English 1539: Fundamentals of College Writing

Spring 2010, Course Code 21503

9:00-9:50 a.m. Dr. Thomas A. Copeland
M T Th:  Maag Library 157
W: Maag Library 159
Office: Maag Library 174 (Enter through Room 171.)
Web Site: http://people.ysu.edu/~tacopeland/index.htm Hours: M T W Th, 10-10:50 and by appointment

E-mail: tcopeland@neo.rr.com

Office: (330) 941-2480 (no voicemail)
Home: (330) 793-5154

Texts and Materials

A hard-back college-level desk dictionary
The Little Brown Compact Handbook, Sixth Ed.
The Prentice-Hall Reader, Eighth Ed.
A stitched composition book (not spiral- or ring-bound)
A "legal" tablet
Scotch "Magic Tape" (the kind you can write on)
A mailing envelope (9"x12")
This is a computer-assisted course. Fees for this course purchase and maintain computer hardware, software, supplies, and support services.

Course Description

     This course has four goals: (1) to improve your knowledge of the "print code" (conventions of punctuation, spelling, and grammar), (2) to increase the sophistication of your sentence structure, (3) to increase your vocabulary, and (4) to teach you a writing method which has been proved effective. This method divides the writing process into three stages: prewriting, composing, and revising. The revising stage consists of reassessing, redrafting, and editing. Editing, in turn, consists of tightening, correcting, and proofreading.
     You will write daily for fifteen minutes in a journal, write four out-of-class essays and two in-class essays, and take lessons in sentence-level skills. Much of the instruction will be individualized, in a laboratory setting. You should expect to spend six hours every week preparing for class, as you would do for any other three-hour course.

Course Requirements

1. Attendance: Regular attendance is vital to the successful completion of English 1539. Under most circumstances, there is no way to make up instruction given or assignments done in a class that you have missed. If you miss a graded assignment, you will receive an F for it. You have paid to improve your writing skills; your instructors can help you get your money's worth only if you attend the class and lab. Never cut class because an assignment is not finished. To do so has no real advantage, and it deprives you of instruction you have paid for.

2. The assignments written outside of class are due at the beginning of class on the due-date, and in-class assignments must be written in class.

3. Late assignments will not be accepted. This means that if a late paper is submitted for a grade the grade will be F. I realize, however, that emergencies sometimes arise to prevent work from being completed on time, and there are partial solutions:
  A. To receive criticism on a late assignment, bring it to me during my office hours. I will be glad to look at it and give you advice while you are there (do not leave papers in my mailbox).

B. To avoid an F on a late assignment, ask for an extension before the paper is due. I willingly grant extensions to students who deserve them, but it is important to make the request before the due-date. If you cannot reach me in class, in my office, or in the Writing Center (941-3055), leave a voice mail message for me (941-1640), and we will discuss the matter later. Please note, however, that I will not grant an extension after the papers have been collected unless you have made some sincere effort to reach me beforehand.
5. You are to keep a journal in which you write for fifteen minutes a day.


  1. Proficiency in English: According to the YSU Bulletin (the “catalogue”), lack of proficiency in English is grounds for lowering a student's grade in any course in the University.
  2. Academic Honesty:  Students are required to document any source material (quotations, paraphrases, summaries) which they include in their written work, in a format taught in their composition courses or prescribed in such a reference text as The Chicago Manual of Style or the MLA Handbook.
  3. Students with Disabilities: Anyone requiring special adaptations or accommodations should inform the instructor as soon as possible. In accordance with University procedures, if you have a documented disability and require accommodations to obtain equal access in this course, please contact the Office of Disability Services (phone: 330-941-1372) in the Center for Student Progress at the beginning of the semester or when given an assignment for which an accommodation is required. Students with disabilities must verify their eligibility through the Office of Disability Services.

Submitting Papers

I require that you read your ungraded papers to me aloud—both the rough drafts and the final copies. I will then give you instruction aloud, and you must write a summary of this instruction before doing further work on your paper. Some students like to meet with me outside of class to seek my criticism, but others prefer to record their readings and to have me record my remarks as well. Both systems have their own advantages, and both are acceptable to me.


All work done with care and submitted on time will be read and commented on, but not all of it will be graded. The following will be graded:

1. An early essay. You will select this from among the pieces assigned during the first half of the course. You will revise it further, edit it to the best of your ability, and have it typed.
2. An essay to be written in class at midterm.
3. A later essay. You will select this from among the pieces assigned during the second half of the course. You will revise it further, edit it to the best of your ability, and have it typed.
4. A final essay to be written in class during the final examination period.
5. A test on words you yourself (not the class as a whole) have misspelled in writing done for this course (exclusive of rough drafts and journal-writing).
6. A test on words you yourself (not the class as a whole) have missed on vocabulary tests on the readings.

Final Grades

To pass the course, you must complete both the graded and the ungraded assignments and have at least a C- average on the graded assignments. In computing your final grade, I will weigh the factors above (under "Evaluation") as follows:

a. Early essay: 20%
b. Midterm essay: 20%
c. Later essay: 30%
d. Final essay: 30%
e. Spelling & vocabulary tests: You will take a test on the words you misspell and vocabulary words you miss (unless less than ten in either case). (Note: No test will be given on fewer than ten words, and if you are excused of taking a test for this reason you will be considered to have passed the test with a score of 90%.) If you score 90% or above on both tests, your lowest paper grade will be dropped before the computation of the provisional grade. A score below 70% on either test will lower your provisional grade by 1/3 of a letter grade.
f. I reserve the right to weigh more heavily the later essays of any student who makes significant improvement at the end of the course.

Note: The grade of “Incomplete” is not awarded unless the student requests it and the reasons appear justifiable and beyond the student's control.

E-mail me with comments or questions: