ENGL 1101: Composition I

General Syllabus


A composition course focusing on skills required for effective writing in a variety of contexts, with emphasis on exposition, analysis, and argumentation, and also including introductory use of a variety of research skills. Students will develop analytical and evaluative skills by reading and writing expository and/or argumentative essays.


ENGL 1101: Composition I is the first of two composition courses all VSU students take to fulfill in part the core curriculum requirements in Area A: Essential Skills. ENGL 1101 and 1102 are designed primarily to improve students' writing abilities. ENGL 1101 addresses the following content standards:

  • Students will learn to manage various stages in the writing process, including developing a thesis, organizing thoughts, adjusting style for an audience, revising, and editing.
  • Students will learn to write effective impromptu essays.
  • Students will learn to use computers to format, draft, revise, and edit essays.
  • Students will develop analytical and evaluative skills by reading and writing a variety of texts in various rhetorical modes and for a variety of purposes.
  • Students will analyze and articulate their own value systems while writing essays and/or otherwise responding to the ideas of others.


To fulfill successfully the composition requirements of Area A in the core curriculum, students must achieve a final grade of C or better in ENGL 1101. Students who earn an F as a final grade in the course must repeat it and make a C or better before they can enroll in ENGL 1102; ENGL 1101 is the prerequisite of 1102.

Because ENGL 1101 and 1102 are primarily writing courses, final grades are largely determined by the quality of students' work on writing assignments. Students, then, must earn at least a C average on their essays in order to receive a final grade of C or better. Although other grades earned during a semester, such as those made on tests, daily assignments, and class discussion, will not pass students who have not achieved a C average on writing assignments, these grades may either raise or lower the final grade of a student who has an average of C or better on essays.


Although individual instructors may call some of the elements of composition by different names, students can expect their writing to be assigned grades based on their performance on the following kinds of criteria:

  • Ideas, including elements that might be called subject, purpose, main/central ideafocusthesis, and audience awareness.
  • Development, including elements that might be called details, examples, points, reasons, evidence, arguments,critical/logical thinking, and tone.
  • Organization, including elements that might be called structure, paragraphing, coherence, unity, plan, and transitions.
  • Style, including elements that might be called sentence structure, word choice, diction, and vocabulary.
  • Grammar, including elements that might be called usage, mechanics, editing, punctuation, spelling, conventions, andStandard English.
  • Format, including elements that might be called presentation, Modern Language Association (MLA) style, anddocumentation.

The grade given writing is not a subjective impression, but a summary of a student's performance on the above criteria. General descriptions of each grade follow. Instructors may provide students with requirements and criteria specific to an assignment, the fulfillment of which is essential for a passing grade.

  • Writing that earns an A is distinguished by clear, thoughtful, and significant ideas expressed with an awareness of audience; logical, detailed, and relevant development; coherent and effective organization that supports the development; sophisticated style (varied, readable, and skillfully constructed sentences, as well as diction that is fresh, precise, economical, and idiomatic); correct grammar; and correct format.
  • Writing that earns a B is distinguished by most of the qualities listed above. However, it may be distinguished by somewhat less insightful ideas and occasionally less pertinent and detailed development for an audience; some paragraphing and transitions that may not aid the audience as they might; style that is competent but not distinctive; generally correct grammar; and generally correct format.
  • Writing that earns a C is characterized by generally clear but conventional ideas; overly general development; clear but mechanical organization; unremarkable style (restricted vocabulary and sentences that lack variety); occasional problems in grammar that hinder the writer's purpose; and minimal adherence to correct format.
  • Writing that earns a is characterized by ideas that are sometimes unfocused and confused; development that is sometimes irrelevant or altogether lacking; organization that sometimes lacks order or paragraphing; sometimes incoherent sentence structure and inappropriate word choice; grammatical mistakes that often distract the audience; and major deviations from correct format.
  • Writing that earns an is characterized by unfocused ideas expressed with seemingly no concern for the audience; little or no development; little or no organization; frequent incoherent sentence structure and inappropriate word choice; frequent grammatical errors that make the writer's purpose impossible to achieve; and little or no adherence to correct format.


All students are required to purchase the latest edition of The St. Martin's Handbook, by Andrea A. Lunsford. Instructors may assign other texts in addition and may require students to purchase computer disks for work in the Writing Center or electronic classroom, make photocopies, use materials on reserve in Odum Library, and so on. Students are advised to purchase a college-level dictionary.


Students requiring classroom accommodations or modifications because of a documented disability should discuss this need with the instructor at the beginning of the semester. In order to receive special accommodations, students must be registered with the Access Office for Students with Disabilities (1115 Nevins Hall). If students are not registered, then they should contact that office at 245-2498.


Students must not engage in academic dishonesty.  In accordance with the Student Handbook's Student Code of Conduct, academic dishonesty includes writing another student's essay, using another student's writing as one's own, or using writing obtained from an online paper mill; obtaining or providing in an unauthorized manner "any material pertaining to the conduct of a class, including but not limited to tests, examinations, laboratory equipment, and roll books"; and engaging in plagiarism, the undocumented use of words and/or ideas from sources such as books, articles, and the World Wide Web. Academic dishonesty is punishable by an F in the course.


Students are expected to be civil.  The following is not an exhaustive list of requirements for civil behavior: do not engage in educationally disruptive behavior or language; turn off cell phones and pagers; refrain from eating, sleeping, reading extraneous material, and browsing the Internet or checking email in computer classrooms; do not arrive late or leave early without permission.  Disruptive students may be asked to leave the classroom and may not be permitted to return to the course.


VSU’s Undergraduate Catalogue notes, “The University expects that all students shall attend all regularly scheduled class meetings held for instruction or examination. . . . A student who misses more than 20% of the scheduled classes of a course will be subject to receiving a failing grade in the course.”  Because content standards of courses across the curriculum differ, students are also “held responsible for knowing the specific attendance requirements as prescribed by their instructors. . . .”