COM 101: Practical Grammar for Public Communication
A course about the language you already know and how to use it more effectively
• Meeting weekly for 80 -minute lectures
• Working online individually to develop your skills
• Testing in class to measure your progress
FALL 2012 ABOUT THIS COURSE
Room 141, Newhouse 3 first floor What do we mean by practical grammar
You have enrolled in one of three and why is it important? Let’s pretend that
sections of this class: brilliant computer programmers team up
• Tuesday, 5-6:20 p.m., starting Aug. 28 with equally gifted experts in linguistics and
• Wednesday, 3:45-5:05 p.m., starting create a system that allows you to spe ak and
Aug. 29 write about new ideas — not only for your
• Thursday, 11 a.m.-12:20 p.m., starting friends but also for the public. Here’s the
Aug. 30 really amazing thing: Strangers who know
Make-up session: Room 141, Newhouse 3 your language will be able to understand .
first floor Now that would be a “killer app”!
• Monday from 6-7:20 p.m., beginning Actually, that is the role that grammar
Sept. 12. See notes regarding attendance and plays in public communication. It’s a task
exams. that has defied attempts to reduce it to a
computer program, especially one that
PROFESSOR: allows you to communicate with creativity
Joan Deppa, Ph.D. and clarity to all sorts of publics. With
Departments of Communication and media spanning the globe, able to transmit
Newspaper and Online Journalism messages as fast as you can create them,
S.I. Newhouse School of Public grammar may make the difference between
Communications understanding and misunderstan ding,
Syracuse University between well-informed decisions and
E-MAIL: [email protected]
OFFICE: 3|442 Newhouse 3 The Web is definitely intensifying the
OFFICE PHONE challenge of mastering English grammar.
(315) 443-4006 The language is now viewed as the lingua
Please send e-mail if there is no answer. franca of the Internet, used by people with
diverse language backgrounds t o
SCHEDULED OFFICE HOURS: communicate with each other. But there’s a
Thursday 3-5 p.m. complication that you may have encountered
Friday 11 a.m.-1 p.m. while surfing the Web: English comes in
Other times by appointment flavors, which linguists call “standards,” as
Because of the large number of students well as emerging variations, such as
participating in this course, please e -mail Chinglish or Chinese English. That can be
for an appointment even if you want to visit confusing — even to people who began
during scheduled office hours . speaking and reading English as children.
This course focuses on Standard
INSTRUCTIONAL ASSISTANTS American English, a term describing forms
Tuesdays: Christina Riley of the language understood throughout the
E-MAIL: [email protected]
United States, even where regional dialects
Wednesdays: TBA or slang may confuse visitors. It shares
E-MAIL: TBA much with Standard British English and
Thursdays: Camila Espina well-established standards for Canada and
E-MAIL: [email protected]
India. But it also has important differences. 2
COM 101 is designed to familiarize you short-changed themselves. Although their
with the elements of Standard American homework grades were perfect or nearly so,
English and how they work toge ther to help their grades on the in-class test were
you communicate effectively. Take this mediocre at best. Many failed the test.
course seriously and you’ll become a more Because the investigation showed that
confident writer and speaker. You’ll be able the integrity of the online quizzes had been
to focus on the content of your work and its seriously compromised, those scores were
purpose, whether that is to inform, persuade dropped from the grade calculations. So
or entertain your audienc e. You should also those who had obtained high quiz scores
do better with practical chores — writing dishonestly did not benefit from their
letters to prospective employers or making actions, and those who had received lower
formal complaints about poor service or quiz scores by working hard and studying
shoddy merchandise, for example. carefully benefited in the long run.
