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Many of you may be wondering what a syllabus even is…To be honest, it is one of the most useful pieces of information a professor will ever give you!  A syllabus includes everything from the professor’s contact information to very important due dates.  It is usually handed out on the first day of class or emailed to you before classes begin. Many people even call the first day of classes “syllabus day” because most professors use it to review what is on the syllabus in full detail.  You are held responsible for being aware of all the important information on every single one of your syllabi, so I suggest coming up with a system so that you won’t lose them and can refer to them regularly.  Often times, professors will go over things on the first day of class and not repeat them again. For instance, your teacher may never tell you that an online quiz is due. But if it’s on the syllabus, you are held responsible for whether or not it gets done. You’re simply expected to follow along with each syllabus as your courses progress through the semester.

Personally, I keep all of my syllabi at the front of each of my class taps in my binder.  I also go through and write all the important dates in my planer at the beginning of each semester.  That way I will definitely not forget due dates, even if my teacher doesn’t remind the class.  In the back of my planner, I keep two sticky notes; one with all my final exam dates and another with all of my professors office hour information.  Then if I ever have any questions I know exactly where to go!

Emails and office hours are both fabulous ways to get in contact with your professor, and most professors truly welcome questions from students. But if your question can be answered by simply looking in your syllabus, I can almost guarantee the response to your question will come with an edge to it, if it comes at all.  So it is always smart to double check your syllabus to make sure your question has not already been answered.  If it has not, ask away!  Professors love to help.  Syllabi may honestly become your best friend and dearest ally when it comes to college classes.  They are easy to forget about, but like I said, it’s very important not to. Think of it as a map to passing your classes, which is basically what it is.

Syllabus sample provided by an East Carolina University freshman English professor:

English 1201: Composition II Spring 2013

Instructor: John Doe

Phone: 111-1111; Office: Hall 2200

Office Hours: T 8-9:30; W 10-11 and 1-2; Th 8-9:30 and 3:30-4:30

Other times by appointment

Available M-F by email at

ENGL 1201-088   T TH 11:00-12:15 Hall 2020

ENGL 1201-190   T TH 12:30-1:45 Hall 2020

Course Outcome Goals:  This course builds on your understanding of rhetoric and writing processes through an exploration of research- based writing. In this course you will develop your abilities to

  1.  Formulate significant research questions (Project II)
  2. Craft a strong research proposal (Project II)
  3. Establish work plans and timelines (Projects I, II, and III)
  4. Locate and evaluate a variety of  sources, including field-based, print, and electronic sources (Projects I, II, III)
  5. Apply research and use writing to achieve a variety of purposes (Projects I, II, III)
  6. Convey the results of your research to a variety of audiences (Projects I, II, III)
  7. Organize source materials (Projects I, II, III)
  8. Integrate outside source materials—field-based, print, and electronic—into your writing (Projects I, II, III)
  9. Cite sources accurately and responsibly in order to avoid plagiarism  (Projects II, III)
  10. Identify and explain writing strategies used in your own work as well as in the work of experienced writers. (Projects I, II, III and Course notebook)

English 1201 is a writing intensive course in the Writing Across the Curriculum Program at East Carolina University. In using WI Model 4: WI Courses Emphasizing a Combination of Writing Approaches, this course contributes to the twelve-hour WI requirement for students at ECU. Additional information is available at the following site: You will write extensively, both formally and informally, often for every class meeting, and you must be prepared to share your writing with your peers on a regular basis. You will be asked to write in a variety of genres, most of which will involve multiple pages of revised prose.

Required text and Other Course Costs:

Veit, Richard, Christopher Gould, and John Clifford, ed. Writing, Reading, and Research, 8th ed. Boston:  Wadsworth/Cengage

Additional readings related to the course content will be provided to you via Blackboard and/or email.  Rather than having you purchase several textbooks, I use online materials extensively; therefore, students must check ECU email and Blackboard accounts daily for assignments and announcements. You will also be required to make photocopies or print-outs of the research sources you use in several of the major writing assignments.

