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RWS 305W: Writing in Various Settings (Online)

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San Diego State University

Lecturer Jennifer Sager       Summer 2019

Syllabus and Student-Lecturer Contract


Office: Zoom for live and recorded online discussions and conferences

Hours: Monday-Friday by appointment

Email: jsager@sdsu.edu



RWS 305W satisfies the Graduation Writing Assessment Requirements (GWAR) for students who have completed 60 units; completed the Writing Proficiency Assessment (WPA) with a score of 8 or higher (or earned a C or higher in RWS 280 or RWS 281 if your score on the WPA was 6 or lower); and completed General Education requirements in Composition and Critical Thinking.



Rhetoric is the art of using language effectively and persuasively. Rhetoric also refers to the study, uses, and effects of written, spoken, and visual language. RWS 305W is an intermediate writing course focused on critical reading, writing and thinking for work in settings and genres both inside and outside the university. With an emphasis on “real world” writing, we will examine the dynamic interaction of writer, reader and content as they change with each new context. A focus on the goal of the writer and the role of the audience is central to all assignments: How can you as a writer best reach your audience? What do you want them to take away from your text? These are the questions we’ll explore.

Required Texts and Technology

  • No textbook is required; all mandatory materials are accessed through Blackboard.
  • Optional text: Keys for Writers, Ann Raimes
  • Computer access is required for Blackboard posts, Internet links and assignment submissions.
  • You may use an iPad or other mobile devices for most aspects of our course, but these devices are not always user-friendly with Blackboard and Turn It In applications, especially assignment submissions.
  • You must upload either Microsoft Word documents or PDF files for assignment submissions. If you use Google Docs or Pages software, you must convert to a PDF file or Word doc before submitting.
  • Online conferences will be conducted using Zoom. (See instruction #5 in the section below.)
  • Safari or Mozilla Firefox browsers work better than Google Chrome and Internet Explorer, which notoriously cause problems with some of the software in the course.


Important Online Procedures

Please take the steps outlined below before proceeding with the course:

  1. Learn how to use Blackboard and Turn It In. This entire course will be conducted through Blackboard, except for the live Zoom sessions. Take some time to familiarize yourself with the course design. For an orientation to Blackboard or for Blackboard help, go to http://its.sdsu.edu/blackboard/student/.


  1. Check Announcements on Blackboard every day. In an online course, it is essential to take active responsibility for staying informed. I will periodically post reminders as well as new or updated information, as needed.


  1. Set up your email.  You must be able to receive e-mail from Blackboard. Therefore, please make sure that your email address within the system is correct.
    • Some email systems block Blackboard mailings as if they are spam.  Either fix this in your spam filter or get an SDSU email account.

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  1. Download the necessary software and set up your computer.


  1. Prepare your computer and yourself ahead of time for live online sessions in the Live Session Classroom (Zoom).
    • Test your connection using zoom.us/test.
    • Find the link to our sessions on the Blackboard menu titled Course Documents, Zoom: Online Discussions and Student-Teacher Conferences. Note that there is a link to our live session there, which you need only to click on to join the session.
    • If you wish to participate via a mobile device, download the ZOOM Cloud Meetings app from the Google Play or Apple iTunes App Store, launch the app and click “Join a Meeting.” Enter the Meeting ID 863-256-3759, then click “Join.”


  1. Make sure you have working speakers, headphones or earbuds so that you can hear discussions. On-campus, the library has headphones available to check out in the 24/7 Study Area (located on the second floor). You will need your Red ID to check these out.


  1. You can use a mobile device for most aspects of our online course, but, importantly, you cannot use these devices to submit documents for Turn It In assignments.


  1. Be patient & calm if technology challenges occur: Your patience and timely feedback will be valued and appreciated!
  • Please be assured that if problems occur on the SDSU end, you will not be penalized. However, you are responsible for your personal computing needs: Problems that you experience as a result of your own computer issues do not constitute an acceptable excuse for non-completion of work.
  • You can go to the Student Computing Center in Love Library for help or to use their computers; call (619) 594-3189; email scc@rohan.sdsu.edu; or go to http://scc.sdsu.edu/home.php.


Course Content

Registering for Zoom


4 discussion threads on each project where you post questions or comments to help you better understand the prompt


4 projects that you write (4 rough drafts and 4 revisions)


4 PeerMark reviews that you write about peers’ rough drafts


Checking feedback that peers write on your 4 rough drafts


Checking feedback that Lecturer Sager writes on your 4 rough drafts



Free tutoring is available in the Writing Center, which is located in Love Library, Room LLA 1103, near the checkout counter.


Consult the website for more info: http://writingcenter.sdsu.edu/index.html

Late Work

No late work is accepted. All work should be submitted online to Turn It In on Blackboard before the deadline.


