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Oakland University -- Fall 2012
College of Arts and Sciences
Department of Writing and Rhetoric
WRT 102 – Basic Writing
4 credits – graded S/U


Class Meeting Days/Times:

  • CRN 44476: T/R 1-2:47
  • CRN 41478: T/R 3-4:47

Classroom: Wilson Hall 400A

Instructor: Dr. Lori Ostergaard

Office: 382 O’Dowd Hall (temporarily in 444G O’Dowd)

Office phone: 248-370-2075

E-mail: ostergaa@oakland.ed

Office hours: T/R 10-12:00pm

Class Website:

WRT 102 – Basic Writing

Developing writing skills including idea generation and invention, organizational strategies and conventional usage in expository prose. Emphasis on developing fluency and effective writing processes. May be repeated once for additional credit. Graded S/U. Corequisite: WRT 104 if recommended by instructor after first class meeting.

Course Objectives

Students in this class will learn to

  • Approach writing as a multi-step, recursive process that requires feedback;
  • Compose their texts to address the rhetorical situation;
  • Demonstrate an ability to synthesize information/ideas in and between various texts—written, spoken, and visual;
  • Reflect on their own writing processes and evaluate their own learning;
  • Adapt their prior knowledge and learning strategies to a variety of new writing and reading situations in college and beyond;
  • Develop the habits of mind of effective college writers and readers.

Required Textbooks

    • Grizz Writes: A Guide to First-Year Writing at Oakland University
    • Praxis: A Brief Rhetoric by Carol Lea Clark
    • Other texts available in Moodle

Also Required

Course Description

Students in this course will have opportunities to write, read, and talk about personal and academic identities; to explore options and support mechanisms for OU students for working on schoolwork and planning for the future; to get to know the OU campus; to collaborate with classmates; to engage seriously with writing. WRT 102 students who finish the course with a “satisfactory” rating will be ready to advance to WRT 150 (Composition 1) the next semester. Students who demonstrate additional levels of competency and who submit a voluntary researched essay as part of their final portfolio, may request placement directly in WRT 160. The decision to advance a student to WRT 160 rests with the instructor and with the Director of First-Year Writing and the Department Chair.

Course Assignments

    • A Response Journal (ongoing) 20%
    • Learning Narrative Paper 10%
    • Guide to Student Services Research, 30%
      Paper, and Collaborative Presentation
    • Critical Response to Selected Readings 20%
    • A Portfolio with a reflective introduction 20%
      and revised paper
    • Optional Research-Assisted Placement Essay
      to advance to WRT 160, Comp I

Assignment Descriptions

Response Journal: Throughout the term, you will keep a response journal (during class, sometimes out-of-class.) Responses will be to readings, to questions, to peer reviews, and to your Writing Center visits and paper conference, etc. You’ll have opportunities to experiment and to brainstorm in this journal, and you are welcome to include pictures, images, graphs, story maps, etc. One main question will have to do with how people decide on careers and choose classes and programs to meet those goals. The journals you write will be public, and you’ll share them with classmates and with me. Develop your journals according to a sense of your audience. These will be evaluated twice during the term.

Education/Learning Narrative Paper:

Guide to Student Services Research: You will collaborate to gather your primary research about campus services, facilities, and environments. Once you’ve gathered your research, you will write your own paper introducing and analyzing the service on campus. Finally, you will present your research (collaboratively) to the entire class.

Critical Response to Selected Readings: I will provide the class with a series of readings related to a single issue. You will use those readings to compose a paper that summarizes and analyzes the positions and arguments in those readings. After an analysis of the readings, you will choose one side in the issue and compose your own argument supporting one side.

Final Portfolio: Your final portfolio will include your first essay, all steps and stages from brainstorming to final revision, a reflective cover letter, and selected short pieces. You will put your portfolio on Moodle at the end of the semester.

Voluntary Research-Assisted Placement Essay: If you are requesting placement into WRT 160, you will include this essay as part of your portfolio. It will be due in hardcopy, with supporting documents, at some point before the portfolio is due.

Assessment of Your Work in WRT 102

This class is graded S/U. During the semester your work will be graded on a three-part scale (check plus, check, check minus), and at the end of the semester your final portfolio for the class will be graded either Satisfactory (and you will proceed into WRT 150) or Unsatisfactory (and requiring that you repeat WRT 102). The purpose of the three-part grading scale and the final S/U assessment is to focus your attention on the challenging reading and writing environment of college and to support your growth as effective readers and writers in this class. We’ve found that when traditional grades areiminated, students have an easier time assessing their own progress, strengths, and weaknesses in this class.

Receiving a check plus on an assignment means that you have gone above and beyond, that you have produced a piece of writing that is well-organized and engaging and that addresses the rhetorical situation appropriately. This does not mean your writing is perfect and that you do not need any improvement, but it does mean that you have done an excellent job in writing this assignment.

Receiving a check on an assignment means that you have met the requirements for the assignment and that your writing may have areas that are quite strong, however, you still have a number of areas to work towards improvement.

Receiving a check minus means that your work is unsatisfactory and that you have not met the minimum requirements for the assignment. Receiving continued check minus grades could result in an unsatisfactory grade for the course.

The First-Year Writing program encourages all students, regardless of the grades they receive on their work, to seek additional feedback on their writing from their course instructor, Embedded Writing Specialist, or the University Writing Center.

Students earning a check or check minus on a major assignment may be asked to revise that assignment for a better grade.

Course Credits

The four credits you receive for successfully completing WRT 102 will not count towards your general education requirements, nor will they count towards your major, but they will count towards the total number of credits you will need to graduate from Oakland University.

