Welcome to ENGL 199B: Interdisciplinary Writing/Natural Science!
ENGL 199B is a 5-credit writing course that is linked to ASTR 150A: The Planets. In this course you will read, write, and review a wide variety of documents about astronomy. You will learn how to:
- Summarize scientific information
- Argue your opinion and persuade a general audience using scientific data
- Explain complex scientific information in clear and concise language
- Tell stories that engage your reader in astronomy topics
You will also learn key writing skills, including how to get started writing; how to structure information for different genres of writing; how to write for different audiences; how to read, annotate, and critique documents; and how to improve your writing from one draft to the next. Hopefully you'll have some fun learning a bit more about astronomy, too!
In addition to being a writing course, ENGL 199B is a writing community. This is your community for sharing ideas, trying new types of writing, giving feedback and suggestions, and supporting each other. It is important that this community be supportive and welcoming of everyone in the course. If we build a strong writing community together, you will get a lot more out of this course.
Office: MGH 310 (Datalab)
Office Hours: M 3:30-4:30 & Th 2:00-3:00 & by appointment
Communication is critical to your success in this course--and I am here to help you! I want to hear what's important to you, when you need help, when you have a question, and when you want to discuss an idea. Just let me know. Don't wait until a small problem becomes a big one--communicate right away. For example, if you know ahead of time that you will need extra time for an assignment, let me know and we'll come up with a plan together.
Here are the main communication channels for this course:
- Office hours (M 3:30-4:30 & Th 2:00-3:00 and by appointment): You can use this time for anything that you need to discuss.
- Writing conferences: We'll meet 1:1 to discuss each of your writing projects. You can also ask other questions during conferences.
- Before and after class: Feel free to ask questions before and after class. Before some classes I might need time to gather my thoughts and I'll ask to talk after class.
- Email (firstname.lastname@example.org): This is my preferred form of written communication. I will reply to email within 24 hours on weekdays. If for some reason I do not, please reply to your email thread with a message like: "Just putting this back at the top of your inbox." Make sure that your email has a title with the course number in it ("ENGL 199B: [descriptive title]") and a clear description of your problem or question.
- Canvas Announcements: I will use Canvas announcements to send updates to the whole class. It is your responsibility to monitor your UW email address and Canvas on a regular basis.
Required Course Materials
This course does not have a textbook. All readings are provided on this Canvas site as PDFs or links. See the Course Schedule to find the readings that are due before each class session.
This is a writing course, so you will do a lot of writing! Some of the writing will be informal discussions and reflections, some will be annotations and critiques of others' writing, some will be be first drafts, and some will be more polished writing. With all of these writing assignments you'll be practicing and getting more comfortable with different writing techniques and reading and reviewing others' writing, all of which should make you a better writer.
Listed below are the four assignments for this course. Each assignment has multiple parts, which are explained in more detail on the Assignments page.
- Responding to Discussion Prompts: Before most class session you will write a short response to the readings for the day. These writing assignments are informal. Instead of producing polished responses, you should use these assignments to get in the habit of writing regularly.
- Summarizing a Scientific Article: You will read a scientific article about an astronomy topic and summarize it in a research poster. This assignment is as much about writing a clear summary as it is about carefully reading and annotating the source material so that you understand it well.
- Writing a Persuasive Science Article: You will choose an astronomy topic and write an argument to convince your reader of your point of view. For example, you might argue that Pluto should be considered a planet. You will use scientific research to defend your position.
- Explaining a Scientific Topic: You will choose an astronomy-related question and write an article that answers the question for a general audience. For example, your question might be: What is the dark side of the moon? Your answer will be compelling, grounded in scientific research, and use storytelling techniques to make your explanation relevant and memorable for your reader.
There are no tests or quizzes in this course.
I have found that conventional grading often leads my students to think more about grades than about writing; to worry more about pleasing me or psyching me out than about figuring out what you really want to say or how you want to say it; to be reluctant to take risks with your writing. Grading even makes some students feel they are working against me.
- Writing Studies Scholar Peter Elbow
The goal of this course is not to determine who is a good writer and who is a less-good writer. The goal of this course is for everyone to become a better and more confident writer.
The grading policy for the course is based rewarding work that contributes to that goal of improving your writing. If you actively engage in class sessions and activities, provide constructive and thoughtful peer feedback, and work on improving your writing with each draft, you will receive a good grade.
You will still receive critical feedback about your writing from me and from your peers, but that feedback will always be about helping you to improve your writing, not about deducting grading points. You will not be graded down for grammar issues, a document that doesn't quite flow, or trying something new that doesn't quite work--unless you do not make an effort to improve these issues.
Grading criteria are focused on how engaged you are in improving your writing and are listed in each assignment description. Assignment grades are weighted as follows:
- 20% Discussion prompts: Each prompt is worth two points: One point for your response and one point for engaging in the in-class discussion or activity based on the prompt. Only 10 responses will count toward your grade--your lowest score will be thrown out.
- 20% Summarizing a Scientific Article: This assignment has four parts, all worth an equal amount. The first draft, second draft and conference questions, final draft, and reflection are all worth 5 points each.
- 30% Writing a Persuasive Science Article: This assignment has five parts. The proposal, first draft, second draft and conference questions, and reflection are all worth 5 points each. The final draft is worth 10 points.
- 30% Explaining Scientific Topics: This assignment has five parts. The proposal, first draft, second draft and conference questions, and reflection are all worth 5 points each. The final draft is worth 10 points.
