ENGL 131 R: Composition: Exposition

Meeting Time: 
MTWTh 12:30pm - 1:20pm
MEB 251
John Calavitta

Syllabus Description:


ENGLISH 131: Composition/Exposition/Experience:

Engineering Good Writing  

quarter: Fall 2014 / meeting times: M-Th 12:30-1:20 am / location: MEB 251

instructor: John Paul Calavitta / email: calavj@uw.edu / office: Savery 417

office phone:  / office hours: Tues. & Thurs. 1:30-2:30



English 131 introduces students to strategies, tools, and resources necessary to writing effectively in college. While it is impossible in this class to explore every potential type of writing situation you may encounter in college, it is both possible and necessary to learn key writing processes, skills, reading and research strategies, and ways of thinking that you can apply to other, future writing situations.  To do this, we will engage in inquiry, analysis, synthesis, and meaning-making through argument—all writing habits emphasized by our course outcomes (or goals), which appear on this syllabus and which we will discuss throughout the quarter.  And we will cultivate a practice of continual critical reflection on our writing choices, processes, and situations, because this is how we learn to apply our writing skills and experiences to new situations.

Since effective writing begins with critical thinking, we will analyze a variety of texts, and artifacts on campus, asking ourselves why texts utilize certain kinds of language and certain styles, tones, and conventions, who reads these texts and for what reasons, what these texts argue, how they make their arguments, and what social consequences and stakes the texts have.  We will also write about topic questions that are raised by our readings as well as our experience of artifacts on the UW campus. We will read a wide range of texts—which range from Barack Obama’s “A More Perfect Union” and The Black Panther Party’s “Ten Point Plan” to Beverly Gross’s “Bitch” and Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood—focusing specifically on the ideas texts address (i.e., the claims they make), how these ideas are articulated, and why these ideas matter.  Through a variety of in-class activities and writing assignments we will discover how texts interact with one another and how we, as writers, might enter into this critical conversation. In order to effectively write for an educated audience, you must demonstrate a firm grasp of the conventions of scholarly argumentation, complex claim building, intertextuality, metacognition, and academic research skills.

And because the way to become a better writer is to write, write, and write some more, the bulk of the assignments for the quarter will be written work.  In a final portfolio, we will showcase our work and reflect on how that work exemplifies our course outcomes.  By becoming a community of engaged and reflective writers, we will gain strategies and skills that will benefit us far beyond the realm of this class and even this campus.

Furthermore, students are expected to edit their work for polished precision. Regardless of the caliber of your ideas, if your presentation is not impeccable, you will not be taken seriously. Developing and practicing effective writing skills as you work through these texts to produce your own writing will prepare you to write effectively in every rhetorical situation you encounter throughout your university career and after. That is: Good writing is critical to the engineering field and good writing is valued by employers and graduate school research advisors in your field.


  • Contexts for Inquiry: A Guide to Reading, Research, and Writing at the University of Washington
  • active UW email address

We will be using ACS Citation style for the Engineering field 

ACS Style guide 


Or, if you are electrical engineering, use this: The 2014 editorial style manual of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), a style commonly used in technical fields like computer science, is IEEE. See citation link below: 

IEEE Style



1. To demonstrate an awareness of the strategies that writers use in different writing contexts.

  • The writing employs style, tone, and conventions appropriate to the demands of a particular genre and situation.
  • The writer is able to demonstrate the ability to write for different audiences and contexts, both within and outside the university classroom.
  • The writing has a clear understanding of its audience, and various aspects of the writing (mode of inquiry, content, structure, appeals, tone, sentences, and word choice) address and are strategically pitched to that audience.
  • The writer articulates and assesses the effects of his or her writing choices.

2. To read, analyze, and synthesize complex texts and incorporate multiple kinds of evidence purposefully in order to generate and support writing.

  • The writing demonstrates an understanding of the course texts as necessary for the purpose at hand.
  • Course texts are used in strategic, focused ways (for example: summarized, cited, applied, challenged, re-contextualized) to support the goals of the writing.
  • The writing is intertextual, meaning that a “conversation” between texts and ideas is created in support of the writer’s goals.
  • The writer is able to utilize multiple kinds of evidence gathered from various sources (primary and secondary – for example, library research, interviews, questionnaires, observations, cultural artifacts) in order to support writing goals.
  • The writing demonstrates responsible use of the MLA (or other appropriate) system of documenting sources.

3. To produce complex, analytic, persuasive arguments that matter in academic contexts.

  • The argument is appropriately complex, based in a claim that emerges from and explores a line of inquiry.
  • The stakes of the argument, why what is being argued matters, are articulated and persuasive.
  • The argument involves analysis, which is the close scrutiny and examination of evidence and assumptions in support of a larger set of ideas.
  • The argument is persuasive, taking into consideration counterclaims and multiple points of view as it generates its own perspective and position.
  • The argument utilizes a clear organizational strategy and effective transitions that develop its line of inquiry.

