Clark College

SYLLABUS, Spring 2008



Instructor:  Elizabeth Donley                                                Email: (see note below)

Office Hours:  Thursday 10-12 and virtually by appt.                      Office Phone: 992-2616       

Office Location: Foster 101                                                                                                                            






  1. Kennedy, Mary Lynch. Reading and Writing in the Academic Community. 3rd edition.
  2. Aaron, Jane E. The Little, Brown Compact Handbook. Custom edition. New York: Pearson/Longman, 2007.
  3. A reliable personal computer at home with high-speed Internet access



As described on the Clark College web page (see “Course Descriptions”), English 101 focuses on “exposition and argument, emphasizing critical thinking in response to electronic and print texts.  [There is also a] focus on exploring, developing, and communication of ideas in a voice appropriate to the audience. Students strengthen skills through prewriting, drafting, revising, and editing.” The prerequisite for this course is a grade of “B” or better in English 098 taken for 5 credits or a recommending score on the writing skills placement test for English 101.


This is a demanding course that will require hard work, dedication, and self-direction. Like any distance learning course, you need to take control of the learning experience and expect to do a great deal of independent work. You must take responsibility for pacing yourself and keeping up with assignments. Of course, I am here to help you, to make sure you understand the material, and to teach you the material as thoroughly as possible. However, this cannot happen without your active participation in the learning experience. Become an active learner in all aspects of this class. Log onto the Blackboard site regularly and talk with me if you are confused or having difficulties with any aspect of the class or the technology.  Know, also, that you can always make an appointment to meet with me on campus to discuss your progress. I am also available to answer questions by email, by messages in Blackboard, or virtually through Virtual Office. My goal is to make sure you learn, but I cannot achieve this goal unless you are an equal partner in this experience.


To make this class more coherent and interesting, I have organized the essay assignments around a common theme: Issues in America Today, and specifically those that have come out in our very heated presidential election process. Be prepared to read about current events affecting America today and be prepared to engage in some difficult issues that will force you to think critically and may take you out of your comfort zone. 



In an online course, it is essential you understand what to expect from me so you understand that even though I may not be online at the same time you are, I am still aware of your course participation. So, keep in mind that I will not reply to every one of your discussion board posts because I am trying to encourage your interaction with each other. As already stated, you need to become an active learner in this environment and posting on the discussion board and responding to each other is essential to this. I will, however, always participate in each discussion board assignment in some way, and will always post a final thread that will sum up the key points from any given discussion board assignment. I will also respond to every Message sent to me and always within 24 hours (and usually much sooner) Monday through Friday. On the weekends, my response time will be slower, and if for some reason I am not available to respond over the weekend, I will let you know. Also, keep in mind that major assignments will be graded within one week of the day they were turned in and feedback and grades will be available for you then. I will always provide detailed feedback on a grade! Weekly discussion board grades will be available 2-4 days after the final discussion board post for the week.  All of your grades will be available through the “Your Grades” button on the navigation bar in Blackboard.


Please also realize that I am available for extra help via virtual office hours (which is essentially a chat room). To access virtual office hours, click on the Virtual Office button in Bb (you may have to download a Java plug-in for this to work as indicated). This will bring you to a live chat room and. I will try my best to accommodate your schedule, which means I am available for conferences in the evenings!!!



The objectives of this course are guided by Clark College’s six College-Wide Abilities and by Clark’s five college-wide General Education (GE) Outcomes for the communication requirement. The six Clark abilities are communication, information technology, critical thinking and problem solving, global awareness, effective citizenship, and life-long learning.  The five General Education communication requirements are 1) locate appropriate, relevant, and comprehensive information; 2) describe, analyze, paraphrase, and synthesize information; 3) identify, develop, present, support, and organize ideas in standard edited English in written and oral communication; 4) demonstrate and apply principles of ethical communication in the presentation of ideas; 5) adapt communication to a variety of purposes and audiences.


To help clarify what you are expected to learn, the English Department has developed a very specific set of expectations as listed below. The chart that follows lists these Student Learning Outcomes and links these outcomes to the Clark College Abilities and GE requirements that are relevant to this class.


Students who successfully complete English 101 will be able to do the following:



Course Student Learning Objectives

Clark College Abilities

GE Communication Requirements


Locate research materials appropriate to purpose, context, and audience for which they are writing.

·         Use on-line databases like ProQuest to find sources relevant to a particular topic.

·         Use and locate library books relevant to a particular topic.

·         Evaluate the reliability and usefulness of web materials as well as journals, books, and other sources.





Locate appropriate, relevant, and comprehensive information




Summarize, paraphrase, and cite the main points from a professional or academic essay.

