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ENG 122: Academic Writing:: Home

General education course. Gianna Russo


Course Assignments

           Essays:  You will write five polished essays of at least 500 words (one is the final*) in this course.  You will also write one diagnostic essay to determine your skills at the outset of the class.  These assignments will require proofreading, editing, and several drafts.  Your writing will be graded on effectiveness in presenting and supporting a claim, comprehension of the literature; content development, organization, clarity, coherence, grammar and mechanics.  You will need a clear thesis, well-developed supporting paragraphs, and an effective conclusion. You will have the option of rewriting one essay for a possibly higher grade.       Students must submit their written assignments to    (Check course ID and password).

           Research Paper:  You will write a polished research paper in this course.  Centered on the literature we discuss and involving an issue which is relevant to you, you will research at least 3 primary/secondary sources to build your research paper.  One source must be the New York Times.

            Homework/ Preparedness & Class Participation:  Your most important homework is the assigned readings, since we will have on-going class discussions and activities based on these readings.  You will be unable to participate if you have not read the works.  Come to class prepared to discuss the readings, ask questions, and lead activities.  This is one way to SHOW YOUR EXCELLENCE. Other homework, such as questions based on the readings, will be assigned. There will be a variety of in-class activities, including writing. Attendance (see below) affects your participation grade. Missed activities cannot be made up.

          Quizzes:  You may take several pop quizzes this semester based on the readings.  Again, staying abreast of the readings will be your best way to prepare. There are NO make-ups.

            Presentations:  You will give a professional, polished and creative presentation of 8-9 minutes to the class based an idea related to the literature.  Students may choose to present alone or in groups.  Each presentation will show an excellent understanding of the selection and include visuals such as a video or PowerPoint, music, film clips, art, etc. 

            *Final Exam Essay:  This is one of your five essays.  You will write and polish an essay on a select subject in class for the final exam.

          Extra Credit:  One of the CORE VALUES of this class is EXCELLENCE.  There will be opportunities for you to SHOW YOUR EXCELLENCE by going above and beyond the requirements.  These will result in extra credit and in your establishing yourself as a leader in our class and at the University.  Class awards at the end of the term will be based on excellence in a variety of categories.

MLA Format


All major writing assignments must adhere to MLA format:

Typed, double-spaced;  12 point font in Times, Garamond, Arial, Goudy, Bell; no Courier; unbolded; one-inch margins;  

Heading in the upper left hand corner of p. 1:

your name

my name

the class

the date spelled out in the order of day, month, year;

Your last name and page number in the top right hand corner of every page;

Creative title (significant words capitalized, no bold, underline, or italics); double space before first sentence.

For complete information on MLA formatting see Purdue's Online Writing Lab (OWL)

Late work, absences, tardies

Late work /make-up policy: 

I expect all work to be turned in on time whether you are present in class or not.  Unless prior arrangements have been approved, late assignments will only be accepted one class period past the due date and will lose half a letter grade (A to A-, etc).  There are no make-up assignments and e-mailed assignments are unacceptable..  Missed assignments will result in a zero. 

NOTE: If you miss class, it is your responsibility to obtain that day’s work and the next assignment from a classmate.  We will set up a class roster of emails for this purpose.

Tardiness/ Attendance Policy:  “


You are expected to attend all classes.  Class starts on time, EVERY time. I keep attendance and tardiness records.  Entering the class more than 10 minutes late will be counted as an absence.  Please be polite enough to inform me if you must be absent. 

For each absence beyond THREE, your Homework/ Preparedness & Class Participation grade will be reduced by a letter grade.  FIVE OR MORE absences may cause you to fail the course.  More than more than one tardy or leaving in the midst of class will also result in a reduced preparedness grade.  Athletes missing classes must submit the appropriate form and have their assignments submitted on-time. 

NOTE:  There are no make-ups for work missed because of tardiness or absences.  Extraordinary circumstances will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis, but having excessive absences “excused” by Academic Advising/Student Services DOES NOT mean that missed or late assignments will be excused from penalty or failure.

 NOTE: Excusal of student absence(s) for medical, legal, family emergency, etc., reasons is based on presentation of official documentation (physician release, court papers, obituaries, etc.) only.  Official documentation must be presented to the Director of Academic Advising in 320/325  Saint Edward Hall for verification.  Once verified, the instructor is notified and excusal is granted—upon the instructor’s discretion.  Extended student absences for any reason may additionally require official clearance to return, as determined by the offices of Student Services and Academic Affairs.

ADA requirements:  Students with documented disabilities who may need academic accommodation(s) should contact the Americans with Disabilities Act office at: for assistance.

