Oklahoma State University, ENGL 1213: Composition II–Strategic Reading

Below appears an authoritative version of the guidelines for the Strategic Reading Assignment (StratRdg), superseding any previously published information regarding the StratRdg.


The First-Year Composition Program at Oklahoma State University describes the StratRdg as enabling students to “Describe and apply genre-specific reading strategies”; “Differentiate and explain approaches to reading and critical analysis of scholarly or popular alphabetic texts and figures (charts, graphs, tables)”; “Analyze and contrast the rhetorical contexts for a variety of texts (including purpose, audience, stance, exigency, genre, and media/design)”; and “Define and write a traditional summary of a selected text.” Doing so will take the form of two individual exercises, per Program standards: a 300- to 500-word summary of an 8-12 page academic or professional text and a 700- to 1,000-word reading strategy description of that text, directed towards a first-year student in the relevant field of study. The two are weighted equally, and their average score will be entered as the overall StratRdg grade.

Students in Prof. Elliott’s sections of ENGL 1213 in the Spring 2016 instructional term at Oklahoma State University will need to perform several tasks to successfully complete the exercises:

Information about each follows, along with a copy of the relevant grading rubric and notes.

Find an Appropriate Text

Informing the StratRdg in Prof. Elliott’s sections is the idea of helping students to better understand their majors. Accordingly, students are asked to find texts written for people in their fields of study; that is, students should identify texts directly relevant to their majors or to the professions they hope to enter after graduation. The texts should be relatively brief, some eight to twelve pages in length as published.

Academic journals, conference and working papers, white papers, and articles in trade magazines suggest themselves as useful places to look for appropriate texts. The Oklahoma State University library offers information that should help narrow searches, as well as offering points of contact for more detailed and systemic inquiry; look at the following link: http://www.library.okstate.edu/research-guides/subject-lists/.

After looking over a variety of sources, each student should select a single text of interest, printing out a copy for instructor review to ensure that the text is of sufficient heft to be amenable to the StratRdg. The copy should be submitted to the instructor in print at the beginning of class time on 20 January 2016; submission will be accepted as a completion-grade minor assignment, and comments regarding the text’s utility will be returned to the student.

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Read and Annotate the Text

After selecting an appropriate text, each student should read the text multiple times. The first reading should be a simple read-through, meant to offer a sense of what the text is saying. Subsequent readings should attend to specific features of content and form, looking for the key components of the text and making note of them in the interest of completing the StratRdg.

In addition to annotating the text, students should keep a log of how they go about doing their annotations. Recording thoughts about how what is important is found will make far easier the task of completing the StratRdg later on, as it will provide basic information from which to compose the reading strategy description component of the text.

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Compose the StratRdg PV

After reading and annotating the selected text, each student should independently draft a two-part paper, which will be brought to class as the StratRdg PV. The two parts, summary and reading strategy description, are described below, and expectations for them explicated.

The Summary

Program requirements ask for a 300- to 500-word traditional summary of the selected text. Composing one can be done reasonably easily, as noted in some earlier teaching materials. (Find them at the following URL: https://sites.google.com/site/gelliottteaching/welcome/tci/eng-099–basic-communication/summaries.) To reiterate from those materials, the summary component of the StratRdg in Prof. Elliott’s classes should include the following, in the order noted below:

  • A single sentence identifying the piece being summarized. The sentence should note the author/s of the text, the title of the text, the source of the text, and the date of the text’s publication.
  • A single sentence iterating the thesis or central idea of the text being summarized.
  • Several sentences outlining the major points made by the text. These sentences should note the major points in the order the text presents them. They should also note significant patterns of argumentation and evidence, if any appear.

The summary should read as one or two cohesive paragraphs that present the information requested above. As it evolves through future versions of the StratRdg assignment, it will account for half of the grade assigned to the project.

A number of sample summaries appear on the “Abstracts” page of this website, which can be found at the following URL: https://elliottrwi.com/research/abstracts/. Not all are of a length appropriate to the current assignment, however; look to them for form and style rather than as subjects of explicit mimicry.

