FYC Syllabus

Syllabus, Rhetoric 105: Writing and Research

Instructor: Nicole Turnipseed

E-mail: turnips2@illinois.edu

Meet: Mondays and Wednesdays 2pm – 3:15pm

Class Location: English Building 9

Please Call Me: Niki (She/Her, or they/them)

Office: English Building, room 302

Office Hours: TBD based on responses to the availability survey included in this syllabus, and by appointment


This syllabus is interactive! Please read and respond to it before our first class meeting so we can begin building this class together. Your responses here go straight to me, and inform how I support you. As a more general introduction to one another, please respond to the welcome post on our “activities” page.


How is your name listed on my roster and what do you like to be called? Feel free to add your personal pronouns.

Course Description

Rhetoric 105: Writing and Research is instruction in research-based writing and the construction of academic, argumentative essays that use primary and secondary sources as evidence. This course fulfills the Campus Composition I general education requirement. Credit is not given for both RHET 105 and these other Comp I courses: RHET 101, RHET 102, CMN 111 or CMN 112. Prerequisite: an ACT English score between 20–31.

In our section of Rhet 105, we will focus our research, writing, and discussion on writing itself. We will engage with a range of research from the field of writing studies through common course readings and your own individual projects – which will inquire into a current pressing issue related to writing. Scholars in the field of writing studies consider writing to consist of much more than the act of transcribing thought into text. With the guiding concept of writing as a social act, this class will be a place for you to explore and practice using writing as a tool for engaging meaningfully with your own thoughts, other people, and your world. Throughout this course we will be thinking critically about the writing we encounter and produce in our social world as rhetorical acts, working collaboratively with our peers in our own classroom community, and consistently reflecting on – and therefore being active agents in – our own growth as readers, writers, and peers understanding and enacting our own personal writing processes.


Student Learning Outcomes for Rhetoric 105

The following are the learning outcomes set forth by teachers and administrators in the Rhetoric Department. Students who successfully pass any section of Rhet 105 should be able to:

  1. Identify and explain the role rhetorical choices can play in non-fiction print and/or multimodal texts.
  2. Create and sustain across one or more pieces of writing a focused research question that responds to an exigent issue, problem, or debate.
  3. Compose cogent, research-based arguments, in print-based and/or multimodal texts, for specialist and/or non-specialist audiences.
  4. Locate, accurately cite (through summary, paraphrasing, and quoting) and critically evaluate primary and secondary sources.
  5. Demonstrate knowledge of writing as a process, including consideration of peer and/or instructor feedback, in one or more pieces of writing from initial draft to final revision.

As we progress through the semester we will continue to revisit and revise our own situated learning goals. As you’re beginning to get a feel for this class now, what, at this point, do you think you’d like to cultivate in this class?

Which of these options for office hours would work with your schedule?

 [choose as many options from the dropdown menu as apply]


Course Texts

All course readings and materials, aside from those you locate on your own to explore your chosen issue, will be available online through our course website; no need to purchase any textbooks. Course texts are available in the “required reading” tab atop our course page and linked directly on our course calendar.  It is imperative that you have access to course texts and your notes on those texts during our class meetings and that you keep them organized enough to refer back to throughout the semester. Whether you print these materials out or access them via a laptop, tablet, or other electronic device is up to you, so find your preferred way to access them for reference during discussion. I suggest saving all of your work and materials to the cloud for easy access in case of tech blips. We will discuss digital and analogue approaches to annotating texts early in the semester.


The Work of the Course​

This course will be both a personal and collective learning journey. We will be composing and responding to one another’s compositions consistently, both in writing and virtually.

Participation: In order for us to work together as a community, we’ll all have to find ways to be “present” in the various places our course lives (our course site, Zoom, Google Docs…). Participation means showing up prepared to talk about the assigned materials, thoughtfully discussing your own and your peers’ works-in-progress, and actively engaging with class activities. The course offers multiple low stakes ways to participate outside of whole-class discussions, which I recognize can be overwhelming; know that I don’t expect you-all to communicate the same ways, I’m listening for your contributions, and I want to support your getting to know each other, and so am open to suggestions if you think of anything else I can do to support roads to participation that feel accessible for you. I expect you to listen attentively to your peers and to challenge, respectfully, the source material as well as the assertions of your peers.

