Drafts. Students are welcome to bring any assignment at any stage of progress to the Instructor for review; there are no limitations on how many drafts the Instructor will read and advise with revision suggestions.  Taking advantage of this opportunity will assure the grade desired for this course. Note that no drafts will be accepted for discussion through email. The Instructor will only be able to help advise properly by meeting one-on-one, either during office hours or through requests for an appointment. 

Late Work. All assignments are due at the beginning of the class on the assigned due date.  If students are absent the day that an assignment is due, they are still required to submit all assignments by the beginning of class time.  Late assignments are NOT ACCEPTED except under extraordinary circumstances and only after prearranged negotiations with the Instructor. If assignments are not submitted by the due date indicated, a grade of F will be issued for that assignment.

Attendance. A community of scholars cannot be formed if the members of the community do not show up.  There is a strict attendance policy for this course. Attendance for this course is mandatory.  Students should come to class having printed out, read and annotated all required reading.  Students are considered absent if: they are more than five minutes late or leave before class is over; are unprepared for class having arrived without the required material as listed in this syllabus; use technology to virtually ‘leave’ class.  Any extenuating circumstances must have documentation; if students are absent due to any college-sponsored organization, proper documentation must be provided.

Students will be allowed three absences over the course of the semester.  Each subsequent absence will drop the final course grade by a full letter grade; with seven days, students will automatically fail the course. 

Students are responsible for attending every class scheduled for this course.  This includes through finals week. Arrangements to leave town before the semester ends should not be made unless students are prepared to accept the penalty concerning absences.

Personal Technology. If the student chooses to use a laptop, tablet, or any other device for taking notes or drafting in class, this is allowable.  However, they should not choose to use a personal device for any purpose unrelated to class.  All devices not used for learning purposes should be silenced.  Smartphones should be put away, except in the rare instance that the Instructor includes them in an activity.  A smartphone should not be used at any time during class. It is recommended that all smartphones be powered down.  If there is a serious need to leave a smartphone on, such as in a family emergency, please put it on vibrate and let the Instructor know; if a student needs to leave the classroom to take a call, it will be understood by the Instructor.  If a student leaves the classroom to take a call without notifying the Instructor, it will be considered an absence.  If a student has been asked more than once to put their smartphone away, it will be considered an absence. 

Notre Dame College of Ohio, a Catholic institution in the tradition of the Sisters of Notre Dame, educates a diverse population of in the liberal arts for personal, professional, and global responsibility.

From the course catalog: “Students will develop proficiency in expository, analytic and critical writing that strengthens the rhetorical skills necessary for those planning to enter fields involving substantial writing.”  The goals of EN215 are to explore the modes of composition, extending your range as a writer as you refine the skills learned in first-year composition.  You will work with advanced forms of argument in this course, both by analyzing various argumentative texts and writing your own well-researched arguments.

Course Description

In EN215, all students will work toward the goals as articulated in the Notre Dame College Core Curriculum (2017-18 Catalog, p. 30):

  1. Written Fluency. The strength of a liberal arts education depends on its ability to teach students how to translate critical and creative thinking into writing. Employers continue to stress clear communication skills, especially writing, as essential to a successful career.”

Therefore, students in EN215 will

  1. Construct sustained, coherent argument or presentation in more than one medium for general and specific audiences.

  2. Work in collaboration with others to address a social, personal, or ethical dilemmas.

  3. Demonstrate effective communication skills using conventions of Standard English for academic writing.

This is a discussion-heavy course!  You will be required to read for every class and you should be prepared to discuss the reading amongst your peers.  You will learn critical thinking skills in this course, along with various forms of analysis and argument.

As articulated in the Notre Dame College Core Curriculum (2017-18 Catalog, p. 30):

  1. Creative Inquiry. In a liberal arts college, students have the priceless opportunity to explore and hone their creative abilities. The study of music, art, theater, or creative writing stimulates the mind and fortifies the spirit. Students learn about the elements, forms, and styles of different media. By doing so, they understand themselves and their engagement with others critically, thoughtfully, and meaningfully.”

As a result, students in EN215 will

  1. Develop both creative and analytical thinking through the exploration of the creative process.

  2. Define and apply the vocabulary related to the elements, forms and styles of the respective media.

You will be offered the space to both agree and disagree with any of the topics we discuss this semester as you utilize the skills you are learning.  As part of a liberal arts education, EN215 will also encourage you to identify and express your personal and professional goals for life beyond the college environment.

Course Rationale

Academic Dishonesty. Generally the individual faculty member decides on sanctions for acts of academic dishonesty; such decisions do not preclude further disciplinary action under College judicial procedures. Those penalties include but are not limited to failure on the specific assignment, failure in the course, and the establishment in the Office of Academic Affairs of a plagiarism file for the offending student, which includes an Incident of Plagiarism document detailing the offense.

Academic Dishonesty includes but is not limited to the following:

  1. 1.the completion or attempted completion of any academic work by means other than those permitted

  2. 2.the alteration of a document relating to the grading process, including – changing an instructor’s grade book, or changing answers
    on a test after the time to complete the test is over.

  3. a.Examples of Academic Dishonesty include but are not limited to; unauthorized collaboration, copying another student’s answers, unauthorized aids on a test, using purchased or pre-made term papers, plagiarism, and destroying another student’s work.

  4. b.Plagiarism occurs when an individual presents the ideas, thoughts, or words of another as his or her own. Plagiarism includes, but is not limited to, using phrases, sentences, or ideas from a published source, including the internet, without citing that source, representing another’s unpublished work as your own, rewriting or paraphrasing the work of another without giving credit to that person by citation, submitting a paper as one’s own work that has been copied, in whole or in part, from another’s work.

  5. c.Generally, the faculty decides upon sanctions for acts of Academic Dishonesty. Thus, Academic Dishonesty may carry specific penalties carried out by the faculty outside of the Judicial Procedure. Those penalties include but are not limited to: failure on the specific assignment, failure of the course, the creation of a Plagiarism File in the Office of Academic Affairs, which includes filing an Incident of Plagiarism Form detailing the offense, filed with the Office of Academic Affairs. Note that while deference is given to the faculty to handle matters of Academic Dishonesty, such action does not preclude further disciplinary action under the College Judicial Procedure.

Disruptive Student Policy. The College seeks an environment that promotes academic achievement and integrity, that is protective of free inquiry, and that serves the educational mission of Notre Dame College. Similarly, the College seeks a community that is free from violence, threats, and intimidation; that is respectful of the rights, opportunities, and welfare of students, faculty, staff, and guests of Notre Dame College; and that does not threaten the physical or mental health or safety of members of the College community. As a student at Notre Dame College you are expected adhere to the Student Code of Conduct.

Students with Disabilities. Notre Dame College makes reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities. A qualified student with a disability may request support services from the Dwyer Learning Center on a yearly basis. In order to receive services at Notre Dame College, students with disabilities must provide documentation, which meets state and federal standards for indicating the presence of a disability.

The Writing Lab @ Notre Dame College. Students seeking help with writing assignments for any class or project, as well as those wishing to develop their writing skills in general are invited to visit The Writing Lab, located at 201 in the Clara Fritzsche Library.  Staffed by undergraduate students majoring in a variety of disciplines, tutors offer one-on-one writing assistance and are trained in proven writing center methods.  The Writing Lab is open for walk in hours 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Monday through Thursday and 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., Sunday.  Students may also set up an appointment by sending an email to The Writing Lab.