Classroom Conduct

Classroom Conduct: All students are expected to behave in a manner appropriate for a college student.  Disruptive and disrespectful behavior will not be tolerated.  A responsible student will:

·         arrive on time to class

·         read the course syllabus

·         demonstrate respect in expressing opinions and listening to others

·         silence cell phone and pagers; use laptops correctly

·         attend every class session

·         come to class prepared & participate in classroom activities

·         complete all assignments on time

·         remain in class until dismissed; do not pack up early

·         give the instructor your full attention

·         communicate with the instructor according to his or her instructions (phone, e-mail, etc.) and notify the instructor in advance regarding any problems.

Technology in Class:  :  Cell phones will be turned off upon entering the class. Please use the time before class begins to meet and interact with new friends in class.  Tablets may be used for note-taking. Laptops will ONLY be turned on for specific assignments at my request.  We may decide as a class to modify this rule.

Protection of the Academic Environment:

Disruption of academic process is the act or words of a student in a classroom or teaching environment which in the reasonable estimation of a faculty member: (a) directs attention away from the academic matters at hand, such as noisy distractions, persistent, disrespectful or abusive interruptions of lecture, exam or academic discussions, or (b) presents a danger to the health, safety or well being of the faculty member or students.  Education is a cooperative endeavor – one that takes place within a context of basic interpersonal respect. We must therefore make the classroom environment conducive to the purpose for which we are here.  Any violation of this policy may result in disciplinary action.  Please refer to the Student Handbook for further details. 

Welcome to ENG 122

Welcome to UE: ENG 122 Academic Writing! 

We’re going to read lots of great texts this semester, and I am excited and honored to guide you through this course.  Our course will revolve around the age-old and enduring exploration of the human condition.  All great literature and art grapples with the idea of what it means to be human.  You’ll be thinking about it, too, discussing it with your classmates and me (and I hope others outside the class) and trying to come to your own conclusions.  Think big! Dig deep!

Course Information ENG 122 Academic Writing

 Required Textbooks and Resources: Because this is a reading and writing intensive course, with a focus on class discussions, you will be unable to succeed without the required texts.  Students must have access to personal or shared texts by the second week of class.  Proof of texts and materials will be part of your participation grade.

  • James, Missy, and Alan Merickel. Reading Literature and Writing Argument. 5th  ed. Upper Saddle River: Pearson-Prentice Hall, 2011.
  • Harris, Muriel. Prentice Hall Reference Guide, MLA Update Edition. 8/E.  Pearson, 2011. ISBN-10: 0205735614.  You may also use Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab   (OWL)
  • Turnitin account (must be registered)
  • A notebook with college ruled paper for on-the-spot writing.
  • A College English dictionary/ thesaurus (Merriam Webster online)
  • A flash drive to save backups of your assignments. 
  • New York Times (free online)

Course Description:  A continuation of ENG 121, the course focuses on expository writing based on an analysis of literature, provides an introduction to the research process, and offers opportunities for students to hone their oral communication skills.  Stressing an interactive, sometimes student-driven approach, the course emphasizes critical thinking. 

Learning Outcomes: As a result of this course, students will:

·         Demonstrate proficiency in argumentation and expository writing, emphasizing content and mechanical skills.

·         Improve critical skills through the analysis of selected literature.

·         Practice speaking skills by participating in regular class discussion.

·         Gain an appreciation of literature through class discussion and lecture.

·         Relate the literary works and their authors to one another and to their common heritage.

·         Demonstrate proficiency in using library resources, taking notes, documenting sources accurately according to the Modern Language Association (MLA) guidelines, and incorporating source materials into a research paper. 


Grades:  :  This is a writing and reading intensive course.  All writing assignments will receive a composite grade for content and development/mechanics and grammar.  You are responsible for reviewing my comments, etc. on Turnitin.

Assignments:                                                                               Percentage

Diagnostic Essay 1                                                                               5%

4 Major Writing Assignments, including drafts                                    45%

Research Paper                                                                                   15%

Quizzes, Homework, Preparedness & Class Participation                    15%

Presentation                                                                                        10%

Final Exam Essay                                                                                10%

                                                                        SLU Grading Scale

A   94-100%

A-  90-93%

B+ 87-89%

B    84-86%

B-  80-83%

C+ 77-79%

C   74-76%

NOTE:  In order to pass this class, you must earn a C or higher. 

C-  70-73%

D+ 67-69%

D   60-66%

F    <60%

Characteristics of an A paper

Statement on Quality of Graded Papers  (adapted from Pace University)

It is important for you to have an understanding of what constitutes an A, B, C, D, or F paper. Below are some common characteristics that may help you to understand the differences in grades.

A. Outstanding Work. An A paper presents interesting, insightful ideas. It exhibits a mature level of thought (that is, exhibits the ability to draw inferences and make analogies which show insight into the topic). There is a clear focus (thesis, controlling idea) which is developed in an organized, concise, logical manner. Unified and coherent paragraphs include specific, relevant supporting evidence and examples. Sentences are varied and well constructed. Word choices are precise, fresh, and vivid. There are virtually no errors in grammar, punctuation, spelling, or usage. Research, if used, is thorough, accurately documented, and effectively integrated.