Workload: We have a lot to do in this class, so I’m very conscientious about not assigning busywork. Our work is highly scaffolded – so each task is designed to support your upcoming work. Further, our deadlines enable us to approach course materials as a community in real time. If you can’t finish work for any reason, chat with me in advance and we will figure out together how best to keep you on track with your own learning and how you can still support your peers.

Calendar: Each week, the course calendar will walk you through the various activities of the week and link you directly to required readings, activity/assignment prompts, submission spaces, virtual meetings etc.

Assignment submission: All drafts will be shared as a Google Doc with your instructor and peers using the “anyone with link can comment” setting. You will submit a link to your document in the designated submission spot on our course Moodle. For each portfolio, your revised blog posts will be published to your own personal site. You will submit a link to your site along with your reflective essay via the designated submission spot on Moodle. You will need to have your GDoc working draft with comments in class on Mondays.


A typical work week looks like this:

Monday: Complete forum, download and scan through readings for Wednesday’s discussion. (This is also a good time to begin on blog revisions. Don’t leave it all for the week portfolios are due.)

Tuesday: read and annotate in preparation for Wednesday’s discussion.

Wednesday – Friday: Begin/continue your research for your upcoming blog while this week’s topics are still fresh on your mind. Research, plan and draft your blog post. Submit your draft by 2pm Friday.

Friday pm – Monday am: Review your peers’ drafts by 2pm Sunday. Read through the feedback you’ve received before class Monday.


How do you feel about class participation? What helps and encourages you to participate? What prevents you from participating?

Course Arc and Portfolio Grading

Students in all Rhetoric 105 section complete at least 25 pages (about 7,500 words) of writing that undergoes the drafting and revision process. In our class, you’ll do that by completing the following assignments: 8 of the10 possible 600-word blog posts, a 2,500-word researched position paper, and a multimodal project with written rationale.

Over the semester, each of you will explore a topic of personal interest related to literacy, writing and/or education. Your exploratory blog posts will focus on your chosen topic – and narrow down to an issue you find interesting and important – while grappling with pertinent topics explored in common course readings. The research and thinking you do on your chosen topic through the first two portfolios will prepare you to argue a well-informed position on your issue in your final projects.

This class will use a portfolio system to review and holistically assess your work. Three times throughout the semester, I’ll ask you to select, curate, and revise the work you’ve done thus far and submit it in the form of a portfolio. After submitting your portfolio, you’ll conference one-on-one with me to discuss your work to that point and trajectory toward upcoming projects.

On the whole, portfolio assessment allows you to take more substantial risks in your work. It affords you the opportunity to experiment with new ideas and enables you to demonstrate your growth as a multimodal composer over time. As you can see below, more weight is given to your later writing, in the form of your final portfolio, in order to grant you some freedom to play and practice before you’re expected to perform.

Though you’ll only receive grades at the three points of portfolio submission, don’t hesitate to ask questions in class or come see me during office hours if you are ever unclear about my expectations or unsure about how your work is reaching toward the learning goals outlined above.  If I’m concerned about the quality of your work or engagement, I will let you know.

Prompts for all assignments in each portfolio and the Media Literacy Project are available in the tabs of the course website. Drafts and final products will be submitted through our course CMS at learn.illinois.edu, where you can also track your grades.

I will speak pretty consistently in class and on your assignment prompts about how and why I assess your work the ways I do. If you’re curious, these short articles might also give you some insight into how those practices are supported by research in my field.

In addition to your written assignments, 25% of your overall course grade will be based on your contribution to our learning community. Twice this semester, working with a small team, each of you will be responsible for facilitating class discussion of the day’s assigned reading and an article of your choosing from your individual research. This will require multiple close readings of your text far in advance of your discussion day as well as early communication and coordination with your group mates and instructor; each group will check in with me about your plans for discussion and provide your coordinating article no later than the class period preceding discussion. You will choose which days you lead discussion in the first week of class, so I highly recommend looking through the course readings posted on our Moodle site to see which interests you most.

The breakdown of the grading for this class is as follows:

Major assignment/grade component Due dates % of final grade SLOs practiced

Choose 3 of your 4 blog posts to substantially revise based on peer and instructor feedback and what you’ve learned so far. Tie your selections together with a short reflective essay.

