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ENGLISH 111 and 09:

Course Guide

Northern Virginia Community College (NVCC)

Extended Learning Institute (ELI)

(c) Dr. Diane Thompson

You need to register for both  ENG111 and ENG09, taught by Diane Thompson at the Extended Learning Institute (ELI). Once registered, you will have four months to complete the course work. For information about ELI and how to register for courses, go to the ELI Policies and Procedures Screen.

Please read this entire Course Guide, which explains what you can expect to do and learn in the course. The table of contents on the left will help you to go back to specific areas later. Print out the Course Guide to have a paper reference.


This is a six credit section that includes English 111 and English 09. English 111 is the regular Freshman Composition course. English 09 is a supplement to that course which will give you individualized support for your writing. Only English 111 offers college credit and can be transferred to another college.

Because the two classes are closely connected, the activities will be unified. This will provide support activities for your formal writing, including problem-finding worksheets, research and revision activities, and grammar review based on your individual needs.

During this course you will write and revise several essays, learn basic Internet and library research skills, work on a semester-long research and writing project, and learn to compose and document an argument paper. I will assign  individual writing, research, grammar and editing tasks as I see the need in your writing.

This course will help you think about what you write, why and how you write, what makes writing good, and ways to improve your own writing. You will write for your fellow students as well as for a grade.

Since this course is given entirely on the Internet, you need to have access to the Internet, including an email address, and be familiar with how the Internet works, in order to do the course work. If you do not have this access, you should transfer to a campus-based version of this course.

The Internet is a public place where anyone can go anywhere. Consequently, do not think of your work as "private," when you post it to the class forums. Only members of the class can post to the forums, but a curious Web-surfer might enter the class pages and read some of the student work. This is the essence of writing, actually, since once writing leaves our hands, it can go anywhere. I encourage you to think of this openness as an advantage, expanding the potential audience for your writing. In actual practice, very few people, if any, will enter student forums to read individual postings.



I will send you your grades by email each time I read and respond to a piece of your work. You MUST use your College email address, because, due to privacy laws, I cannot send your grades to any other email address. Here is the link to instructions for getting your College email address: Email Instructions



In this course, you will develop your ability to:

express your ideas clearly, logically and correctly in writing
explore voice, audience, and purpose in writing
read critically and respond to that reading in writing
analyze and evaluate your own and other people's writing
write a clear, useful summary of an article
write, revise and edit an essay which has an identifiable thesis
support your thesis with adequately organized, unified, specific details
use Internet resources to research a topic of your choosing
present that research in written report form
use parenthetical documentation and a list of works cited



A WRITER'S REFERENCE: Diana Hacker (6th Edition)



This section of English 111/09 is a distance course. We won't be seeing one another, but we will be in contact.

you will post your writing to public Forums
your instructor and fellow students will respond to your writing
you will read and respond to other students' writing
you will send and receive email
you will call the instructor occasionally to keep in touch

In short, you will not be isolated, although you will be doing your work apart from the other students.

The Forums are a temporary place for your work. I will delete messages after about a month, so be sure to keep copies of all your own work in your own files.



For specific information about how this ELI course operates, such as how and where to take exams, how to contact ELI, how to purchase course materials, how to schedule yourself, etc., please click here to go to the ELI Policies and Procedures Screen.



The course is divided into four Units. Each should take about a month to complete. Start with Unit 1 and work through the tasks of each Unit in turn. You will develop skills by doing a sequence of activities. Consequently, I will not grade any new work before the preceding work has been submitted and accepted for a grade.

Unit 1 will introduce you to the course. You will read this Course Guide and the ELI Syllabus, write and post your own introduction, and go through the step by step process of writing, revising and polishing an essay on some problem you've solved successfully. You may be asked to read sections of your handbook and do specific exercises, based on your own writing problems. You will take Exam 1, which includes a quiz on the information in this Course Guide, questions about an article of your choice from the Internet, and a short writing sample.

Unit 2 will ask you to identify a topic for research and do some research on the Internet. You will prepare an annotated bibliography on your chosen topic. You will learn to write summaries of articles on your topic. You will prepare for Exam 2 by observing and taking notes on how you work in this class and how you work(ed) in a conventional classroom. Exam 2 will ask you to write the final, polished version of your essay for a friend or acquaintance, comparing and contrasting distance learning with classroom learning, based on your experiences and observations and your knowledge of the person you are writing for.

Unit 3 will ask you to identify an interesting problem in your area of research, do more research to try and explain why it is a problem and what are possible solutions. You will then write a draft and a final polished essay on this problem.

Unit 4 will ask you to organize your material for your research report and write a draft version of it. You will receive feedback on the draft and polish your research report. You will also learn how to support an argument, and you will prepare an argument essay based on some aspect of your research. You will write this essay in the Testing Center as your Final Exam.

