ENG 104: College Writing

Course Objectives

This course develops ideas and practices central to the Concept: “Spring Arbor University is a community of learners distinguished by our lifelong involvement in the study and application of the liberal arts, total commitment to Jesus Christ as the perspective for learning, and critical participation in the contemporary world.”  We will explore how rhetoric, one of the three liberal arts, enables us to learn in community, participate in the life of the Word who became flesh, and cooperate in his redemption of our world.

Right now you may view education and this class in the context of the marketplace; perhaps you want to exchange money and homework (as little of both as possible) for a grade that will maximize your earning potential.  What I believe, however, is that real learning about words—both received (read) and given (spoken or written)—can occur only when we get past this contractual model.  This is because language is a gift that originated in the divine community and has been given to human communities.  So while many of the words that bombard us today are intended to provoke buying and selling, these functions do not exhaust the power of language.  Thus my hope is that you will have the opportunity this semester to learn more deeply that language is a gift offered in community, a gift I encourage you to receive and actively practice.

To meet these broad goals, the Spring Arbor English Department has developed a list of specific objectives for ENG 104:

  • To hone the writing skills necessary for college coursework;
  • To establish thesis, analyze audience, and understand purpose;
  • To emphasize strategies appropriate for college writing such as analysis and argument;
  • To take a position and support it with a clear line of reasoning;
  • To develop critical thinking skills in order to recognize assumptions, analyze arguments, and assess implications through sound reasoning;
  • To detect logical fallacies so as to evaluate arguments;
  • To learn to provide peer critique and to receive peer editing in a group;
  • To develop college-level research and documentation skills;
  • To produce 20 pages of academic writing;
  • To develop proofreading skills through the editing of the student’s own work and the work of others;
  • To exhibit positive communication and listening skills as students work in groups, prepare oral presentations, and attend class lectures;
  • To analyze, research, and organize a paper or papers in MLA format, and to become familiar with research resources.

Course Requirements

To accomplish these objectives, we will complete four units.  Each unit will build on the skills introduced in the previous units.  Our classes will consist of some lectures, but much of the time will be spent in small group discussion and individual work.  I can demonstrate critical thinking and effective writing, but only individual practice will enable you to master these arts.   Furthermore, I am still learning myself about the ways rhetoric can lead and form us, so I expect to be taught by each of you during our discussions.

Grading Breakdown:

Course Grading Scale: A 100-93; A- 92-90; B+ 89-87; B 86-83; B- 82-80; . . . F 59-0.

The grades for units 1 and 4 are broken up as follows: 15% process work (in-class writing, class participation, reading quizzes, peer reviews, and drafting), and 85% completed essay.  Because units 2 and 3 involve more intensive preliminary assignments, the process work comprises 25% of the unit grade and the completed essay fulfills the remaining 75%.  In order to pass this class, students must complete all four units, the reading notebook, and the final.

There is one way to earn bonus points (should you care).  Students who miss one or fewer classes will get an extra percentage point added to their total grade.


  • The Office of Assertion: An Art of Rhetoric for the Academic Essay, by Scott Crider.  ISBN: 9781932236453
  • They Say/I Say: The Moves that Matter in Academic Writing, by Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkenstein.  ISBN:  9780393933611
  • Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies, by Marilyn Chandler McEntyre. ISBN: 9780802848642

Course Calendar

Course meets MWF from 8:55-9:55 in SMC 111

This schedule is subject to change.

Week 1

  • Wednesday 9/2: Introduction
  • Friday 9/4: QUIZ; Read OA chapter 1 “Introduction: Rhetoric as the Liberal Art of Soul-Leading in Writing”; Reading Notebook entry on “Why Worry about Words?” due; handout for class discussion. Video of class session.

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

  • Monday 9/21: bring 200 word summaries of two of these three essays to class, following the directions in TS/IS 30-40; upload your summaries here (in one document, with your name in the file name)
  • Wednesday 9/23: bring two copies of your essay; Reading Notebook entry on “Tell the Truth” due (via Zoom); Peer Review document
  • Friday 9/25: Intro to Analysis Unit; essay 1 due (please format this essay, and all subsequent essays, according to this guide). Save your essay with your last name in the file name and the two peer reviews copy and pasted at the bottom of the document; then upload the essay here.

Week 5

  • Monday 9/28: Watch this introductory video to the SAU archives (note you can also access the Powerpoint which includes links to varies artifacts); Reading Notebook entry on “Don’t Tolerate Lies” due
  • Wednesday 9/30: No class
  • Friday 10/2: Archive Day. To set up an appointment to visit the archives, email Susan Panak.

Week 6

  • Monday 10/5: read OA chapter 2 “Invention: The Discovery of Arguments”;  bring a good question about your artifact: “the value of a question is determined . . . by the specificity and richness of the answers it produces [and] by the quantity and quality of the new questions it raises” (Postman, The End of Education 187); QUIZ; Identifying Warrants
  • Wednesday 10/7: read OA chapter 4 “Style: Words and Sentences”; Artifact Analysis due (upload those to this folder); Reading Notebook entry on “Read Well” due
  • Friday 10/9: Library Day 1. Before class, please complete these two library tutorials: White Library Website and Searching for Books.

Week 7

Week 8

  • Monday 10/19: Reading Notebook entry on “Share Stories”; video from class
  • Wednesday 10/21: Summa assignment due, you can upload it to this folder; video from class.
  • Friday 10/23: Citation overview; read TS/IS 42-52, and 55-67; read OA chapter 3 “Organization: The Desire for Design”

Week 9

  • Monday 10/26: no class—make an appointment to meet with me via Zoom here; outline due at meeting; Reading Notebook entry on “Love the Long Sentence”
  • Wednesday 10/28: no class—conferences
  • Friday 10/30: no class—conferences

Week 10

Week 11

Week 12

Week 13

  • Monday 11/23: read OA 6 “Conclusion: Rhetoric as the Office of Assertion”; Reading Notebook entry on “Pray”; Zoom link
  • Wednesday 11/25: No Class; Thanksgiving Break 
  • Friday 11/27: No Class; Thanksgiving Break 

Week 14

  • Monday 11/30: no class meeting; Reading Notebook entry on “Cherish Silence”
  • Wednesday 12/2: Remediation project workshops as needed, but no formal class
  • Friday 12/4: Presentations; Zoom link

Week 15