THE UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE AT MARTIN
Department of English
Fall Semester, 2002
MWF 8-8:50 a.m.
Gooch Hall, Room 209
MWF 8-8:50 a.m.
Camden Central High School
MWF 11-11:50 a.m.
Humanities Building, Room 308
Name: Tim Hacker
Office: Humanities Building, Room 130B
Office Hours: MWF 9-10 a.m., TTh 1:30-2:30 p.m., and by appointment
You will need these three books, available at the UTM Bookstore . . .
Gandhi, M. K. (1983). Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments with Truth. New York: Dover.
Gardner, H. (1997). Extraordinary Minds. New York: Basic Books.
White, M. & Gribbin, J. (1993). Einstein: A Life in Science. New York: Plume/Penguin.
You will also need . . .
An audiocassette tape, new or used. For some of your writing, I will record my comments instead of writing them.
Access to a computer with a web browser.
Access to a good dictionary; one that provides multiple definitions of words.
English 111 is the first of two three-credit hour courses in composition that are required for all bachelor’s degree programs at the University of Tennessee at Martin. Here is what the 2001-02 University Catalog says about it:
Introduction to the fundamentals of written discourse. Study of rhetoric, grammar, and style as a means to effective prose. Readings and concomitant writing assignments. Predominantly a skills course. Students must complete ENG 111 and 112 in sequence. In order to proceed to ENG 112, students must complete ENG 111 with a grade of C or higher.
This description is pretty broad; virtually any course that asked you to read, think about what you had read, and then write about it would fall within its guidelines. The English department, in its own statement of goals, is much more specific. It says that ENG 111
1 Introduces students to the variety of discourses that make up expository writing (e.g., narration, causal analysis, comparison, argumentation).
2 Engages students in thesis-directed writing while encouraging them to see writing as a process—involving reading, writing, and revising—through which they discover ideas and develop those ideas into coherent sentences, paragraphs, and essays.
3 Involves students in a variety of writing situations, including those they are likely to encounter in other classes (e.g. journals, timed essays/exams, out-of-class writing), while emphasizing the value of writing beyond the university experience.
4 Introduces students to ideas through several types of texts (e.g. essay, fiction, film, hypertext, poetry, and drama) and uses these texts, particularly essays and fiction, as a basis for analysis, reflection, and writing.
5 Enables students to understand the expectation for precision in writing through explorations of style, logic, rhetoric, and grammar.
6 has each student produce a minimum of six projects. By the end of the semester, each student will have produced at least the equivalent of 15-20 typed pages (approximately 4500-6000 words) of finished text.
We will try to meet these ambitious goals by structuring the work of our class around a key text, Howard Gardner’s Extraordinary Minds. The four people Gardner describes in it will in turn lead us to other materials: a movie, a biography, an autobiography, and a set of short essays. Our critical thinking and writing tasks will be in response to these materials.
Over the course of my career—a career that is 20 years old and counting—I have become increasingly concerned about the role of grades. Grades, it seems to me, have several problems. At the heart of these problems is that grades are a form of extrinsic motivation; motivation that other people put on us. Extrinsic motivation is very effective in some setting that work with established procedures. But research shows that creativity—and I hope we are all in school to learn how to think in new, productive, creative ways—almost always comes about because of intrinsic motivation. Motivation, that is, that we put on ourselves, because we find the work fulfilling and enjoyable in its own right.
In order to create a classroom environment that encouraged intrinsic motivation, I would (if I could) abolish grades and simply write a letter of recommendation for each of the students I work with. For better or for worse, I do not have that freedom; I must issue you a grade for the work that you do in this class.
After years of thought and experimentation, I have reconciled these conflicting demands with a contract grading system. Contract grading emphasizes your intrinsic motivation, but it also gives me the safeguards I must have. These safeguards are three prerequisites that you must obey:
1 Daily work cannot be made up if you are absent. This work is of two types: quizzes and freewrites over the readings. Because we will do a lot of these—eight quizzes; 10 freewrites—you should be able to miss one or two of these and still reach the grade criterion you want. (It should go without saying that you may not come to class simply to take a quiz or do a freewrite and then leave.)
2 I respond to writing; I do not assign a letter grade or numerical score to it. But all papers must be of passing quality. I reserve the right to ask you to rewrite any paper that simply misses the assignment criteria or that indicates you haven’t done the assigned reading.
3 Academic integrity. Any student who willfully misrepresents the work of another person as his/her own will fail the course. Please see the section entitled “Academic Policies,” found on p. 10 of the Student Handbook.
The contract system allows you to choose the grade you work for. At the end of the semester, you will be awarded the grade for which you have completed all of the criteria.
For a grade of C—in order to pass the course at a minimally acceptable level—you must:
For a grade of B, you must:
For a grade of A, you must:
Please note: Any student eligible for and requesting academic accommodations due to a disability is requested to provide a letter of accommodation from P.A.C.E. or Student Academic Support Center within the first two weeks of the semester.