Along with the four basic units, there is also a section on Grammar and Editing. It contains information about English grammar, usage and style. I will send you there to study the specific areas which you need for your writing. I have found that each student will have a few areas of grammar that need work, but no one needs to work on all areas. You will also have a handbook and workbook for specific grammar study and exercises as needed to support your revision of each paper.   Of course, if your writing does not need such work, I will not ask you to do it.



Task Possible Points Total Possible
Introduce yourself 30 30
5 Research Project Activities 20 each 100
6 Worksheets 20 each 120
Essay 1 100 100
Exam 1 50 50
Essay 2 (Exam 2) 100 100
Essay 3 100 100
Research Report Draft 50 50
Research Report Final 200 200
Essay 4 (Exam 3) 150 150
Total 1000 1000

You can earn up to 1000 points for the entire course. Final grades will be assigned according to the number of points you have earned.

A =

900 - 1000 points

B =

800 - 899 points

C =

700 - 799 points

D =

600 - 699 points

F =

Below 600 points

Once I have graded an essay, exam or exercise, I will not re-grade it.

You should print out the Grade Record form and use it to record your personal start and end dates, schedule of work due, and your grades. This will allow you to quickly estimate where you are in the course and how you are doing. 

You must pass both Exams 2 and 3, with a grade of 60% each or better, in order to pass the course. Since I will not grade work out of sequence, you also must complete the Research Report and wait for my response to it before beginning work on the final exam. I will under NO CIRCUMSTANCES grade more than one piece of work in a single day, so you must plan accordingly.



Plagiarism is a serious breach of ethics and will not be tolerated in this course. The rule is: if you didn't know it before you read (or heard) it, you need to cite the source of the information (in parentheses), either directly after using the information, or no later than the end of the paragraph in which you refer to it. 

Plagiarism and the www

It is very easy to find and copy material on the www. However, it is also very easy for me to go to and type in a phrase from student work. In two recent cases I found a clear source for the student work within a couple of minutes of searching.

  • Research is fine, but you MUST cite the sources of all information you find no later than the end of the paragraph in which you use it.
  • If you use direct quotes of material, you MUST use “quotation” marks plus citation of source to indicate that you did not write the material.
  • If you put the material into your own words, you still MUST cite the source.
  • If you submit work that uses sources without citing them and if I find the sources, I will not grade your work and you may not redo it.
  • Teachers become very familiar with the styles of student writers, and when a student submits work that does not fit his/her general style, a bell goes off in the teacher’s head, prompting her to suspect plagiarism and look for sources.

All students in this course post their work on public forums. You are encouraged to read other students' work to get ideas about how to do the writing tasks. If you read an idea in another student paper that is so good you feel the need to discuss it, you may "quote it" and cite the student author as your source. Any other use of student work is plagiarism.

I will give no credit to plagiarized work nor allow it to be redone for credit.



If you have a documented disability that may affect your performance in this class, please email Diane Thompson, or call me to discuss your situation.




  • Your personal Withdrawal dates are based on your individual date of enrollment. You should have received this information from ELI shortly after enrolling in the course. If you did not receive it, contact ELI immediately at 703-323-3347 and request your Quick Start Syllabus for this course.

  • By your Last Withdrawal Date you must have successfully completed all of Units 1 and 2 in order to continue in the course. "Successfully completed" means that the work is appropriate for the assignment and I accept and grade it. If you have not completed those assignments, I will withdraw you from the course with a grade of W.

  • I require all work to be submitted at least three working days (e.g. Monday through Friday no later than 5:00 pm) before your deadline date, so that I have time to read and grade it.

  • If you have submitted enough graded work (all of Units 1 and 2,  including Exams 1 and 2) to remain past the W date, and you still cannot complete the course, it is your responsibility to contact me to discuss your options.


  • Incomplete grades are not given simply because a student is behind on work, but rather, are available when there are legitimate, verifiable, unavoidable reasons that have prevented a student from progressing appropriately.

  • In order to be eligible for a grade of Incomplete, which would allow you up to TWO more months to complete the course, you need to successfully complete ALL of Units 1, 2, and 3, including both exams, at least three working days before your current end date AND you must send me an email requesting the grade of Incomplete and explaining why you were unable to complete the course on time. You must be prepared to verify your explanation with the appropriate documents as needed.

  • An Incomplete does not cost anything and does not involve a grade penalty. However, if you do not complete the balance of the course work within the allowed two months, you will be graded out of the course at the end of your Incomplete, based on your earned points.  



