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Alvernia University Term Start Date-End Date


Dept. of Communications/CIS/English


3 credits


The following statement must appear on all syllabi:

All courses at Alvernia University are designed to foster the core Catholic, Franciscan values of service, humility, peacemaking, contemplation, and collegiality as set forth by Alvernia’s Mission Statement, as well as to promote the General Objectives outlined in the University Catalog and the Student Handbook.

The following statement is optional:

The university community supports peace and non-violence by respecting diversity and affirming the dignity of everyone in the community; civility and courtesy are practiced at all times.


As a core writing requirement, this course reviews fundamental principles of rhetoric, grammar, and punctuation. Requirements include a research paper using MLA or APA documentation guidelines and several expository essays. Course is available only after placement by departmental faculty. Students must achieve “C” or better to fulfill core requirement.

Note: Some course materials and activities will be covered online using a variety of tools and sites including Blackboard, InfoSearch Modules, Project Gutenberg, and See the course assignments section of this syllabus for more details.



Course Website Available on Blackboard


All courses at Alvernia University are designed to foster the core Catholic, Franciscan values of service, humility, peacemaking, contemplation, and collegiality as set forth by Alvernia’s Mission Statement, as well as to promote the General Objectives outlined in the University Catalog and the Student Handbook.

As a core writing requirement, this course reviews fundamental principles of rhetoric, grammar, and punctuation. Requirements include a research paper using MLA or APA documentation guidelines and several expository essays. Course is available only after placement by departmental faculty. Students must achieve “C” or better to fulfill core requirement.

Course Objective

Program Guidelines

(PA Depart. of Education)

Specified Assessment Tool

To read sources critically, evaluating purpose, audience, tone, rhetorical devices and rhetorical context

I.A. Language / Linguistics

I.B Reading / Literature

I.C Literature

I.F Research/ Technology

  • Classroom Discussion

  • Library Visits

  • 2 Research Papers

Analyze and synthesize texts as a means of furthering student’s own methods of persuasion

I.A. Language / Linguistics

I.F Research/ Technology

  • 2 research papers

  • Writing exercises

To demonstrate versatility in writing in various genres such as summary, response, report, argument and analysis

I.B Reading / Literature

I.D. Composition/Writing

I.F Research/ Technology

  • Multiple essays

  • 2 Research Papers

  • Writing Exercises

Acquire information literacy, the ability to assess and incorporate source material with students’ own ideas

I.F Research/ Technology

  • 2 Research Papers

  • Writing Exercises

  • Info-Literacy Modules

Engage in writing as a process that includes inquiries of ideas, revision relating to content and structure and editing finished prose

I.D. Composition/Writing

I.E. Speaking and Listening

  • Teacher-Student Conferences

  • Peer Review Sessions

  • Classroom Exercises

  • Essays & Research Papers

Understand the differences between APA and MLA and, when required, be able to apply the stylistic conventions of both.

I.D. Composition/Writing

I.F. Research and Technology

  • Teacher-Student Conferences

  • Classroom Exercises

  • Annotated Bibliographies

  • Essays & Research Papers


Ramage, John D & Bean, John C., (2014). Allyn and Bacon Guide to Writing: Concise Edition. NY: Longman.

Personal & Portable Dictionary and Thesaurus; Blackboard Account; Account; Alvernia Email Account; Notebook & Journal

Printing supplies and paper

Note: The Blackboard course management system will be used in this class to supplement class materials. If you have any problems with log-in, contact the 1-866-579-7420 help desk. If you have problems with technical difficulties, call 610-796-5606. However, first make sure that you removed any pop-up blockers and are using the most recent version of Java (Java 6, update 14; can be downloaded onto your personal computer via Blackboard). Your log-in is first 4 letters of last name, and last 6 digits of student I.D.


Alvernia Citation Guides =

Project Gutenberg =

Sigma Tau Delta International English Honor Society =

International Reading Association =

American Library Association Challenged & Banned Book List

Literary Analysis Resource Links =


Course Delivery Format:

This course is a web-enhanced course. At Alvernia University, a web-enhanced course is a course that delivers less than 30% of the content electronically; a blended course delivers approximately 30%-75% of the content electronically; and an online course delivers more than 75% of the content electronically. Web-Enhanced/blended/online courses may be conducted through both asynchronous and synchronous tools. In asynchronous class sessions, materials and discussion are accessed through a course management program called WebCT or Blackboard. Additional online resources, tools, and activities may be integrated into the course delivery. In synchronous class sessions, materials and discussions are conducted through audioconferencing and/or videoconferencing using a service called Horizon Wimba. If a student is unable to attend a synchronous session, the audio and/or video sessions are archived for later retrieval. In addition to the course instructor, a librarian and an educational technologist are assigned to each blended course for assistance with student questions pertaining to online resources and technical issues.

Minimum Technology Requirements:

Windows / PC

Windows 2000 or XP

512 Mb RAM

Microsoft IE 5.0 or higher

                JAVA enabled

High Speed Internet (Dialup not preferred)

Sound Card with headset microphone



Mac OSX 10.2 or higher

512 Mb RAM

Apple Safari 1.2 or higher

                JAVA enabled

High Speed Internet (Dialup not preferred)

Sound Card with headset microphone


Regular attendance is mandatory to achieve the greatest success in this course. Students are allowed three (3) absences during the semester. Each absence after that will result in a ten (10)-point deduction from the student’s attendance grade. These absences are to be used for illness, car problems, personal problems and so on.

Frequent tardiness is distracting and disrespectful to both the class and the professor. Students are allowed only three (3) tardy arrivals to class. Each additional tardy arrival will result in a (5) point deduction from the student’s attendance grade. If you are late to class, and someone is giving a presentation, please be respectful and wait outside the door until he/she is finished.



Copyright Restriction: Materials used in connection with this course may be subject to copyright protection under Title 17 of the United States Code. Under certain Fair Use circumstances specified by law, copies may be made for private study, scholarship, or research. Electronic copies should not be shared with unauthorized users. If a user fails to comply with Fair Use restrictions, he/she may be liable for copyright infringement. For more information, including Fair Use guidelines, see the Alvernia University Copyright & Fair Use Policy.

In accordance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), the University offers accommodations to students with documented learning, physical and/or psychological disabilities.  It is the responsibility of the student to contact the Disability Services Coordinator, preferably prior to the beginning of the semester, to initiate the accommodation process and to notify instructors as soon as possible so accommodations can be made early on in the semester.  Course requirements will not be waived but, if possible, reasonable accommodations will be made to allow each student to meet course requirements.  Students needing assistance should contact the Disability Services Office in BH 105-A (inside the Learning Center), by phone (610.568.1499), fax (484-335-4486), or e-mail (



For Alvernia closings, call 610-796-8200 or visit Alvernia’s website at Local radio and TV stations will also announce closings. If we are experiencing bad weather, and Alvernia has not cancelled classes, call my voice mail at 610-796-8305. If I cannot make it to class, I will leave a message on my machine at least one hour before class is scheduled. Additionally, if I need to cancel a class unexpectedly, I will provide an electronic assignment or online discussion questions to be completed for the following class.


I hold regular office hours each week that will be announced in class and posted on my office door in ________ Hall. Appointments recommended. I also will be available before and after class for a few minutes. If posted times aren’t convenient, I can make arrangements to see you another time. Email me at to make an appointment.


Quizzes and tests will cover information from class lectures, videos, and the textbook. If you are absent, you should get notes from a fellow student who was present during the class you missed. Note: I reserve the right to give pop quizzes if it appears that students are not reading the course material.


According to the Alvernia University Handbook, academic dishonesty will not be tolerated. Examples:

  • Plagiarism: Failure to cite a source, deliberately or accidentally presenting as your own work, words or ideas of another. This includes but is not limited to: (1) Copying, paraphrasing, or summarizing from any published or unpublished source without citing; (2) Copying a paper, parts of a paper, or submitting any work that is not your own; (3) Submitting as one’s own, parts or a whole, another’s computer program, work of art, or musical composition; (4) Using words of others without quotation marks enclosing those words.

  • Cheating: A form of academic dishonesty. Includes but is not limited to: (1) Overt copying of another student’s assignment or test answers; (2) Using crib sheets of any form during a test; (3) Getting someone else to take a test for you; (4) Discussing questions and answers with another student during a test; (5) Stealing test notes from a student or faculty member; (6) Altering an answer sheet and reporting to the instructor that a computer error had been made.

  • Fabrication: Submitting or falsifying information or data on any academic assignment. Includes but is not limited to changing the title paper by altering either the student’s name or title of the paper.

  • Multiple Submission: Handing in the same assignment to fulfill an academic requirement for more than one course without the prior permission of the instructors


This course’s structure and content is based on the code of ethics created by the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC):

1. Professional communicators uphold the credibility and dignity of their profession by practicing honest, candid and timely communication and by fostering the free flow of essential information in accord with the public interest.

2. Professional communicators disseminate accurate information and promptly correct any erroneous communication for which they may be responsible.

3. Professional communicators understand and support the principles of free speech, freedom of assembly, and access to an open marketplace of ideas; and, act accordingly.

4. Professional communicators are sensitive to cultural values and beliefs and engage in fair and balanced communication activities that foster and encourage mutual understanding.

5. Professional communicators refrain from taking part in any undertaking which the communicator considers to be unethical.

6. Professional communicators obey laws and public policies governing their professional activities and are sensitive to the spirit of all laws and regulations and, should any law or public policy be violated, for whatever reason, act promptly to correct the situation.

7. Professional communicators give credit for unique expressions borrowed from others and identify the sources and purposes of all information disseminated to the public.

8. Professional communicators protect confidential information and, at the same time, comply with all legal requirements for the disclosure of information affecting the welfare of others.

9. Professional communicators do not use confidential information gained as a result of professional activities for personal benefit and do not represent conflicting or competing interests without written consent of those involved.

10. Professional communicators do not accept undisclosed gifts or payments for professional services from anyone other than a client or employer.
11. Professional communicators do not guarantee results that are beyond the power of the practitioner to deliver.
12. Professional communicators are honest not only with others but also, and most importantly, with themselves as individuals; for a professional communicator seeks the truth and speaks that truth first to the self.


(Points will be translated into the Alvernia Grading System.)

Rhetorical Analysis (3 pages)

Outlining the Debate (5 pages)

Exploratory Essay (5 pages)

Research Paper (8-10)

Quizzes (5 quizzes at 10% each)

Public Service Announcement and Reflection

Attendance/Info-Search Modules/In-Class Participation









Note: Alvernia University strives to provide a quality educational experience through ongoing efforts to evaluate student learning outcomes. As part of this process, students may be asked to submit an electronic version of work by uploading one or more documents into TK20 for assessment purposes. Assignments used for assessment purposes will be designated by the course instructor. Additional information about TK20 login and submission process is available on the student portal.
All page limits are intended as double spaced pages.

Essay 1 – Rhetorical Analysis (2-3 pages)

In this essay, you will evaluate the strengths and weakness of an article or essay of your choice. In your analysis, you will consider how this author appeals to ethos, logos, and pathos. Finally, you will consider how this author constructs his or her angle of vision.

Essay 2 – Outlining the Debate (2-3 pages)

For this essay, you will choose a controversial image or video and outline the debate surrounding this piece. To do so, you will conduct research using informal sources (blogs. Twitter, comment threads), consolidate these comments and identify the key arguments surrounding this issue and determine your own stance on the topic. This paper will require your ability to effectively incorporate 3 instances of paraphrasing your source and 3 instances of direct quotation.

Essay 3 - Exploratory Essay

In this essay, you will describe your process as you search for sources for your research paper. Provide a narrative of how you found sources, acknowledge limitations of certain sources and describe how this search has helped you shape your argument for your research paper.

Essay 3 – Research Paper (8-10 pages)

For this paper, you will use the work you have done in the Outlining the Debate Essay to develop a logical and well-researched argument about a controversy in the media. For example, you might choose to examine the backlash to the Cheerio’s ad that featured a bi-racial family. You will use closed-form prose to create a strong, tension-filled, and specific thesis that indicates your strong stance on the topic. Your paper should include at least one source per page, and these sources should be used to support and add to your argument, not to write the paper for you. Your sources must be turned in along with the final draft.

Essay 4 – Oral Presentation and Reflection (2 pages)

This assignment is intended to help you present your information in a new way. You might consider a commercial, public service announcement, a Prezi presentation, or other means of discussing your research with the class. Your presentation must be 3-5 minutes, must incorporate a visual aid, and must incorporate research from your paper.

Peer Letters

You will be expected to provide written feedback to your peers’ essays for each peer review days. See the Peer Letter prompt for specific information.

Revision Policy:

In an effort to continually rethink your own work in critical ways, I will allow you to formally revise the Rhetorical Analysis and Coming to Terms Essay, though there will be built-in revision in the process of writing every paper. In order to revise, you must have a 1-on-1 meeting with me to discuss a revision plan, and turn in any drafts along with the first graded copy. Additionally, you will have to write a one-page revision letter detailing (specifically!) the changes you made to your essay and how these changes enhance your work. Your paper must show significant changes to receive an improved grade.

