T R   11:00 AM  -  12:15 PM 	A309
See daily course outline.

Dennis G. Jerz (jerz.setonhill.edu)
403 St. Joseph, Box 461

E-mail: My last name, at the setonhill.edu domain.

  • I often check my e-mail at around 11pm. While I won't likely have time for lengthy messages, I don't mind questions that I can answer quickly.
  • Make sure your real name appears in the message -- chances are I won't know who "suprkewlkid14@hotmail.com" is.
  • To keep your message out of my spam filter, include "LA100" in the subject line.

Phone: 724-830-1909 (but you will usually get a faster response if you e-mail)

Office Hours: Fall, 2008 office hours (in St. Joseph 403) are Mo 4-5, We 2-3, and Th 9-10, and also by appointment.

Occasionally I step out of my office briefly to run errands during my scheduled office hours. When I do, I usually leave a note on my door. If my light is still on, then I'm probably not far away.

Office Visits:

  • I usually leave my office door open. If you should happen to drop by outside of my office hours, and my door is closed, please come back later or send me an e-mail.
  • If you come to my office hour, and I'm already with a student, go ahead and knock so I know someone else is waiting.

From the Common LA100 Syllabus:

Basic Composition teaches students writing skills necessary for college success, including grammar and composition. Students will practice sentence construction (in the context of short writing assignments), paragraph construction, and the organization of ideas. Students will build on these basic skills by planning, writing, and revising short essays and experiencing writing as a multi-step process. The course also teaches several types of, purposes of, and audiences for general essays.
While individual instructors personalize their own sections of Basic Comp, the structure of the course and some details of the syllabus are shared in common with all sections. (My colleague, Dr. Laura Patterson, who directs the undergraduate writing program, graciously provided me with a model syllabus, from which I have borrowed.)

Your objectives for this course are to

  • Create individualized writing learning plans based on the results of diagnostic tests and in consultation with instructor.
  • Practice grammar skills (those applicable to the individual student) through frequent electronic and written exercises, with feedback and explanation, both in and out of class.
  • Practice the grammar skills learned in exercises by focusing on these issues in the composition, revision, and editing phases of the writing process.
  • Develop sustainable main ideas for paragraphs and short essays.
  • Compose grammatically correct (free of both syntax issues and surface errors) sentences in paragraph-length writing assignments.
  • Practice writing process skills such as prewriting, free writing, brainstorming, listing, outlining, mapping, zero drafting, drafting, revising, proofreading, and copyediting
  • Plan, write, and revise several types of short essays.

This course fulfills the Communication, Self-Awareness, and Reflection element of the Liberal Arts Core. Keep all drafts of your papers from all your classes. You will need to include a selection of papers in your graduation portfolio (a required component of each major).

Course Philosophy and Pedagogical Design
(Why we think this way of teaching you will help you learn.)

Composition is a multi-stage process rather than a single-sitting activity. The principle of writing as a process will unite all course activities. This course is designed to help students identify their own writing strengths and weaknesses and to build a plan for writing improvement based on those findings. Students will take an early diagnostic test, which, along with guidance from the instructor, will allow them to identify areas needing work. Grammar exercises and writing assignments will be tailored to each student, offering practice where needed. The course will also use a sequential building method, asking students to analyze their own writing on a sentence-by-sentence level, then on the paragraph level, and finally, in the context of the short essay. The instructor will assign some writing topics; other assignments will allow for student choice in subject matter. A post-test will offer assessment information for instructor and student alike, and a final self-assessment essay will give students the opportunity to reflect on writing progress and to identify writing goals and challenges for the future.

Technology Issues
Just as students in generations past learned to carry an extra inkhorn and spare lamp wicks, there are certain common-sense strategies that will help you do the necessary work. Print out a copy of the course syllabus, and print out online readings in advance, so that you can work on the readings if the internet happens to be down. Get in the habit of e-mailing drafts to yourself, so that you can retrieve them from your archives if you lose your thumb drive.

While drafts themselves are not assigned letter grades, failure to submit a full draft (proper assigned length, good faith effort, submitted on time) will affect your grade in two ways. It will detract from your overall Revision Paper Grade and it will detract from your Drafts and Paragraphs Grade. Be aware that "revision" means global changes to an assignment based on guidance from your instructor, not merely changing errors. You will be shown sample problems in the paper and instructed to find and change similar problems on your own.