Work (completed and graded) required to continue in course

Last Withdrawal Date

Week 9

Units1 and 2, and Exams 1 and 2 successfully completed and graded (60% or better) at least three working days before your end date (so I can grade and enter it)

Course End-date

Week 16

All course work completed and graded at least three working days before your end date




Incomplete option: up to two more months to complete the course

After Week 16

All of Units 1, 2, and 3, including  exams 1 and 2, very successfully completed and graded (70%=C or higher) at least three working days before your end date AND an email from you to me explaining why you fell behind and need the Incomplete

NOTE: If you submit work that is not, in my opinion "college level" I will not grade it, so it will not count towards the required pieces of work you need to stay in the course after your Last Withdrawal Date. I may (or may not) allow you to redo such work, depending on my judgment of the situation, but you would need time to do that, so do not wait until the last minute to post careless work in a hurry; it will be too late to do the necessary revisions to get the work accepted as college level.



Since this is a college English course, all graded work must be of college level. This means that it:

responds appropriately to the assignment
has college-level content
is well developed
has a clear, readable style
is reasonably well-focused
is well-organized
uses appropriate language and tone
uses correct English mechanics.

If you turn in a paper that does not meet these requirements for college level work, I will not correct or grade it. You may or may not be allowed one chance to redo and resubmit it, depending on my judgment of the situation. The best strategy is to do your best work before turning in any paper for a grade.



Essays 1 and 3 require drafts of at least 500 words (the equivalent of two double-spaced typed pages). These drafts will not be graded; however I will not grade an essay until I have read and responded to the draft, and you have revised the essay according to my comments. I will only respond to an assigned draft one time, so if you do a very weak draft, you will not get much useful feedback from me.

The forums where you post the drafts only retain the work for 30 days. This means that if you submit a draft, you must submit the revised essay within 30 days, so that I can see the draft and my comments on it, before I grade the revised final essay.

A revision will not be graded if it is submitted after the draft is removed from the forum (e.g. after 30 days).

Once I have graded a revised essay, I will not re-grade it.

The final polished versions of Essays 1 and 3 will be posted to their Forums. 

Essays 2 and 4 will be written as exams (see below). For these, specific preparation is required, but not drafts.



Since this is a distance course, you will be asked to take three proctored exams. These are necessary so that ELI can assure the accrediting boards that the course work is actually done by the student enrolled. You may take these exams at any NVCC Testing Center.

If it is not possible for you to get to an NVCC Testing Center, you may arrange for a proctor at another location. If you need a proctor, go to the ELI Policies and Procedures Screen. Select the link for Examination Proctors, from the Table of Contents, for information on how to arrange for a proctor.

You need to pass both exams 2 and 3 with at least a D (more than 60%) in order to pass the course. 

The link to the exam passes is on the left menu.  Use the exam passes button to go to the passes for your three exams. Print them out and take the appropriate one to the Testing Center for each exam (e.g. pass 1 for exam 1, pass 2 for exam 2 and pass 3 for exam 3). You will also need a photo ID and your emplid when you go to the Testing Center to take an exam.

Exam 1 will test your critical understanding of the Course Guide and of an Internet research site, and ask you to write a short, non-graded writing sample to help me see how much your writing changes during the course.

Exam 2 and Exam 3 will each ask you to write a polished essay based on work you have been doing during the Unit. You may bring your preparation materials (web site printouts, worksheets, outlines, but not drafts) to the exams. Any materials you bring to the exam will be collected, stapled together and sent to ELI. They will be disposed of after I read them. You will not get any of this material back.

The exams are un-timed, so you can write without feeling pressured. You should not find these exams difficult because you will have prepared for each one by doing the course work for the unit.

I will not accept exam 2 unless I have already read and responded to its plan sheet (which you sent to me by email) BEFORE you take the exam. I will not respond to that plan sheet until all the previous course work has been completed.

I will not accept a final exam unless I have already read and responded to its plan sheet BEFORE you take the exam. I will not respond to that plan sheet until all the previous course work has been completed.

***Remember, I will only read one piece of your work in any day, so please plan ahead. The last minute will be too late!



You will be asked to complete several worksheets which will help you to discover and organize ideas for your essays or ask you to respond to other students' essays. Each worksheet is worth up to 20 points.



You will select a research topic based on your own interests. Your topic may be based on your field of study in college, on your professional interests, or on personal interests, such as a hobby or favorite sport. Much of your work in this course will center on this topic and your research, so select it carefully. This research project will give you the opportunity to:

gain experience with modern research methods, especially the Internet
compile a body of information about a topic that interests you
work on critical reading, summary writing, and writing organization skills
write several kinds of papers using this information to support your ideas
learn to use correct documentation for this information in your papers
and organize a final documented paper reporting on what you have learned.



A series of worksheets will guide you through the preliminary steps of your research project, including:

selecting a topic
preparing a bibliography
locating suitable articles
writing summaries of selected articles
writing an outline

Each Research Project Activity will be worth up to 20 points.

NOTE: This entire COURSE GUIDE is subject to revision according to the instructor's judgment of the needs of the class.



To start working on the course, go to Unit 1.

(c) Diane Thompson; 5/1/1998; updated: 07/26/2010