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University of St. Francis logo · College of Education · Regional Educational Academy for Leadership

Composition Studies I: Theory

  • Template 2020
  • Section SAMPLE
  • 3 Credits
  • 12/01/2020 to 07/29/2100
  • Modified 08/15/2023

Mission Statement

As a Catholic university rooted in the liberal arts, we are a welcoming community of learners challenged by Franciscan values and charism, engaged in a continuous pursuit of knowledge, faith, wisdom, and justice, and ever mindful of a tradition that emphasizes reverence for creation, compassion and peacemaking. We strive for academic excellence in all programs, preparing women and men to contribute to the world through service and leadership. 


This course, which is intended primarily for prospective teachers, will help you develop personally meaningful and useful ways of thinking about teaching writing. The class is rooted in the field of Composition Studies, which explores questions including: how do writers write? In what ways is writing teachable? In what ways is writing learnable? How should writing instructors approach errors in grammar or mechanics? Why should students write well? Who decides what it means to write well? How does writing respond to different social contexts? How does writing interact with other modes of communication, especially now that we communicate through digital platforms? Our class will explore these questions for theoretical and practical purposes. By the end of the course, you will have a better understanding of yourself as a writer and a teacher, and you will be equipped with practical tools for teaching writing.

This sample syllabus provides a basic overview of the course. The official course syllabus will be provided within the online course environment, accessible on the first scheduled day of class.


Develop a working theory of writing: how to read it, how to do it, and how to teach it. This working theory will emerge from a familiarity with Composition Theory as an academic field and will be informed by the social contexts in which writing occurs, including the changing role of digital tools.

  • PRACTICE: Reading Reflections, Class Participation, Research Proposal
  • EVALUATION: Research Essay, Midterm Exam, Final Exam

Understand writing as a psychological, developmental, social, and embodied process. The writing process takes place across multiple iterations that encourage metacognition, or awareness of one’s own learning process. It also takes place in specific rhetorical situations.

  • PRACTICE: Reading Reflections, Class Participation, Research Proposal
  • EVALUATION: Research Essay, Midterm Exam, Final Exam


See the Objectives section above for assignments and their alignment with course outcomes.

Reading Reflections (20%): Informal reflections on each assigned reading will help you prepare for class participation and formal assignments.

Participation (10%): I will provide thorough guidelines for active participation in this class. As a working group of teacher-learners, you will need to collaborate, offer feedback, and bring your own ideas to each class meeting. Participation will involve discussion threads on Canvas.

Midterm (20%): A midterm exam will test your ability to recall and synthesize major theories of Composition Studies.

Research Essay (25%): This assignment asks you to design a research question and answer it with a scholarly argument, drawing on independent research in composition theory. Your finished essay will be roughly 20 pages and will be preceded by a research proposal and annotated bibliography.

Final Exam (25%): A final exam will ask you to identify, analyze, and synthesize theories of composition we have studied throughout the semester.

Institutional Policies

Students should use the MyUSF portal as the first resource for guidance and support on items such as student complaints, safety, security and transportation questions, contact information for various USF departments, student support services such as counseling and academic resources. Information on these resources can be found in the For Students section of the MyUSF portal.

  • A complete listing of university policies and procedures can be found in the University of St. Francis Catalog and Student Handbooks. Students are expected to follow all policies in the USF Catalog and Student Handbook, both of which can be found in the student portal.
  • Students are expected to be familiar with and follow the various procedures and guidelines regarding USF’s COVID-19 Response, including the USF Preparedness Plan and other materials incorporated in the Saints United resource hub (
  • Policies not covered in this document will be handled in accordance with the USF Catalog, Student Handbook, and Program Handbook as applicable.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity requires that all academic work be wholly the product of an identified individual or individuals. Collaboration is only acceptable when it is explicitly acknowledged. Ethical conduct is the obligation of every member of the University community, and breaches of academic integrity constitute serious offenses. Since a lack of integrity hinders the student’s academic development, it cannot be tolerated under any circumstances. Violations include but are not limited to: cheating, fabrication, facilitating academic dishonesty, plagiarism, and denying others access to information or material. See the University of St. Francis Catalog for further clarification and information on grievance procedures.

Services and Accommodations for Students with Disabilities (ADA)

The University strives to be in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA). A student who requires special accommodations or arrangements due to a disability should contact the Office of Accessibility Services. This contact preferably should occur no later than the first week of classes. Early contact before the semester starts is encouraged to allow sufficient time to provide accommodations. Extra time is needed for some types of accommodations such as sign language interpreters or special text formatting. Should a need arrive after the start of a semester; the student is encouraged to contact the Office of Accessibility Services as soon as possible. Note that accommodations are not retroactive. Each case will be reviewed on an individual basis to determine reasonable and appropriate accommodations.

USF is committed to ensuring the full participation of all students in its programs, regardless of the course format. If you have a documented disability and need a reasonable accommodation to participate in a course, complete course requirements, or benefit from the University’s programs or services, please contact the Office of Accessibility Services at 815-740-3631 or [email protected] . The Office of Accessibility Services is located on the third floor of Tower Hall in room N320. Consultations are welcome; please contact the Office of Accessibility Services for an appointment.

Academic Support Services

The Academic Resource Center (ARC) located in Room N316 in Tower Hall (815-740-5060 or [email protected]) offers various types of academic services.  Online and distance learning students can contact ARC for appropriate resources.  ARC serves students who need tutoring in many areas of study including writing and math.  Library services include a number of online services and full text databases.  Call the Library at 815-740-5041 for additional information.  If you need academic-related resources or assistance, please contact the Academic Resource Center.

Technology Support

If you are experiencing any difficulty using Canvas or need technical assistance, you have several options to receive support:

  1. 24x7 Live Canvas Support. Canvas has a 24 hour support by clicking on ? Help while in Canvas. You can Chat with Canvas Support, Report a Problem, or call the Canvas Support Hotline. If you experience technical difficulties or have a question about Canvas, you can receive support 24 hours a day seven (7) days a week through the Canvas help menu. From the help menu; select Report a Problem to send an email support request, select Chat with Canvas Support (Student) for a “live” text-based click-to-chat session, or to speak to someone directly use the toll-free number listed under the Canvas Support Hotline (Student). NOTE: Responses to Canvas’ email based Report a Problem request system will go to your USF email account, NOT your personal email.
  2. Online Self-Service Help Resources. A student user guide and other resources for solving issues related to Canvas can be found at
  3. You can phone the Technology Support Center for personal help at (815) 768-8324 or (866) 337-1497 (toll-free) between 8:00 AM and 4:30 PM Central Standard Time, Monday through Friday or fill out a Technology Support Center ticket and select Canvas/Online courses as the component.

For any technical support issues that are not related to Canvas, you can also contact the USF Technology Support Center (TSC). You can reach them via: