EN 160:001
Spring 1994
Robert Crooks

AGC 099; 891-2641; 648-2014 (home)

Writing for the Real World

This section of EN 160 offers an unusual opportumty to carry out research projects for a variety of institutions in the Boston area. In addition to classroom instruction in the principles and sldlls needed for research writing, you will gain hands-on experience in dealing with the demands and constraints of research and problems of writing for specific audiences in settings outside of college. The themtic focus for the course will be contemporary urban issues such as the geographical redistribution of work and wealth, the gains and costs of urban renewal, gentrification and homelessness. The major writing assignment for the course will be an article or paper assigned by an institution outside Bentley. You will work on these assignments in groups of 3 or 4, helping each other with the work as much as possible, and each submitting an individual attempt at the article in two versions (one for the institutional audience, one for the class audience). There will be a number of shorter assignments which will relate either to the major research project or to other readings for the class. Readings for the class my in some cases be directly relevant to your research project, but will be aimed generally at providing a general background necessary for writing about contemporary urban issues.

Group assignment for the beginning of each class (you shotfid begin as soon as you arrive, regardless of whether I have arrived or not): as a group record, in writing, 1) the two or three points raised in the last class by me or a student that the group feels were most important, and 2) what points from last class or the assignment for the present class need discussion for clarification. All members of the group present shotfid sign this sheet before you turn it in-this will provide me with a record of attendance. [Class Quality Control Group only: instead of the assignment above, you shotfid begin each class by collecting the Reading Difficulty Logs from each member of the class. Quickly review these logs as a group to identify widely shared difficulties. List on a sheet of paper the three of four most commonly mentioned problems with the reading and turn these into me along with the individual logs. Make sure each member of the group signs your sheet.]

Reading Difficulty Log: for all reading assignments you shotfid prepare a written log of specific difficulties you had in understanding the reading (for exmple: a term you couldn't fmd in the dictionary, an unclear relation between two sentences or paragraphs, an unclear logical relation between ideas, a complicated sentence you were unable to make sense of, etc.). The log will serve three purposes. First, it will help you improve your reading comprehension by identifying problems to be worked on. Second, it will improve your own writing by making you more aware of what makes writing "reader-friendly" and what makes reading difficult. Third, it will help to identify areas in the reading that you have found particularly difficult and that we shotfid therefore discuss further in class. If you fail to turn in a log for any reading assignment, you will receive one-half of an attendance point for that class./f you must miss a class, sending me a log by E-toni| on the day of class will mean that you will only be penalized one-haft of an attendance point. Logs shotfid be turned in for all reading assignments, even if they are turned in late-failure to do so will restfit in reduction of the Reading portion of the fmal grade. Note that a log indicating that you had no diffictfities with the assignment tells me that you feel fully prepared for a quiz on the assignment.

Attendance and completion of assignments: For classes that have no reading or writing assignment (like the first one), you will receive one attendance point for being physically present. If there is a reading or writing assignment for the class, you will receive one-half of an attendance point for your physical presence, and one.half point for completing the assignment on time. If you arrive after the group assignment for the beginning of class (see above) has been turned in, you will be counted as late and lose one-quarter of an attendance point (you will also lose one-quarter point for leaving early). If you miss class but send the writing assignment or reading difficulty log to me by another student or by E-mail on the day of class, you will receive one-half of an attendance point. If you do not turn in a late writing assignment or reading difficulty log by the beginning of the following class, you will lose an additional one-half point (and so on). Everyone is allowed to lose two attendance points without penalty. Each additional attendance point lost will restfit in a reduction of the Attendance/Assignment portion of the fmal grade by one-third letter grade (e.g. 3.3 becomes 3.0). Exceptions will be considered if a written or E-mail explanation for missing class or failing to complete the assignment on time is submitted.

Format for writing assignments: prepare all assignments on a word processor, double-spaced with numbered pages. Give the assignment an appropriate title (at the top of the first page-a separate title page is not necessary for any assignment). If the assignment borrows information or ideas from other sources, appropriate parenthetical citations and a Works Cited list should be included (for information on documentation format, consult an English Handbook on the MLA documentation system). Papers lacking proper documentation of sources will be returned ungraded and must be resubmitted after the problems have been corrected. Papers with numerous spelling errors or grammatical problems will also be returned ungraded-you will be expected to resolve these problems, with the help of the Writing Center (La Cava 100) if necessary.

Class Quality Control Groups: The benefit of this class to each of you depends partly on each of you taking responsibility for helping to identify and resolve problems in the class. Therefore each group will serve as a class quality control group for a portion of the course. During that time, the group will have a special assignment at the beginning of class (see above). In addition, a member of each of the other groups will submit a report on dynamics and work-sharing within her/his group; group members should take turns submitting these reports, and they should be submitted to the quality control group by E-mail by 12 noon on Tuesday. The Quality control group should also meet once weekly specifically to discuss the various group reports, how the course is going generally, and any problems the group sees; the group will submit a report of the meeting to me by E-mall by 5:00 pm on Friday (if any of the other groups has not submitted a weekly report, that should be noted in your report). You may also request that I attend any weekly group meeting if you feel that it would be beneficial.

E-mail: As you should realize from what you have already read, we will be using E-mail extensively to facilitate communication and to avoid wasting paper in this course. For those of you who do not use E-mai| now, I realize that getting used to it may be a burden, but this skill is rapidly becoming so important in so many different professions that you should acquire it now. In addition to knowing the basic operation of E-mail, you should know how to create and use DISTRIBUTION LISTS, how to EXTRACT, UPLOAD and DOWNLOAD files, and how to use the PUT_FILE and GET_FILE commands. In addition to regular use, you should check your E-mail at least once a day for messages concerning the class.

Paraphrasing Assignments: The key to effective research is effective reading, which means being able to recognize the most important ideas in what you read and understand how those ideas are connected to produce either an argument. To reproduce the argument is condensed form is to write a summary, which was one of the skills you were taught in EN 140. Practically spelling, the best way of developing a good summary, I think, is to identify the crucial ideas and then paraphrase those ideas. To paraphrase an idea means to put it into your own words in such a way that someone who has not read what you read will understand the idea-not just what it means in general, but what it means in this particular piece of writing. To do that, you will have to pay attention not only to the sentence or passage you are paraphrasing, but to the essay as a whole, and your paraphrase will generally be longer, perhaps much longer, than the original passage. For everything you read in this class (and everytiring you read in general), you should get in the habit of copying out what seem to you the most important ideas and then writing paraphrases of them.