E360K English Grammar: Spring 2001

Dr. Sara Kimball
Office Calhoun 15 (Phone: 471-8363)
Office Hours: M-W 10:30-12:00
Email skimball@uts.cc.utexas.edu
Course Web site:

This course is not intended to teach writing skills or rules of usage. Instead, we will look at the linguistic structure of English from two points of view: traditional grammar and transformational-generative grammar. Topics we will cover include traditional grammatical description and terms, linguistic evidence for the constituent structure of English sentences, arguments for transformations, some basics of modern work on syntax and questions of usage.

Texts

M. Kolln and R. Funk, Understanding English Grammar, Macmillan, 1998
Course packet: available at Jenn's.

Policies

Attendance: Class attendance is mandatory, both for whole-class discussion sessions and for group work. Attendance will be taken during each class. If you must miss class for a valid reason, get in touch with me as soon as possible. Students with more than four (4) unexcused absences will fail this class.

Homework: I will not accept late homework except by prior arrangement.

Structure and scheduling of the class: The class is divided into two types of meetings: whole-class and group meetings.

On Mondays and Fridays, we will engage in discussion as a whole class. Although I will present some of the materials under discussion, these meetings are an opportunity for you to ask questions, raise arguments, and consider evidence for competing grammatical explanations. As we shall see, grammatical analyses as presented in textbooks are based on systems of evidence and argumentation, and some material, even as presented in the most authoritative textbooks, may have alternative explanations. Usage rules, even within that part of English designated as Standard Edited (or Written) English, are the products of a complex history, and, although there is a common core that most educated English speakers would accept as standard, usage rules vary to some degree, depending on region, context, style, and the speaker or writer's rhetorical intentions.

On Wednesdays, you will meet in groups to discuss, coordinate, and write group assignments. I will go from group to group acting as facilitator, answering questions and making suggestions about work in progress. This is an opportunity for students to learn from each other and to combine resources.

Evaluation and grading

There are no midterm or final exams for this class. Instead, you will be evaluated on the basis of midterm and final portfolios of the work you have done inside and outside of class. The portfolios should contain all of the written work you have done for the class, including all homework assigned, plus a self-evaluation (see below).

Individual work 67%
writing assignments 55%
homework 12%

Group work 33%

I will collect individual midterm portfolios (units 1 & 2) on Wednesday February 28 and individual final portfolios (units 3-5) on the last class day, Friday May 4.

Midterm group portfolios are due on Friday March 2 and final group portfolios are due on Monday May 7 (by 5 PM in my office, Calhoun 15)

Evaluation in this class is based on a combination of your own self-assessment of your progress and performance as a learner and on my assessment of your midterm and final portfolios. In assigning grades, I will not be looking for perfection; instead, I will be assessing both accomplishments and progress in learning grammatical terminology and argumentation throughout the semester.

Self-evaluation: Your midterm and final portfolios should include a one to two page self-evaluation, including a proposed grade. Think of the self-evaluation as providing an argument for the grade you think is justified. By argument, I don't intend anything polemic. Instead, I mean an honest assessment of the work you have done as an individual and as a member of a group (both effort and results) and an explanation of where this work places you in the grading criteria for this class. I have provided a more detailed description of grading criteria in a separate section below.

My evaluation: I will review your midterm and final portfolios and provide you each with a written evaluation based on the criteria you have been asked to use in evaluating yourself. Then I will review your self-evaluation. I'm hoping the midterm portfolio will provide us with a check to see that we are communicating on the same wavelength. In most cases, I expect to be able to honor your reasonable claims for particular grades. In cases where our evaluations differ by a whole grade (plus or minus) we will reconcile the difference in a conference.

What do grades represent in this class?

A

Represents outstanding participation in all course activities; all assigned work is completed and of very high quality:
The student demonstrates understanding of major points and details, including appropriate and accurate use of technical terms and accuracy of diagrams and notation. Explanations are clear, coherent, sophisticated, and well-supported with appropriate evidence, tests, and arguments. Technical terms are used accurately and appropriately. Flaws in details of diagrams, explanations, and use of terminology are very minor. At least sometimes, explanations go beyond material offered in class. Written explanations and arguments not only conform to reasonable expectations for Standard Edited English, they are mature stylistically.

B

Represents good participation in all course activities; all assigned work is completed, and of consistently high quality:
The student demonstrates understanding of major points and most of the details, including mostly appropriate and accurate use of technical terms and accuracy of diagrams and notation. Explanations are generally clear, coherent, and supported with appropriate evidence, tests, and arguments, though they may be somewhat mechanical or lacking in detail. Although the student demonstrates a solid grasp of course materials, explanations and arguments normally do not go beyond material presented in class. Technical terms are usually used accurately and appropriately. Although there may be flaws in details of diagrams, explanations, and terminology, they are fairly minor. Written explanations and arguments conform to reasonable expectations for Standard Edited English, though they are generally not as mature stylistically as A work. Significant differences between A and B work include students' attention to detail, their willingness to go beyond explanations presented in class, and the stylistic maturity of students' written explanations and arguments.

C

Represents adequate participation in all course activities; most assigned work is completed and of generally good to fair quality:
The student demonstrates understanding of most major points, but there may be gaps or inaccuracies, especially in use of technical terms and accuracy of diagrams and notation. The explanations are reasonably clear, and they are supported much of the time with appropriate evidence, tests and arguments, but they lack detail and, in places, they lack coherence. Arguments may rely too heavily in places on meanings shared in common by all native speakers and not on linguistic evidence. Technical terms are sometimes not used accurately. Written explanations may not always conform to reasonable expectations for Standard Edited English.

D

Represents uneven participation in course activities; there are marked gaps in assigned work completed, and assignments turned in are of with inconsistent or poor quality:
There are flaws in the student's understanding of major points, and the student's grasp of details, including use of technical terms, and accuracy of notation and diagrams is limited. Often, explanations are made solely in terms of meanings shared by native speakers. Explanations lack clarity and/or coherence, and support for explanations is spotty and ill-informed. Technical terms are often not used accurately. Often, explanations do not conform to reasonable expectations for Standard Edited English.

F

Represents minimal participation in course activities; serious gaps in assigned work completed, or very low quality in course work:
The student demonstrates little or no understanding of major points or details. Explanations are seriously deficient in structure, coherence, and support, and they are often made solely in terms of meanings shared by native speakers. Technical terms are often not used accurately, and they may be rarely used at all. Often, explanations do not conform to reasonable expectations for Standard Edited English.

Note : Although final grades for the university do not show pluses or minuses, you may indicate a plus or minus in your midterm or final evaluation if you wish.

To earn either an A or a B, you must hand in a complete portfolio that includes all written assignments, including assignments from Kolln that you did not turn in on time and that I may not have reviewed previously. You DO NOT have to revise homework assignments before handing in your portfolios.

I will honor all reasonable grade claims supported by observations and evidence.


Syllabus Class schedule
Assignments Handouts
WWW Resources

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Comments to: Sara Kimball
Last updated January, 2001