ENC101 - College Composition I

This material is not intended to duplicate or replace the tapes, textbooks, or study guide.
It is a constantly changing supplement to the materials provided or required by the college.

Go to the Frequently Asked Questions

Computer Viruses

I receive email with file attachments from a large number of students in all parts of the world. As a result, I am a perfect vector for computer viruses. If I get an undetected virus, I may spread it to other students. I use the McAfee VirusScan and VShield programs and update them frequently.  I have avoided quite a few viruses. On at least one occasion, however, a very new virus got through. As a result, I urge all students to obtain and run their own virus protection software. Whether you have your own or not, I also strongly suggest use of McAfee's free VirusScan Online. It  will clean your hard drive of even the most recent viruses.


The examinations show me two things: how well do you understand the concepts presented and how well do you write in a controlled situation with no possibility of help.

There are multiple versions of both tests. Both tests, however, are currently "essay exams" requiring you to demonstrate your understanding of what you have studied and learned about writing. In writing your essay, you will have the opportunity to explain your understanding of some of the major concepts and techniques you have studied as well as the opportunity to demonstrate your use of these concepts and techniques in the essay you compose.


Most students are well aware of what plagiarism is, as well as the possible consequences. Every semester, however, one or more students are caught and then claim they didn't know that what they did was plagiarism. As a result, I want to be very explicit about it.

The College's Student Handbook states quite clearly: 

Thomas Edison State College takes a strong stance against plagiarism, and students found to be plagiarizing will be severely punished. If you copy phrases, sentences, paragraphs or whole documents word-for-word--or if you paraphrase by changing a word here and there--without identifying the author, then you are plagiarizing.

At the very least you will receive a zero for the assignment. If it appears to be a deliberate act, I may fail you for the course. I will report the incident to the appropriate administrator and you may be subject to additional penalty.

Please be sure to use quotation marks when needed and always indicate the source of your information or data. Listing your source as a Work Cited does not entitle you to use the author's words without quotation marks. Be particularly careful when using information obtained from the Internet. If I (or any of your other mentors) become suspicious, we know all too well how to search the Internet for your source or sources.   If you have any doubt at all, err on the side of caution and repeat your source.

Due Dates

By college convention assignments should be postmarked on Monday of the week they are due. Because the dates vary semester to semester, the actual dates are not given, but with a calendar, you can easily fill in the dates.

While the college asks that you meet this Monday deadline, I am a bit more flexible. You are likely to be taking this course because of factors in your life ranging from employment and family to health and unique personal situations. As a result, I do not get concerned unless an assignment is more than seven days late. If you need more than seven "extra" days, please let me know your situation.

Written Assignments

Writing Assignment 1: "Rhetorical Heritage, Modern Applications"
Due: Monday of Week Two

Write a letter to your professor explaining why a study of rhetoric and rhetorical canon is valuable to you, a late twentieth century student of English Composition.

In order to explain the function of rhetorical study in your life, you may make reference to your professional or academic experiences and goals.

The paper should be about 300 words long, longer if you need, and should clearly demonstrate your knowledge of paragraph and sentence construction and boundaries.

Hint: Compose a first draft, set it aside for a day or so and then revise. If possible have another reader or audience member review your first draft and offer suggestions for revision

This assignment serves two purposes. It is an assignment that is graded and weighs in your final grade, but it is also a diagnostic assignment that forms the basis of my appraisal of your writing ability. Based on what I see, I will recommend that you strive to improve in particular areas.

The most frequent question is whether it should be submitted in letter or essay format. Strictly speaking, the assignment is to "write a letter to your professor," but either format is acceptable if it will "clearly demonstrate your knowledge of paragraph and sentence construction and boundaries." In short, this assignment serves to show me what you think constitutes acceptable college-level writing.

Writing Assignment 2: "The Psychology of Writing"
Due: Monday of Week Three

Now that you have learned a little about the internal and external factors that influence your composing process, write an essay in which you describe your own writing process.