Your grade for the course overall is calculated based on the following mapping. You can view your calculated grade in Canvas.
|Grade on 4.0 Scale||Percentage Cut-off|
Late assignments are accepted, but will receive a reduced grade in line with how late the assignment is and any mitigating factors. Please write an explanation with any late submission.
You may ask for clarification about or contest any assignment grade that you receive. Questions about grades must be submitted via email no sooner than 24 hours and no later than one week after the grade is released in Canvas.
As with anything that you do, the more that you put into this course, the more you will get out of it. Your responsibility is not to be a great writer. Your responsibility is to put in the work to become a better writer.
That work includes:
- Responding thoughtfully to the discussion prompts.
- Attending class regularly and being as mentally present as you can be.
- Letting me know if you need extra help, extra time, or an extra explanation of a difficult concept. I'm here to help, but I can't do that if you don't let me know what you need.
- Critiquing your classmates' writing honestly, respectfully, and with the goal of helping to improve their writing.
- Reading and annotating documents--both your own and others'--to better understand what makes a document work.
- Supporting your classmates and helping to make this class a safe and comfortable place.
- Trusting that you can improve your writing through practice and study.
If you do this work while treating yourself and the rest of the class with respect, you will do well.
A number of challenges from a variety of directions can affect your ability to bring your optimal attention and energy to this course. This Student Resources document is a set of links to campus resources that UW makes available to students to help you deal with some of these challenges.
Because this is a writing course, you should be particularly aware of writing resources that are available to you:
- The Odegaard Writing & Research Center (OWRC) offers free, one-to-one, 45-minute tutoring sessions for undergraduate, graduate, and professional writers in all fields at the UW. They will work with writers on any writing or research project, as well as personal projects such as applications or personal statements. Their tutors and librarians collaborate with writers at any stage of the writing and research process, from brainstorming and identifying sources to drafting and making final revisions. For more information or to schedule an appointment, see their website or visit in person on the first floor of Odegaard Undergraduate Library.
- The CLUE Writing Center is open from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m., Sunday to Thursday. It's first come, first served — so arrive early and be prepared to wait if necessary! The CLUE Writing Center helps undergraduates start, draft, revise, research, and polish their writing. The CLUE Writing Center believes that writing is a process and has one goal in mind: to help you become a better writer.
- Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL) is an online resource with a wealth of information about writing, from writing process to grammar to standards for citing your work. You'll find many websites with answers to your writing questions, but I've found that this site is consistently one of the best places to look.
I encourage everyone to use the writing centers. They are a great resource for improving your documents and for making you a better writer.
The University of Washington takes academic integrity very seriously. Behaving with integrity is part of your responsibility to the shared learning community. If you’re uncertain about if something is academic misconduct, ask me. I am willing to discuss any questions that you might have.
The type of academic misconduct that is most relevant to this course is plagiarism. Plagiarism is particularly discouraged in this course because our goal is to improve your writing. Plagiarism can take multiple forms:
- Presenting someone else's work as your own. For example, buying an assignment online or from another student or using an article that you find online as your own. This form of plagiarism is antithetical to the goals of the course and, frankly, unproductive because you will not be graded on how polished your assignment is but how engaged you are in the process of improving it.
- Presenting part of someone's work as your own without properly quoting and citing. You will be encouraged to research scientific articles and other sources. You can quote directly from these sources or summarize their ideas, but you must cite them properly and not present the writing as your own. On goal of the course is learning to cite sources correctly.
- Patchwriting or failing to write in your own words. Patchwriting is similar to paraphrasing or summarizing, but the writing that you present as your own is too similar to the original document. Patchwriting is often unintentional and is common for early college students. When we work on summaries we will focus on analyzing the whole text and annotating with our own words to avoid patchwriting.
You will receive feedback and suggestions from your classmates on your writing projects and make changes based on their input. This type of collaboration is encouraged. You do not need to cite your peer reviewers as co-authors for your assignments, but it is good practice to note their contributions when you write your reflection
Concerns about plagiarism or other behaviors prohibited by the Student Conduct Code may be referred for investigation and adjudication. Students found to have engaged in academic misconduct may receive a zero on the assignment (or other possible outcome).
The IWP & Anti-Racist Pedagogy
The Interdisciplinary Writing Program (IWP) is committed to engaging with anti-racist pedagogies. These pedagogies may take various forms, such as curricular attention to voices, communities, and perspectives that have been historically marginalized inside and beyond academic disciplines; inclusive classroom practices; discussions of racism; and consideration of other forms of prejudice and exclusion. We believe that countering the cultures and practices of racism in an academic institution is fundamental to developing a vibrant intellectual community. The IWP is happy to talk with you about your questions as well as to support student-led initiatives around anti-racist work, and we invite you to contact IWP faculty member Rush Daniel at email@example.com or IWP Program Director Carrie Matthews at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’re interested in how teachers of English as a professional community have taken up anti-racist work, check out the National Council of Teachers of English Statement on Anti-Racism to Support Teaching and Learning.
Washington state law requires that UW develop a policy for accommodation of student absences or significant hardship due to reasons of faith or conscience, or for organized religious activities. The UW’s policy, including more information about how to request an accommodation, is available at Religious Accommodations Policy. Accommodations must be requested within the first two weeks of this course using the Religious Accommodations Request form.