COM 200       Writing to Communicate     Summer 2009

Dr. Elliot Gaines, Office:  411 Millett



Class Meetings 12:20-2:00 Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday,

Room:  403 Millett






Hacker, Diana. 2008. A Pocket Style Manual, Fifth Edition. NY: Bedford St. Martin's Press.


Gorham. Joan. Ed.  2010. Annual Editions Mass Media 09/10.  Boston: McGraw-Hill.

Additional readings will be announced.


Students are required access their WSU email account and Course Studio, to have a WSU student computer lab account, and to backup files of their class work. 


Course Description

Instruction and practice in writing to communicate nonfiction reports.  Course includes use of library information sources, principles of organization, composition, and academic documentation. 


Course Goals

This course prepares you to write clearly and correctly for classes in organizational communication, mass communication, communication studies, and social and industrial communication.  To write well you must develop critical thinking skills such as the ability to draw warranted conclusions.  This course is designed to help you write well, think well, and develop positive attitudes toward thinking and writing.


Course Organization

This course will focus on writing at a variety of levels:

(1) Knowledge of standard American English usage is essential, and includes correct sentence structure, grammar, and punctuation.  Preparation for writing involves learning to identify your audience and purpose in writing, as well as learning how to find sources of information and provide correct, formal citations;

(2) Research includes learning about information sources that are relevant to your target audience and your purpose, retrieving relevant articles and other sources, and compiling references using correct documentation style;

(3) Organization and composition involve preparing an outline, writing an introduction, a body and a conclusion;

(4) Revision includes rewriting, fixing organization, checking to see that conclusions are warranted, cutting out clutter, revising sentences, and correcting other things such as reference style.


Throughout the course, be sure to ask questions and express any concerns.  If you need tutoring on any element of research, writing, composition and/or grammar, you can receive individual tutoring either from the instructor by appointment or from an instructor at the WSU Writing Center.




The course includes the following:

      Attendance and participation

      Readings to be completed before the class session when they will be discussed

      Exercise on library and electronic information sources

      Several research papers on assigned topics prepared using formal MLA style

      Individual meetings with the professor to review comments on papers.




      Attendance is required.  A percentage of your course grade is derived from participation, including active participation in class discussions and meeting assignment deadlines.

      If you miss four classes or more, regardless of excuses (including, but not limited to, employment, military assignment, weather or illness), the instructor may assign a grade of Incomplete.

      Some graded exercises will be done during class time. If you are not in class to do a graded exercise you dont get any points, and there is no make-up work.

      All assignments must be submitted on time. Papers submitted after the deadline are by definition less than average, and unless an arrangement with your instructor is approved at least 24 hours in advance, late submissions will not be accepted.

      Do not ask to take tests or submit other work before or after the rest of the class, unless you are working with the Office of Disability Services.






      Read all materials before class and come prepared for a discussion.

      Grammar, spelling, style, accuracy, and critical thinking will be considered in all writing assignments.

      Papers must be typed, double spaced, and stapled. PLEASE.  No binders or paper clips.

      Include your name, name of the class, and title of the project on each paper following the MLA guidelines for names and page numbers.  A SEPARATE COVER PAGE IS NOT NECESSARY IN THIS CLASS

      Use MLA style parenthetical citations in the text and works cited.

      Papers must be turned in at the designated time.

       Late papers will not be accepted.


In all cases, follow instructions.  Ask questions if something is not clear.

Syllabus or schedule changes may be necessary to meet the needs of the class.








      Clarity of purpose and precise use of language,

      Completeness in achieving purpose, i.e., doing all you set out to do; appropriateness of organization;

      Relevance and completeness of evidence;

      Clarity and correctness of writing;

      Correct documentation style.

      The criteria for the works cited include accuracy of documentation style, complete information, credibility and relevance of sources.

      The criteria for quizzes are accuracy and completeness of answers.

      The criteria for all assignments include language usage and grammar, clarity, and correct writing as noted in the criteria for the essay portions of the tests.


Grading: Weighting of assignments:

Final paper.........................................................................20%

First draft of final paper.............................................................20%

Three preliminary papers..........................................................(10% x 3) 30%

Participation and quizzes....30%

                                                                                      Total: 100%


ASSIGNMENTS:  Papers 1, 2, 3: Using at least one scholarly source, write a brief analysis of a published study relating to your research question. These essays and sources will be written in preparation for the Final Draft paper.