Final: 2pm Thursday 10/6

Intermediate: Each of your 4 blog posts must be submitted by 2pm Fridays and each week you will review your peers’ drafts by 2pm Sundays.

15 2, 4, 5

Choose 3 of your 4 blog posts to substantially revise based on peer and instructor feedback and what you’ve learned so far. Tie your selections together with a short reflective essay.

Final: 2pm Thursday 10/6

Intermediate: Each of your 4 blog posts must be submitted by 2pm Fridays and each week you will review your peers’ drafts by 2pm Sundays.

25 1, 2, 4, 5

Researched position paper

Multimodal project

Comparative reflection

Final: 2pm Wednesday 12/14


-RPP draft 1: 2pm Monday 11/28

-MMP draft 1: 2pm Monday 12/5

35 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

1.       Leading 2 class discussions (in groups)

2.       Meaningful participation and support of peers in discussion, workshopping, and activities

3.       Online forum participation and weekly asynchronous peer response


You will choose your topics and dates in the first weeks of class.

25 1, 2, 3, 4, 5


Classroom and Course Etiquette

Respect for diversity

In this course, as elsewhere in life, you will undoubtedly work with people who differ from you, whether in terms of gender, sexuality, race, nationality, language background, age, mobility, neurodiversity, modes of communication, what-have-you. Regardless of these differences, you must absolutely respect (ideally, value) the attitudes and contributions of your classmates, even if their perspectives differ from your own. (As they should; we’ve all had different life experiences!) As such, (cis)sexist, racist, ableist, homophobic, transphobic, xenophobic or otherwise demeaning/disrespectful remarks or behavior will not be tolerated, nor will any additional form of harassment. These attitudes are not only counterproductive to a safe and inclusive learning environment, but they’re simply unacceptable and have no place in this classroom, much less anywhere else. So please be respectful of your peers’ verbal contributions to class and their work, as we will all be working together to promote a rich, comfortable learning environment.

Content warnings

It follows that I envision our class environment—both in its physical and digital iterations—as a brave space in which everyone feels welcome to participate. Should we encounter material that might be emotionally challenging or potentially traumatic, I will provide a trigger or content warning in advance. If you find yourself having difficulty dealing with a particular class discussion or reading, feel free to step out of the classroom and/or speak to me about it in person.

Networked spaces

As noted above, classroom etiquette also extends into networked spaces, specifically with regard to e-mail communication and blog activity. In your e-mails to me and to your peers, please be sure to include a title explaining the subject of the message, a greeting (“Hi Niki”), a clear explanation of your question/concern, and a signature.

Please allow at least 24 hours for an e-mail response from me. In-depth discussions are sometimes better served by verbal conversation, and I’m always happy to set up a time to chat.

Learning and comportment

Our different brain-bodies engage and learn quite differently, and video conferencing presents different challenges than in-person work.  Please do your best to honor your own learning needs while minimally interfering with your peers’ ability to focus and engage. We can talk more about this as we get comfortable online, but I have faith we can create a learning environment that works for everyone.


How can you personally help make our classroom environment a productive, brave space for yourself and your peers?

Students Requesting Accommodation

Everyone learns differently and benefits from different kinds of support. Please get in touch with me if you would like to discuss your individual learning style and/or needs and how this course can best accommodate them, whether you have a documented disability or not. If you have a disability that requires accommodation for you to succeed in this class or others, you may want to contact the Division of Disability Resources and Educational Services (DRES) for additional support.


How can I best accommodate your personal learning style and how will you attend to your known needs?

Academic Integrity and Plagiarism (Don’t skip please!)

The University of Illinois has high standards of academic integrity set out in Article 1, Part 4 of the University Student Code. Unfortunately, some of that code itself is plagiarized…

Fun fact: if you do a phrasal Google search on the first sentence (“Every direct quotation….”), you will find this sentence appearing in a number of institution’s policies. In fact, it is a direct quote from a legal journal article’s model policy (Pavela, 1978). However, that fact is not indicated in the university policy by either quotation marks or citation. (Actually, a general acknowledgement of the article that appeared in earlier versions of the code was removed at some point, and the sentence was left unchanged although the committee knew it was copied word for word from the article.) Based on the policy’s own definitions, the policy is intentionally engaging in plagiarism.