If you have a valid health emergency, in which you are hospitalized, please let me know and email me a doctor’s note.


If you have a problem with meeting deadlines, you need to address that issue now and get over it in order to succeed in my class. Meeting deadlines is an integral part of your grade, just as it is or will be in your job. Since it is imperative that you earn a C or higher in this course in order to graduate from SDSU, you must complete your work on time.


Personal Responsibility

Please understand that enrolling in an RWS class does not mean that you should expect me as your teacher to be solely responsible for your unique learning experience. I will do my utmost to ensure that you do improve your writing abilities and leave my class better equipped to handle future courses and job requirements. The best part of my job (And I love my job!) is watching students grow. However, just as I give my teaching everything I have, you must also put forth a great deal of effort to achieve the goals you set for yourself (not just the ones I set for you). Furthermore, you must also take responsibility if you fail to meet the demands of the course, rather than blaming this on other factors.


If I can help you to learn better, please make an appointment online with me ASAP on Zoom (I enjoy meeting one-on-one with students), and together we will come up with a strategy for your success that will satisfy us both. You may not love this course, but you will learn from it what you put into it and receive from it.


DON’T JUST DISAPPEAR. If you’re having a crisis, open up, and we’ll discuss options.



Plagiarism is defined as using another person’s work or ideas without giving proper credit. Do not even consider it. Plagiarism is a serious offence with serious consequences. If you copy someone else’s paper or use someone else’s words or ideas without citing them, you will be heavily penalized, which means you will receive an F for the course, I will report you both my dean and the judicial committee, and you could be expelled. If you borrow another writer’s ideas, you must cite him/her both within your paper in parenthetical citations and after it in a “Works Cited” page. If you quote someone, you must put quotation marks around his/her words in order to distinguish them from your own words and ideas. Make sure that you carefully cite all of your sources using proper MLA format. Please see my handouts and our recommended/optional text, Keys for Writers, for more information.


Bottom line: Take pride in your own work, your own ideas. That’s Aztec pride, folks: every assignment, every test, every essay! Ethos! Even if you receive a low grade for your work, at least it is your work!


Turn It In

All projects must be submitted to Turn It In, a plagiarism detection site on Blackboard before they will receive official grades. To be sure that your projects have been uploaded properly, you must receive receipts from Turn It In.


Special Accommodations

I encourage students with special needs (learning disorders, etc.), those who feel they may need extra help in this class to notify me in the first two weeks of the semester so that reasonable accommodations may be implemented as soon as possible.


Final Examinations

There is no required final in this class. (#WildApplause) (You’re welcome.)



You will be evaluated in this class with letter grades and points. You will play an active role in determining what grade you will get at the end of the semester by how well you meet deadlines and how much effort you are willing to put into the projects. For your projects, you will receive plenty of written comments that will indicate where your strengths and weaknesses are.




Registering for Zoom so that you may schedule a live conference or participate in a live discussion is worth 5 points.


Discussion threads for each of the 4 projects are worth 5 points each.


The 4 rough drafts are worth 10 points each.


Writing feedback for your peers in PeerMark for each of the 4 projects is worth 10 points each.


Checking your feedback (comments that peers and I write for you in GradeMark and PeerMark) is worth 10 points for each of the 4 projects.


Revisions for the 4 projects are worth 100 points each.

There are 545 points total for the class.

For a final grade of “A-” (90-93.9%) or “A” (94.0 and above), you

Complete all work on time according to the prompt criteria with evaluations of mostly A grades.

Revise work several times, showing significant effort with each draft.

Produce written work that is consistently exceptional or shows dramatic growth in writing.

Actively participate in online discussions of projects.

Write constructive feedback for your peers.

Read feedback that peers and Lecturer Sager write on your rough drafts.


For a final grade of “B-” (80-83.9%), “B” (84.0-87.9%), or “B+” (88-89.9%), you

Complete all work on time according to the prompt criteria with evaluations of mostly B grades.

Revise work several times, showing effort with each draft.

Produce written work that is consistently above average or show significant growth in writing.

Actively participate in online discussions of projects.

Write constructive feedback for your peers.

Read feedback that peers and Lecturer Sager write on your rough drafts.


For a final grade of “C-” (70-73.9%), “C” (74-77.9%), or C+ (78-79.9%), you

Complete all writing on time according to the prompt criteria with evaluations of mostly C grades.

Revise work minimally.

Produce acceptable written work of average quality, at times predictable, showing little growth in writing.

Participate in some online discussions of projects.

Write some constructive feedback for your peers.

Read some feedback that peers and Lecturer Sager write on your rough drafts.