Attendance:  Attendance is required, as is promptness with all assignments.  You are allowed 3 absences from this class without penalty.  Each absence beyond 3 will result in a 3-point deduction from your final grade.  Six or more absences will normally result in a grade of “F” for the course.  Entering class late or leaving early disrupts class; three tardies will be equal to one absence.  If you enter the classroom after the roll is called, you are responsible for having your attendance changed from absent to tardy, after I have dismissed class for the day.  In order to be successful in this class, your regular and unfailing attendance in class is imperative.  Class meetings will be used to discuss reading material, complete in-class writing assignments and group work, participate in peer review activities, receive information about assignments and writing expectations, provide feedback to others, and receive feedback on your work from your instructor.  There is no substitute for class attendance.

Official University Absences will be recognized, although I will expect you to hand in work prior to your absence unless we have discussed a different option.  (The distinction between recognized and unexcused absences is that work missed due to unexcused absences will receive a “0.”)    If you need to be absent for any reason, it is important that you make me aware of your absence as soon as possible.  If you miss class due to an unforeseen emergency or illness, please see me outside of class within one week to determine if missed work can be made up.   I will require documentation in order to accept late work.

As a part of the requirements for this class, you will develop a support network of four other students to obtain notes and assignments when you are absent.  Although I appreciate your contacting me by email to explain problems you might be having with assignments, I do not have time to go over the entire day’s activities for everyone who is absent.  Contact your network for information first; then ask me if you have specific questions that they could not answer. (General university attendance guidelines are found in the Undergraduate catalog at the following link:

 Class Behavior Policy: Classroom participation is a part of your grade in this course. Students are expected to conduct themselves at all times in this classroom in a manner that does not disrupt teaching or learning. Behavior which disrupts the learning process will impact class participation grades, and may lead to disciplinary action and/or removal from class.

  • Be on time to class. Class starts promptly at the designated time. You should be in your seat and ready to begin class at this time. Packing up your things before the class ends is disruptive to others around you and to the instructor.
  • Classroom participation is a part of your grade in this course. To participate, you must attend class, bring texts and other required materials, and have completed assigned readings for the day.  Questions and comments must be relevant to the topic at hand.
  • Classroom discussion should be civilized and respectful to everyone and relevant to the topic we are discussing. Classroom discussion is meant to allow us to hear a variety of viewpoints. This can only happen if we respect each other and our differences.
  • Cell phones and MP3 players should be silent and out of sight.
  • Students should exhibit good “studentship,” avoiding distracting behaviors such as reading a newspaper, sleeping, holding “side conversations,” surfing the web, or emailing, texting, along with any other behavior that does not contribute positively to the learning environment in the classroom.
  • Food and drink are not allowed in computer classrooms.
Grade Quality Points 10-Point Scale
A 4.0 93-100
A- 3.7 90-93
B+ 3.3 87-89
B 3 83-86
B- 2.7 80-82
C+ 2.3 77-79
C 2 73-76
C- 1.7 70-72
D+ 1.3 67-69
D 1 63-66
D- .7 60-62
F 0 Below 60

Evaluation and Grades:

10%  Site Study Project  (Major Project I)

10%  Annotated Bibliography

30%  Research and Problem Solving (Major Project II)

10%  Oral Presentation

20%  Career Research (Major Project III)

20%  Course Notebook/Quizzes/Class Participation

Turning in Assignments:  Work is due at the beginning of class on the due date assigned.  All work (unless otherwise directed) must be printed out (no handwritten work).  Late work is normally not accepted; please see me during my office hours if you feel you have a legitimate reason for late work.  Any late work accepted will receive a ten-point penalty per calendar day late.

Format for Papers: Unless otherwise specified in class, all work handed in to the instructor must be typed and double-spaced in 12 point Times New Roman font with 1 inch margins, with no extra spaces between paragraphs.  (You will need to adjust these settings when word processing because they are not the defaults for Microsoft Word 07.)  Headings should be standard MLA format:  The first page should contain a heading in the upper left-hand corner including student name, course name and section #, professor name, and date (see p. 570 in text or; as well as an appropriate title centered on the title line.  Each page of the paper (including the first) should contain the student’s last name and a page number in the upper right corner.  For this class, at the end of the paper, students should include a word count.  Please note that there is no extra space between paragraphs.  The default for the Word is to add a space between paragraphs—you must change this in the paragraph dialog box.  For this class, at the end of the paper, students should include a word count (which can be found under Tools in Microsoft Word).