Tell of a specific writing assignment -- related to your career, personal or academic life. Describe what the assignment was and explain, somewhat like Sondra Perl's students, how you moved through the planning to the reviewing process.

The paper should be about 300 words long, longer if you need. Review the Scott, Foresman Handbook for Writers for punctuation conventions and pronoun use.

This assignment is primarily in response to Lesson 2. Also note that there is a typo in the page numbers given for Lesson 3. Chapter 8 begins on page 241, not 214.

Assignment 2 is simply to describe how you responded after finding out you had to write something. Some students describe writing a report for work; others go back to an experience in high school or another educational or training situation. A few describe experiences writing reports to insurance companies, letters to the editor or other experiences where they had to write something. It's your choice.

This assignment must be submitted in acceptable essay format. Be sure to have a heading and a title.
Be very specific and provide details.

In reviewing pronoun use, you may find "The Zen of Pronoun Usage," a "Handout" page from Brigham Young University's Writing Center, to be useful. This site also has "Handout" pages for many punctuation and grammar questions.

Writing Assignment 3: "Writing with an Informative Aim"
Due: Monday of Week Four

A colleague or classmate is planning to spend a few days of vacation in your hometown. Compose an essay of about 300 words describing the places of interest he/she might visit. Some of these sites may not be listed in any guide book, but because of your intimate knowledge of the area, you can direct a visitor to those sites.

This assignment requires "knowledge (both) by participation and observation" but no bibliography or documentation are required.

Review thesis development and support in the Scott, Foresman Handbook.

Because this assignment asks that the writer think of "a colleague or classmate" as the audience, many students use a less formal structure or less formal diction. Be sure to use the standard essay format. If you feel it will strengthen your essay, you may use the second person, "you," but be sure you are consistent. In general, however, it is best to use third person.

Second person: "You will find Lake Wilson a beautiful and quiet place to swim in crystal clear water, fish for a trophy bass, hike a scenic mountain path or just relax on the grass under a shady tree."

Third person:   "Visitors find Lake Wilson a beautiful and quiet place to swim in crystal clear water, fish for a trophy bass, hike a scenic mountain path or just relax on the grass under a shady tree."

In addition to the material in the Scott, Foresman Handbook, you may want to review the thesis discussion at the Literacy Education Online site or the more detailed discussion at Prof. John Tagg's web site at Palomar College.

Writing Assignment 4: "Writing with an Informative Aim"
Due: Monday of Week Six

In an essay of at least 300 words, analyze the value of taking a telecourse, such as this course. There must surely be drawbacks as well as advantages to this method of college education. Tell what those are and assess them.

Your personal experience may provide much of your evidence as you analyze this issue.

Hint: In analytical writing, the information you provide your reader must be sufficient, plausible and pertinent.

Review verb tenses in the Scott, Foresman Handbook.

Pay attention to organization. Once you have decided what the "drawbacks" and "advantages" are, you must decide how to organize and present your material. In essence, you will be comparing and contrasting the advantages and disadvantages. In the subject by subject approach, you would discuss all the disadvantages, then all the advantages. In the point by point approach, you would discuss each aspect of your analysis one at a time including both the advantages and disadvantages of each. Sample outlines.

Writing Assignment 5: "Writing an Explanatory Paper"
Due: Monday of Week Seven

What motivates some to volunteer or perform some kind of community service? Explain the reasons why some volunteers willingly use their spare time on projects that do not directly affect them and sometimes even put them at risk. Write an essay of about 300 words.

Remember that although the reasons for volunteering might be complex and many, you should choose those details that best support your overall thesis and details that are easily understood by your audience.

Review paragraph unity in Scott, Foresman.

Additional information and examples of "Paragraph Unity and Coherence" can be found on a "Handout" page from Brigham Young University's Writing Center.

Writing Assignment 6: "Polishing Ideas: The Canon of Style"
Due: Monday of Week Eight

Gong and Dragga demonstrate the importance of recognizing one's own writing style and the reasons for sometimes adapting style to suit purpose, audience and situation.

