Soc 100W Syllabus

SOC  100W:
Writing Workshop

Written Communication II – Advanced General Education (GE) Course in Area Z
SJSU, Fall 2011

Soc 100W, Sec. 2 (44756): Tues/Thurs, 9 – 10:15 AM in DMH 226A
Soc 100W, Sec. 4 (45338): Tues/Thurs, 1:30 – 2:45 PM in DMH 226A
Soc 100W, Sec. 6 (47730): Tues, 6 – 8:45 PM in DMH 231

Instructor: Dan Brook, Ph.D.  (
My Office Hours: Tues/Thurs 10:30 AM – 12:30 PM  in DMH 237A (408-924-2914)
Sociology Dept Office: DMH 241 (tel: 408-924-5320 / fax: 408-924-5322),
(course assignments are no longer allowed to be turned in to the office)

Course Description and Objectives:
The goal of writing is clear communication and, almost always, the best writing is prewriting and rewriting. According to the SJSU Catalog, “In written communication II courses, students will develop advanced proficiency in college-level writing and appropriate contemporary research strategies and methodologies to communicate effectively to both specialized and general audiences.” In this course, we will do so within the context of sociology.

Required Readings:
1. Linda L. Yellin, A Sociology Writer’s Guide (Boston: Pearson, 2009)
2. other readings to be assigned

Recommended Relevant Readings:
William A. Johnson et al., The Sociology Student Writer’s Manual
Howard S. Becker, Writing for Social Scientists
The Sociology Writing Group, A Guide to Writing Sociology Papers
Harvard Writing Project <>
Dartmouth Writing Program <>
UW Madison, Writer’s Handbook <>
Strunk & White, The Elements of Style <>

George Orwell, “Politics and the English Language”
Anne Lamott, Bird By Bird
Lynne Truss, Eats, Shoots & Leaves

Prerequisites (all conditions must be met to take this course):
1. A passing grade on the Writing Skills Test (WST) (or waiver);
2. A grade of C or better in English 1B (or equivalent);
3. Upper Division standing (60 or more units);
4. Completion of Core GE (all);
5. Willingness to think critically and sociologically; and
6. Willingness to participate in class discussions.

Learning Objectives (LOs):
Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:
LO1 – have advanced proficiency in college-level writing;
LO2 – use appropriate contemporary research strategies and methodologies;
LO3 – communicate effectively with both specialized and general audiences;
LO4 – understand and use effective oral and written communication strategies; and
LO5 – effectively employ sociological analysis to better understand, evaluate, critique, and generate research, writing, and oral presentations.

You are responsible for understanding the policies and procedures about add/drops, academic renewal, withdrawal, etc. and for the information contained in this syllabus.

Written work for this course must total a minimum of 8000 words. All submitted written work (other than exams and in-class assignments) must be typed, preferably on both sides of the paper. Late assignments will be penalized unless prior approval is given. Satisfactory completion of each and every requirement, whether in or out of class, is required. Any assignment missed, for any reason, is the responsibility of the student and must be completed. All major assignments will receive comments and revisions in addition to grades. Minimum requirements and minimum page lengths for assignments are strictly enforced.

The assignments for this course, subject to change, will include: a plagiarism review (~350 words), a values socialization project (1200+ words), an interview assignment (~300 words), a research proposal (~100 words) and research paper (~2500-3000 words) with an outline (~200 words) and two drafts (~1250-~2000 words each) along with an oral presentation and oral presentation reviews (~500 words), as well as a final exam (~500-750 words). We will also conduct in-class and other writing assignments (~2000 words); oral and written class participation is required as is participation on the class listserv.

Each and all of these assignments will contribute to each and all of the learning objectives stated above. Final course grades of less than C receive no credit for this course.

On all assignments for this course that are required to be 1,000 words or longer, please prominently place and sign the following certification statement (with a word count):

“I certify that this paper complies with SJSU’s Academic Integrity Policy, does not contain plagiarized content, and exceeds the minimum length requirement.”

All written work for the course, as well as any other files that are important to you, should be saved and backed up (e.g., on a disk or CD, on a flash drive or other external hard drive, on a web-based e-mail account or otherwise online, with, and/or printed out as a hard copy). If you do this and something unexpected happens before an assignment is due, you will still have a copy of your work and whatever else is corrupted or lost.