Major Project I: Site Study: For this project, you will conduct primary research through observation and informal interviews.  This project introduces you to methods of field research that are often used in the social sciences, and in business and marketing.  The research component of the project involves selecting a site where a particular activity occurs, carefully observing and taking notes on the activity, and interviewing at least two people involved in the activity.  As part of your research, you should also collect 1-3 “artifacts” from your chosen site.  Artifacts are items that you can physically and legally take with you from the site.  The project has two components. First, it asks you to be descriptive: through careful observation and interview, you should try to discover details that a casual viewer or a regular participant in the activity might not notice.  Second, the project asks you to compile and analyze the details you have gathered through your observations and interviews.  In the process, your will synthesize and draw inferences about the meaning of what you’ve observed.  Based on your observations and analysis, you will produce a detailed essay of at 1800-2100 words (approximately 6-8 pages), in which you explain and analyze the site, the activity, and your artifacts.  In the course of preparing this final paper, you will be asked to complete other short assignments with your project, including a research diary giving dates and times spend on each part of the project.  We will also spend class time discussing observation strategies, observation analysis, careful note-taking, and oral presentations.

(This project includes activities that incorporate course goals c, d, e, f, g, h, j)

Major Project II: Research and Problem-Solving:  For this project you will identify a problem or issue that needs to be addressed.  This problem should have some personal or professional interest for you.  You will research this problem, using a variety of sources, with the ultimate goal of writing a well-informed research paper that suggests what should be done to address the problem.  This paper must take a stand; it must be argumentative rather than just informative.  The project includes two separately graded parts:

A.  Critical Annotated Bibliography: You will locate and read 6 relevant and credible sources.  With these sources you will produce a bibliography, in MLA format, that includes a summary and evaluation of each source.

B.  Based on your research, you will write a paper in which you suggest what might be done to address the problem.  The paper should reflect careful consideration of the many issues involved in the problem and should acknowledge alternative points of view in the process of explaining why your approach is a good one. This paper will be 1800-2100 words (approximately 6-8 pages).

(Major project II includes activities which incorporate all course goals.)

Major Project III: Career Project: This project asks you to explore the career you are planning to enter after graduation.  With the assistance of career services, the library, the Internet, and a professional in the field, your job is to research the following types of information:

  • the nature of the work (what you’d actually be doing on a daily, weekly, yearly basis; who you would be working with as coworkers and clients, etc.)
  • typical working conditions (hours, travel, pay, advancement potential, etc.)
  • related occupations (what other careers are out there for individuals interested in this general area)
  • at least three professional journals and/or other reading materials important in this career
  • potential employers for someone in this field–are there geographical issues of employability for this field
  • outlook for employment in this field
  • qualifications for obtaining a position in this field

As part of this assignment, you will interview someone who currently works in the field.  This person may be a friend, relative, professor, or someone you do not currently know (be aware, however, that people may be too busy to speak with you on short notice, so have alternatives in mind).  At least six different sources must be used for this paper of 1800-2100 words (approximately 6-8 pages).  (Major project III includes activities which incorporate course goals c, d, e, f, g, h, i, j)

Oral Presentation:  You will give a 5-7 minute oral presentation of your research to the class.  Half of the class will present Project One and half of the class will present Project Three. (This activity incorporates course goals f and g.)

Course Notebook/Quizzes/Class Participation:  Your class notebook is an organized compilation of all the work you complete in English 1200 this semester.  This includes all graded work, all drafts that you turned in, peer reviews, prewriting, rubrics, Blackboard discussion entries, journal entries, grammar assignments, class activities, and anything else that you may have done for class. At the beginning of the notebook, you will also write a one to two page reflection on your work this semester.  (The course notebook activity incorporates course goals c, g, and j.)

Minor Writing Assignments/Journal entries:  During the semester you will receive 12-15 short informal writing assignments, some in class and some outside of class.  Some of these will be one-page journal entries (approximately 300-350 words), and others will be Blackboard online discussions.   Journal entries must be typed and contain the proper heading and title.  Both Blackboard posts and journal entries will be checked as a part of the final course notebook.   Two journal entries may be omitted without penalty, but these should be noted in your final course notebook. (Individual entries incorporate a variety of course goals, particularly e and f.)