Although this is a stand -alone course, it The investigation also gathered a
will help you prepare for courses in number of helpful suggestions for deterring
Newhouse and elsewhere on campus . Its such cheating and for improving the course
goal is to familiarize you with the way we generally. Many of them have been
acquire and use language by speaking, incorporated into this course syllabus. So
writing and even texting. For those who are study it carefully.
less confident in their writing and speaking,
the course provides basic training in Syracuse University’s Aca demic
Standard American English. For those with Integrity Policy states:
above-average knowledge of the language, “At Syracuse University, academic
the goal is greater mastery of the concepts. integrity is expected of every community
member in all endeavors. Academic
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN integrity includes a commitment to the
LEARNING AND GRADES values of honesty, trustworthiness, fairness,
This is the third year that COM101 has and respect. These values are essential to the
been offered as a stand-alone course, overall success of an academic society. In
although much of the material was provided addition, each member of the University
as part of COM 107 for two years. Students community has a right to expect adherence
who worked hard learned a lot, and to academic integrity from all other
professors in COM 107 and other Newhouse community members.
courses could see the difference. “An individual’s academic dishonesty
Unfortunately, in Spring 2010, many threatens and undermines the central
students cheated on online quizz es, a key mission of the University. It is unfair to
part of the homework provided via other community members who do not
Blackboard. A number of students were cheat, because it devalues efforts to learn, to
interviewed as part of an academic integrity teach, and to conduct research. Academic
investigation based on Blackboard analytics. dishonesty interferes with moral and
Although the reasons they gave for cheating intellectual development, and poisons the
varied, one theme was especially troubli ng. atmosphere of open and trusting intellectual
The students were concerned about their discourse.”
grades, not about learning the material. They For more information, see
reasoned that if they could obtain the http://provost.syr.edu/provost/Units/academi
answers and do the quizzes quickly, they cprograms/academicintegrity/index.aspx#po
could save time and get a high grade. But licies
most of those who cheated on the quizzes 3
GRAMMAR, ETHICS AND Brief Writing Sample See description
DIVERSITY below. Due Sunday, Sept. 16 at 11:59 p.m.
Grammar can be a controversial subject. Complete and submit via Turnitin.com after
For example, how far should writers or the first class meeting and before deadline.
speakers go to avoid terms that som e people
find offensive? Is the expression “man up” More about the Syllabus Quiz. This is
sexist? How do you decide which pronouns designed to make sure that you read and
to use when it is not possible to determine understand the syllabus. It is an “open book”
the gender of the nouns to which they refer? quiz, so you should be able to answer most
Which words should be avoided as hate of the questions correctly. The points you
speech? How should journalists deal with receive — 25 points are available — will
direct quotations that come from sources depend on the number of correct answers
who misspeak, for example, a former and whether you meet the deadline.
president who used “childrens” as the plural
of child? Similar issues arise in ad copy, More about Self-diagnostics Tests I and
photo captions and blogging. II on Blackboard. You receive 50 points if
In discussing such issues, we need to you complete each part by its deadline for
show respect for different viewpoints about a total of 100 points.
the language, even though our goal is to The questions are designed to help you
learn about Standard American English as identify what you know, but also what you
the preferred mode of public don’t know or are unsure about. You should
communications. pay special attention to those issues. Every
question has a “Not sure” option, so use this
BLACKBOARD AND ACADEMIC instead of guessing.
INTEGRITY The self-diagnostic tests will also help
Practical Grammar for Public your professor identify misunderstandings
Communications has its own Blackboard that students share and see unusual problems
site, and you will be using it frequently. that a few students may need to overcome.
Homework is to be done independently on Hence, the grade on this test will be based
Blackboard. That means you are to use on whether you complete this online test on
your own efforts in trying to figure out the Blackboard in a timely fashion, not on how
right answers. Remember that SU’s many items you answer correctly.
