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Course Policies

Instructor: Quinn Warnick, Ph.D.
Course Location: 203 Trustee Hall
Class Hours: M/W/F 1:00–1:50
Dr. Warnick’s Office: 211 Premont Hall
Office Hours: T/Th 1:30–3:30, F 9:00–11:00, or by appointment
Office Phone: 485-4622 (Leave a detailed message if I don’t pick up.)
Email: email hidden; JavaScript is required (This is the best way to reach me.)
Intern: Carl Mamula (email hidden; JavaScript is required)

FSTY 1311 Overview

Welcome to Freshman Studies 1311: Rhetoric and Composition I! This course is the first half of a two-course sequence designed to help you improve your writing skills and prepare for the academic writing assignments you will complete in the coming years at St. Edward’s. The focus of this class is rhetoric, which can be concisely defined as the art or study of communicating effectively. In this class you will analyze effective examples of rhetoric to better understand how the key concepts of audience, context, and purpose influence the effectiveness of written and oral texts. In addition, you will develop your own rhetorical skills through frequent writing assignments, in-depth revision, peer critique, and critical reflection on your personal writing practices. This course is linked with the Freshman Studies lecture course Ideas and Innovations, and many of points of discussion and essay topics will reflect this connection.

Required Textbooks and Materials

  • Bullock, Richard. The Norton Field Guide to Writing (2nd edition), 2009.
  • Hacker, Diana. A Pocket Style Manual (5th edition), 2009.
  • A USB drive for storing electronic files.
  • A Google (or Gmail) account for submitting work through Google Docs.
  • Approximately 100 sheets of paper for printing course readings and your assignments.

Course Objectives

By the end of the semester, you should be able to:


  • Write sentences and paragraphs that are clear and easy for readers to follow.
  • Select voice, tone, and level of formality appropriate for specific audiences and purposes.


  • Successfully use a variety of strategies to generate ideas, create first drafts, and revise your drafts into polished documents.
  • Give peers constructive feedback on their writing.


  • Identify a main idea and supporting points in readings and engage meaningfully with the ideas of others.
  • Incorporate others’ words and ideas into your own writing and document them using MLA formatting.

Moral Reasoning and Civil Discourse

  • Identify the underlying values of arguments.
  • Discuss others’ viewpoints respectfully and accurately.

Class attendance and participation

Lively discussions are essential in a course concerned with rhetoric, and most of our class sessions will be conducted in discussion/workshop format. As a result, regular attendance and active participation are important. My attendance policy is simple: you may miss three classes (for any reason) without penalty. Each additional absence (for any reason) will lower your course grade by 5%, and six or more absences may result in a failing grade for the course. Because our time in class is limited, promptness is important. Each tardy (arriving more than 5 minutes late) and each instance of leaving early will count as 1/3 of an absence. If you are late for class, it is your responsibility to ensure that you have not been marked absent.

Software and Technology

With very few exceptions, all work submitted for this course must by typed, and many assignments will be submitted electronically, either through the course website or using Google Docs. If you are not comfortable with word processing software and/or Google Docs, please spend some time familiarizing yourself with these programs or seek help from the Instructional Technology office on campus.

As you complete assignments for this class, be sure to save all your work, both print and electronic. Do not discard any drafts, notes, papers or research materials until you receive a final grade for the course. In addition, be sure to save your work regularly in multiple formats (print and electronic) and multiple locations (computer, flash drive, Google Docs, EdShare). Computer problems are a part of modern life, and a crashed computer or a lost flash drive is not a valid excuse for a late paper.

Grading and Evaluation

Four major writing assignments will constitute the bulk of your grade for this course. In addition, several short writing assignments, peer reviews, and regular participation in class discussions will influence your final grade. Major assignments will be penalized one letter grade (e.g., from B to C) for every class period they are late. You must complete all major assignments to receive a passing grade at the end of the semester. Shorter assignments will normally be worth 10 points, and all short assignments will be averaged together. Because these short assignments relate directly to the topic of discussion each day, they will receive no credit if they are turned in late.

Weighted Assignments

Major units and shorter assignments will be weighted as follows:

  • Paper 1 (Literacy Narrative): 15%
  • Paper 2 (Annotated Bibliography): 15%
  • Paper 3 (Controlled Research Paper): 20%
  • Paper 4 (Big Idea Proposal): 20%
  • Reading Responses, Journaling, Quizzes: 15%
  • Class Participation: 15%
  • TOTAL: 100%

After I grade the first three papers, you will revise and resubmit them. Revisions are typically due a week after I return a paper to you, but specific deadlines will be posted on the class website. Each of your revised papers will receive a new grade that will be averaged with your first grade, but please be aware that only papers reflecting significant, content-related revisions will receive higher grades. Merely correcting punctuation and grammatical errors will not improve your grade.