Daily Record Discussion Forum: Each day a different student will be the daily recorder.  The recorder will take notes and post them to the Blackboard Discussion Forum “Daily Record.”  These notes may be posted in paragraph form or outline form.  Please include a brief summary of what took place that day in class.  Items to include might be a recap of the lecture or activities that took place, along with any announcements about due dates and/or changes.  Make sure to include what students are expected to have at the next class meeting.   Not only does this provide a “record” of the day’s activities, but it also gives each student an opportunity to practice “real life” writing for a specific audience and purpose.  Other students may respond to the posts, particularly if they see the need for a correction of information.  (Caution: Reading the record of the day is not a substitute for class attendance, as the recorder may leave out information or have misunderstood something that took place in class.)

Quizzes: Your class participation grade will also include quiz grades.  You will have open book reading quizzes for all reading assignments.

Computers in the Classroom: I allow and encourage appropriate use of computers in the classroom.  Such use, however, will be restricted to class activities once I have started calling roll.  Any student still using email, chat programs (including facebook), or web browsers for non-class-related activities may lose points on the day’s activities.  Further such abuses may result in the student being counted absent for the day.  Computers are wonderful tools for the writer, but they are tools.  The writer must be responsible for maintaining electronic copies of work.  Save early and often; save in multiple formats (hard drive, jump drive, pirate drive, email to yourself).  Computer problems are not an excuse for work not being turned in on time or for work not being available for the final portfolio project.

Academic Integrity & Plagiarism: Academic integrity as described in the ECU Student Handbook is a fundamental value of higher education and East Carolina University; therefore, I will not tolerate acts of cheating, plagiarism, falsification, or attempts to cheat, plagiarize, or falsify. If I become aware of academic integrity violations, I will follow the procedures outlines in the University’s academic integrity policy. Penalties for violating the Academic Integrity policy include grade penalties up to and including an F for the course. If you have any questions about my policy or what might constitute a violation in the class, please contact me. Review the Academic Integrity policies and procedures online at I recommend that you take the time to review it.

Be aware that the writing you do for this course must be your work and, primarily, your words and ideas. It is okay to incorporate the words or ideas of others in support of your ideas, but when you do so, you should be sure to cite the sources appropriately. We will talk about appropriate and proper citation during the course. Penalties for plagiarism are severe—if I become aware of any intentional attempt to plagiarize (e.g. knowingly submitting someone else’s work as your own, downloading a paper from the Internet, etc.), you will be given an “F” for the course and a report will be filed with the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities, the office which maintains reports from all university faculty and staff regarding academic integrity violations. If you are caught cheating or plagiarizing a second time, in this course or in any other course while you are at ECU, you can be suspended or even expelled from the University. Unintentional plagiarism may carry the same consequences. Be sure to see me if you have any questions about plagiarism before you turn in an assignment.

Accommodation of Special Needs: East Carolina University seeks to fully comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Students requesting accommodation based on a covered disability must be registered with the Department for Disability Services, located in Slay 138,  252 737-1016, For more information see website at

Academic Retention (Grade) Standards: To avoid probation and suspension, you must meet the minimum GPA listed below:

       GPA Hours           (identified in Transcript in  Banner Self Service) plus transferred credit hours

“Old” Retention Requirement All courses taken

New Retention Requirements Effective with Fall 2011  grades

GPA for all courses taken

1-29 semester hours

1.6 GPA


30-59 semester hours

1.8 GPA


60-74 semester hours

1.9 GPA


75 or more semester hours

2.0 GPA


 EXAM SCHEDULE:  You must be in class at the university scheduled exam day and time; do not make travel plans that will not allow you to be present. You will receive a ten point penalty on your final course grade if you do not show up.

ENGL 1201-088 Regularly meets Th 11-12:15  11:00 – 1:30 Tuesday, May 7
ENGL 1201-190   Regularly meets TTh 12:30-1:45  11:00 – 1:30 Tuesday, May 2

Required attendance for the exam period is not an individual instructor decision but is required by the College as noted in the following quote:

You must give the exam according to the university-defined exam schedule (found on the Academic Calendar). You must meet during the scheduled examination time even if you do not give a final examination in order to accrue the required number of contact hours for the course. If you don’t give a final examination you can have alternative learning activities during that time. (August 11, 2010 email from Michael B. Brown, PhD, Professor and Associate Dean, Harriot College of Arts and Sciences)