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English 16/16X

English 16 seeks to initiate a dialogue among students that leads them to write with more than their own "personal" position in mind: the readings and classroom discussions give the sense that they are entering an ongoing conversation of consequence. To this end, students in English 16 are required to integrate the thoughts and words of other writers into their own essays. Both in relation to their own experience and to a text or set of texts, student writers in English 16 learn how to articulate and develop a sophisticated argument within a specific rhetorical situation. English 16X is a course parallel to English 16 for nonnative speakers who need additional work in English as a Second Language.

Philosophy & Goals

English 16/16X is our first-year composition course. For students who place into English 16/16X, it is their only required composition course; for those who place into 13/13X or 14/14X, it is their second or third course in the sequence. Thus, English 16/16X orients entering and transfer students to the requirements of college level reading and writing and builds on the rhetorical activities and skills other students have been taught in English 13/13X and 14/14X. Generally, students who place into English 16/16X can write fluent narratives, descriptive prose, and an impromptu, analytical essay, supported by evidence and examples from texts and their own experience and observations. English 16/16X students may still exhibit some difficulties with the skills, knowledge, and conventions of academic discourse, including reading comprehension and facility with Standard English, and rhetorical elements such as audience, genre, context, purpose, and argumentation. However, a grasp of these discursive and rhetorical elements must be minimally present at the beginning of the course and should be clearly evident by the end.

English 16/16X seeks to help students become critical readers and writers as they deepen their practice and knowledge of academic discourse through expository, analytical, argumentative, and research writing, and through intensive engagement with critical and creative texts. Students focus their writing on critical inquiry in preparation for Core Seminar and sophomore and upper level courses across the disciplines. By the end of the semester, they should be able to write a critical, thesis-driven essay with MLA-style documentation that utilizes a range of rhetorical strategies and a minimum of four sources.

Students learn/review invention strategies, such as free writing, clustering, process writing, and informal writing; rhetorical strategies such as comparison and contrast, cause-and-effect analysis, and recognition of logical fallacies; and grammar and punctuation, including greater attention to style, in relation to their writing assignments. They present their writing in a full class workshop on a regular basis.

All essays should go through a process of drafting, revising, editing, and proofreading. Twice in the semester, students submit a portfolio of their work that includes at the midterm one response paper, a research proposal, and reflective/self-evaluative writing on the proposal; and at the end of the term, an in-class essay, the research essay, and reflective/self-evaluative writing on the research essay.

The primary goal of English 16/16X is to help students become critical readers and writers to prepare them for academic and workplace success. By critically analyzing broad, cross-disciplinary themes such as food, work, and culture, students are able to reflect on their own experiences in light of literature, social criticism, and cultural analysis to enter into the “conversation” at the heart of academic discourse.

Learning Outcomes

Reading: By the end of English 16/16X, students should be fluent, critical readers of academic and literary genres, with strategies for researching and learning new concepts as well as appropriating other discipline-specific discourses. On the continuum from English 13/13X to Core Seminar, English 16/16X students should be able to:

  • re-read and mark a text to develop an interpretation with an emphasis on critical analysis;  
  • identify several genres, including fiction and various kinds of nonfiction, such as analytical, argumentative, and informative essays;
  • use increasingly sophisticated texts both as source material and writing models;
  • select appropriate information sources such as databases, and evaluate primary and secondary sources for their credibility and usefulness.

Writing: By the end of English 16/16X, students should be able to write college-level, clear, reasonably correct, critical-analytical essays, and use writing as a tool for thinking and learning. On the continuum from English 13/13X to Core Seminar, English 16/16X students should be able to:

  • demonstrate knowledge of rhetoric—purpose, audience, context, and voice—across several genres;
  • use writing for expression, inquiry, analysis, argumentation, research, and communication;
  • demonstrate an understanding of writing as a multi-step process involving invention, drafting, revising, collaborating, editing, and proofreading;
  • apply research skills to the development of a thesis, and integrate primary and secondary sources into an analysis or argument;
  • apply appropriate formatting conventions and standard English usage;
  • understand and take advantage of the differences between print and electronic composing processes.

All the above goals will be adapted with sensitivity toward students whose first language is not English.

Writing Requirements

  • 16-20 pages of finished formal writing to consist of: two 3-5-page response papers with drafts (involving 2 or more texts); one 3-5-page research proposal with drafts (tentative thesis; plan of development; annotated bibliography of at least 3 sources); one 6-8-page research essay with drafts, utilizing a range of rhetorical strategies and a minimum of four sources, two of which may be course readings, one a traditional library source (e.g., academic database) and one an interview, internet source (e.g., web page), and/or other medium (e.g., film).
  • 2 in-class essays (minimum)
  • Reflective/self-evaluative writing for research proposal and essay
  • Practice in summary/paraphrase/quotation/integrating sources/documentation
  • Informal writing (e.g., journals, in-class writing, free-writing, blogging)

Portfolio Requirements

  • Midterm Portfolio (optional): one reader response, with one draft; in-class essay
  • Final Portfolio: one reader response, with one draft; in-class essay; research proposal; research essay, with two drafts attached