4. To develop flexible strategies for revising, editing, and proofreading writing.

  • The writing demonstrates substantial and successful revision.
  • The writing responds to substantive issues raised by the instructor and peers.
  • Errors of grammar, punctuation, and mechanics are proofread and edited so as not to interfere with reading and understanding the writing.


  • Portfolio (70%)

In this course, you will complete two major assignment sequences, each of which is designed to help you fulfill the course outcomes.  Each assignment sequence requires you to complete a variety of shorter assignments leading up to a major paper.  These shorter assignments will each target one or more of the course outcomes at a time, help you practice these outcomes, and allow you to build toward a major paper at the end of each sequence.  You will have a chance to revise significantly each of the major papers using feedback generated by me, peer review sessions, and writing conferences.  Toward the end of the course, having completed the two sequences, you will be asked to compile and submit a portfolio of your work along with a critical reflection.  The portfolio will include the following: one of the two major papers, three to five of the shorter assignments, and a critical reflection that explains how the selected portfolio demonstrates the four outcomes for the course.  In addition to the materials you select as the basis for your portfolio grade, your portfolio must include all of the sequence-related writing you were assigned in the course (both major papers and all the shorter assignments from both sequences).  A portfolio that does not include all the above will be considered “Incomplete” and will earn a grade of 0.0-0.9.  The grade for complete portfolios will be based on the extent to which the pieces you select demonstrate the course outcomes.  The portfolio will be worth 70% of your final grade.  Because you will not be turning in your portfolio until the end of the quarter, you will not be graded on any of your assignments until that time. The great benefit of this portfolio system is that you are able to develop new skills and techniques before being assessed. Therefore, your grade will be based on how well you address the course outcomes at the end of the quarter rather than the beginning.

  • 1 of the two major papers revised
  • 3-5 of the shorter papers revised
  • Reflections explaining how the portfolio demonstrates the four outcomes for the course

Be sure to save all original papers before revising!  In addition to the materials you select as the basis for your portfolio grade, your portfolio must include all of the original sequence-related writing you were assigned in the course (both major papers and all the shorter assignments from both sequences). A portfolio that does not include all the above will be considered "Incomplete" and will earn a grade of 0.0-0.9. The grade for complete portfolios will be based on the extent to which the pieces you select demonstrate the course outcomes.


Evaluation Rubric

  • Outstanding: Offers a very highly proficient, even memorable demonstration of the trait(s) associated with the course outcome(s), including some appropriate risk-taking and/or creativity.
  • Strong: Offers a proficient demonstration of the trait(s) associated with the course outcome(s), which could be further enhanced with revision.
  • Good: Effectively demonstrates the trait(s) associate with the course outcome(s), but less proficiently; could use revision to demonstrate more skillful and nuanced command of trait(s).
  • Acceptable: Minimally meets the basic outcome(s) requirement, but the demonstrated trait(s) are not fully realized or well controlled and would benefit from significant revision.
  • Inadequate: Does not meet the outcome(s) requirement; the trait(s) are not adequately demonstrated and require substantial revision on multiple levels.


  • Participation (30%)

The rest of your grade will be determined by your participation in and out of class. Your participation grade consists of four components:

  • Attendance:  If you are not present in class, you cannot participate.  Consequently, regular attendance is key to your participation grade.
  • In-class discussions:  I expect you to be consistently prepared with readings and to be active in classroom discussions.
  • Writing exercises: I will regularly assign writing exercises for homework.  Completion of these writing exercises will count toward your participation grade.
  • Conferences: You will have two individual conferences with me over the course of the semester.  Attendance at both is necessary to receive full participation points.



Unless otherwise specified, all assignments should be formatted as follows: 12 pt. Times New

Roman font, 1 inch or 2.54 cm margins on all sides, double-spaced, MLA style. 

Conferences & Office Hours

You are required to meet with me two times during the quarter in conferences to discuss your work. These conferences give you the opportunity to get feedback about your papers/projects and to express any concerns, questions, or suggestions you might have about the course or the assignments. Conferences are mandatory and, if missed, will affect your participation grade. I will provide you with a sign-up sheet for these conferences and detailed instructions about how to prepare for them.  Additionally, it is highly recommended that you attend office hours throughout the quarter.

 Classroom Culture

Because the exchange of ideas is so important to this class, it is necessary for everyone to be respectful of one another. It is normal and even expected that, in our class discussions, we will disagree, but derogatory or discourteous language/behavior will not be tolerated in our classroom.

Classroom Etiquette 

Because the exchange of ideas is so important in this class, it is necessary that we treat one another with courtesy and respect.  Derogatory language and behavior prevent the exchange of ideas and will not be tolerated in this classroom.  It is normal and even expected that we will disagree.  But as we discuss these disagreements, we will maintain professional and respectful attitudes toward one another.   

Please turn off all electronic devices before coming to class. If you need to answer a call during class, please notify me ahead of time.