The Reading Strategy Description

Program requirements also ask for a 700- to 1,000-word description of the reading strategies used in interpreting the selected text, one directed as a letter or (for Prof. Elliott’s classes, preferably) a short paper to a first-year student in the relevant field of study. That is, the StratRdg assignment should, in addition to providing a summary, lay out the best way in which a new student in a given major should approach texts likely to present themselves to students in that major, using the selected text as a model of how to do so. It should do so in a way likely to be read and understood as a useful guide by a new student in the field in terms of reading level, formality, and other audience-centric concerns.

The reading strategy description should open with a short (four- to six-sentence) paragraph transitioning from the summary, offering context for the kind of reading being modeled (i.e., in what circumstances is such reading likely to occur), and indicating the central thrust of the description. The following paragraphs, organized chronologically, should describe the strategies through which such texts can best be approached, illustrating from the selected text and explaining why the strategies named are desirable. The final paragraph of the reading strategy description should indicate implications of the strategies related. That is, it should speak to what readers should be able to do now that they are provided with the information given them in the description.

Some useful parallels might be found in the Literacy Narrative required of students in Prof. Elliott’s ENGL 1113 classes during the Fall 2015 instructional term at Oklahoma State University. Information can be found at the following URL: https://elliottrwi.com/instruction/osu/oklahoma-state-university-engl-1113-composition-i/oklahoma-state-university-engl-1113-composition-i-literacy-narrative/. Examples appearing or linked on that page may not be of a length or kind appropriate to the current assignment; look to them for form and style rather than as subjects of explicit mimicry.

Submission Expectations

The StratRdg PV is due in print (as a typed, stapled copy) at the beginning of class on 25 January 2016. It should be formatted as a single document, with the summary preceding the reading description, and it should be at least the minimum acceptable length for the final submission (300 words for the summary, 700 words for the reading description, plus four-line heading—student name, instructor name, course and section, date of composition—and title).

The text of the StratRdg PV should be double-spaced on letter-size sheets with one-inch margins on all sides. It should be in 12-point Times New Roman, Garamond, or Georgia type. Page numbers should appear in the upper right corner of the page, with the student’s surname preceding the number; page numbers and surnames should be in the same typeface as the rest of the document.

A quiz grade will be taken from the presence and quality of the StratRdg PV during class on the due date. The grade will be largely holistic in nature, with more complete and on-target student work receiving higher grades. Students who arrive in class without drafts will receive a zero for the minor assignment grade, as will those who fail to attend class that day (excepting those covered under class attendance policies expressed in the syllabus and detailed during class discussions). Detailed reading will not be conducted by the instructor at that point, although comments regarding overall adherence to assignment standards may well be made.

Students should keep in mind that the StratRdg PV is a work in progress. A more complete draft is more desirable than a less complete one, largely in that it eases the later work that must be done and offers more opportunity for concrete improvement to the writing that is done. Please note that the text composed for the StratRdg PV may well need to change; keep in mind that it cannot get better without changing, and that all writing can be improved.

Students are encouraged to consult with the instructor and with tutors in the Writing Center during the process of composing the StratRdg PV. No extra credit will be afforded to the project for doing so, but doing so is likely to improve the grade received and will likely be considered positively in the Prof score awarded at the end of the term.

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Revise the StratRdg PV into the StratRdg RV

Following the in-class workshopping of the StratRdg PV, students are strongly encouraged to revise their papers in light of the comments made by peer reviewer/s. They should work from global issues—such as clarifying and condensing the summary, detailing more accurately and more accessibly to the audience the reading strategies described, and reconsidering the implications of the description for readers—to more local issues—such as how best to transition between each major part, how to transition from paragraph to paragraph and sentence to sentence, and how best to phrase for concision and emphasis. Only after all of that is done should there be any thought of checking and amending as appropriate the surface-level features of formatting, spelling, punctuation, and the like.

The paper resulting from the process of revision, the StratRdg RV, should still open with a summary that identifies the selected text, notes its main idea, and describes its major features in order. The StratRdg RV should still follow the summary with a description of the reading strategies used to read the article. The description should still transition smoothly out of the summary into a chronological account of the reading that illustrates its methods and explains their utility before noting further use of the description.

The StratRdg RV is due via D2L before the beginning of class time on 29 January 2016. It must be submitted in .doc, .docx, or .rtf format. (No other file types will be accepted; submissions in another file type will be treated as though not submitted.) The text should be presented according to the same standards as that of the StratRdg PV, and it should be within the acceptable length indicated (300 to 500 words for the summary, 700 to 1,000 words for the reading strategies description, plus heading and title). Usage should conform to standards promulgated by the MLA and discussed during class time.

The StratRdg RV will be assessed as a minor assignment according to the rubric below. The text and comments made about it will be returned to students via the email function on D2L. Those comments should be used to improve the text further in advance of its final submission; the StratRdg RV is a work in progress, although one nearing completion.

Students are encouraged to consult with the instructor and with tutors in the Writing Center during the process of composing the StratRdg RV. No extra credit will be afforded to the project for doing so, but doing so is likely to improve the grade received and will likely be considered positively in the Prof score awarded at the end of the term.

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Revise the StratRdg RV into the StratRdg FV

Following the return of instructor comments on the StratRdg RV, students are strongly encouraged to revise their papers in light of the comments. They should work from global issues—such as clarifying and condensing the summary, detailing more accurately and more accessibly to the audience the reading strategies described, and reconsidering the implications of the description for readers—to more local issues—such as how best to transition between each major part, how to transition from paragraph to paragraph and sentence to sentence, and how best to phrase for concision and emphasis. Only after all of that is done should there be any thought of checking and amending as appropriate the surface-level features of formatting, spelling, punctuation, and the like.

The paper resulting from the process of revision, the StratRdg FV, should still open with a summary that identifies the selected text, notes its main idea, and describes its major features in order. The StratRdg FV should still follow the summary with a description of the reading strategies used to read the article. The description should still transition smoothly out of the summary into a chronological account of the reading that illustrates its methods and explains their utility before noting further use of the description.

The StratRdg FV is due via D2L before the beginning of class time on 5 February 2016. It must be submitted in .doc, .docx, or .rtf format. (No other file types will be accepted; submissions in another file type will be treated as though not submitted.) The text should be presented according to the same standards as that of the StratRdg PV, and it should be within the acceptable length indicated (300 to 500 words for the summary, 700 to 1,000 words for the reading strategies description, plus heading and title). Usage should conform to standards promulgated by the MLA and discussed during class time.

The StratRdg FV will be assessed as a major assignment, worth 20% of the total course grade, according to the rubric below. The text and comments made about it will be returned to students via the email function on D2L. Those comments should be used to stimulate still better performance on future writing; although the StratRdg will be done, there is other writing to be done in the class and in life beyond the classroom, and it needs to be the best it can possibly be.

Students are encouraged to consult with the instructor and with tutors in the Writing Center during the process of composing the StratRdg RV. No extra credit will be afforded to the project for doing so, but doing so is likely to improve the grade received and will likely be considered positively in the Prof score awarded at the end of the term.

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Grading Rubric

A copy of the grading rubric that will be applied to the StratRdg RV and the StratRdg FV appears at the following link: G. Elliott Spring 2016 ENGL 1213 StratRdg Grading Rubric. Grading of the StratRdg PV is noted above.

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Notes

Owing to the restructuring of ENGL 1213 for the Spring 2016 instructional term at Oklahoma State University, only one example of the StratRdg is available: “Bringing Forward a Way the Past Is Brought Forward.”

Aside from the piece read, no outside information should be deployed in completing the StratRdg. Since there will be no need to reference outside information other than the piece read, informal citation will suffice for it—although that informal citation must still be sufficient for a readership that does not share the authorial/narrative background, experience, and expertise to clearly understand the piece being referenced. Failure to provide appropriate informal citation may be treated as an academic integrity violation.

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Geoffrey B. Elliott
Edited 15 January 2016 to incorporate an example.

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