English 225: Academic Argumentation

Academic Argumentation

English 225

EDWP-wide Course Description for English 225:

English 225 focuses on examining and employing effective academic argumentation. Academic argumentation here refers to the presentation, explanation, and assessment of claims through written reasoning that utilizes appropriate evidence and writing conventions. The course builds on and refines skills from introductory writing courses English 124 and 125, as well as provides a basic introduction to finding, and effectively incorporating research into student writing, for use in a range of future academic contexts.

Course Description for this Section of English 225:

In this inquiry-driven course, we will explore the complexities of text through reading, writing, and responding to different rhetorical situations. For instance, we will discuss questions like, how is text defined? What constitutes writing? In an attempt to answer these questions, we will situate ourselves in communities, in and outside of the classroom, to practice critical thinking and writing strategies such as invention, drafting, and revision. Through these processes, we will consider myriad factors like contemporary social issues, technologies of composition, and audience. This course affords us the opportunity to compose arguments within academic contexts and to demonstrate an awareness of our roles as researchers and writers in various communities.

225 Learning Goals (from The University of Michigan English Department Writing Program (EDWP) ):

  1. To hone mechanics, attention to language and audience, style, and craft in students’ academic writing.
  2. To develop a critical understanding of some key practices and examples of academic argumentation.
  3. To develop an awareness of different rhetorical approaches in academic writing and to practice these approaches.
  4. To develop a working set of skills and resources for academic research projects, including the distinction between primary and secondary sources, and an understanding of how to begin, carry out, and complete a (short) writing assignment incorporating research.
  5. To develop an awareness of the rigors and potential pleasures entailed in reading about, discussing, researching, and writing about pertinent issues in academic contexts.


§ One composition notebook for in/out of class writing.

§ Regular folder or binder with pockets on both sides for use as a portfolio.

§ Recommended flash drive or Dropbox account to backup files (Dropbox is probably easier these


§ Other required readings will be provided in class, on CTools, via e-mail, or from Writing Spaces Open Textbook Chapters

§ Select one book from the following list (books in hand by Monday, September 17):

Stretch by Neal Pollack

The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

Hidden America by Jeanne Marie Laskas

My Freshman Year by Rebekah Nathan

A Few Seconds of Panic: A 5-Foot-8, 170-Pound, 43-Year-Old Sportswriter Plays in the NFL by Stefan Fatsis

*Most readings are listed on the schedule below, and in order of when they will be assigned. However, depending on the pace and flow of the class, readings might be added/deleted or fall out of order. Pay attention to any changes in the schedule.


Assignments: Below are brief explanations of the assignments you will complete over the course of the semester. More details will be provided as they are assigned. Some assignments will require one or more drafts will be due for peer review and instructor feedback. These first drafts will not receive a letter grade. Once you have revised initial drafts, a final draft will be submitted to me for a letter grade. These due dates can be found in the course schedule, provided below. For all assignments, I will base final grades on how actively you are involved in the writing process, and a provided evaluation criteria (see resources folder in CTools). Did you submit a first draft on time and participate in peer review/intensive review, as a writer and   reviewer? How did you respond to feedback? What revisions were made between the first and final drafts? Consider these questions as you draft and submit assignments. Revision gives you the opportunity to reflect and act upon feedback, to turn in a more polished draft. Revision involves careful consideration and action based on the overall delivery of a piece of writing (e.g. organization, flow, voice, etc.). Revision is global. Changing a few things “here and there” will not suffice in the revision process. All final drafts should follow correct citation guidelines (e.g. MLA, APA, etc.—whatever is appropriate or useful to your major/field) and be double spaced, in 12 pt. font, with one-inch margins.


95-100%    A

90-94%      A

87-89%      B+

83-86%      B

80-82%      B

77-79%       C+

73-76%       C*

70-72%       C

67-69%       D+

63-66%       D

60-62%       D

59% or below F

for Project: Experiment: Below are brief explanations of the assignments you will complete over the course of the semester. You will essentially conduct an immersion project in which you try something new, report your findings, and research the implications of your project within the context of a larger community. More details will be provided as we progress through the semester.


After reading the book you’ve selected from the immersion journalism list provided in class, you will compose a thorough and informative book review based on your reading and response. 50 points

Select one book from the following list:

Stretch by Neal Pollack

The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

Hidden America by Jeanne Marie Laskas

My Freshman Year by Rebekah Nathan

A Few Seconds of Panic: A 5-Foot-8, 170-Pound, 43-Year-Old Sportswriter Plays in the NFL by Stefan Fatsis

Proposal/Mini Literature Review

Throughout the course of the semester you will immerse yourselves into one project and approach it from different writing angles.

Your task: Step out of your comfort zone and try something new! With initial research and conversation with others (me, classmates, friends, etc.) find something you would like to try (proposal). Find five initial resources and explain why they will be important to your project (mini literature review). 50 Points


Over the course of approximately 30 days, you will report via an online blog on project with which you have decided to experiment. Members of this class will have access to your blog to read and comment on your experience. In turn, you will comment on other blogs. Your efforts to create conversations on other student blogs will factor in to your participation grade (see below).