For a final grade of “D-” (60-63.9%), “D” (64-67.9%), or “D+” (68-69.9%), you

Do not complete every assignment and do not follow the prompt criteria well, receiving mostly D grades.

Rarely revise work or revise minimally.

Produce unacceptable work of below-average quality with unclear ideas and little or no textual support.

Do not participate actively in online class discussions of projects.

Do not write constructive feedback for your peers.

Do not read the feedback that peers and Lecturer Sager write on your rough drafts.


For a final grade of “F” (59.9% and below), you

Fail to meet even the minimal standards described for the “D” student.

Do not complete every assignment.

Rarely, if ever, revise work or revise minimally.

Produce unacceptable work of below-average quality with unclear ideas and little or no textual support.

Do not participate actively in online class discussions of projects.

Do not write constructive feedback for your peers.

Do not read the feedback that peers and Lecturer Sager write on your rough drafts.

Plagiarize an assignment.


Note: If you consistently miss deadlines, thus missing much of the work in this class, it is possible that you will receive a low grade, even if the work you do complete is strong and meets some of the criteria described for high grades.


Student Learning Outcomes and Projects

The university requires a minimum of 6000 words for any upper-division W course.  

Academic Project

Using a theoretical framework drawn either from assigned reading or from in-class discussions, analyze and evaluate one or more texts (written and/or non-written) that make an argument about a topic that would be of importance to a current academic audience.  Use this analysis and evaluation to support and develop your own position on the topic. This project should be presented in a genre that would be used by academics to engage in such work.

Civic Writing Project

Research a civic issue that is of concern to a specific community of non-experts in order to identify multiple perspectives from which this issue is viewed.  Use this information to create a persuasive text (written and/or visual) that uses ethical persuasive strategies to advance social change or action. This project should be presented in a genre that would be commonly used to communicate with members of this community.

Personal Writing Project

Drawing on personal or community/family memories and artefacts, as well as public narratives, recreate a specific time, moment, and place through narration and description, using this to question or explore commonly accepted assumptions.

This project should be presented in a genre that would be appropriate to its intended audience.

Professional Writing Project

Using information gathered through research, which may include multi-modal sources, write a text that synthesizes data hierarchically, organizing significant views and sources, and that readers could use for a particular purpose. This project should be presented in a genre that is appropriate to a business or professional audience and reflects that audience’s expectations for the format, source documentation, graphics, and style.

Reflection Throughout Semester

Reflect on one or more class writing projects to explore one’s understanding of course Learning Outcomes, considering one’s progress as a writer and how that progress might relate to future writing.  These activities could be presented in a range of genres or integrated into the larger assignments.

  • Analyze and Evaluate complex print, digital, and multimodal texts that engage significant academic, professional, or civic issues.
  • Apply rhetorical principles appropriate to different purposes and goals, within specific disciplinary, professional and civic communities.
  • Research and contribute to specific areas of inquiry by evaluating, synthesizing, and integrating strategies and sources appropriate to the genre.
  • Adapt and employ conventions to communicate with diverse audiences who are members of or affected by a specific area or discipline.
  • Compose a variety of texts, working individually and collaboratively, through processes of drafting, critiquing, reflecting, and editing.


Student/Lecturer Contract


The purpose of this contract is to show that we both understand and agree to the rules of the course. I understand that:


No late work will be accepted, and failure to turn in work on time will lower my grade.


Failure to participate in online discussions will lower my grade.


Failure to check feedback my peers and lecturer write on my rough drafts will lower my grade.


If I miss one project, I probably will not pass this class.


I understand that computer problems do not constitute valid excuses for tardiness, absences, or late work.


I will do my own work and not plagiarize. I understand that if I plagiarize, I will receive an F for the course, be reported, and could be expelled from school.


I will submit all of my projects to Turn It In on Blackboard by their due dates. I will make sure that I receive receipts from Turn It In so that I know my projects were properly uploaded.


I will show my lecturer and other students the respect they deserve at all times. I will respect my audience (the people who participate in discussions in small groups and read my projects in this class).


I will take personal responsibility for my own learning experience.


I will not badger my lecturer about my final grade in this course. I will accept her decision and move on with my life, glowing with my newfound rhetorical knowledge.


I will not just disappear if I have a crisis. I understand that my lecturer is the mother of three kids, and that’s not cool to put any mother (my own or someone else’s) through.


I will not assume that the last comment was intended to reduce me to an infantile state, to insinuate that I am a kid who needs mothering. I know now that it was intended to make me laugh. 😊


I will try my best to learn the difference between affect and affect, its and it’s, and especially lose and loose so as not to be misunderstood or to sound like a pervert.


I will try to have fun this semester despite the fact that this is a required course. I will keep an open mind, allowing the possibility of actually learning something that’s practical and enjoyable before I graduate.


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