Students are expected to attend every class, complete the required assignments before every session, bring the assigned texts and materials to class, and participate in class discussion. Serious and thoughtful participation is necessary for effective learning and for an excellent participation grade. One absence is permitted without penalty; each subsequent unexcused absence reduces the final grade by one third of a letter grade.

Absences may be excused, with prior negotiation initiated by the student with the instructor for school-required events that take place during the class time, including participation in intercollegiate sports, theater or music productions, conferences, or workshops. The sponsoring staff or faculty member (coach, director, etc.) must provide written verification of the event prior to the absence. The student is responsible for making up the material covered during the missed class, including obtaining assignments or handouts. (Seton Hill University Catalog, p. 28-29, Excused Absences.) If you are absent for other reasons, please bring supporting documents to the instructor, who will determine excused or unexcused absences. 

What to Do When You Miss a Class

Consult this website to find out what was scheduled to happen on the date(s) affected by your absence.

Consult a classmate for notes on what happened during class, for extra copies of any handouts, etc.  After you have spoken with a classmate, I will be happy to answer any specific questions, by e-mail or during my office hours.

Submit work on the appropriate due-date (an excused absence does not automatically come with an extension), or if appropriate, request extensions.

It may not be possible to arrange make-up assignments for some assignments or activities.

Students are expected to contribute actively to a positive classroom environment, both in person and online.

Absences, late arrivals and early departures, inappropriate use of telephones or headphones, lack of preparation, and inattentiveness will affect your ability to contribute to a positive classroom environment. Those who participate above and beyond the call of duty will receive a bonus. If your final grade falls near a borderline, I will take your participation into account when I decide whether to round up or down.

Online Submissions

This course expects you to use several online resources -- MyCompLab, the course website, and Turnitin.com. We will spend class time getting you comfortable with these environments. MyCompLab requires the purchase of a key, bundled with your LA100 textbook, available from the campus bookstore.

Please pay close attention to the assignment instructions. These submission guidelines may seem random, or even pointless, especially because every professor has a slightly different preference for how to submit work.

The course meets in a computer classroom. I expect that you will have access to electronic copies of your work at all times -- on a thumb drive, in your e-mail archives, or on the student network space. (You should be able to download copies of work that you've uploaded to Turnitin.com.)

In the 6 years that I have asked students to use Turnitin.com, I have never once seen a file get seriously corrupted in the uploading process.  Sometimes the spacing gets shifted around a little, but the document has always been legible.  E-mailing or printing a file is not a substitute for submitting an assignment to Turnitin.com, but if you have any concerns that your file did not upload properly, feel free to doublecheck by downloading a copy of the file you just uploaded.

It is your responsibility to ensure that your work has uploaded properly.

Late Papers

Any assignments turned in late (draft, informal writing, or revision) without prior permission from the instructor will have the final grade reduced by one third of a letter grade per day that the assignment is late, with weekends counting as two days.

Any time you have difficulty getting an assignment in in the proper format, you may "stop the late clock" by e-mailing me the assignment. The e-mail submission is not a substitute for submitting the work in the requested format.  I won't actually start grading it until the assignment is submitted in the manner I requested.

Getting Credit for Late Work

If you are asking that I waive a late penalty, e-mail me a copy of a completed Absence Form (http://jerz.setonhill.edu/teaching/Absence.doc), with a subject line that follows this pattern: "Smith LA100 Exercise 1-2 Absence Form". 

Deadlines for the submission of turnitin.com assignments are typically 15 minutes before class starts. (This is to discourage you from being late for class because you were working on your homework, and it also permits me to scan the assignments briefly before class begins.) If your assignment is late by a few minutes, but you are still on time to class, your paper won't count as late.

Please note that late submissions always go to the bottom of my to-do list. If you are concerned about not getting a paper back soon enough to help you complete the next step in a multi-stage assignment, please make an appointment and I will go over it with you orally.

Peer review assignments must be on time in order to earn any points. (That's because I want to encourage you to give your feedback to your peers while they are still working on their revisions.)

Make-up/Extra Credit Assignments

I do not have a policy of inventing extra-credit assignments to enable you to pull your grade up in the last few weeks of the term. (However, in the event of an extended illness or similar documented emergency, I am willing to be flexible.)


  • Ruszkiewicz, John, Daniel E. Seward, and Maxine Hairston. SF Writer, 4th ed. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson, 2008.
  • Passcode for My Comp Lab (available at campus bookstore)

Please acquire your own individual copies of the assigned texts, and bring both your textbook and your passcode to class with you each day.