  • Plagiarism:

Plagiarism, or academic dishonesty, is presenting someone else’s ideas or writing as your own. In your writing for this class, you are encouraged to refer to other people’s thoughts and writing—as long as you cite them. As a matter of policy, any student found to have plagiarized any piece of writing in this class will be immediately reported to the College of Arts and Sciences for review. 

For more information, refer to UW’s Student Conduct Code at www.washington.edu/students/handbook/conduct.html

  • Absence:

When you miss a class, please ask one of your classmates for notes and possible additional assignments.

  • Late Work:

Assignments are due on the date they are scheduled to be due by midnight PDT.  If you feel that you cannot meet an assignment deadline, please see me prior to the deadline.


I encourage you to take advantage of the following writing resources available to you at no charge.

** I will give extra participation points to students who visit a writing center and have a tutor sign a visit form. 

  • The CLUE Writing Center in the Gateway Center of Mary Gates Hall is open Sunday to Thursday from 7pm to midnight. The graduate tutors are especially adept at helping you develop your claims and improve the structure of your essay.  You do not need to make an appointment, so be sure to arrive early in case there is a wait.
  • The Odegaard Writing and Research Center is open Sunday 1:30 – 6 pm, and Monday through Thursday 12 – 9 pm in the Odegaard Library, room 326.  This writing center provides a research-integrated approach to writing instruction. Be sure to make an appointment on the website: www.depts.washington.edu/owrc
  • The EWP Online Writing and Research Studio allows you to schedule an hour-long appointment with a writing tutor at any point in the writing process.  The tutors are able to provide feedback to help you from the brainstorming to the revision stage of writing. To schedule an appointment visit: https://catalyst.uw.edu/workspace/myaj/27410/177097 
  • The Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL) allows you to browse or search any writing related questions.  It also is an excellent resource for questions about MLA formatting and citation.  You can visit the site here: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/


If you need accommodation of any sort, please don’t hesitate to talk to me about it so that I can work with the UW Disability Services Office (DSO) to provide what you require. This syllabus is available in large print, as are other class materials. More information about accommodation may be found at http://www.washington.edu/admin/dso/


Preventing violence is everyone's responsibility. If you’re concerned, tell someone.

  • Always call 911 if you or others may be in danger.
  • Call 206-685-SAFE (7233) to report non-urgent threats of violence and for referrals to UW counseling and/or safety resources. TTY or VP callers, please call through your preferred relay service.
  • Don’t walk alone. Campus safety guards can walk with you on campus after dark. Call Husky NightWalk 206-685-WALK (9255).
  • Stay connected in an emergency with UW Alert. Register your mobile number to receive instant notification of campus emergencies via text and voice messaging. Sign up online at www.washington.edu/alert.

For more information visit the SafeCampus website at www.washington.edu/safecampus.

Q Center: The University of Washington Q Center builds and facilitates queer (gay, lesbian, bisexual, two-spirit, trans, intersex, questioning, same-gender-loving, allies) academic and social community through education, advocacy, and support services to achieve a socially-just campus in which all people are valued. For more information, visit http://depts.washington.edu/qcenter/.


FIUTS: Foundation for International Understanding through Students: FIUTS is an example of a campus organization that can bring together your social and academic learning. "FIUTS is an independent non-profit organization which provides cross-cultural leadership and social programming for UW's international and globally minded domestic students. FIUTS is local connections and global community!" FIUTS also offers a free international lunch on the last Wednesday of every month beginning with a lunch on September 28 from 11:30-1:30 in the Kane Hall Walker-Ames room. Consult FIUTS' web site for a detailed calendar of events and links to many resources http://www.fiuts.washington.edu.



If you have any concerns about the course or your instructor, please see the instructor about these concerns as soon as possible. If you are not comfortable talking with the instructor or not satisfied with the response that you receive, you may contact the following Expository Writing staff in Padelford A-11: Important Contact Information

Candice Rai
Director, EWP
Office: Padelford A-011
Office hours:  

AJ Burgin
Office:  Padelford A-11G
Fall Office Hours:  M/W 9:30-12:30

Yasmine Romero
Office:  Padelford A-11G
Fall Office Hours:  T/W 11:00-2:00

Ann Shivers-McNair
Office:  Padelford A-11G
Fall Office Hours:  W, 10:30-1:00; Th, 12:30-4:30

If, after speaking with the Director or Assistant Directors of the EWP, you are still not satisfied with the response you receive, you may contact English Department Chair Brian Reed (206) 206-543-2690


Schedule (subject to change)


Composition Course Calendar .pdf


Catalog Description: 
Study and practice of good writing: topics derived from a variety of personal, academic, and public subjects. Cannot be taken if student has already received a grade of 2.0 or higher in either ENGL 111, ENGL 121, or ENGL 131.
GE Requirements: 
English Composition (C)
Other Requirements Met: 
Last updated: 
March 15, 2016 - 3:30pm