Course Info

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Instructor J. Hoermann

Landscape Architecture Building 001 • @English250

Course Policies Tentative Schedule 

Textbooks and Materials 

Crusius, Timothy and Carolyn Channell.  The Aims of Argument: A Text and Reader, 7th edition. Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2011.

ISUComm Foundation Courses Student Guide for English 150 

and 250, Iowa State

University, Department of English, 2012 – 2013.

Lunsford, Andrea. The Everyday Writer, 8th edition. Boston:

Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2010.

1 flash drive on which to save your English 250 work


The goals of English 250 are for you to develop skills in written, oral, visual, and electronic communication.  As a result, you

should become not only a more perceptive consumer of information, but also a communicator better able to make effective decisions in your own academic life and work. A central concept in this course is stated in your Aims of Argument text: “One thing mature reasoning does is to challenge unexamined belief, the stances people take out of habit without much thought” (6). In this course, you’ll learn to summarize, analyze, and evaluate various types of communication and then use those skills in four kinds of assignments: summaries, rhetorical analyses, exploratory/persuasive texts, and documented research.


  • analyze professional writing to assess its purpose, audience, and rhetorical strategies
  • construct arguments that integrate logical, ethical, and emotional appeals
  • write source papers analyzing a rhetorical situation and identifying and accurately documenting appropriate source material
  • avoid distracting or confusing sentence-level errors
  • reflect systematically upon all of your communication processes, strengths, goals, and growth



  • give an oral presentation, either individually or as part of a team, using effective invention, organization, language, and delivery strategies
  • be an effective team member in small groups as a contributor, listener, and presenter


  • rhetorically analyze visual communication, such as an advertisement, film, etc.
  • create a visual argument (i.e., advertisement, bookmark, poster, slide presentation)


  • rhetorically analyze electronic communication, such as emails or websites
  • create an electronic composition (e.g., communication eportfolio)

Grade Breakdown

Literacy Autoethnography

Summary, Textual Rhetorical Analysis, and Reflection                                                               20%

Visual Rhetorical Analysis and Reflection                                                                     15%

Oral Presentation of Visual Rhetorical Analysis and Reflection                                                10%

Mediation Paper



Portfolio with Revisions/Reflections                                                                                                15%

Blog Posts/ Free-Writes                                                                                                                                  10%

Shorter Assignments/Class Participation                                                                       15%
Make sure you have a backup copy of all work before you turn it in to be graded. Major essays will be penalized one letter grade (e.g., from B to C) for each class period they are late.

In addition to major assignments, there will be shorter assignments, which you should keep in a flat pocket folder. Shorter assignments serve different purposes: to plan or revise a major assignment, to practice strategies important to a major assignment, to examine issues relevant to a major assignment, or to explore visual communication. Therefore, failure to complete the smaller assignments on time may result in a failing grade for a major assignment. Shorter responses will not be evaluated if turned in late.

All work completed outside of class should be typed. Make sure you have a backup copy of all work before you turn it in to be graded. Major essays will be penalized one letter grade (e.g., from B to C) for each class period they are late.

Grading and Evaluation

In English 250, as in other university courses, the work required of you at the university will often be different in type and level of difficulty from what you did in high school.  Expectations are also naturally higher since your work is now in a pool with that of others who are also pursuing a degree at this large university.  The Iowa State University Strategic Plan calls for “rigor” and “challenge” in academics, and it emphasizes “students’ critical thinking, creative abilities, and communication skills” (

Therefore, while it is assumed that students admitted to the university can perform satisfactorily most of the time, earning As and Bs at the university level requires strong, consistent effort. Your assignment sheets in English 250 include evaluation criteria and your instructor will provide feedback on your work.

Be realistic in your expectations about grades; start assignments early and work steadily to avoid last-minute rushing; and make an appointment with your instructor if you do not understand an assignment’s grade.

A             The qualities of a B assignment, plus imagination, originality, and engaging expression.

B          Thorough analysis of the communication problem; a satisfactory solution to the problem, judgment and tact in the presentation of this solution; good organization and solid expression.

C          Satisfactory analysis of the problem, clear organization, and competent style; nothing remarkably good or bad. A C means your work met the demands of the assignment in a minimally acceptable way.

D             Presence of a significant defect in context, substance, organization, style, or delivery in a lackluster paper; inadequate treatment of the assignment.

F             Inadequate coverage of essential points, uncertain or misguided purpose, poor organization; ineffective and inconsistent expression; significant defects in standard usage.

Academic Honesty

Read thoroughly all of the material covered in your Student Guide: English 150–250, including the section regarding ethics and plagiarism in the academy. Understanding what constitutes plagiarism and academic dishonesty will help prevent you from committing these acts inadvertently and will strengthen your writing. Plagiarism is a serious legal and ethical breach, and it is treated as such by the university. Detecting plagiarism in English 150 and 250 is often fairly easy for an instructor who is familiar with your work, and once detected, it is mandatory that the Director of Foundation Communication be notified and consulted about consequences. If you have any questions about using work other than your own in your paper, see your instructor before you turn in an assignment.

The Semester-Long Portfolio

Throughout the semester you’ll be thinking ahead to your final portfolio, adding to it frequently. After you’ve completed the major individual assignments of the semester, you will be revisiting each in order to compile a professional portfolio worth 15% of your semester grade (See Grading and Evaluation).  This portfolio’s purpose is for you to present your communication work and your ability to reflect on and project ahead about this work.

