UNIV 112 Syllabus

UNIV 112 Focused Inquiry II: Spring 2017 

MWF 11-11:50 / UNIV112 -132 / 34863 / Harris 5162

MWF  1-1:50 / UNIV112-113 / 21975 / Hibbs 0407

MWF 2-2:50 / UNIV112-86 / 20403 / Harris 2110

Instructor: Dr. Katie Logan

Email: kmlogan@vcu.edu

Office Location: Harris Hall, Room 5169

Office Hours: MW 3 p.m.-4 p.m.; F 9:30 a.m.-10:30 a.m. (and by appointment)

Course Goals

As the second part of a two-semester course sequence, UNIV 112 (Focused Inquiry II) will help you to improve your writing skills while continuing work on your critical thinking, ethical reasoning, collaboration, oral communication, and information fluency skills. UNIV 112 is designed to provide you with practice in multimodal analysis, textual analysis and synthesis, and argumentative writing supported by ethical reasoning. This practice will prepare you for the types of writing you will encounter and be expected to produce throughout your university career (and perhaps even beyond). