Course Syllabus

English Composition I

Course Learning Outcomes

This course is designed to introduce students to the writing, reading, and thinking skills necessary for success at the college level.

Upon completing this course, students will be able to:

A. Compose essays demonstrating proficiency in developing and organizing ideas, using language effectively, and writing in standard edited English.

B. Find, evaluate and use sources appropriately.

C. Demonstrate continued use and development of effective writing strategies in upper division courses.

To achieve these outcomes, students will focus on writing as a recursive process that includes prewriting, drafting, editing, and revising. Emphasis will be placed on personal, reflective, and expository writing.  Students will develop critical reading skills and use course readings to analyze specific writing techniques and strategies that can be used to improve their own writing. Students will also identify at least five personal grammatical, mechanical, and stylistic errors that recur in their work and find resources that assist them in resolving these problems.

This course is comprised of 8 modules, and students will achieve course-level outcomes through module-level outcomes.

After completing the course modules, students will be able to

  1. demonstrate general reading comprehension proficiency, including the ability to recognize and define key concepts, strategies, and techniques associated with written composition
  2. describe and practice critical reading of expository and creative prose
  3. review, respond to, and analyze non-text media, including podcasts, screencasts, and web video
  4. articulate and evaluate personal writing experiences
  5. identify stages in the writing process and adapt the process to meet different writing situations and individual needs
  6. perform basic research on a given subject and properly utilize research in a written work
  7. identify writing problems and correct for errors in grammar, mechanics, and style
  8. work collaboratively with peers to improve upon written assignments
  9. leverage and adapt effective pre-writing strategies and techniques
  10. leverage and adapt effective drafting strategies and techniques
  11. leverage and adapt effective revision strategies and techniques
  12. identify, describe, and develop a variety of exposition types, including narrative, descriptive, reflective, and analytical essays

Course Texts and Media

McLean, Scott. Writing for Success. Irvington: Flat World Knowledge, 2011. ISBN 13: 978-1-4533-1071-7

This is an open college textbook that can be accessed online free of charge. There are two different ways that you can access the text:

1. Access a free online version

 The Saylor Foundation provides access to a .pdf or .doc version of the book. Click on the link above and scroll to the bottom of the page to find the text.

2. Purchase a print or e-reader version of the book from Flat World Knowledge

Flat World Knowledge provides a range of print and electronic options for the text, and is committed to affordable access for students.

Course Format

This course is conducted entirely online and consists of eight modules of content. Each module requires that students read a variety of writing and sometimes view and interact with other media. These ideas and skills are formulated and demonstrated in writing. The course is designed to run over eight weeks with one module completed each week.

This is a self-paced course. While a course designer will monitor the course, it is designed for the students to work independently and collaboratively. A primary component of the learning experience is giving and receiving feedback on writing. In order for this to occur effectively, all students must invest time to review and comment on their classmates work. This evaluation, reflection and collaboration is key to the course.

When evaluating writing assignments in this course, please use the 6+1 Writing Traits Rubric.


There will not be grades and credit awarded for this course.

You will finish the course with a portfolio of college-level writing samples that may be used in other courses. Given the self-paced, open nature of this course, your writing portfolio will be the most valuable, reusable outcome from the course.

Discussion Forum

Student exchanges and learning take place through online Discussions page. Students will be responsible for responding to 2-6 topics/posts within each module.

Primary Posts are original responses to the topic/post. Most primary posts are due around the module’s midpoint. Secondary Posts are responses to classmates’ primary posts. Please keep in mind that students will not have time to respond to your primary post if it is is submitted very late in the module timeline.

Discussion deepens student learning, so please post early and often.

Guidelines for Discussion Posts

Primary Posts should be more than one paragraph and should reflect reasoned thought, thought beyond what might go into an email or chat response.  Think of Primary Posts as mini-essays that make a clear, focused point.  Remember that the goal of discussion is to develop writing skills; these posts are great practice.  Take them seriously, and say something substantial and worthwhile. Please note the guidelines below:

  • Each Primary Post should be at least 200 words.
  • Each Secondary Post should be at least 125 words.
  • Each post should be a quality writing sample (please organize your thoughts, proofread, and spell-check).
  • Look for opportunities to build on the conversation by referencing your readings, other sources, or classmate comments.
  • Be courteous.  Students don’t always have to agree, but they do have to treat each other respectfully and civilly.


All members of the class are expected to follow rules of common courtesy in all communications (including email messages, discussions, and chats).  You may find these guidelines helpful:

  • Label posts and emails with a relevant subject heading.
  • Use capital letters sparingly. THEY LOOK LIKE SHOUTING.
  • Forward emails only with a writer’s permission.
  • Be considerate of others’ feelings and use language carefully. 
  • Cite quotations, references, and sources.
  • Use humor carefully. It’s hard to "read" the tone of an email or post; sometimes humor can be misread as criticism or personal attack. Feel free to use emoticons to let others know you’re being humorous.
  • Use complete sentences and standard English grammar to compose posts.  Write in proper paragraphs.  Review work before submitting it.

Technical Requirements

Microsoft Word, Adobe Acrobat Reader, and Adobe Flash Player are required applications for creating, reading, and viewing course documents and media. Additionally, students should have updated web browsers that feature the standard media plug-ins. For an optimal viewing experience of this course use the latest version of Mozilla Firefox.

Time Management

An online course demands a serious time commitment. It requires a high level of responsibility, dedication and self-discipline on the part of the student. In this course, students are responsible for their own work, progress, and grades. Some students mistakenly believe that online courses will be easier than face-to-face courses and require less time, but in reality, students may spend significantly more time preparing and studying for an online course.  Students should expect to spend 10-15 hours on each course module, completing reading and writing assignments and posting discussion responses.

Late Work 

Much of the learning in this course occurs as students review and provide feedback on the writing of their peers. As such, it is important to stay at pace with the general flow of the course. If you submit work late, other students will have moved on and will not provide feedback on your writing.

Technical Support

Most of your questions about Canvas can be found in the Canvas User Guide. If you identify errors or missing elements in the course, please contact the "Instructor" found on the People page.

Academic Honesty
Plagiarism is unacceptable. Examples of plagiarism include assignments:

  • that someone else has written and claiming the work as one’s own
  • without a list of resources used in the research
  • that contain sections, paragraphs, sentences, or key phrases that someone else has written without documenting the source for each portion of the assignment not written by the student
  • that contain paraphrased ideas from another source without documenting the source for each paraphrase.

Students can avoid plagiarism by doing their own work and by documenting the sources that they use. Documenting sources means providing the name of the author, the title of the source used, and other relevant bibliographical information. Strict use of MLA Guidelines will prevent inadvertent plagiarism; the website will help you determine how adequately to document and note sources.

About the Course

This course was originally created by Daryl Smith O'Hare and Susan C. Hines as part of the Kaleidoscope Project. The course is now maintained and updated by Lumen

last revised: December 26, 2013

Course Summary:

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