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Cal State L.A.


English 308 Syllabus

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Prof. Jim Garrett
Office: E & T A608
Office Hours: Mon/Wed 3-4pm, Tue/Thu Noon-1pm, and by appt.
Phone: (323) 343-4163

Course Description

Catalog Description: Prerequisite: Passing WPE score. Methods of and practice in writing analytical essays that present persuasive arguments; emphasis on coherent organization, clear style, rigorous argumentation.

Description: Business professionals, scientists, medical professionals, engineers, attorneys and other professionals who can communicate well, gain credibility and are more effective in the workplace. Central to effective communication is the ability to analyze and respond to the “rhetorical situation,” the competing demands of author, audience, and context, and so the key goal of the course is to help students develop the ability to respond effectively to these questions:

  1. What do I want/need to accomplish with this document?
  2. Why do my readers want/need this document?
  3. How do I produce a document that helps my audience accomplish what they need to accomplish?

To create a document that your audience can use, you need to know something about them: who they are, what they expect to see in your document, what they already know (or don’t know) about the topic, what they want to use your document to do, and the conditions under which they will use it. Our goal in this course will be to develop approaches to planning and writing documents, in addition to strategies for creating them.

Objectives: This course is designed to be very practical. The kinds of documents you will be asked to produce will have real purposes and audiences. Our key objective, though, will be to develop effective habits of mind.

Upon completion of ENGL 308, students will

Furthermore, by actively participating in this course, students will

  1. Develop their skills as critical readers—particularly close reading and analysis and generating thought-provoking questions—through active reading and guided class preparation.
  2. Develop their skills at presenting questions and ideas verbally, and at responding to those of others, through seminar-style class discussions.
  3. Develop their skills as effective writers through a variety of “real-world” communication tasks most of which will include an opportunity for revision.

Course Requirements: Listed below are the required assignments for this course:

  1. Weekly reading assignments and class discussion activities.
  2. Weekly short activities/exercises from the course textbook (20% of course grade).
  3. A Project Portfolio (50% of course grade), which will include
    1. Project 1: Resume and Job Application Letter—consider purpose of these documents; consider audience; what does usability and persuasiveness mean in this context?
    2. Project 5: Unsolicited Recommendation
    3. Project 4: Informational Page
    4. Project 7 OR Project 8: Process/Procedure Instructions (written OR digital movie)
    5. Project 12 (with Project 10-11): Formal Report or Proposal with accompanying Project Proposal (Project 10) and Project Progress Report (Project 11)
  4. A final exam (short answer questions and identifications, and one or two essay questions) (25% of course grade)
  5. Attendance and participation (discussion, pop quizzes (if any), in‑class writing, presentations). (5% of course grade)

In order to pass this course all assignments (projects, exercises, and exams) must be legitimately attempted.  Plagiarism (see description below) does not constitute a legitimate attempt of the assignment.


ADA Accommodation: Reasonable accommodation will be provided to any student who is registered with the Office of Students with Disabilities and requests needed accommodation.

Grading Policy: The distribution of points for the individual assignments in this course is listed in “Requirements” above. Course grades are based on standard percentages (i.e. A = 90%-100%, B = 80%-89% and so on). Plus and minus grades are used in the class.

Electronic Devices: Please be respectful of the classroom experience of others. Every quarter I receive earnest complaints from students about the distracting behavior of other students using electronic devices. Unless the use of such devices is approved by the Office of Students with Disabilities, please do not use electronic devices during class.

Contact Info: I am available in my office during my posted office hours and, schedule allowing, by appointment. Email is also an effective way of contacting me.

Attendance: Attendance is mandatory. I will take attendance at the start of every class. If you are not present I will mark you absent. Arriving late will count as half of an absence. You are allowed one absence without penalty. Each absence beyond the first one will reduce your course grade. If you miss more than four classes you will be disqualified from taking the final and therefore will fail the class.

Classroom Preparation: Please read the assigned texts before class. Often I will offer some guidelines about future reading assignments in class. For example, I might tell you to focus on a particular text for the next class meeting. If you are absent, you are responsible for getting the assignment from a classmate.

Academic Dishonesty/Cheating: Collaborating with others is encouraged when you are planning your papers, reviewing each other’s work, preparing for presentations or for exams. Study or reading groups can be effective ways to study and learn. However, when you write your papers, the text needs to be your own.

Textbooks: Most of the novels we will be reading in this class are available in many different editions. I have ordered the following editions for this class and I recommend that you acquire these editions, if possible, as it will facilitate our class discussions.

Anderson, Paul. Technical Communication: A Reader-Centered Approach. Seventh Edition. Wadsworth Publishing (ISBN 10: 1428263934, ISBN-13: 978-1428263932).

5151 State University Drive . Los Angeles . CA 90032 . (323) 343-3000
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Last Update: 01/12/2016