Academic Integrity policy also forbids It is presented in two parts for your
collusion, which involves assisting or convenience. You may do them one after
attempting to assist another in an act of another or on separate days. Be sure to
academic dishonesty. check MyGrades in Blackboard Tools after
submitting each part and take time to go
The first Blackboard assignments are over the results. (See p. 1 2 of this syllabus
classified as diagnostics. for help in doing this.) It will show you
Part I of the Self-diagnostic test: 50 grammar issues likely to cause you problems
questions due Sunday, Sept. 16 at 11:59 and will provide feedback about each
p.m. However, do not wait until that date. question. You may also find it useful to take
Syllabus quiz. An “open book” test to notes on questions that caused you
make sure you understand the requirements problems.
of the course. Also due Sunday, Sept. 16 at WARNING: So far we have detected
11:59 p.m. It contains 20 questions. Up to only one case of a student trying to
20 points depending on the accuracy of “game” a self-diagnostic test. That
answers. student received zero points instead of
Part II of the Self-diagnostic test: 50 50 because Blackboard data showed no
questions due Sunday, Sept. 16 at 11:59 real effort on the test.
p.m. Again, do not wait until that date. 4
More about the Brief Writing Sample those languages? How do you think
You should submit this assignment after the your knowledge of other languages
first lecture. Write an essay of 200-300 may be helpful or confusing when
words about your training and/or experience you are studying the grammar of
with grammar before this course. If the Standard American Englis h?
essay is submitted by its deadline, you will
receive 30 points after it is evaluated. If How does the role of grammar
not, your grade is zero. described on p. 1 of the syllabus
differ from your earlier
In writing this paper, think of your understanding of grammar?
audience as the general public. In fact,
grammar is becoming a public issue. A What concerns, if any, do you have
majority of states have adopted a Common about your ability to write and speak
Core of English Language Arts standards. It English grammatically? How do you
lists expectations about many of the issues see them affecting your work in the
we cover in this course. Newhouse School and in your
Your essay or commentary needs to career?
include a thesis statement and a conclusion.
It should be written with the same care you Do you have any other thoughts
would use if you were trying for a good about grammar? What specific
grade on the paper. Here are guidelines: topics concern you?
Stories that illustrate your Submit the essay as a Word or Rich
experiences are encouraged, as are Text Format (RTF) document via
lessons you remember from your Turnitin. See instructions in the
grammar training — or you wished Assignments folder on Blackboar d.
you had learned.
Write and submit your essay
Be sure to answer these questions, independently. This will help us to
not necessarily in this order: identify any grammar problems that may
When, if ever, did you first learn surface in your writing. It will also make
about English grammar and what do us aware of any difficulties you have in
you remember from those lessons? using turnitin. If you are unable to
What training have you had since submit your paper via turnitin, send it as
then? How would you evaluate any an e-mail attachment to
training you’ve had, and what [email protected]
reasons can you give for that
conclusion? Once the paper has been evaluated,
you will receive 30 points and will be
How do you think the way in which able to read the feedback. This may
you learned English grammar take several weeks. The class will be
affected you? For example, did your notified when the points are posted.
family move frequently or did a Feedback can be retrieved by following
relative help you? Did you have a the instructions on p. 12 of the syllabus.
teacher who explained grammar in a
way that helped you learn? ACADEMIC INTEGRITY ON
EXERCISES AND QUIZZES
Are you fluent in any languages in The exercises and quizzes are
addition to English? How did you considered “open book,” so you may go to
learn them, and did you receive Web sources or books about gramm ar. In
training in the grammar of any of fact, the exercises often contain links that 5
the instructor thinks may help you. But you calculation — unless you skip the chapter.
can use other Web resources if you do so In that case, you will receive a zero for that
carefully. Let’s say that you are asked a exercise — unless you then use the chapter,
question about the irregular verb “go,” and followed by a serious attempt of the
you have to figure out whether th e correct exercise.
form in the context is “go, went or gone.” You can anticipate at least one more
You could go to chapter during the semester , which will be
http://owl.english.purdue.edu/ and search for treated the same way with regard to your
“irregular verbs.” It might also help to go to grade.