General Guidelines


      One page, double spaced, average size font is approximately 250 words

      Include your name, date and assignment (i.e. Paper #1 ) on the top left

      Standard MLA style: in-line citation and works cited


Grading includes:

      Readability: sentence structure, wording, and clarity

      Organization: essay structure, paragraph structure, transitions and headings

      Grammar, spelling, and punctuation

      MLA style

      CONTENT: including clarity of writing, evidence, and reasonableness of analysis; meaningful writing based upon appropriate research source materials.  Sources must be legitimate research from peer-reviewed journals approved by the instructor before submitting a paper.

      Revisions require that comments on earlier papers should be studied, questioned, corrected and not repeated on subsequent papers.



      Always put you name at the top of each page and staple pages.

      Refer to other students first for updated information in case of an unavoidable absence.

      All writing assignments must use correct citation style.

      Avoid broad generalizations such as speaking about todays society.

      Do not express personal opinions in papers.  Conclusions should be based upon evidence derived from source materials.

      Avoid speculation and assumptions about general knowledge.

      Avoid long quotes. 

      Avoid wordy and unnecessarily complicated sentences

      Paraphrase readings, cite the source, and write reasonably conclusions


      Short papers need to be approached as a literature review.  That is, seek evidence embedded in scholarly research and other reliable sources, and apply results to contemporary issues.  For example, to discuss developments in cell phone use, any diffusion of innovation research can be used to compare past situations with current observations.  This can demonstrate a reasoned position rather than a personal opinion that lacks grounding in established research.


      Readings in Hacker are short and to the point, and effectively illustrated.  Read all of Hacker assignments in advance of the due dates.  Due dates represent class discussion in preparation for Book Tests, and the final English Proficiency Test.  However, in order to positively prepare for writing assignments, the readings need to be taken up before papers, proposals, and planning the term paper.


      All papers must be stapled to, and submitted with previous, graded papers stapled beneath the newest paper, in sequence.  Grades will be affected if this procedure is not followed.


      Comments on papers are written using the Revision Symbols included toward the end of the Hacker text.  The Revision Symbols page provides specific references to pages and explanations.  Students are required to correct mistakes and avoid repeating them in subsequent papers.   Study the reference in the text and ask for clarification in class, or during individual meetings,


      WSU has a policy for academic integrity that uses electronic Internet services that check papers for plagiarism by comparing them to thousands of other papers.  Your papers will be checked for plagiarism, so be aware of what constitutes plagiarism and how to avoid a serious situation.


Plagiarism: A paper in which you fail to appropriately document use of other peoples work will receive an "F" for that paper.  For example, if the first draft of your research paper contains plagiarized writing, 20% of the total course-grade will be "F."  Hacker (2008) provides detailed descriptions of plagiarism, including the following:

      Your research paper is a collaboration between you and your sources.  To be fair and ethical, you must acknowledge your debt to the writers of these sources.  If you don't you are guilty of plagiarism, a serious academic offense. Three different acts are considered plagiarism:  (1) failing to cite quotations and borrowed ideas, (2) failing to enclose borrowed language in quotation marks, and (3) failing to put summaries and paraphrases in your own words ( 107).

You are guilty of plagiarism even if you only copy part of the author's sentences.  Either by mixing the author's words or phrases without using quotation marks or by substituting your own words into the author's sentences, this is still plagiarism if you do not provide correct citations to credit your sources (Hacker 2008).


Considering your term paper and all take-home writing assignments, like all class materials, are an opportunity to learn and develop skills.


COM 200 Schedule, Summer 2004

(Subject to change as the quarter progresses).

Note: The readings generally will provide background in advance of an upcoming class.  The Massey readings are available on reserve at the library.


DATE                         READ by this date                  Activity

JUNE 15                     Syllabus                      Intro, What is research?

JUNE 16                     Quiz on syllabus; BRING YOUR TEXT Discuss Hacker  pp. 92-102.

JUNE 17                     LIBRARY RESEARCH; (Librarian) presentation 

JUNE 18                     Hacker pp. 104-154.  Writing exercises         


JUNE 22                     Hacker pp. 104-154.   (Seinfeld)       

JUNE 23                     Brainstorming proposals

JUNE 24                     Working on papers.    

JUNE 25                     PAPER #1 DUE


JUNE. 29                    Individual meetings

JULY 30                     Individual meetings

JULY 1                       PAPER #2 DUE                                                                               

JULY 2                       Individual meetings


JULY 6                       PAPER #3 DUE 

JULY 7                       Proposals due                       

JULY 8                       Individual meetings

JULY 9                       Draft I due; Editing and revising.      Individual meetings

JULY 13                     Individual meetings

JULY 14                     Final Draft Due        

JULY 15                     Discussion

JULY 16                     FINAL