22 Jul 2010 [ Prev | Next ]

5. Course Requirements

Technology Issues

Just as students of the past learned to carry an extra inkhorn and spare lamp wicks, there are certain common-sense strategies that will help the 21st-century student do the required work.

  • Save local copies, or printouts, of required online readings (including the syllabus) so that you can do your work even if the internet is down.
  • Get in the habit of e-mailing drafts to yourself, so that you can retrieve them from your archives if your computer crashes or you lose your thumb drive.

Online Submissions
Unless the assignment instructions say otherwise, you should expect to submit all your graded assignments to Turnitin.com. I have never encountered a serious problem with files being truncated or corrupted by this service. When you upload a file to Turnitin.com, you will get a submission receipt that includes the full text of your submission. You can check this receipt to confirm that your paper uploaded properly. If you re-download your submission from Turnitin.com, you will see exactly what I will see.  If you see any signs that your file is corrupted, you should re-upload it, or try a different file format.

Note: Submitting via printout or e-mail attachment is not a substitute for submitting via Turnitin.com. 

If you encounter any difficulty uploading an assignment, you may, as a stopgap measure, give me a printout or send an e-mail attachment, with a brief explanation of the difficulty you encountered.

  • I will not actually assign any credit for your paper until after it has been submitted in the format I have requested (usually, uploading to a specific slot in Turnitin.com). 
  • When I finish grading a set of papers (usually about a week after the due date), I will report a zero for any assignment that is not in the online slot where I expect to find it.

The Importance of Revision

Revision is to the writer as practice is to the athlete, as rehearsals are to the performer, and as sunlight and water are to plants.  Even the students who were born with a quill in their hands are likely to be surprised by just how much a freshman writing course depends on revision.

You will see, when you start getting my feedback on the early assignments, that I won't circle every spelling or punctuation mistake. 

You might produce several perfectly "correct" sentences, with no grammatical or punctuation mistakes. When I evaluate your work, I may pass over those sentences without making any marks on them. I might even say something good about your vocabulary, punctuation, or phrasing.

Nevertheless, even a passage with no grammar or punctuation mistakes might do nothing to advance your main idea; such words are deadwood, which need to be pruned to make room for more useful, more effective, more valuable passages that do a better job helping your audience to understand your point.  

In order to get the full benefit of each stage of the writing process, students should expect to respect assignment deadlines, submitting full drafts (proper assigned length, good faith effort, on time and in the proper format), and making significant, major revisions that go far beyond correcting typos and grammar mistakes.

Be aware that "revision" means global changes to an assignment based on guidance from an instructor who will only mark your paper selectively.  After I read your draft and call your attention to a few passages that could use some work in this or that particular area, the revision process will require you to find, on your own, other passages in your draft that would benefit from the same kind of attention.


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