Other assignments:
Information Literacy Modules—Each student should complete a series of information literacy modules called InfoSearch on the Alvernia University library website. Each of the six modules takes 20-30 minutes to complete and each student should take the end-of-module quizzes. Quiz printouts should be provided to the instructor at the beginning of the indicated class. InfoSearch quiz results may be pasted into a Blackboard email or the printouts handed directly to the professor on the due date.
Portfolio— Throughout the semester, you should maintain a portfolio of all your writing assignments. The portfolio should be a simple binder with clearly marked dividers. All assignments should be labeled clearly, dated, and placed in the portfolio, with earlier drafts clipped to the previously graded copies for papers I and II. Since I believe that revision is an important part of the learning process, you have the option of revising paper II for a better grade. Revised papers should be attached with a paperclip to the graded copies so that I can review my written comments and identify quickly the revisions that you completed. The first page of the portfolio should contain a 1-2 page reflection on how your writing improved and what areas of your writing you still need to develop. You will receive credit for actively preparing and completing this assignment as part of your participation grade. In addition to the longer papers, contents of the portfolio should include in-class and take-home essays, info-search module print outs, and other class activities. This assignment is based on the Alvernia grading scale found in your student catalog.
Quizzes/Tests—Assessment – Each quiz will assess your knowledge of the primary textbook, readings covered in class, and other outside material. While any material from the course may be included within each assessment, you should concentrate on studying your notes and the information provided during class discussions. The assessments are comprehensive, and they build on one another. For each test, every student may bring in one 3”x 5” index card with notes written on it to use during the test. Make-up tests have a letter-grade deduction for each day missed.


  1. Alvernia’s Safety Guidelines and Evacuation Procedures are available at

  2. Plagiarism (also known as copyright infringement) is against the law. You should be aware that I have access to several anti-plagiarism search engines that can seek out plagiarized content from both the web and on-line databases. If I find plagiarized material, you will receive an “F” for that assignment and I expect a verbal and written apology. Additionally, if you submit a second count of plagiarism in the remaining semester, you will receive an “F” for the course, and you will be referred to the Provost office for possible dismissal from the university.

Finally, each copyright infringement may receive a prison term and/or a fine. Both civil and criminal penalties may be imposed for copyright infringement. According to, “Civil remedies may include monetary damages (both statutory and actual), attorney's fees, injunctive relief, and the impounding and/or destruction of infringing copies. Depending on the gravity of the infringement, prison sentences can be up to 5 years, and fines can be up to $5000 per infringement.” Don’t be foolish. Write your own papers.

  1. Students are expected to complete assigned readings prior to class so that classroom discussion can be as engaging and instructive as possible. The readings are helpful in that the themes are directly related to the graded assignments.

  2. Since some classes will be run as workshops with an emphasis on revision and editing, students will receive frequent responses to their research and writing, both by the professor and other students.

  3. Portfolios (compilations of your work and assignments) will be evaluated once at the end of the semester. At any time a student may request the professor to evaluate a portfolio.

  4. Unless noted otherwise, written assignments should be typed. Assignments that are handed in late will be penalized 10 points for each day late. No assignments will be accepted over one week late.

  5. Each research paper/project should include primary and secondary sources. These sources should be included in both parenthetical citations and a bibliography. As a benchmark, your research papers should include approximately the same number of sources as number of required pages.

  6. Each research paper/project should include a variety of reputable resources. This means that your paper should have sources from a mix of articles, interviews, books, and valid websites (with .edu, .gov, .org extensions), and any other legitimate sources of information. Note: Wikipedia is a blog! It is not an authoritative source of information for university-level research projects.

  7. All resources must be formatted in MLA or APA format.

Students will be required to seek writing assistance/tutoring periodically throughout the semester at the Center for Academic Advancement in the Student Life Center Bld.

  1. As a sign of respect and professionalism, students should strive to be on time for every event. If you believe that you may be late to a class or meeting, it your responsibility to contact me by phone or email ASAP.

  2. Cell phones and pagers are tools to facilitate communication; they are not licenses to be rude. It is inappropriate to hear a cell phone or pager ring during a class or meeting; set these devices to vibrate if you are expecting an emergency. Additionally, it is unprofessional to answer a cell phone during a meeting or presentation. If you must respond to a message, discreetly and quietly leave the room; always apologize to the presenter for the interruption once the class or meeting has come to a close.

Course Calendar: (I reserve the right to alter due dates and daily topics as necessary)

All assignments/readings are to be completed for the day on which they are listed. I will notify you in advance of any changes on the syllabus. It is your responsibility to complete all assignments listed regardless of whether or not I make a formal announcements.

AA: Arak Anthology

A&B: Allyn and Bacon

B: Blackboard (all prompts and handouts can be found in the “resource” section). Students are responsible for

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