Course Policies

Accommodations: Students with disabilities who may require classroom or pedagogical support should make an appointment with campus Disability Support Services (DSS). Students who are registered with DSS should also bring their needs to the attention of their instructor as soon as possible.

Academic Conduct Policy: Cheating on examinations, plagiarism, falsifying reports/records, and unauthorized collaboration are considered serious breaches of academic conduct. The Oakland University policy on academic conduct will be strictly followed with no exceptions. See the university catalog under Academic Policies and Procedures for more information.

Attendance: All WRT classes adhere to the OU Excused Absence Policy for OU events and activities. For absences not covered by the university policy, students in writing and rhetoric courses are allowed a certain number of absences without penalty: 3 for MW(F) classes, 2 for TR classes, or 1 for evening classes. This includes absences due to illness, car trouble, or schedule conflict. Participation in online activities counts as class attendance. For each absence beyond those allowed, the student's final course grade will be lowered by 0.1 points on the 4.0 scale for MWF classes, .15 for TTh classes, or .3 for evening and Saturday classes. Students who miss more than three combined weeks of class are not eligible to receive a grade above 0.0.

Social Practices: Throughout the semester you will be expected to maintain a high standard of social practices in this class. Expectations for your social practices consist of your engaged contributions to class discussions, peer review activities, online activities, and group projects; your commitment to submitting timely and complete work; your ethos as a respectful citizen of the classroom and as a thoughtful rhetor in class-related communications; your ability to “turn off” the world (phones, etc) when you are in the company of your classmates, course instructor, and embedded undergraduate writing fellow; and your capacity for successful collaboration with others.

Peer Review and Sharing Your Work: The grades you earn in your Writing and Rhetoric classes are confidential. However, the texts you produce in our classes may be shared with your classmates as a part of our regular peer review process. Our classes will prepare you to meet the needs of a variety of readers in college and beyond, and to do so, we provide ample opportunity for your compositions to be read and responded to by classmates and by the course instructor. You should, therefore, always assume that the work you compose in our classes is public, not private.

Add/Drops: The university add/drop policy will be explicitly followed. It is the student’s responsibility to be aware of the university deadline dates for dropping the course.

Midterm Progress Reports and Early Alert: Oakland University requires all instructors of 100 and 200-level classes to notify students by mid-semester if the student is in danger of failing the class. Only “U” grades are posted; in this case, no news is good news. Check for your mid-semester reports in SAIL.

The Early Alert Program provides a means for instructors to report insufficient student progress in a class, including spotty attendance, missing assignments, and other difficulties. Those in charge of Early Alert will notify the student and suggest ways to overcome the difficulties, such as using the Academic Skills Center.

Placement and Assessment for WRT 102: Please make sure you understand the university’s placement procedures for WRT 102 and that you were appropriately placed in this class. WRT 102 is preparatory to WRT 150 and WRT 160. Most students who take WRT 102 will still need to complete both WRT 150 and WRT 160. In some cases, students who successfully complete WRT 102 and develop a placement essay, and whose work has been assessed as excellent by a WRT faculty committee, will be permitted to enroll directly into the required Writing Foundation course, WRT 160.

Classroom Expectations

Help us to maintain a pleasant and well-functioning community of writers by observing a few simple courtesies.:

  • Always be on time and do not pack up your books or leave class early. If you are tardy to class or if you leave class early on more than 3 occasions, you will receive an absence for the work and class time you missed.
  • Please bring books and all supplies to class, and be prepared to work.
  • Please turn cellphones off or to vibrate. Do not answer calls unless there’s an emergency and you have informed me of this emergency before class time.
  • Do not text, check Facebook, or engage in any other online or mobile communication activities in class unless you have been instructed to do so.
  • Check your OU e-mail and our class Moodle page frequently during the week and weekends.


The Writing Center, located on the main floor of Kresge Library, is a free service and open to any student desiring help with writing (not just writing classes but any class where a writing project has been assigned). You can schedule appointments or walk in at the Writing Center to discuss work for our class or writing work for other
classes. Our class will also have a Writing Consultant, who will meet with us in our classroom once a week.

The Student Technology Center (STC) is the headquarters for the promotion, instruction and support of technology literacy. From beginners looking to learn the basics to experts seeking to hone their skills, the STC's training, education and hands-on learning experiences offers on-campus services to meet OU students' ever-increasing technology needs. Core services include technology mentoring and free equipment loans. By aiding students in their academic and personal pursuits, the services available through the STC build and enhance technological skills that lead to success—in the classroom, workplace and life. The STC is located in the basement of the Oakland Center.

Disability Support Services assists students with special needs. Advocacy and support services are provided through the Office of Disability Support Services located in 157 North Foundation Hall (248-370-3266, 3268 for TDD). Services include, but are not limited to, priority registration, special testing arrangements, assistive technology, referrals to outside service agencies, assistance in identifying volunteer notetakers and volunteer readers, assistance with sign language interpreter services and with any general needs or concerns. Students with special needs are encouraged to utilize these services. The University Diversity and Compliance office (148 North Foundation Hall, 248-370-3496) is also available to assist students with disabilities.

The Graham Counseling Center offers students personal counseling, testing, psychotherapy and consultations. The Counseling Center is located in the Graham Health Center (248-370-3465). In addition to counseling and psychotherapy, the Counseling Center can provide evaluations regarding learning problems and disabilities.

Free at OU offers a number of free services to students, including free health, academic and career, financial, and recreation services. For more information about free services on campus, visit the Free at OU website at


Keyboard image by Solo, distributed under a Creative Commons Copyright (attribution, noncommercial, share alike).