Academic Policies and Procedures. For the policies concerning Incompletes, Appealing a grade, and Course Withdrawal Policy see the Notre Dame College Catalog

College Policies
Course Policies
  1. ‘From Critical Thinking to Argument,’ Fifth Edition, by Barnet, Bedau and O’Hara

  2. ‘Contemporary & Classic Arguments: A Portable Anthology,’ Second Edition by Barnet and Bedau

  3. ‘Rhetorical Grammar: Grammatical Choices, Rhetorical Effects,’ Eight Edition by Kolln & Gray

  4. ‘A Pocket Style Manual,’ Seventh Edition with 2016 MLA update by Hacker and Sommers

Required Course Materials

Participation & Preparation. Not only is it important for students to be present in class, it is also crucial that they have a voice in discussions, group work, and in-class writing.  Active, engaged participation is therefore required.  Students should come to class prepared to participate every day. This means completing all reading and writing assignments, as well as being prepared to discuss what they’ve learned, observed, loved, and even hated.  Know that the Instructor may have a tendency to call on people at random to get a sense of what is on everyone’s mind.  This is not done to make anyone feel awkward or uncomfortable—they do it because some people tend to talk more in class, some less.  Being quiet in class does not necessarily mean students are unprepared.  By calling on people, a space is created in which all students can engage with one another equally and openly.  This classroom is a safe haven for all ideas.  This means that everyone, including the Instructor, will respect each other as equal participants in learning.

Course Requirements and Methods of Evaluation

Grading Policy.  All requirements will be assigned a letter grade based upon the following points.  You are eligible for 1000 points for this course:

Grading scale. Grades will be assigned according to the scale indicated in the College catalog.  A grade of “A” or “A-“ represents excellence, extraordinary achievement:

Grammar Worksheets

Grammar Mid-Term Exam

Grammatical Excursion

Analysis of Argument Paper

Analysis of a Political Cartoon Paper

Toulmin / Rogerian Paper

125 pts

250 pts

100 pts

150 pts

125 pts

250 pts





















  1. All assignments are due at the start of class unless otherwise indicated.

  2. All drafts are to be submitted through the dropbox posted for each assignment, which has been set up in the course Moodle page.

  3. All drafts are to be formatted in with 1” margins all around, double-spaced, and using an academic or professional font such as Times or Times New Roman, 12pt. unless otherwise specified.  (Students should make sure to check this information in whatever word processing program is used as Microsoft Word and Pages for Mac often defaults to 1.5” margins.) 

  4. A page of text must fill at least 3/4 of the page to be considered a full page.

  5. Students should not compose drafts or exercises on a smartphone. While cell phone technology has come a long way, smartphones are not reliable enough for drafting entire papers; software developed for the smartphone platform is not designed to work well with lengthy prose or file saving.  It is a guarantee that any assignment or exercise drafted on a smartphone will be lost at some point during the term.  While tablets are a bit better, the safest form of drafting is to compose all assignments and exercises on a computer or laptop.

Submitting Drafts

It is advisable that each student save all work and back up all files often on a digital back-up source.  As technology is not always 100% reliable, having a copy of a completed assignment will save the risk of receiving an F on an assignment that is not handed in on time due to technological errors.  The Late Policy will not be changed due to problems with lost digital files; get into the habit of backing up all digital files. For this class, each student should frequently check their NDC email account, as they will be notified of any important class changes through their NDC email address.

Course Moodle Site.  While this website will be where you will find all of the information for this course, I will activate our course Moodle site so that you may access the dropbox for submitting drafts.  You have been automatically added to Moodle.  I will be using Moodle to update the class on any assignment changes or late-breaking news; you should get into the habit of checking your NDC email account on a regular basis.

The Digital Classroom
hard copy .pdfSyllabus_files/EN215spr18syllabus.pdf

Spring 2018    Section A    Mon / Wed / Fri    9:30-10:20a    202 Library

Professor: Dr. Michele Polak        email:  mpolak@ndc.edu

Office: 200 Library    Office Hours: MWF: 10:30-11:30a; T: 10a-noon

EN215: Argument & Rhetoric


weekly scheduleWeekly_Schedule.html
media pageMedia_Page.html
student centerhttp://www.michelepolak.com/Michele_Polak/Student_Center.html