In order to showcase your learning in this way, you will make selections from your previous work, revising one major piece of writing of your choosing (the “W” mode on which 150 concentrates most heavily), presenting other parts of your work to demonstrate your competence in the remaining 3 modes (OVE—oral, visual, and electronic), and reflecting on these pieces in order to discuss changes you made to the originals and assess the new versions.

Specifically, the portfolio components are:

  • Portfolio conference with your instructor (in which you lay out what pieces your portfolio will include and what sorts of issues you will discuss as you reflect on them—during Week 13)
  • Portfolio (the first 3 parts will be due during Week 15; the last part—closing reflection—will be written in class during your university-scheduled final exam period)
    • Introduction to and closing reflection on the portfolio’s work 5%
    • Revision of a writing (W) and reflection 5%
    • -OVE products and reflection            5%

At this point, it’s not important (or even possible) to know exactly what you’ll include in this final portfolio or what you’ll say about your chosen pieces, and since you can’t know this now, it is very important to save everything you do in 250, both in electronic and hard copy, so that you have a lot of material from which to draw when you begin to put your portfolio together.

Class Attendance and Participation

Classes are in a discussion/workshop format and depend on your active learning; therefore, regular attendance and productive, courteous participation with classmates and the instructor are important. Absences damage your grade in the class and create the necessity that you will need to drop the course. Much of what we do in English 250 cannot be rescheduled for you individually, made up, or accepted late, regardless of your reason for missing class. To ensure that you stay on track with your attendance and submission of work, the following policies, developed by the Director of ISUComm Foundation Communication, will be enforced in sections of English 250:

  • Missing more than four classes (MWF) or three classes (TTH) will lower your grade, and excessive absences (more than three weeks) will result in a failing grade for the course.
    • Specifically, absences after four (MWF) or three (TTH) will reduce your class grade by two steps (a B+ becomes a B-; a C becomes a D+), and after a total of nine (MWF) or six (TTH) absences, you must drop the course or you will receive an F.
  • Even with a valid reason to miss, you can accumulate so many absences in a semester that your work and classroom experience are too compromised for you to remain in the class. The Director of ISUComm Foundation Courses and your instructor will advise you if your absences—regardless of their reason—are too numerous for you to remain in English 250 or whether you need to drop the class and take it in a semester when your schedule permits regular attendance.
  • If you are more than 15 minutes late to class, you will be counted absent.
  • Missing during group work or on the day of your oral presentation means taking an F for that activity, as it cannot be made up individually.
  • When classes are cancelled for conferences in my office, missing a scheduled individual or group conference counts as an absence.
  • Your advisor may be notified of attendance issues that threaten your ability to pass the class or you may receive a midterm low-grade report because of your attendance.

Computer Ethics 

Please check the Student Guide: English 150–250 for information on the university’s computer ethics policy. You are expected to use the university computers responsibly and to communicate courteously with others in your class—including the instructor—electronically. You are also expected to follow your instructor’s instructions on class days in the lab, using the computers for class-related activity only.

Diversity Affirmation

Iowa State University does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, age, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, sex, marital status, or disability. An effective learning environment values and supports diversity. Respect the learning environment and learning needs of other students through appropriate behavior and civility.

Disability Accommodation

If you have a disability and require accommodations, you must contact your instructor early in the semester so that your learning needs may be appropriately met. You will need to provide documentation of your disability to the Disability Resources (DR) office, main floor of the Students Services Building, Room 1076, 515-294-7220.

Communication Do’s:

Written Communication

  • Motivate your readers early by engaging them with a worthwhile question, problem, or issue.
  • Provide a meaningful title and subdivide your writing with reader-oriented headings.
  • Organize your writing to prove a point, not just talk about a topic.
  • Give details you can touch, see, hear, smell, taste—a concrete world readers can experience.

Oral Communication: Presentations and Small Groups

  • Say upfront why you’re speaking and why the audience should care.
  • Keep the structure simple and give the audience key words as anchors.
  • Rehearse and rehearse until you become comfortable with both your message and your body.
  • Conclude with confidence and clarity and focus on your audience.
  • Use your first few minutes to plan your resources: time, space, talents of group members.
  • Collect ideas from group members early and pin down your purpose and your deliverables.
  • Act for the benefit of the group, not yourself.
  • Schedule time to review and rehearse to reach the group objectives.

Visual Communication

  • Use visuals to tell a story and involve your readers.
  • Caption your visuals to integrate them with the text.
  • Cite your sources.
  • Modify your visuals to fit your purpose: resize, crop, frame, contrast.

Electronic Communication

  • Invite interactivity.
  • Enrich the user’s experience with multimedia layers.
  • Simplify the interface to help users make quick, wise choices.
  • Think in terms of multisensory experience.

FAQ’s & Answers From Ms. Hoermann

What’s the best way to contact you?

Email is best. If I don’t answer within 24 hours or so, email again. It’s very possible that your email was lost in the matrix and re-emailing does not get on my nerves.

Do you take attendance?

Yes, yes, yes. It’s important for you to be in-class, prepared, and focused, every day.

How do you feel about tardies?

You will still be welcomed into this class no matter what time you arrive. I’m happy you can attend for however long, but if you’re more than 10 minutes tardy you will be marked absent.

Can we be Facebook friends?

Although I’d love to be your Facebook friend, I do not add students because I don’t want any student to appear to have an advantage over another student because you and I were “friends.”

Do you post grades online?

No. Feel free to speak with me about your grades at any time or calculate them yourself using the grading breakdown on page 2.

Do you give out extra credit?


What if I want more help on a communication project?

I strongly recommend the Writing and Media Center, where tutors can give you excellent feedback on your writing or other communication projects. To make an appointment, call (515)294-5411 or visit:


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