Additionally, you will respond to class prompts based on class readings and discussions. 100 Points Annotated Bibliography

Once you have a better idea of what you experiment you would like to conduct and which universal research topic you will investigate, you will need to compose an annotated bibliography. This assignment requires you to find 15 different sources that could potentially assist you in your research. At least 8 of these sources need to be scholarly/academic sources (the online library database and library will be an excellent resource for this portion). Each source needs to be listed as an MLA citation. Under each listed source, a paragraph (approximately 5-10 sentences) explaining the argument of this source and its purpose to your research needs to be provided. If you find limitations in your sources, this should also be noted. In your initial research, you might find a great deal of resources and list them in your bibliography. As you progress in your research, however, you might also find that not all these resources are needed and that is okay (and typically happens in research)—it’s all about the process. 50 points


The major assignment for English 225 requires you to write a research essay. Consider what you have accomplished so far for Project: Experiment and how you will report your findings within a larger research project, based on both primary and secondary research. This assignment will consist of multiple drafts and peer review sessions—pay close attention to the schedule. 100 Points

Experience/Research Synthesis: Multimodal Website

For your final unit you will create a website based on your experiment and research. This website will be informative and interactive with the presence of different modalities (alphabetic, visual, audio, etc.) Consider what you have accomplished so far for Project: Experiment and how you will report your findings. 100 points

Multi-modal can be defined as text that is consciously composed in more than one mode (i.e., alphabetic text, image, animation, sound). A multi-modal composition may be an essay, website, video, collage, pamphlet, presentation (powerpoint or otherwise).


Based on your research and experiment, you will be placed on a panel of students with similar research topics. At the end of the semester, your panel will present your findings in a 45 minute presentation (approximately). This means, each panelist will have 10 minutes to present. Panel presentations will be akin to professional conferences that occur within different academic fields. Each panelist might consider utilizing blogs, websites, and other materials created to present information to the audience. 50 points


For your final component of Project: Experiment, you will reflect on the process and outcome of your work. 50 points


Through blogs, peer and intensive reviews, and class discussions you will be evaluated on your contributions to class. 100 points

Total Possible Points for English 225 (Includes major assignments, blog, participation): 650 points


Come to class prepared and ready to learn. At Michigan we go by “Michigan Time,” which means all classes begin 10 minutes after the course catalog states as the beginning of class. So we begin promptly at 10:40 AM. If you arrive after 10:40 a.m., you will be considered late. I know life happens, and often our priorities need to shift, but if you must miss class, keep me informed.

Additionally, missing more than two classes will affect your grade in a negative manner. After two absences, a 2% deduction will occur for each additional absence (e.g., a 90% “A-“ will become an 88% “B“). Five absences can result in a failing grade. Missing a conference also counts as an absence.

If you represent the university in a university-sponsored activity such as a sporting event or academic tournament, it is your responsibility to inform me at the beginning of the term which days you will miss. You are responsible for completing the work that you will miss, early. If you miss several classes due to extenuating circumstances, you may be required to complete additional make-up work.

Complete all assignments on time: I will excuse an absence due to family emergencies, medical emergencies, or required attendance at university-sponsored events. However, you must bring a note from a doctor or health professional, a signed letter from a University team or program, or documentation of a family emergency.

Conferences: You are required to meet with me, one-on-one, to discuss your writing throughout the semester (see schedule below). Each student will sign up for a 15-20 minute conference for one of those days. Come prepared to conferences with questions and ideas about your writing for the class. Missing a conference will result in an absence.

Work Policy:

I typically do not accept late work, unless you are in a dire situation that is out of your hands, and have documentation of that situation (e.g. doctor’s note). Technological issues are annoying, but not excuses. If you are for some reason absent on a day something is due, arrange to turn that

assignment in prior to that day. Remember, if absent, it is your responsibility to gather and complete

missed work.

Always have a backup plan. Use dropbox, save work on mfile.umich.edu, or google docs—something that will prevent those annoying technological issues and allow you to turn your work in on time.

Review Workshop Policies:

Peer Review and Intensive Review (IR): In this writing community, it is important to celebrate and encourage our efforts. Through peer review, you will each share and respond to various writings. When each first draft is due, students will be arranged into small groups (3-4 people per group) to share and discuss drafts in class. These groups might also meet occasionally to brainstorm, discuss readings, and progress in various writings. For first draft peer review sessions, students will share google docs and provide feedback via the comment and document functions.

Reviewers will leave comments in the margins of the document, as well as an end comment, based on overall reactions to the writing, at the end of the document. I will monitor this process and consider online contributions when determining points for participation.

Additionally, intensive review (IR) will entail a process for which each student shares his/her work with the whole class. This is a low-stakes opportunity for each of us to garner feedback as we practice writing different genres. More details will be provided before the first round of IR, and I will model this process for the whole class. After the first draft has been submitted for an assignment, and peer review has occurred, 4-5 students per IR session will share a section of their draft, by reading it aloud, and receive verbal feedback from the larger group. Choose carefully the section on which you want to focus. Are you having trouble articulating a particular idea? Do you really like a section, but can’t figure out where it should go in the essay? Ask yourself questions about your writing to help you choose what you will share with and ask of the larger group. The IR candidate will take notes on feedback and make adjustments accordingly. Reviewers will also be active in this process, taking notes during the reading, and providing feedback to the writer. I will keep track of who participates in this process and factor it in to class participation.

In both peer review and intensive review, while positive comments like, “I really like your idea,” are nice, they are often “fluff” and not helpful to other writers. If you have positive feedback, there should be purpose behind that feedback to help writers hone in on their strengths. Similarly, feedback should not be mean-spirited or counterproductive. Be thoughtful with constructive criticism and support each other.