ENGLISH 103: Composition and Critical Thinking


Professor Karin Burns                                                            Faculty Office 2503

E-mail: burnskg@piercecollege.edu                                     Office Phone: 818/710-4325

Mailbox 20, College Services Building                                Office Hours: M-Th 9:00-9:30; F 9-12

Spring Library Hours Mon -Thu: 8 – 8 Fri: 9– 3


Course Description

English 103 is designed to improve critical thinking in written arguments by applying established models of reasoning, assessing rhetorical strategies, and detecting logical fallacies and propaganda tactics. It develops analytical skills through the evaluation of real world modes of communication such as essays, articles, editorials, advertising, and electronic media. No grammar is covered, but it does count! For extra support, work with the Center for Academic Success and submit drafts to me.


Course Prerequisites

English 101 or its equivalent with a C.  Prerequisites must be verified before being added to this class. Follow a timely educational plan: under new LA Community College District (LACCD) policy, only 3 W’s or F’s are allowed. The cumulative LACCD enrollment limit is 90 units.


Course Requirements

Essay 1: definition argument - 4 pages (5%)

Essay 2: rhetorical analysis - (in-class) – 4 pages (10%)

Essay 3: evaluation argument – 5 pages (10%)

Essay 4: Toulmin argument – 6 pages (15%)

Research essay: argument with sources - 10 pages (30%)

Final exam: propaganda critique (in-class) – 5 pages (20%)

Homework, tests, attendance + participation (10%)

Note: all grades are calculated on the 4.0 scale, pluses and minuses count


Required Texts: No shared, downloaded, or e-books!

Sylvan Barnet and Hugo Bedau, Current Issues and Enduring Questions.

Current MLA handbook


Course Policies

1. plagiarism – using someone else’s work, words, or ideas without MLA in-text citation and documentation results in an F, and an academic dishonesty report filed with the Dean. Edit your work yourself, consult me, and seek tutoring at the Center for Academic Success (CAS) in Village 8401, call 818/719-6414 for appointment. Special Services tutoring: 818/719-6430.

2. Tardies and absences diminish your performance. More than 2 absences by the census and more than 5 missed classes result in exclusion. Students must drop themselves after week 2.

3. The MLA format is required for essays to be accepted.  Follow the required MLA style manual.

4. Late essays are accepted one class after the due date only and penalized one grade.

5. All electronic devices must be off during class. Thank you for your courtesy!


**Student Learning Outcomes for Eng. 103: Pierce > Departments > English : Student Learning Outcomes


This course was identified as a "Path" course leading to an OPTIONAL minor in Civic Engagement at CSUN. There are 3 paths a student may take (Social Justice, Sustainability, and Global Studies). Please inquire with Professor Lim at LimR@piercecollege.edu  if you are interested in additional courses offered at Pierce to fulfill this Path.