·         Annotate a complex text.

·         Critically read a complex text.

·         Pose questions and develop critical responses to academic and professional essays.





Critical Thinking



Describe, analyze, paraphrase, and synthesize information


Develop meaningful, worthwhile thesis statements for 1000-1500 word essays.

·         Use your own questions and responses to develop a thesis for an essay using 3 or more sources.

·         Support ideas with sufficient detail and evidence.

·         Make the purpose, main idea, and direction of thought clear to a reader.

·         Show increased ability to edit and proofread—there should be NO multiple or chronic errors in syntax, grammar, or punctuation.



Critical Thinking

Identify, develop, present, support, and organize ideas in standard edited English in written and oral communication



Adapt diction, voice, tone, and evidence to various audiences.


Critical Thinking

Adapt communication to a variety of purposes and audiences


Cite sources accurately following MLA documentation style.

·         Using proper MLA citations, identify all sources you use.

·         Incorporate sources into the structure of sentences through the use of signal phrases.

·         Provide an accurate Works Cited page for all papers that draw from sources.



Demonstrate and apply principles of ethical communication in the presentation of ideas


Work collaboratively by expressing opinions with tact, listening to others, and shouldering an appropriate share of the workload.

·         Peer edit effectively.

·         In small group work, stay on-task and focused.



Adapt communication to a variety of purposes and audiences.


Improve communication by practicing self-assessment goals, seek and use feedback, revise and edit for excellence, practice self-discipline and persistence, and apply skills in new contexts

·         Meet all deadlines.

·         Use instructor and peer feedback to improve writing.

·         Seek out instructor feedback and/or advice at the Writing Center.

·         Use revision to strengthen all elements of writing.

·         Assess own papers for revision and editing.

·         Apply learned skills to each new assignment.



Adapt communication to a variety of purposes and audiences.



In order to move onto English 102, you must receive a grade of “C” (not a “C-”) or better in this course.  Grades will be determined based on the following: 


                        Two essays:                                                                                          (15%, 20%)    35%

                        Final essay:                                                                                                                  25%

                        Quizzes:                                                                                                                      15%                             Discussion Board Posts:                                                                                              20%

Grammar Presentation and Exam:                  :                                                              5%


Each assignment (excluding Discussion Board posts—see the rubric at the end of this syllabus) will be graded on a scale of 0-100, corresponding to the following grade scale:


95-100 A

80-84  B-

68-69  D+

90-94    A-

78-79  C+

65-67  D

88-89    B+

75-77  C

60-64  D-

85-87    B

70-74  C-

<60     F                                                         


For essays 1 and 2, I may also give the grade RW. This stands for “Rewrite” and will require you to rewrite your paper and resubmit it within the allotted time (5 days). If you do not rewrite the paper as explained the grade will be an F. If you do rewrite the paper and improve it based on my comments, the new grade will stand. The reason I use this grade in English 101 is because I want to ensure that each student improves his or her writing skills, so if you turn in a paper that does not demonstrate adequate skills, I want you to rewrite it so you can improve and can gain the skills to pass the class and be successful in English 102.  Please keep in mind that an RW grade will not be given to a paper that is incomplete and shows a lack of effort. This sort of paper will simply receive an F.



To access the following assignments in Blackboard, click on the Assignments button on the toolbar. I’ve organized the courses into units and each unit’s work will be organized under the Assignments button to keep you better organized. Each unit’s reading assignments can also be found through this Assignments button.


Two Essays (35%)

You will write two essays in this class and work through the writing process on each essay in order to produce your best work. You will have the option to rewrite one of these essays for a better grade. Each of these essays is required and failure to turn in any one essay will result in failure of the course.  A detailed grading rubric will be provided with each essay.


Final Essay (25%)

You will write a 5-6 page research essay as your final essay assignment. This paper should use 3-4 authoritative sources and clearly argue a point on a specific, arguable topic.  This assignment will prepare you for the longer (10-12 page) research paper you will be required to write in English 102.


Quizzes (15%)

Regular quizzes will be assigned that will cover reading and lecture material. These quizzes can be a combination of multiple choice and short answer questions. Each quiz needs to be completed by 11:59 PM on the day it is due. You can use lecture material, notes, and/or your book. Generally, those who do the readings and are involved in the discussion board assignments do well on these quizzes. The quizzes cannot be made-up or retaken.


