberally educated person must be able to discover ideas and express them clearly and effectively in writing. As a creative art, writing shapes experience into knowledge and is, therefore, essential to the development of the person and to the health of free institutions. As a facet of effective communication, writing is also a practical art, one that society respects and regards as necessary for success in all careers and professions.
Objectives and Goals
As a consequence of taking this course, students should be able to:
- Work through the stages of preparing an essay: develop a topic based on assignment or interests, use techniques of drafting and editing such as peer revision, global revision, and proofreading,
- Support a significant central idea with thoughtfully chosen evidence and details appropriate to the purpose and genre,
- Demonstrate organization and cohesion in writing,
- Incorporate effectively and document properly sources that are reliable, accurate, and relevant,
- Demonstrate facility with the English language, including conventions, sentence structure, and diction.
- Understand and use organizing principles,
- Synthesize facts, concepts, and principles,
- Develop a broad vocabulary and sensitivity to language,
- Develop a respect for ideas supported by evidence and logical argumentation,
- Appreciate the vital connection between good reading and good writing,
- Develop ideas and write clear and forceful prose for a variety of purposes and audiences,
- Present an authentic individual voice in writing.
Possible Strategies for the 110 Instructor
- Exercises in using various writing processes and heuristic devices for developing subjects, e.g., list making, free writing, brainstorming, clustering, looping
- Exercises and assignments in using specific rhetorical forms (e.g., comparison and contrast, cause and effect, definition, classification) and rhetorical purposes (e.g., to narrate, describe, inform, define, and persuade)
- Exercises in writing for a particular audience
- Exercises in the use of peer editing techniques
- Exercises to incorporate library material into essays and informational papers
- Discussions of readings and writing samples
- Reading and discussing writing in class sessions
- Use of workshop and tutorial approaches
- Submission by students of between four and six papers, each revised through drafts
- In-class writing assignments and journals
- Use of rubric in evaluating papers
Transferable Skills of Liberal Learning:
- Effective Writing: Individual papers are graded with the use of criteria such as is outlined in the Grading Pyramid (see below).
- Information Literacy: The instructor may request the assistance of the library staff to give students basic instruction in finding, evaluating, and using print and electronic sources. As a consequence of this instruction and the use of sources in at least one paper, the student should be able to:
- Use the services and expertise of reference librarians to identify and locate relevant sources;
- Access print and electronic sources effectively and efficiently;
- Critically evaluate the reliability, accuracy, authority, and timeliness of sources consulted;
- Accurately summarize main ideas extracted from sources;
- Demonstrate an understanding of what constitutes plagiarism and the unlawful use of copyrighted material;
- Record pertinent citation information for future reference; and
- Use MLA documentation style to cite sources.
Instructors may consult the resource file kept in the department office. The packet contains a variety of strategies instructors may find helpful in teaching Core 110, e.g., guidelines that define assignments for students, coversheets for student papers, peer-editing guidelines, suggestions for collaborative writing assignments.
CORE 099: Thinking and Writing
The course is designed to help students become more confident and effective writers. Students will compose organized, well-developed paragraphs and essays for various audiences and purposes; understand and use the techniques of writing - prewriting, writing, and revising; and edit writing for correct grammar, usage, and punctuation. The course has four meetings per week. (Since CORE 099 is a prerequisite for CORE 110, students must attain a minimum of a C grade in order to register for CORE 110. Students who do not meet this requirement must repeat CORE 099. In some cases CORE 099 may be waived on the basis of a placement exam.)
Writing is an essential skill for academic success. The academic writer uses organization, language, and methods of development such as — description, comparison/contrast, argumentation/persuasion, and cause/effect to communicate purpose and meaning.
Objectives and Goals
It is expected that successful completion of this course will help improve the ability to write effectively and to continue to refine writing skills in other Core and major courses.
As a consequence of taking this course, students should be able to:
- To identify effective thesis statements and the specific evidence and concrete detail that supports these thesis statements.
- To formulate effective thesis statements from meaningful topics and to develop the supporting evidence and concrete detail that logically and specifically develops these ideas.
- To recognize that specific, vivid, expressive language (words/vocabulary) is the core of communicating the author’s message to the audience.
- To understand and to use the following organizing principles of writing as tools to develop comprehension and communication: description, illustration, narration, comparison/contrast, and argumentation/ persuasion.
- To understand writing as a process that uses strategies such as free writing, outlines, concept maps, summaries, revision, and peer-editing as tools in the thinking and writing process.
- To recognize and consistently utilize the conventions of spelling, grammar, and usage as logical means of communicating in Standard English.
- To recognize the importance of effective writing and critical reading in academic pursuits.
College Writing Skills with Readings, 8th Ed; John Langan
Be aware of academic honesty policy concerning cheating and plagiarism, and your moral, ethical, and legal obligation only to submit work completed by you yourself.
Instructors in 099 use the Grading Pyramid, shown below.
Instructors in CORE 099: Thinking and Writing anbd CORE 110: Effective Writing use the following pyramid, or rubric, to evaluate essays:
The essay (or paragaph in 099) gives imaginative treatment to a significant and striking central idea.The plan of the essay evidences a strategy for persuasion. Generalizations are carefully supported. Details show originality, freshness and concreteness. Sentences show variety of pattern and are rhetorically effective. Style is authentic and demonstrates that ideas have been interiorized.
The essay’s (or paragraph's in 099) central idea is interesting and significant. The organization of the essay demonstrates careful planning. Details are specific and sharp; there is a concern for showing rather than just telling. Sentences show variety of purpose and pattern. Diction is chosen with awareness of audience and purpose.
The essay (or paragraph in 099) has a clear central idea. The plan of the essay is clear with an identifiable introduction and conclusion. Generalizations are supported by details. Paragraphs are unified and coherent. Transitions are clear. Sentences make sense and conform to conventional patterns. Subjects and verbs agree. Pronouns agree with antecedents. Verb tenses are consistent. Punctuation is conventional. Words are spelled correctly.
Central idea is weak or confused. Organization is poor. Paragraphs lack unity and coherence. Generalizations are unsupported by evidence. Sentence structure is confused. Errors in usage, grammar, spelling or punctuation are frequent or serious.