Syllabus

Spring 2019

http://wow.richardcolby.net

Instructor:  Richard Colby

Email: richard.colby@du.edu

Office: Anderson Academic Commons 380X

Office Phone: 303-871-7702

Office Hours: Tuesdays 11:00am-3:00pm

 

Course Description

WRIT 1133 teaches rhetorical strategies needed for successful research-based writing in diverse academic and nonacademic situations. Students will apply the principles and practices introduced in WRIT 1122 to write in at least two broad academic research traditions, including interpretive (the analysis of texts or artifacts), qualitative (analyses based on observations or interviews), or quantitative (analyses based on numbers and measurement).

This section of WRIT 1133 is devoted to the MMORPG World of Warcraft. While immersing yourself in the game, you will conduct research on the World of Warcraft community in order to craft documents that will effectively meet the rhetorical needs for that community. This will be an academically rigorous writing course that will involve learning through play, analysis, and research of the game.

Course Goals

  • Demonstrate practical knowledge of academic research traditions (for example, text-based/interpretive; measurement-based/empirical; and observational/qualitative) through effectively writing in at least two of those traditions.
  • Demonstrate practical understanding of appropriate rhetorical choices in writing for specific academic audiences or disciplines and specific popular, civic, or professional audiences, through both analysis and performance.
  • Demonstrate proficiency in finding, evaluating, synthesizing, critiquing, and documenting published sources appropriate to given rhetorical situations.

Course Requirements

Required Course Text and Materials

  • Blizzard Entertainment World of Warcraft
    • You can download and then convert to the full version of the game from the free trial offer available at http://www.worldofwarcraft.com. You will have to purchase a subscription to post to the forums—you cannot complete the course using only the Starter/Free Edition, but for the first few weeks, the Starter Edition will be fine.
    • If you and friends are new to the game, consider using the Recruit-a-friend special offer on the World of Warcraftwebsite: http://us.battle.net/wow/en/services/recruit-a-friend/
    • It makes no difference whether you have the expansions or not. If you are returning to the game from a long hiatus, all the previous expansions, including Legion are included in the current version. If you are a new player to the game, I strongly suggest that you don’t purchase the newest expansion, Battle for Azeroth, unless the game appeals to you.
  • Laptop that you should bring to class every day. This laptop should be capable of running the game for the in-class activities that we have planned. Regardless, you will have to have access to a computer that can run the game.

 

Passing the course will require that you meet the following criteria by the end of the term:

  • Complete a Group Research Plan and Group Rhetorical Genre Analysis
  • Complete a Group Project that is between 10-13 pages.
  • Complete a Solo Research Plan and Group Rhetorical Genre Analysis
  • Complete a Solo Project that is between 10-13 pages.
  • Complete a Revision Publication and Reflection for either the Group or the Solo Project
  • You must predominately use at least two of the three research traditions.
  • You must complete 10 WRIT Quests
  • All revisions and final projects must be turned in on Monday, June 10.
  • Complete the Final Portfolio.

 

Projects

This course will be unlike other writing courses. The course will be run in a studio style where you will be responsible for developing your own Project assignments. In other words, for much of the class you will be expected to work on your own or with a partner (with guidance from me, of course). You will have some freedom to develop the parameters of your own research and writing projects. You will also have free time to play and explore the game world of Azeroth; however, you will also have to responsibly use and structure your own time. It will be easy to fall behind if you do not take the course seriously. Alternatively, you also might feel overwhelmed and your work might suffer if you try to cram it all in early or at the last minute. The idea is to pace what you will be able to get done based on suggestions from me and also what your peers are doing—above all, remember that your success in this course is entirely up to you.

Note that these are the criteria for passing the projects. Excelling in this course (earning a grade of A or B) will require that you do more than the minimum. Extra effort that will earn you high marks include the following: research projects using all three research traditions, writing longer more involved projects, or using extensive academic sources for literature reviews or analysis. These are just the most common examples, so don’t be limited by what you see here. The students who do the best tend to write longer works that use mixed methods, and hand in work for feedback and for their peers throughout the term and not just at the end.

There are various support documents due during the term:

  • Research plan—The first step of any project is to develop a plan for the question you want to answer and the method of going about answering that question. The research plan will help you figure out the best research method to use in developing your own WoW-inspired project. In the plan, you will describe a problem you want to investigate further in the game or an interesting phenomenon you want to explore, develop a research question, and then develop a research method or course of action to answer this question. You will need to write TWO research plans (one Group and one Solo)
  • Rhetorical Genre Analysis—When you have completed the research for your project, you will figure out what genre you will publish it in. You will find a sample of your chosen genre that you think is well written and write a Rhetorical Genre Analysis of it, specifically looking at why and how the genre’s writing conventions are rhetorically effective within the discipline. From this evaluation, you will then generate specific criteria for effectively writing and publishing your own project. While you will not usually be required to revise this paper, you will be asked to apply the revision suggestions you receive on this paper to your own projects you develop on your own. You will need to write TWO Rhetorical Genre Analyses (one Group and one Solo)
  • Revision Publication & Reflection—You will need to re-envision a Group or Solo project finding for a new audience. This most likely shorter piece will be for a different audience (turning academic research into something for students or players, turning a project into another media). You will write a SOLO reflection of this publication. You will write ONE Revision Publication & Reflection.