Discussion Board Posts (20%)

As indicated on the assignment schedule, discussion board posts (DB) are a regular part of the course and must be completed by 11:59 PM on the date they are due.  Generally, there are 2 discussion board posts due a week and multiple responses to other students’ posts. Discussion Board is an important part of this class, as it functions as the part of the “class time” component. Here, you will communicate with fellow students and work together on assignments that will help you as you research and write your research paper. I cannot emphasize enough how important this component is to your success in the course. This is where you really engage in the course and become more than just a silent observer. This is essential for your success.


See the end of this syllabus for detailed grading criteria for DB posts.


Grammar Presentation and Exam (5%)

Each of you will pick one grammar topic to research and present to the class via the discussion board. The schedule of topics is available on the discussion board under the forum titled “Grammar Presentations.”  Pick a topic for your presentation from the list on the discussion board and a date on which you will present your topic. You will be working with another classmate on this project, so 2 or 3 people will sign up for any one topic and date, and it makes sense to sign up with someone who is also in your group (see “Groups” below), but this is not required.  You need to sign up within the first week of class. Finally, at the end of the quarter, there will be a grammar exam covering each topic presented during the quarter.  



As part of a discussion board assignment, you may be placed in groups to work together before you post to the main discussion board. I will create these groups at the beginning of the quarter and expect that you will use groups outside of structured activities as a support network. It is especially important to connect with fellow students online as the environment can feel isolating. Please use your groups to connect. Help each other out by chatting in the “chat room,” sending each other email or messages, and working together in structured group activities. Believe me, this is one of the best ways to really become involved in an online class.




Although there is no in-class component to this course, there is still “class time.” Class time is considered the time you spend on the discussion board assignments. This is where you really engage in the course and for this reason, these posts are required. If you fail to complete 3 discussion board posts in a row, I will ask you to drop the class.


Late Work

All students can turn in any one of the first 2 essays (not the final essay) up to two days late without incurring a grade penalty. But this does not include the rough drafts of the essays. Discussion Board posts cannot be turned in late. Once you have used up your late pass on one major assignment, though, any late assignment will be lowered by a full letter grade for every calendar day that it is late, and keep in mind that I cannot accept an assignment that is turned in more than a week late. Submit assignments to the appropriate Assignments module. 


Please understand also that I will always grade assignments which have been turned in on time before I will grade a late assignment; therefore, if you turn in an assignment late, it will not be graded as promptly. Finally, keep in mind that no assignment may be turned in for any reason after the last regular class day of the quarter. My late policy is an important policy to understand and follow. As already mentioned, this class moves very quickly, and when students turn in papers late, they tend to fall behind and lose focus. Many of these students end up dropping the course or failing. Please try to turn all work in on time!



I post regular announcements on Blackboard to help keep you on track with the work and to clarify concepts. Please get into the habit of logging into Blackboard regularly to read these announcements. In general, I post announcements Monday, Wed, and Fridays, and on other days if necessary. I also will email important announcements to each student, so make sure you have inputted your correct email address in Blackboard so you can receive these email announcements. Instructions on how to add your email address to Blackboard can be found in the first announcement, so check it out!


Online Etiquette

In my two years of teaching online, I’ve only experienced one incident of a student being overtly offensive and rude to another student on the discussion board, and I hope never to have to see this again. So I’m asking you to please observe some online etiquette that should also apply to emails or messages you send me (which can come off as rude when one is in a hurry or frustrated). Electronic communication can be difficult and easily misinterpreted. Why? Well, we can’t see each other and read facial expressions or mannerisms. So, to ensure that you are not misinterpreted online with your comments, please do the following:

1.     Always address your post to someone! So, “Hi Elizabeth” or “Hi All” are two options.

2.     Always sign your post with at least your first name.

3.     Don’t be afraid to use a emoticon, such as a smiley face : ) to lighten the mood a bit, especially when you are posting when you are in a bad mood!! : )

4.     Please avoid ALL CAPS whenever you can, as they tend to come off as RUDE.

5.     Please avoid harsh or offensive language of any kind.

6.     Please keep in mind that when you email or message me that you should give me the same respect electronically that you would give an instructor if speaking to her face-to-face.


Technical Problems

A technical problem with your own software, hardware, or Internet connection is not a genuine emergency or excuse. For this reason, I suggest you ALWAYS back-up your work in another location other than your home computer and, at the same time, know what other computer you can use in case that your system is down. For example, you can always use the computer labs at Clark College, but if these are not convenient for you, consider other options. Can you get to your work computer, the public library, a friend’s house who has computer access? Give yourself a back-up!


