ENG 104: College Writing [Education]

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, 2, 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.  For Unit 3, the Researched Argument, 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 attend every class 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 11:10-12:10 in SDH 212

This schedule is subject to change.

Week 1

  • Friday 1/29: Introduction

Week 2

  • Monday 2/1: read OA chapter 1 “Introduction: Rhetoric as the Liberal Art of Soul-Leading in Writing”; Reading Notebook entry on “Why Worry about Words?” due
  • Wednesday 2/3: read “Learning in War-Time,” by C. S. Lewis
  • Friday 2/5: read “In Defense of Literacy,” by Wendell Berry; Reading Notebook entry on “Love Words” due

Week 3

  • Monday 2/8: read “The Lost Tools of Learning,” by Dorothy Sayers
  • Wednesday 2/10: bring 200 word summaries of two of these three essays to class, following the directions in TS/IS 30-40
  • Friday 2/12: bring a copy of your essay for group peer review

Week 4

  • Monday 2/15: bring two copies of your essay; Reading Notebook entry on “Tell the Truth” due
  • Wednesday 2/17: Focus, “Imagining the Word,” no regular class; essay 1 due in my mailbox (please format this essay, and all subsequent essays, according to this guide)
  • Friday 2/19: no class

Week 5

  • Monday 2/22: read OA chapter 2 “Invention: The Discovery of Arguments”; Reading Notebook entry on “Don’t Tolerate Lies” due
  • Wednesday 2/24: read OA chapter 4 “Style: Words and Sentences”
  • Friday 2/26: read “Pied Beauty” and “Act of the Imagination”; bring a one paragraph proposal for essay 2 that identifies the image you will write about and states your thesis

Week 6

  • Monday 2/29: bring two copies of your essay; Reading Notebook entry on “Read Well” due
  • Wednesday 3/2: bring a copy of your essay
  • Friday 3/4: essay 2 due

Week 7

  • Monday 3/14: bring a good question about higher education: “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); Reading Notebook entry on “Stay in Conversation”
  • Wednesday 3/16: library day; read TS/IS 1-14
  • Friday 3/18: library day

Week 8

  • Monday 3/21: Reading Notebook entry on “Share Stories”
  • Wednesday 3/23: Summa assignment due
  • Friday 3/25: Good Friday, no class 

Week 9

  • Monday 3/28: Easter Monday, no class 
  • Wednesday 3/30: MLA overview; read TS/IS 42-52, and 55-67
  • Friday 4/1: no class—conferences; outline due at meeting; Reading Notebook entry on “Love the Long Sentence”;

Week 10

Week 11

  • Monday 4/11: read OA 5 “Re-visioning: Products and Processes”
  • Wednesday 4/13: bring a draft of your essay; Reading Notebook entry on “Attend to Translation”
  • Friday 4/15: bring a draft of your essay

Week 12

  • Monday 4/18: bring three copies of your essay
  • Wednesday 4/20: bring three copies of your essay
  • Friday 4/22: Work on revisions. I’ll be available for conferences.

Week 13

  • Monday 4/25: essay 3 due (be sure to include all process work as described in the assignment details!)
  • Wednesday 4/27: Re-mediation project proposal due; Reading Notebook entry on “Play”
  • Friday 4/29: Re-mediation workshop; Reading Notebook entry on “Pray”

Week 14

  • Monday 5/2: read OA 6 “Conclusion: Rhetoric as the Office of Assertion”
  • Wednesday 5/4: Department Exam; Reading Notebook entry on “Cherish Silence”
  • Friday 5/6: Department Exam

Week 15