WRIT Quests

There are 20 WRIT Quests possible, but you are required to only do 10. The first 10 quests are worth 1 point apiece; after that, they award 0.5 points apiece, to a maximum of 5 bonus points. See WRIT Quests page for more information.

Two further assignments

  • Final Portfolio — During the last week of class, you will complete a final portfolio of your writings for the class. This is worth 5 points.
  • Faculty Conversation Series Reflection:On Monday, April 22nd, from 6-7:30 in AAC 290, DU professors from multiple disciplines will discuss how they use quantitative, qualitative, and interpretive methodologies in their own research. For extra credit, you may attend one of the discussions. To receive credit, you will write a 1 – 2 page reflection on the talk. You may receive up to 5 pts of extra credit. To receive the full 5 pts extra credit, your reflection of the talk must be thorough and insightfully draw parallels from the talk to research and writing issues discussed in this class.

Studio Days

Almost 75% of the classroom days are deemed studio days. Studio days are designed for you to work in class on writing and research projects. They are designed so that you can get feedback from peers and me. Every studio day you will be responsible for emailing me a brief (100 word) studio plan. This will count towards your participation grade.

In-class Writing

You will be writing class activities and blog posts during the first three weeks and writing studio plans for the remainder of the term. This work will usually be focused on the class readings and discussion. They are not graded on grammar or mechanics (although the blog posts are on a public blog, so at least proofread). I will use these writings partly as a measure of your class participation as well as your attendance.

Attendance and Participation

Daily attendance is required. I understand that life sometimes gets in the way of school obligations. My attendance policy is that you can miss two class sessions, no questions asked. Save those two sessions for when you need them. If you miss more than three sessions, you will get a warning, but it still won’t affect your grade. In the event of excessive absences (20% of class meetings or more), you will be encouraged to drop the course. It is your responsibility to communicate your situation to me as I cannot drop you from the course. If you just stop showing up, you will receive an F in the course.  Occasionally, true emergencies arise. Please discuss missed class sessions with me as soon as possible; we will work together to accommodate your situation. If you do miss class, it is your responsibility to find out what you missed.

Policies

The Course Website and Privacy

As a student enrolled in this class, you are protected by FERPA, and you have the right to not publicly disclose your name as a student registered for the class on the course website or any other public forum in which you are asked to write. If you would like to use an alias for your work in the class, you are free to do so as long as that alias is communicated to me. If you would like to use your actual name, but restrict some of your content to only members of the class, then you can use the “restrict to Contributor” option when you want to post. Also, note that your work will be kept on the website indefinitely unless you notify me that you would like it hidden or removed after the course is completed.

Grading

  %
Attendance and Participation (blog posts, reading assignments, quiz, in-class work, discussions, peer review) 15
Class Quests 10
Self-Directed Projects 40
Research Plans (Support documents) x2 (5 pts. apiece) 10
Rhetorical Genre Analyses (Support documents) x2 (5 pts. apiece) 10
Publication Reflection (Support documents) x2 (5 pts. apiece) 10
Final Portfolio 5

A note about paper grades:  I assign grades to final drafts of papers. These grades correspond to percentage points based on a standard grading scale, and these points are then applied to your final grade. If you receive a grade of “Must Revise” (R) on a project, you have to revise that paper by the deadline given, or you will receive an “F” on the project when it comes time to computing final grades.

 

Paper/Project/Assignment Grade scale

I give essays and projects a letter grade. The letter grade corresponds to a number when computing a final grade (see table 1). For example, if you received a B on a 10-point project, that earns you 8.4 points towards your final grade. I realize that there are potentially tenths of a point gained and lost here, but this is not a course where partial credit or tenths of a point matter. A written draft or project either does what it needs to do or doesn’t—there is little value in itemizing instances of ethos, counting comma errors, or otherwise quantifying the results. The support document assignment sheets clearly have questions that need to be answered. Answering the questions simply will earn you a C. Answering the questions above and beyond will earn you higher grades. The project grade criteria are determined by the Genre Rhetorical Analysis and Research Plan that you are writing (you are developing the criteria for your own projects).

Points
Description Grade 5 10 15 20 25 30
Superior work that exceeds all criteria A 100% 5.0 10.0 15.0 20.0 25.0 30.0
A- 90% 4.5 9.0 13.5 18.0 22.5 27.0
Excellent work that exceeds some or most criteria B+ 87% 4.4 8.7 13.1 17.4 21.8 26.1
B 84% 4.2 8.4 12.6 16.8 21.0 25.2
B- 80% 4.0 8.0 12.0 16.0 20.0 24.0
Acceptable work that meets all criteria C+ 77% 3.9 7.7 11.6 15.4 19.3 23.1
C 74% 3.7 7.4 11.1 14.8 18.5 22.2
C- 70% 3.5 7.0 10.5 14.0 17.5 21.0
Acceptable work that barely meets all of the criteria D+ 67% 3.2 6.4 9.6 12.8 16.8 19.2
D 60% 3.0 6.0 9.0 12.0 15.0 18.0
Work that does not meet one or more of the criteria NC or R 0% 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0

Table 1: WRIT Grading Scale

 

I do not give F’s on papers. During the regular course of the term, if you fail to meet the minimum requirements of a project, you will receive an R, which means “Must Revise.”  You do not have to see me to revise an R, but it will always be due one week after you received the grade from me unless other arrangements have been made. At the end of the course, any R’s are automatically computed as NC, which means you will receive No Credit and 0 points for that project.

Submitting papers

All papers should be submitted via email to richard.colby@du.edu. Please name the FILE your last name and the assignment number (e.g. jones2.doc). In the SUBJECT heading of your email, you should write “Assignment # RFC/FD/REV” where RFC = Request for Comments, FD = Final Draft, REV = Revision. For example, a final draft for your second assignment should have the subject “Assignment 2 FD.”

Late Work

All work—rough drafts and final copies—must be turned in on-time. I will not accept late work unless you have made a personal arrangement with me; essays turned into my mailbox or through email will not be accepted unless you and I have made arrangements. If you are unable to turn in an assignment for emergency reasons, inform me personally and as soon as possible. Please email me if you foresee a problem with getting your work in on time. The decision of whether or not I accept late work, regardless of excuse, is solely mine.

Lost Essays

You are responsible for maintaining a copy of each draft of your work. All of your work will be returned after it has been evaluated. It is your responsibility to keep a paper copy and/or an electronic copy for this class. Additionally, in future writing classes and majors, you may be expected to demonstrate a portfolio of your work, so keep the writing you do for this class organized. Occasionally, essays are stolen, lost, or destroyed, so you should keep an additional copy of each essay and a back-up disk in a safe place.

Revision Policy

I recommend that you put your efforts into working on your projects before turning in final versions. Take advantage of our class time to get the help and feedback you need. That said, I allow unlimited revisions on projects, including those that have a grade on them. If you get a grade that you do not like, you can revise the project again. For the support documents, you get ONE revision apiece. The support documents are designed to help you think through your research and writing, and they aren’t designed to be refined—save that for the projects themselves.

Institutional Review Board

You will be expected to do some field research in this class (surveys, interviews, and/or observations). This research and your safety is subject to DU’s Institutional Review Board (IRB). While doing this research, you will be expected to be ethical in your conduct of interviews/observations/surveys and abide by the IRB guidelines that we will go over in class before you conduct these projects.

Plagiarism

There are many types of plagiarism and each has negative consequences. We will discuss various forms of academic dishonesty, but it is my expectation from the beginning that you are responsible for your own work, that you collaborate fairly, and that you give credit where credit is due. The worst type of academic dishonesty is fraud, and I will report all such acts to CSS. More on the DU Student Honor Code can be found at http://www.du.edu/ccs/

RESOURCES

Office Hours – While I am in my office usually on Tuesdays, the best way to arrange an office hour visit is to email me and set up an appointment that works for your schedule.

DU’s Writing  Center – DU student may make an appointment for a 45-minute consultation with a writing specialist at the DU Writing Center in AAC. You can schedule an appointment by visiting https://du.mywconline.com.

University of Denver Libraries, Anderson Academic Commons – You will find that the library offers access to many online databases the provide access to thousands of articles for research and scholarship. The room marked Research on the second floor (the floor you are on when you walk in) offers individual consultations with a Reference Librarian who can help you narrow down a research topic and find the best sources for your writing. In addition, the library maintains a sizeable collection of both print and online books, journals, and government documents (3 million to be exact). Visit the library’s Services website at: http://library.du.edu for more information.

Website – During the term, we will use the course website available at http://wow.richardcolby.net. Materials in the form of handouts, PowerPoints, readings, and other course related resources will always be available on this website. You should sign up for an account, if you haven’t already, and familiarize yourself with the interface. You will be posting a number of activities to the blog, especially during the first three weeks of class. A sample of work from the previous courses is also featured here, so make sure to visit the Research section to see some examples of what students have been able to do.

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