Academic Integrity:
Academic honesty (i.e., doing your own work and presenting your own ideas while crediting others for theirs) is important and will be enforced; academic dishonesty (e.g., plagiarism, other forms of cheating, etc.) is unacceptable. Please read and review Earl Babbie’s “How to Avoid Plagiarism” at as well as SJSU’s Academic Integrity Policy (

According to SJSU’s Academic Integrity Policy, “cheating is the act of obtaining or attempting to obtain credit for academic work [or helping another to do so] through the use of any dishonest, deceptive, or fraudulent means”. Plagiarism is “the act of representing the work of another as one’s own without appropriate credit, regardless of how that work was obtained”.  “Your own commitment to learning, as evidenced by your enrollment at San José State University, and the University’s Academic Integrity Policy, requires you to be honest in all your academic course work.” I take this very seriously as should you.

Please visit these two web sites and write a review of plagiarism, consisting of at least 350 words, due the second week of the course.

Required E-Mail Subscription (Listserv):
Parallel to our actual class sessions, we will also have a “virtual classroom” consisting of online messages via our free course e-mail listserv. It is required that you subscribe to the listserv for our class by the third week of classes. You can do so by e-mailing and then replying to the confirmation message (if you haven’t already done so, you need to register for a free Yahoo account, though you do not need to have a Yahoo e-mail address) (if you do not see the confirmation message, be sure to check your spam/junk folder).

Messages sent to will be received in one’s e-mail inbox by everyone who subscribes and messages should also be archived on the web at You may be responsible for information posted on this required listserv. All students are required to post to it with a substantive message as a form of class participation. If you have any trouble subscribing or with the listserv otherwise, please contact someone at one of the computer centers.

Values Socialization Project:
We are not born with values, beliefs, and viewpoints. Socialization is the way culture is transmitted and the way we learn the expectations of our society. Politics, broadly conceived, is essentially about power and values: who gets what, when, where, how, and why. Values are our beliefs about what is proper and improper, right and wrong, fair and unfair. People acquire their political values and social sensibilities through socialization. This is the way we become aware of beliefs and values, developing a worldview, forming frames and opinions about social and political issues, our social and political system, and power relations, indeed about everyday issues of fairness and justice, what’s right and wrong, what is and should be.

Discuss and analyze your own personal process of values socialization, both as a child and also as an adult, from your earliest memories to the present. Don’t simply tell what you think or believe, but rather why you believe it and where those beliefs may have originated.

Consider each of the following agents of socialization (though you don’t necessarily need to cite each), and give specific examples from your own life regarding how your past experiences may have affected your current beliefs and values:
* family (parents, grandparents, siblings, children, relatives)
* peers (work, school, social, etc.)
* other significant people (teachers, neighbors, politicians, coaches, clergy, etc.)
* region (where you were born, grew up, visited, and/or live now)
* school / education / training
* job / work / career
* class, race, ethnicity, sex, gender, sexuality, ability, nationality, and other identities
* religion / spirituality / philosophy / ideology
* community (neighborhood, group memberships, etc.)
* media (TV, radio, music, internet, movies, books, magazines, etc.)
* significant events, processes, or experiences, either in your own life or in society.

You must discuss and analyze how some of these factors have influenced you (e.g., what is their impact on your social attitudes and political beliefs?). In terms of values, where do you come from? Leave abstractions aside, being concrete, specific, and explicit about how you’ve incorporated the beliefs and values you were taught into your life.

This paper should be no less than 1200 words; longer is OK. Please creatively title it and include a word count on your paper. We will also discuss the values socialization project in class.

Research Proposal:
If you do not choose a topic that really interests you, you have chosen the wrong topic. A research proposal should be a short explanation of what you plan to research, how it relates to sociology, and why you chose that topic. A couple of sentences to a paragraph is the expected minimum length for this proposal. It is better to err by being too specific and analytical with your topic than by being too broad and scattered; depth is more important than breadth for this assignment, so focus and dive in!

Research Project:
An original research paper on a sociological topic of your choosing (within certain constraints and after consultation with the instructor) will constitute the final project. This will give students the opportunity to explore in depth a facet of sociology that fits with their personal interests. Be sure to explain, not just assert, how the chosen topic illustrates something about “society”. You cannot use a paper you have written for another class.

The final paper should be 8 to 10 full pages of text (numbered, typed, double-spaced, 1-inch margins, regular 12-point Times New Roman font, without numbering the title page or leaving extra space between paragraphs and, preferably, double-sided pages), utilizing a minimum of nine sources (at least 4 books and at least 4 articles, in addition to at least 1 source from the Web).