Course work may also include completing online exercises, reading and commenting on peer drafts, and reading short sample essays as distributed by the instructor.

Disability Statement

If you have a disability that requires instructor consideration please contact the Director of Disability Services at 724-838-4295.  It is recommended that this be accomplished by the second week of class.  If you need accommodations for successful participation in class activities prior to your appointment at the Disability Services Office, you should offer information in writing that includes suggestions for assistance in participating in and completing class assignments.  It is not necessary to disclose the nature of your disability.

Plagiarism and Academic Misconduct

Seton Hill University expects that all its students will practice academic honesty and ethical conduct. The University regards plagiarism, cheating on examinations, falsification of papers, non-sanctioned collaboration, and misuse of library material, computer material, or any other material, published or unpublished, as violations of academic honesty. Violators of the code may expect disciplinary sanctions, which are discussed in the Seton Hill University Catalog, page 30, Code of Academic Conduct.
Any unreferenced use of the written or spoken material of another, or of previously submitted work of the student's own, constitutes plagiarism.
Paraphrasing the thoughts or written work of another without reference is also plagiarism. Helpful information is available at the following web site: Plagiarism: What It Is and How to Recognize and Avoid It. Any plagiarism on a draft will result in a zero as the final grade on that assignment. Any plagiarism or cheating on an informal essay, paragraph, or grammar exercise will also result in a zero.

See also "Plagiarism (and Academic Integrity)."
Plagiarism is an academic or professional misrepresentation, in which a writer takes credit for someone else's ideas.

Avoid plagiarism by 
  • submitting your own original work
  • giving proper credit to other people whose words and/or ideas appear in our work
  • recognizing that direct quotation (with citation) and paraphrase (with citation) are appropriate ways to use outside material.
Avoid the panic that makes cheating look so attractive by
  • starting early (plan 2-3 hours of homework for each hour of class)
  • keeping on track (with brainstorming, drafting, workshop, and revision assignments)
  • seeking out help (from the professor, Writing Center, tutors)
There is a writing pre-test and a post-test, both of which will include objective grammar exercises as well as essay sections. Students will also complete frequent grammar exercises and will write weekly paragraph-length (approximately 200 words) essays that will focus on the same writing issues as their targeted grammar exercises. There are three short (2-3 pages) essays as well as a 2-3 page self-assessment paper at the end of the semester. All of the short essays will include prewriting activities and global revision. All assignments will be explained in class, usually with an accompanying online handout, and ample time will be given for questions and explanations.

Grading Criteria:
  • A = 93% or higher
  • A- = 90.0% - 92.9%
  • B+ = 87.0% - 89.9%
  • B = 83.0% - 86.9%
  • B- = 80.0% - 82.9%
  • C+ = 77.0% - 79.9%
  • C = 73.0% - 76.9%
  • C- = 70.0% - 72.9%
  • D+ = 67.0% - 69.9%
  • D = 63.0% - 66.9%
  • D- = 60.0% - 62.9%
  • F = 59.9% or less

Percentage of Grade Value for Each Assignment Listed:
  • Pretest 5% (Full credit for on time completion)
  • Individual Learning Plan (ILP) 15%
  • Post-test 5%
  • Grammar Exercises (average) 10%
  • Paragraphs 20%
  • Short Essays 20%
  • Attendance and participation 15%
  • Final self-assessment paper 10%

Recent Comments

Dennis G. Jerz on P3: Peer Review Workshop: Here is the document we constructed in class, whic
Dennis G. Jerz on P3: Revision Workshop: Here are the in-class prompts we wrote about: 1) W
Dennis G. Jerz on Final Self-Assessment: Rough Draft: A student asks: Dr. Jerz, For the Final Self-Asse
Dennis G. Jerz on Ex 3-3: Pro/Con II: You may argue against any previous submission. I w
Timothy Koch on Ex 3-3: Pro/Con II: for this paper, can we argue against any of the pr
Dennis G. Jerz on Ex 3-2: Pro/Con Combined: Elyse, one problem is that I've scheduled an in-cl
Elyse Grogan on Ex 3-2: Pro/Con Combined: hi, i was jus wondering if there is any way possib
Dennis G. Jerz on Self-Assessment: Thanks for that feedback, Meghan. Now that we'll b
Meghan Fisher on Self-Assessment: I like when we have give and take in class. Today
Dennis G. Jerz on Ex 2-4: Explain a Position: You can think of this as the "pro" side of an argu
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