If you need technical help with Blackboard problems, please click on this link for access to some resources and information:


Technical Requirements

Here are the minimum technical requirements to take an online course:




An Internet Service Provider**

An Internet Service Provider**

High-speed Internet connection strongly recommended (not required)

High-speed Internet connection strongly recommended (not required)

Pentium II 266 MHz or Celeron 300MHz computer (or higher)*

G4 or G5 1.2 GHz computer (or higher) Lesser models may work also

56kkps V.90 modem

56kkps V.90 modem

100MB free space on the hard drive

100MB free space on the hard drive

128 MB of RAM (or higher)

128 MB of RAM (or higher)

Windows 98,2000,2003, or XP

Macintosh OS 10 (or higher)

CD-ROM with sound and speakers

CD-ROM with sound and speakers

Word processing software that can be saved as a Word document. If you are using Word 2007, you must convert your file to Word 2003. 

Word processing software that can be saved as a Word document. If you are using Word 2007, you must convert your file to Word 2003. 

Internet Explorer 7 OR Firefox 2 OR Netscape 8             

Firefox 2 OR Netscape 8***


**  Blackboard does not support AOL (America Online's) web-browser.  If you use AOL as your ISP, you will need to download either Firefox or Netscape.  After you have installed either Firefox or Netscape, you will need to minimize AOL's browser, and then open either Firefox or Netscape. Use one of these two browsers to access Blackboard (

*** Mac users should avoid any version of the Safari and Internet Explorer browsers. There are incompatibilities that will prevent some functionality required for complete access to Blackboard. 

**** The NetZero browser is not supported by Blackboard.

Firefox Browser | Internet Explorer 7

Course Downloads

If you don’t have PowerPoint, please download a free PowerPoint viewer at  Just type in “PowerPoint viewer” in the search box and click the link to download the viewer. 


Guidelines for Papers

Format your paper following MLA guidelines as explained in your handbook. The general guidelines are as follows:


  • Essays must be typed and double spaced.
  • You must use standard 12-point font (Times New Roman) and 1 inch margins on all sides of the page.
  • The left margin must be justified and the right unjustified.
  • You do not need a title page. Type your name, my name, the class, and the date in the upper left corner of the first page of the essay.
  • Do not add extra line spaces between paragraphs.
  • Number each page and include your last name before the page number.
  • All essays should have a correctly written works cited page.  All entries must conform to MLA format.


Additionally, ALL assignments must be formatted as Microsoft Word files. WordPerfect and WordPad will not interface properly with Word and using these programs will mean that I will not be able to open your assignments and/or you may not be able to read my comments. If you need help with your computer program, visit a computer lab in the Cannell Library or Scarpelli Hall or go to the Writing Center at Clark College.



This is a 5-credit course that, although on-line, still requires 5 hours of “class time” a week. What this means is that you should expect to be on-line at the Blackboard site at least 5 hours a week and, additionally, you should expect to devote several additional hours (2-3 hours for each hour “in class”) outside of class time doing independent reading, researching, and writing. This may seem like a lot of time, but you need to keep in mind that this is a college-level writing course that will help you gain the important writing skills needed to be successful in college and in the workplace.


Please also realize that you can’t disappear for two weeks and expect to jump right back into the class. Failure to log into Blackboard for more than a week will put you far behind and to a point where it will be hard to get back on track.  Make it a habit to log onto Blackboard regularly. Don’t wait until the last minute to do your work; stay on top of you assignments; contact me if you are having problems.


Remember, Blackboard can be accessed anywhere. You don’t have to be at your home computer.


Dropping the Course

If you decide to drop the course, make sure to file an official withdrawal from the course with the Registrar’s Office.  Without an official withdrawal (a “W”) in the course, I will have no choice but to assign you a failing grade (an “F”) for the course. You can drop the course through week 7.


Plagiarism is the theft of another's words or ideas.  It results from dishonesty, carelessness or a combination of both.  Be honest and careful.  Document your sources; attribute ideas to their owners. DO NOT purchase or download a paper from the Internet. It is VERY easy for an instructor to identify and track plagiarized works! If you are having problems with an assignment, talk with me rather than resort to a tactic that could jeopardize your academic and professional future. Plagiarism will result in failure of the course, and I will forward your name to the Dean of Students who may elect to eject you from the college or place you on probation.  




The library website will allow you to access online databases that you will be using to find information for your final essay. The library website also offers some links to other helpful resources. Here is a link to the library website:


You can also access library resources by clicking on the Library tab at the top of the screen in Blackboard. Notice that you can message reference librarian and chat with them live.


Writing Center

Tutoring services are FREE OF CHARGE to all registered Clark students. The tutoring center provides one-on-one consulting for writing assignments from all courses. The Writing Center is located in Hawkins Hall, rooms102-103. The phone number is 360-992-2253.  Here is the link to the Writing Center web site:


Tutoring is also now available online through Clark College at You can submit a paper up to 3 times for guidance from tutors via etutoring. Do keep in mind that comments usually take about 48 hours. 