Those are acceptable minimums, however more might be useful, while less will be penalized. Do not number any pages, such as a cover page, that precede the paper (the first page of your paper is page 1). If you have a cover page, you should not repeat any information on any other page (with the exception of optional headers).

All facts and ideas not your own (e.g. quotes, paraphrases, statistics, concepts) must be properly cited with any academically-recognized citation method.

In addition to at least 8 full pages of text, the paper should be titled and wrapped with a cover page and an annotated bibliography. Each annotation (for at least the minimum sources) should contain a very brief summary and a very brief evaluative comment, totaling, on average, a few sentences for each reference. Each paper should also contain a single-spaced abstract, or author’s summary, on a separate page between the cover and text of the paper. The final draft of the paper should be a portfolio, including all previous written work toward the paper (i.e., research proposal, outline with thesis statement, and two drafts), in addition to the final paper. Each draft will receive comments and revisions.

The paper can employ any social science methodology, any ideology, any perspective, be on any level of analysis, and cover any time period or location. These are research papers and should not simply be book reports, literature reviews, personal reflections, or the like. Feel free to take a strong position. What is important, however, is how clearly you present the information, how you support and defend your argument(s), and how you incorporate your research and your own sociological analysis.

It is highly recommended that you start the paper early: begin by thinking about and then choosing a topic, doing preliminary research, formulating some ideas, and making some notes. Remember, good writing (and a good grade!) usually requires cycles of thinking, researching, outlining, writing, editing, and proofreading.

Your paper should have a thesis statement (or main argument) on the first page; you should also state here what your paper will cover. Correspondingly, your paper should end with a conclusion, one that ties the paper together and wraps up your main idea(s), bringing closure. Between the introduction and conclusion should be the story, e.g. support and defense of your arguments, evidence, examples, anecdotes, history, comparisons and contrasts, etc. Personal commentary and autobiography are only appropriate when accompanied by critical analysis and/or thoughtful synthesis, which can include linking it to the literature on your topic and/or placing it in a comparative or historical context.

Each final paper portfolio should include: your approved research proposal, outline, and two drafts as well as your cover page, abstract, text of paper (at least 8 full pages), and an annotated bibliography. Be sure not to omit any parts or to submit less than the required minimum number of pages.

Classroom Protocol (Attendance/Class Participation/Classroom Behavior):
Sociology should be a “contact” activity, for participant-observers, not one simply for spectators or audience members. This is a seminar and, therefore, a discussion class in which the dialogs and exchanges between instructor and students, and among the students themselves, are essential for the full functioning of the “mini-society” of the classroom. Spirited, but friendly, debate, as well as active listening, is absolutely essential for critical analysis, intellectual development, mutual respect, human creativity, political pluralism, and civic participation in a democratic society. There will be an emphasis in this class on discussion and interactivity.

The purpose of discussion in our course is to provide a forum in which students can safely and supportively ask questions, present and debate their ideas, receive and interpret new information and perspectives, and develop and clarify their thinking and communication skills. Students are expected to prepare for, attend, and participate in discussions as actively as possible. Therefore, both attendance and participation are vitally important. Students are also strongly encouraged to share relevant items/stories/miscellanea as another form of class participation.

If you miss any classes, be sure to get notes and information about missed assignments, if any, from another student, as you are responsible for whatever happens in class, whether you are present or absent for any reason.

I expect students to be on time to class, to silence their electronics (e.g., computers, phones, iPods, etc.) while in the classroom, and to be otherwise respectful of the learning environment and fellow students. Coming to class late, leaving early, texting, checking one’s phone too often, using a computer for non-class activities, and other disruptive activities are negative forms of class participation.

If you use a computer during class, you must send me your notes as soon as possible after class; please put “class notes” or something similar in the subject line.

Grading Criteria:
“A” level work consists of cogent, well-articulated, and well-developed written and oral presentation, demonstrating insight, originality, and complexity in both form (e.g., language, expression, organization) and substance (e.g., logical argumentation, factual accuracy, and appropriate examples); critical thinking skills are amply demonstrated; sociological imagination is highly active; tasks are completed on time and according to the guidelines, often going “above and beyond”. “A” level work is considered excellent.
“B” level work may be thoughtful and developed, but may not be original, particularly insightful, or precise. While ideas might be clear, focused, and organized, they are less likely to be comprehensive or dialectical. Critical thinking skills are satisfactory; sociological imagination is active. “B” level work is considered good.
“C” level work is reasonably competent, yet may be unclear, inconsistent, and minimally inadequate in form and/or content. Critical thinking skills are minimal; sociological imagination is weak. “C” level work is considered mediocre and barely adequate.
“D” level work is not competent, appropriate, relevant, complete, and/or adequate in form and/or content, thereby not fully meeting the minimum requirements. Critical thinking skills are largely absent; likewise with sociological imagination. “D” level work is barely passing for some purposes and not passing for others.
“F” level work is generally not enough work, often missing assignments, doing work below the minimum requirements, not demonstrating any critical thinking skills or sociological imagination, engaging in academic dishonesty, or is otherwise unacceptable for credit. “F” level work is failing.

Web Sources:
Excellent web sites for independent news and views include the automated for mostly mainstream news links and non-profit and for mostly progressive ones; non-profit is also quite useful. Each of these are, essentially, news portals, having many links to many issues. I also recommend the New York Times at There are many other sources on (and off) the world wide web that would be interesting, useful, and relevant, as well.

Accommodation, Inclusion, Civil Rights, & Cooperation:
Respect for diversity, both of people and perspectives, is expected and encouraged in this class. All students are welcome, should feel safe, and should have equal access and opportunity for optimal learning in this course, department, university, and society, regardless of race, ethnicity, national origin, home language, sex, gender, sexuality, gender identity, religion, creed, ideology, ability or disability, appearance, socio-economic class, marital or parental status, housing status, veteran status, political or other affiliation, or any other similar or equivalent quality, identity, or status.

Any student who has any sort of disability, special need, condition, situation, or circumstance, whether permanent or temporary, which requires “reasonable accommodations” or assistance of any kind should contact the campus Disability Resource Center (DRC) (Admin Bldg 110, tel: 408-924-6000, TTY: 408-924-5990, fax: 408-924-5999,, and/or speak with me directly. Everyone deserves the resources they need to succeed.

Students are encouraged to use the methods of “legitimate cheating”, which include, but are not limited to: studying, working, playing, and plotting together; consulting with the writing center and reference librarians; getting a tutor; searching the web (especially the many social science, sociology, and writing sites); as well as brainstorming and discussing issues and ideas with students, friends, family, teachers, coaches, workers, managers, leaders, organizers, activists, and others, both on and off campus. And, of course, I’m available in my office and via e-mail, as well as before, during, and after class. When writing to me by e-mail, please put something identifying in the subject line.

Campus and Other Resources:
The Academic Success Center (Clark Hall First Floor, 408-924-3322, has all sorts of services, including peer mentoring, writing, tutoring, computers, and more.

The Learning Assistance and Resource Center (LARC) (SSC 600, 408-924-2587, offers academic support in the form of tutoring as well as reading, writing, study, and selected software skills to ensure academic success.

The Writing Center (Clark Hall 126, 408-924-2308, offers tutoring, workshops, and other services for all students, all disciplines, and all levels of writing.

Bernice Redfern is the Sociology Reference Librarian in King Library (408-808-2038, Library tutorials can be found at

The Student Computer Service (SCS) (King Library L67, 408-808-2470,, is available for computer help; there’s also the AS Computer Services Center (Student Union, 408-924-6976, Computer labs for student use are available in the Academic Success Center (1st floor of Clark Hall) and on the 2nd floor of the Student Union. Computers are also available in King Library. Additional computer labs are available in some departments.

Media Services (IRC 112) has a wide variety of audio-visual equipment available for student checkout.

Student Health Center (Health Bldg 106, 408-924-6122, offers medical care with a pharmacy, family planning, physical therapy, x-rays, and more. Peer Health Education runs a Condom Co-op (Health Bldg 209, 408-924-6203).

If you get the flu or any other illness that may be contagious, please do not attend class. For comprehensive info about the flu, check out (also available in Spanish) for “know[ing] what to do about the flu”: get vaccinated; cover coughs and sneezes; wash hands frequently; avoid people who are ill; and stay home if sick.

Counseling Services (Admin 201, 408-924-5910,, provides individual or group psychological support to help resolve difficult problems that may interfere with academic issues. The Peer Mentor Center (Clark Hall, ASC, 1st floor, 408-924-2198, is also useful and has services that are free and available on a drop-in basis with no appointment required.