In an essay of about 400 words, explain how you would adapt a piece of technical writing (from an academic subject, professional field or special interest) to a general audience. Discuss specifically how a writer would determine choices of vocabulary, sentence length and structure in making this adaptation.

Hint: Reread the narratives at the beginning of Chapters one and three.

Review compound and complex sentence construction in the Scott, Foresman Handbook.

If you were a doctor who had published an article in a medical journal for other doctors, you would have used very specific medical terms. How would you have to rewrite the article if the Readers' Digest wanted it? Think of a similar example where you have expertise that others do not. How would you adapt or change something you had written for others with similar expertise so an audience without this expertise would understand it.

Do not actually re-write something. Just explain how you would do it if you had to.

Additional information and examples of "Combining Sentences" to form compound and complex sentences can be found on a "Handout" page from Brigham Young University's Writing Center.

Writing Assignment 7: "Writing an Analytical Paper"
Due: Monday of Week Eleven

As the work world becomes more complex, workers are being forced to retrain, seek higher education, lose their jobs or watch others pass them by. As a result , many who would not have considered higher education past high school twenty or even fifteen years ago are finding themselves back in school. Employers, colleges and workers are, therefore, changing age-old notions about higher learning.

Analyze this social trend in an essay of about 500 words. Discuss how this trend will affect workers, companies and institutions of higher learning. Review kinds of essay development in the Scott, Foresman Handbook.

Be sure to address all three topics: workers, companies and institutions of higher learning.
"Trend" implies an ongoing process. Where or how is it going to end?

Writing Assignment 8: "Writing an Evaluation"
Due: Monday of Week Thirteen

In the short narrative at the beginning of Chapter 14, the author writes of the difficulty of shifting gears in a manual car with his right hand as he is left handed. Sounds logical, right? In 52 countries of the world, steering wheels are on the right sides of cars so that drivers of those cars must use their left hands to shift gears. Most people in the world are right handed.

This information must be of some interest to some Americans. In an essay of about 500 words argue why this information will be invaluable to some Americans. Specify the particular group and provide valid evidence in support of your claim.

Hint: Evidence includes statistics, examples, illustrations and quotations.

This assignment consistently generates more questions than any other.
Read the assignment carefully -- particularly the question.

There is no "correct" response. Just pick a "particular group" and discuss their interest. "
Left handed people"?   "Right handed"?   Students have even chosen "car manufacturers" and "historians.

Writing Assignment 9: "Writing a Thesis/Support Paper"
Due: Monday of Week Fourteen

There is no doubt that family structure is changing. Number of parents in households, absence of a parent, step-parent, definitions of what constitutes "family" are changing. What impact will these new family structures have on the next generation? Determine your position on this issue. Do some research as you attempt to fine-tune your position. Review your thesis and write a paper of about 800 words explaining your thesis.

Combine personal knowledge and research in your argument.

Hint: Use the MLA Documentation System.

If you haven't already done so, you may want to review the thesis discussion at the Literacy Education Online site or the more detailed discussion at Prof. John Tagg's web site at Palomar College.

Amy Moran's Guide to MLA Documentation is a useful site with "information on how to properly document research using the most recent edition of the MLA Handbook."

Writing Assignment 10: "Proposing a Solution of a Problem"
Due: Monday of Week Fifteen

Describe a problem for which you, or others, have worked out a solution. You may use a problem in your community, at your place of employment or at your college. Perhaps you are still working on the solution. Tell what strategies you used to arrive at the solution and whether or not it was the best possible solution to the problem.

Write an essay of at least 500 words. Clearly define the problem and systematically explain the solution.

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And finally, do not hesitate to send Email if you have any questions. Include a portion of your assignment if you wish.
I generally respond in less than 24 hours.

Dr. Lawrence Knapp

Consultant and Mentor --  Thomas Edison State College
Full Professor -- Essex County College