search for “go.” You could Google the three Exercises:
words, which would present you with These are designed to supplement
several options, including “go went gone lectures and help prepare for quizzes that are
grammar.” That will bring up sites for offered each week. Up to 14 points can be
Germans who are learning English, as well earned per exercise, but each exercise must
as a variety of sites for people who have be completed before the related quiz is
been speaking English all their lives. One begun. Results will be available as soon as
blog the exercise is submitted and must be
http://grammarstars.blogspot.com/2008/01/b reviewed before attempting the
egone-went-for-gone.html turns out to be accompanying quiz. Exercises are
quite informative. If you shorten the Google repeatable, an option which may be useful in
search to “go went gone,” you’ll find the preparing for in-class tests.
same choices but they’ll be scattered among Total: Up to 100 points possible ,
song lyrics that may not conform to providing all exercises are completed
Standard American English. carefully. (In addition to receiving up to 98
However, you may not consult with points for the seven exercises, you receive 2
friends about the answers to specific points because they’re like treats. That’s my
questions. The online search process takes dog Lolly’s idea.) However, p oints will be
time, but it will help you to think about the lost if Blackboard data indicate:
problem that you’re trying to solve. Just An exercise was not done before the
asking your roommate or friend may seem quiz on the same topic.
natural, but you risk getting the wrong Work on an exercise was not done
answer and/or becoming dependent on him independently.
or her for grammar guidance. You need to You miss the deadline for your first
“walk the walk” so you can “talk the talk” of try of the exercise.
Standard American English. Blackboard will record the time that you
start and finish each exercise.
About the Online Grammar Book Your score on the exercise will be
After Labor Day, we expect to post a shown on Blackboard based on the number
chapter of The Whys of Grammar by your of questions you answer correctly. The
instructor. It resembles a podcast, but with percentage of correct answers will be used
animations and interactions. The current to calculate the points. For example, if an
plan is to post it in the Assignments folder exercise contains 20 questions and you
on Blackboard, along with a related answered 18 correctly, you would receive 90
Blackboard exercise. At the end of the percent of the 14 points. That would be 12.6.
chapter you will find a button that lets you
send email about your experience with the About Quizzes:
chapter. Blackboard will also record how These are designed to te st understanding
long you spend on the chapter and whether of issues covered in lectures and exercises.
you visit it more than once. The Blackboard Total: Up to 200 points possible .
exercise will be used as part of your grade Length of quizzes and points earned will 6
vary. The quiz questions are drawn quizzes. (Up to 140 points, 40 % of the 350
randomly from pools of questions. For many points)
questions, the order of the answers is a lso
random. Twelfth week. This test is cumulative. It
You may take a quiz on each topic will cover all eight lectures and
twice. Each quiz version on a topic will be accompanying exercises and quizzes. (Up to
generated randomly, so it is unlikely the 210 points, 60 % of the 350 points)
second will include identical questions.
Be sure to review results after you take a Are you satisfied with your grade after
quiz for the first time. Last semester students the second in-class test?
who did the quiz a second time without Great! You’ve completed the course.
reviewing tended to make mistakes very
similar to the ones they made the first time. Do you want more work to help you
Also review the relevant exercise, lecture improve your understanding of grammar?
and other material. Again, points will be lost You are invited to attend workshops at
if Blackboard data indicate: the same time and in the same classrooms as
A quiz is done before the exercise earlier lectures for the rest of the semester.
on the same topic. See the tentative schedule. Although
Work on a quiz was not done attendance is taken, no extra credit is given.
independently. This is to encourage you if you need more
You miss the deadline for your first work on grammar and to discourage those
try of the quiz. hoping for an easy way to increase their
As with the exercises, Blackboard will grade.
record the time that you start and finish each
quiz. “Final” final. This test is given during
Ignoring the rules about working finals week at three times. Take it if you
independently on exercises and quizzes may want to improve your grades on the in-class
also lead to an academic integrity process. tests. It will cover essentially the same
Let us know of any problems you material as the one given in Week 12. If the
encounter in accessing any of the content or