NOTE: Often the A Paper is distinguished from the B paper by a more assured prose style, more creativity in form or content, more subtlety in rhetorical strategy.

B. Good Work. A B paper demonstrates a thoughtful, solid understanding of the subject. Although ideas are interesting, they tend to lack originality or insight. Focus is clear and content well organized, but paragraphs may be slightly underdeveloped or need more support. Most sentences are varied and well constructed. Word choice is generally appropriate. Although there may be some minor errors in grammar, punctuation, spelling, or usage, none of these problems is glaring or highly distracting. Research may not be as thorough, appropriately documented, or effectively integrated as an A paper.

C. Adequate Work. A C paper is an average paper, presenting ideas that may be obvious or unexceptional. It is generally clear throughout, but some information may be general or repetitious. It has a clear thesis with some concrete details and examples. The essay is somewhat developed and organized. Paragraph breaks may not always correspond to shifts in topic. Sentence structure is adequate but undistinguished and can be repetitive or awkward with imprecise or inappropriate word choices.  Errors in grammar, punctuation, spelling or usage may distract the reader but do not prevent comprehension. Research may not be appropriately used or effectively integrated.

D. Poor Work. A D paper tends to lack insight and interesting ideas. Focus is often confusing or not easily identified. The essay is usually undeveloped and poorly organized. Paragraph breaks can be arbitrary. Statements are unsupported, repetitive, or irrelevant. Sentence structure and word choice may be inaccurate, confusing, or awkward. There are many grammar, punctuation, spelling, and usage errors. Research is poorly documented and ineffectively used to develop the paper.

F. Unacceptable Work. An F paper presents simplistic, inappropriate, or incoherent ideas and lacks focus. It tends to be undeveloped and disorganized. Paragraphs are incoherent, and paragraph breaks often do not correspond to shifts in topic. Statements are unsupported, repetitive, or irrelevant. Sentence structure and word choice are inaccurate, confusing, or awkward. There are many grammar, punctuation, spelling, and usage errors that often prevent comprehension. Research is not evident, or sources are undocumented, i.e., plagiarized. The paper does not meet the requirements of the assignment.

Academic Honesty

Academic HonestyThe Academic Honor Code is published in its entirety in the Saint Leo University Catalog.  Offenses include cheating, plagiarism, complicity and misrepresentation. The first paragraph is quoted below:

Saint Leo University holds all students to the highest standards of honesty and personal integrity in every phase of their academic life.  All students have a responsibility to uphold the Academic Honor Code by refraining from any form of academic misconduct, presenting only work that is genuinely their own, and reporting any observed instance of academic dishonesty to a faculty member. Please see the full Academic Honor Code in the Academic Catalog for further information.

Curriculum Vitae

Core Values

 This course fosters

the SLU core values





In addition to these values, I stress the qualities of

discipline and honor

in all classes.

Short bio and Curriculum Vitae

   Gianna Russo is a poet, writer, editor and teacher.  She is the author of the full-length poetry collection, Moonflower (Kitsune Books, 2011), winner of a Florida Book Awards bronze medal, Florida Publishers Association Presidents’ Award silver medal, and an Eric Hofer First Horizons finalist award. She is also the author of two poetry chapbooks, Blue Slumber (YellowJacket Press, 2005) and The Companion of Joy (Green Rabbit Press, 2014).

A Pushcart Prize nominee, Ms. Russo has published poems in Tampa Review, Ekphrasis, Crab Orchard Review, Apalachee Review, Florida Review, Florida Humanities Council Forum, Karamu, The Bloomsbury Review, The Sun, Poet Lore, saw palm, The MacGuffin, and Calyx, among others.  Her creative nonfiction has appeared in the Tampa Bay Times (formerly St. Petersburg Times). In her first stab at fiction, she contributed a chapter to the collaborative novel 15 Views of Tampa Bay, published serially on the website of Barrow Street Press in 2013.  

Ms. Russo is founding editor of YellowJacket Press, currently Florida’s only publisher of poetry chapbook manuscripts, for which she won a 2011 Creative Loafing Best of the Bay Award. Along with teaching at St. Leo University, she serves as Editor-in Chief of Sandhill Review, the University’s literary magazine, and as founding director of the Sandhill Writers Retreat. She also serves on the board of the Florida Literary Arts Coalition.

            When not teaching, writing or supporting other writers, Ms. Russo enjoys gourmet cooking, organic gardening, travel, reading, dancing and enjoying life with family and friends.  She is the mother of two grown sons and lives in Tampa with her husband and their cat.