English 101 Expanded Description

English 101 introduces students to college-level writing through the exploration of various aspects of popular cultures. Its premise is that students are in university to understand the world around them and to become equipped to make positive change by studying and contributing to the cultures in which they are immersed. Therefore, through reading, writing, and research the course presents students with opportunities to examine the ways that cultures shape beliefs, values, and education. The course also requires that students practice sharing with others their ideas about the process of enculturation. English 101 encourages students to see themselves as participants in ongoing written "conversations." By the end of the semester, students should be able to compose essays that convey their own point of view, demonstrate thoughtful engagement with complex readings, and effectively support their claims using primary and secondary research.

The course presupposes that the context for writing is always prior conversation and reading. Therefore, each paper students write develops from what they discuss, read and react to for their 101 class, so that the content drives the type of paper they write rather than a type of paper driving the content.

Goals for ENG 101

Students should:

  • explore various aspects of our culture using observation, interviews, surveys, library sources, internet sources, and personal experience (among other possibilities)
  • write for a variety of audiences (academic and community)
  • provide various kinds of support for their claims
  • practice evaluating the validity of information used as support
  • use structure, language, documentation and format appropriate for audience and purpose
  • write and revise drafts and integrate feedback from peers, teachers, and other readers
  • use a variety of organizational strategies (such as, for example, organizing main ideas chronologically, sequentially, deductively, and inductively)

Since most students are familiar with and interested in popular culture, the recommended texts for ASU’s English 101 take popular culture as a theme. To create assignments for English 101, teachers should construct "sequences" of readings and assignments that lead to papers that analyze various aspects of popular culture. During the 16-week semester students will complete three formal written projects. Combined the final drafts of these three projects should result in approximately 5,000 words (this is equivalent to about 20 pages using standard academic format). Additionally, a final reflection is required. A few examples of general assignments that work with the ASU English 101 focus and goals include (but are by no means limited to):

Experienced-Based Critique

(The contributor uses this assignment as the first in the ENG 101 sequence.)

We read an article about contemporary culture. We discuss the article and I ask students to use their own experience and observations and that of their peers to see if what the writer asserts is true. Thus the students devise surveys to use both in class and out of class. They examine ASU’s WebPages, and they observe what happens in their classes and on campus. To write the essay, they must analyze the argument for key claims and test each claim against their knowledge. Furthermore, since they write for an audience unfamiliar with the essay, they must summarize it before they begin their analysis. So this assignment asks them to summarize, analyze, and evaluate by using their own experiences and that of their peers. I find it is a good way to introduce them to analysis of an article and an argument without going into the language and focus on argumentation which we do in 102. Moreover, the genre is one that they will often be asked to do in classes in the social sciences where they are asked to test a theory against their own experience.

Using Class Readings to Analyze a Pop Culture Text

(The contributor uses this assignment as the second paper project in English 101):

As a class, we read a variety of articles from the class text about television and movies. These articles might include critiques of TV/movie portrayals of gender, race, age, ethnicity, or class; arguments about the effects of the shows or messages or actions we watch on the screen; and/or examinations of a current trend or phenomenon in programming or the industry. We read, discuss the articles, consider current shows or programs in context of the reading, and write responses.

For the project assignment, students choose one (or more) of the articles we’ve read as a class and use the article(s) to do some analysis of a current television show or movie--or of a magazine, website, retail store or other contemporary pop culture “text,” if appropriate. Students may extend, refute, support, or test the points they find interesting in the article(s). The goal is to help students:

  • see writing as a turn in a conversation and articles as starting points for more research, study, and writing opportunities
  • use both secondary and primary research to construct knowledge
  • practice incorporating and documenting secondary sources into their writing

This assignment can be adapted to any of the readers on the ASU Textbook List, adjusting for themes other than TV/movies that the readers offer for the class.


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