In ENGL 102 students learn to see an academic thesis as a partial response to a complex question others have been/are also trying to answer. Formal essay assignments ask students to move beyond simple pro/con arguments, to articulate the context or existing “conversation” that frames their purpose, and to clarify the reach and restrictions of their argument. Students examine the role authority plays in persuading audiences; they practice employing a confident and assertive voice as they compose essays that engage and evaluate others’ texts.
Students draw on print, electronic, and cultural texts as they gather evidence to support their arguments and address counterarguments. In ENGL 102, they sharpen their ability to choose, summarize, paraphrase, and quote textual or visual evidence directly related to the nature and scope of their argument. In conferences, group-work, and/or process reflections, students explain their choices regarding the kind of evidence they use to develop each example and describe how their organizational pattern supports their overall purpose. Students also practice integrating sources into their writing using framing devices and signal phrases that demonstrate each example’s relevance.
Students deepen their ability to read rhetorically as they explore the relationship between how a text is constructed and what a writer is saying to whom and why. Students learn how writings in multiple genres persuade readers implicitly and explicitly by examining authors’ stylistic, poetic, and structural choices. In class discussion and writing assignments, students create and compare arguments about a text’s significance by focusing closely on short passages, scrutinizing literal and figurative meanings, and questioning how various parts of a single text work together to form a whole.
The texts assigned to achieve the critical reading outcomes described above are texts that invite exploration of the relationships among power, knowledge, and language. As students engage writings from diverse populations that collectively define the American landscape—groups including Americans of African, Asian, Jewish, or Arab descent, Latinos, indigenous peoples—they begin to identify and question the role of language in questions of representation, subjectivities, and access. In class discussion as well as formal and informal writing assignments, students explore diversity both within and between different groups (for example, along lines of gender, sexual orientation, and religious belief).
Students enter writing classes at any level with varying strengths and weaknesses in their ability to follow appropriate conventional forms. ENGL 102 teaches students to continue developing strategies to identify and correct their sentence-level errors and to recognize how these major errors disrupt the meaning and clarity of their writing. Students practice editing their own and each others’ conventional errors during revising and editing stages of the composing process, as well as use various print and electronic resources to seek grammatical assistance independently.
In ENGL 102 students learn to find books and periodicals using NC PALS, and to locate them in Hege Library or access them from other institutions via inter-library loan. As they search for evidence to integrate into research-driven assignments, students also learn to gather information electronically using both academic databases and public search engines. Throughout the research process, students are asked to reflect on the relevance, authority, and quality of materials gathered from academic and non-academic sources. Students receive an introduction to how database-research for general purposes may carry over into the discipline-specific research they’ll encounter in future classes.
Because ENGL 102 requires students to engage continuously with the ideas and language of other writers, this course encourages them to see their reading, writing, and thinking activities as contributions to on-going academic conversations. Being part of an academic conversation means recognizing the importance of and gaining a respect for the contributions made by current and past participants. Academic discourse follows conventions that help maintain the integrity of a group’s or an individual’s ideas as those ideas are discussed by others. While English uses MLA styles of citations, the ideas in this style can be applied to other disciplines with only slight modifications. Students learn how the primary elements of a citation (author’s name, work’s title, publication date and location) can be adapted to the specific styles of any other discipline. They practice citing sources accurately, both in-text (using either parenthetical citations or footnotes) and at the end of their essay (final Works Cited page).