Computer Labs

All enrolled Clark students may use the computer labs on campus. You will be required to show proof of identification to a lab technician and student log-ins are required. Check posted schedules in each lab, as hours change quarterly. Click on the following link for a complete listing of computer lab locations and hours:


Disability Support Services

Please let me know if there are any special accommodations you will need because of a disability. The office of Disability Support Services can be reached at 360-992-2314. Here is the link to the Disability Support Services web site:



In Case of Emergencies

In emergencies, students should do the following:

  1. Inclement weather or emergency information

Go to or call 360-992-2000 as your first means of getting information.  The College does send notices to radio and television stations, but the College’s web site and switchboard are the official platforms for the most accurate information.


  1. Immediate emergency communication alert

To receive immediate notice on emergencies, you can register your cell phone number to receive text pages and your email address to receive email messages.  To do this, go to .  Select “Subscribe” on the left, and follow the instructions. Mass communication will also be sent to all college employee phones and computers.


  1. Fire Alarm

Evacuate the building through closest exit; evacuation maps are located in the hallways. Take personal belongings only if it is safe to do so.  Remain at least 50 feet from the building.  Notify others of evacuation.  Do not re-enter building until instructed to do so.


  1. Parking Lot Identifiers

New parking lot identifiers using colors and numbers have been assigned to all Clark parking lots.  To help emergency or security personnel locate you, please refer to these identifying features.

  1. Security Escort

Security Officers are available for escorts please call 360-992-2133.

Discussion Board Posts

Grading Rubric


You will receive one 0-10 point grade for all posts made during any given week. Your grade will be based on your posts in response to specific DB assignments but also your responses to other classmates’ posts. Participating 2 times during the week is measured by posting on 2 different days (when there are 2 posts per week) to each of the main DB assignments. In total, however, to receive full credit for your week’s DB posts, you should actually create a thread 2 times and reply to at least 6 or more classmates’ posts each week. Below is a detailed rubric that explains the grading criteria. Essentially, think of it this way: create 2 threads a week and 6 replies a week for a total of at least 8 posts to the DB each week.


“A” Discussion Board (9-10 points) – participated in 2 DB assignments and responded to at least 6 other posts

  • Posts are made in a timely fashion, giving others an opportunity to respond
  • Posts are thoughtful and analyze the content of questions asked
  • Posts make connections to other content and real-life situations
  • Posts extend discussions already taking place, or pose new possibilities or opinions not previously voiced
  • Posts are detailed and use specific, concrete language.
  • Grammar and spelling errors are minimal—none that interfere with the meaning the writer wants to convey

“B” Discussion Board (8-8.9 points) – participated in 2 DB assignments and responded to at least 4 other posts

  • Posts are made in a timely fashion, giving others an opportunity to respond
  • Posts are thoughtful and analyze the content of questions asked
  • Posts make connections to other content and real-life situations, but the connections are unclear, not firmly established or are not obvious
  • Posts are pretty well detailed, although there may be a few areas that need further development
  • A few grammar or spelling errors, but none that interfere with the meaning the writer wants to convey


“C” Discussion Board (7-7.9 points),  -- participated in 2 DB assignments and responded to at least 2 other post

  • Posts are usually, but not always, made in a timely fashion
  • Posts are generally accurate, but the actual information they deliver seems thin and commonplace
  • Posts make limited, vague connections between class readings and postings by other students
  • Posts contain few novel ideas, reflecting what other students have already posted, and what the class clearly articulate
  • Posts are relatively vague and need more development
  • Grammar and spelling errors are abundant, and often interfere with the meaning the writer wants to convey


“D”-“F” Discussion Board (0-6.9 points) – participated in 1 DB assignment and responded to at least 1 other post


  • Posts are not made in a timely fashion, if at all, keeping other students from reading and responding
  • Posts are rudimentary and superficial, lacking any degree of analysis or critique
  • Posts contribute no novel ideas, connections, or real-world applications
  • Posts may be completely off topic
  • Posts lack any sufficient detail and appear to have been written hurriedly with little concern to development of ideas
  • Grammar and spelling errors severely interfere with the meaning the writer wants to convey


Please note, that to receive an “A” grade for DB posts, it is very important that you don’t simply mimic what has already been posted. Try to contribute something new, and this is often easier if you are one of the first students to post. So, in other words, don’t wait until the last minute to post! By waiting until the last minute, you will be making the assignment much much harder for yourself!