To complicate things further, the above section of text was cribbed from a white paper I co-authored with the Center for Writing Studies staff. Where a use like this may be punishable under the university policy, it is common practice in many workplace settings to reuse boilerplate language without attribution. So, does that mean you’re excused from any effort toward academic integrity or source citation? Absolutely not. It DOES mean that the reality of authorship is more complicated than it tends to be represented in policy or understood in punishment.

There are, in fact, multiple norms for source use, citation, and authorship. It is my responsibility as a teacher to help you develop sophisticated and flexible understanding and practices for source use, citation, and authorship, just as it is your own central responsibility to learn how to understand and employ norms, to determine what norms are in force in a setting, and to respect (or respectfully challenge) those norms in your work. Cultivating this understanding is crucial to our shared goals of making knowledge and organizing learning, and we will work on understanding and enacting sound practices together. I do not expect you to know and apply all norms perfectly the first time, but I do expect you to take responsibility for learning them, and I will not take lightly academic integrity violations with evidence of deception.

We will read and speak early in the semester about academic and course-specific norms. Because it is so important, and since citation is particularly tricky in continually changing new media and multimodal contexts, we will carry this conversation through to the end of the semester. Please raise questions about citation in your particular projects throughout the semester – we’ll all learn from figuring it out together.

Pavela, G. (1978). Judicial review of academic decision making after Horowitz. NOLPE School Law Journal, 8(1), 55-75.


Digital Course Components and Resources

*Our Course Site: Our course site is as follows: I will use this website to post announcements, assignments, resources, and other related content. The course syllabus and schedule are also available on this site, which you are responsible for keeping up to date with. Feel free to follow the blog if you prefer to receive e-mail updates when I post new entries (in-class activities, announcements, clarifications and the like).

*Portfolio platform: Typically, students in this course create an individual site (whether through WordPress, Wix or another blogging site) to house their three portfolios. This can be both time consuming and rewarding, so for our summer course, I offer this as an option but am also open to less labor intensive portfolio formats. We’ll discuss options in class.

*E-mail: On occasion, I will send brief e-mails to your university e-mail addresses with reminders, resources, and/or clarifications on assignments. I check my e-mail daily and usually respond within one business day; I expect you to do the same. Legally, I’m not permitted to give out or discuss grades via e-mail, so if you’d like to discuss these matters, please set up a time to meet with me virtually instead.

*Media Commons: UIUC’s Media Commons, located in the Undergraduate Library, can assist you with your media projects. It’s a great space for learning more about media technology, and it additionally houses top-notch video and audio recording studios. Feel free to check it out or make a media consultation appointment to take advantage of this resource.

*Loanable Technology: If you don’t have the requisite software or hardware you feel like you need to succeed in this class, you can check out select technologies from the Media Commons at UGL. If you’re struggling to come up with the necessary technological resources to complete a project, please let me know ahead of time.


Writers Workshop

The Writers Workshop provides free, one-to-one help to all UIUC writers. The Workshop’s consultants can help with any kind of assignment, in any class, and at any stage of the writing process. While the Writers Workshop is not an editing service, tutors will help students with anything related to their writing, including grammar, brainstorming, organizing, polishing final drafts, citing sources, and more. Bring a draft to revise or just stop by for help with getting your ideas together.

The Writers Workshop offers online sessions, so feel free to make an appointment if you’d like to talk through your work with someone.

Main Location: 251 Undergraduate Library                                            E-mail: wow@illinois.edu

Website: https://writersworkshop.illinois.edu                                        Phone: 217.333.8796


Mandated Reporter Status and Sexual Assault Resources

Please know that, while I care greatly for my students and am happy to lend an ear in support when asked, under Title IX, I (along with your other teachers) am designated as a mandated reporter. This means I am required to disclose reports of sexual misconduct to the University or law enforcement. If you are a victim of sexual violence and are ready to speak to an advisor but unsure of whether you want to file a report, you do have access to confidential advisors and other confidential resources through the university and community. You can find information about those and other related resources here: http://www.wecare.illinois.edu/resources/students/.


Changes to Syllabus / Course Schedule

Our course syllabus and schedule are subject to change based on our needs. You will be notified of any such changes in class and in writing (most likely through e-mail or the course website).

Whew! You made it through the syllabus! Any questions / concerns / excitement you’d like to share with me?