The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is available anytime, 24/7/365, toll-free at 1-800-SUICIDE. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is available anytime, 24/7/365, toll-free at 1-800-799-7233. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) (1-800-662=HELP) offers referrals 24/7/365.

Women’s Resource Center (Mod. B, 408-924-6500, is “a multi-cultural group dedicated to the promotion of women’s issues and social change”.

MOSAIC Cross Cultural Center (408-924-6255, supports, advocates, and celebrates diversity, equity, and social justice.

Center for Community Service and Leadership (Clark Hall 203 & 126A, 408-924-3540), SJSU’s service learning center, can assist you with all your service learning needs. Also visit the related Cesar Chavez Community Action Center (AS House 105, 408-924-4144,, for service learning ideas and opportunities..

The Environmental Resource Center (WSQ 115, 408-924-5467,, is green central for SJSU.

The SJSU Career Center (Admin 154, 408-924-6031) helps students find internships and jobs. For practice in finding jobs, they move the Career Center periodically.

10 Things You Can Do to Improve Your Grades:

A listing of student resources is available at

*** If you have ANY concerns, questions, problems, or issues regarding ANY aspect of the course (or anything else) that isn’t addressed during class or isn’t clear enough to you, please make sure to speak to me either in or out of class. ***

Course Schedule & Class Assignments:

Wk1,     Thurs, 8/25/2011
Course Introduction & Syllabus

Wk2,     T/Th 30 Aug-1 Sept
Course Introduction & Syllabus (continued)
Class Interviews

Earl Babbie, “How to Avoid Plagiarism” at
and SJSU’s Academic Integrity Policy

Dan Brook, “Sociological Snippets”,

Wk3,   T/Th 6-8 Sept
Linda Yellin, A Sociology Writer’s Guide (2009), Preface

Plagiarism Review Assignment Due This Week
(submit a 1-2 page typed review of the plagiarism web sites above)

Wk4,   T/Th 13-15 Sept
Yellin, A Sociology Writer’s Guide, ch. 1

Wk5,    T/Th 20-22 Sept
Yellin, A Sociology Writer’s Guide, ch. 5
Research Proposal Due In (or Before) Class

Wk6,    T/Th 27-29* Sept
Yellin, A Sociology Writer’s Guide, ch. 3

Wk7,    T/Th 4-6 Oct
Yellin, A Sociology Writer’s Guide, chs. 6-7
Outline of Research Paper Due In (or Before) Class

Wk8,    T/Th 11-13 Oct
Yellin, A Sociology Writer’s Guide, ch. 9-11
Values Socialization Project Due In (or Before) Class

Wk9,     T/Th 18-20 Oct
Yellin, A Sociology Writer’s Guide, ch. 2
1st Draft of Research Paper Due In (or Before) Class (5-6 pages)

Wk10, T/Th 25-27 Oct
Yellin, A Sociology Writer’s Guide, ch. 4
Research Paper Conferences

Wk11, T/Th 1-3 Nov
Yellin, A Sociology Writer’s Guide, ch. 12
Research Paper Conferences

Wk12, T/Th 8-10 Nov
Yellin, A Sociology Writer’s Guide, ch. 13
Research Paper Conferences

Wk13, T/Th 15-17 Nov
Yellin, A Sociology Writer’s Guide, ch. 8
2nd Draft of Research Paper Due In (or Before) Class (6-8 pages)

Wk 14, Tues, 22 Nov
Oral Presentations & Presentation Reviews

Wk15, T/Th 29 Nov-1 Dec
Oral Presentations & Presentation Reviews

Wk 16, 6-8 Dec
Oral Presentations & Presentation Review
Final Research Paper Due in (or Before) the Last Class (8-10 pages)

Final Exams:
Sec. 2 (44756): Wednesday, December 14 at 9 AM in DMH 226A
Sec. 4 (45338): Wednesday, December 14 at 12:15 PM in DMH 226A
Sec 6 (47730): Tuesday, December 13 at 5:15 PM in DMH 231

Copyright © DB 2011. Although any commercial use of this syllabus and/or the course, including their contents, whether oral, written, graphic, mechanical, electronic, digital, or otherwise, is strictly prohibited, any non-profit research, educational, or activist “fair use” of the syllabus and/or the course material is strongly encouraged (17 USC §107). This syllabus is subject to change. All rights reserved.

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