Grading Scale

All major assignments will be evaluated on the following scale:

  • A: 90–100
  • B: 80–89.99
  • C: 70–79.99
  • D: 60–69.99
  • F: 0–59.99

Final grades will follow this same scale. Please note that St. Edward’s does not use a +/- grading scale and I do not round up when calculating final grades. Final grades in the D range will be recorded as NP (No Pass). A grade of NP will not affect your grade point average, but if you receive an NP or an F in FSTY 1311, you will not receive credit for this course and will have to take it again.

Grading Criteria

All major assignments will be evaluated using the following criteria:

A—Superior Accomplishment. Shows excellent analysis of the assignment and provides an imaginative and original response. Successfully adapts to the audience, context, and purpose of the assignment. Contains no mechanical errors and requires no revisions. The assignment is ready to be presented to the intended audience.

B—Commendable. Shows judgment and tact in the presentation of material and responds appropriately to the requirements of the assignment. Has an interesting, precise, and clear style. Contains minor mechanical errors and requires revision before the assignment could be sent to the intended audience.

C—Competent. Meets all the basic criteria of the assignment, and provides a satisfactory response to the rhetorical situation. There is nothing remarkably good or bad about the work, and equivalent work could be sent to the intended audience following revisions to the organization, style, or delivery of the assignment.

D—Needs Improvement. Responds to the assignment, but contains significant defects in one of the major areas (communicability and organization; content and development; style; grammatical conventions and mechanics). The assignment could not be presented to the intended audience without significant revision.

F—Unacceptable. Provides an inadequate response to the assignment or shows a misunderstanding of the rhetorical situation. Contains glaring defects in one or more of the major areas (communicability and organization; content and development; style; grammatical conventions and mechanics). The assignment could not be presented to the intended audience.

Eliminating Distractions

During recent semesters, I have noticed that my students are becoming increasingly distracted during class. Not surprisingly, most of these distractions are technological in nature: cell phones, iPods, nonacademic websites, etc. As a result, I have developed a simple technology policy: Cell phones (including texting), MP3 players, and other handheld devices should never be used during class. If you bring a laptop to class, please use it only for class-related purposes. IMing, checking email, web surfing, etc., are incredibly disrespectful of our time together. I suspect that many of you, like me, suffer from Technology Distraction Disorder,TM so it may be best to avoid any potential problems by leaving your technological devices in your bags or pockets during class.

Disability Accommodations

If you have a medical, psychiatric or learning disability and require accommodations in this class, please let me know early in the semester or as soon as you are eligible. You will first need to provide documentation of your disability to the Student Disability Services Office, located in Moody Hall 155 in Academic Planning and Support Services.

Academic Integrity

The Student Handbook states the following:

St. Edward’s University expects academic honesty from all members of the community, and it is our policy that academic integrity be fostered to the highest degree possible. Consequently, all work submitted for grading in a course must be created as a result of your own thought and effort. Representing work as your own when it is not a result of such thought and effort is a violation of our code of academic integrity. Whenever it is established that academic dishonesty has occurred, the course instructor shall impose a penalty upon the offending individual(s).

In a writing course, violations of this Academic Integrity policy typically take the form of plagiarism. I do not tolerate plagiarism in any form, and I am exceptionally skilled at identifying plagiarized work. If you submit plagiarized work in this course, you will receive an automatic 0 on the assignment. Depending on the severity of the plagiarism, you may also fail the entire course. In addition, I will report the incident to the Office of Academic Affairs.

Plagiarism occurs when a writer, speaker, or designer uses someone else’s language, ideas, images, or other material without fully acknowledging its source by quotations marks, in footnotes or endnotes, and in lists of works cited. In this course, we will draw upon text, images, and other electronic materials found online; the fact that such material is online does not lessen our obligation to give credit where credit is due. Occasionally, students will unintentionally plagiarize material because they have failed to keep track of their sources as they acquire them. You can avoid this problem by keeping detailed records of your research activities in this class.

As a professor, my academic integrity obligates me to report all cases of plagiarism (regardless of the circumstances) to the university. If you have any questions about plagiarism and how it relates to your work, please talk to me before you turn in an assignment. Once plagiarized work has been submitted for a grade, I have no choice but to enforce this policy.

Important Dates

  • September 8: Last day to Drop the course (not recorded on transcript)
  • October 12: David Oliver Relin, author of Three Cups of Tea (attendance is encouraged)
  • November 2: Last day to Withdraw from the course (recorded on transcript)
  • November 17: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (evening play; attendance is mandatory)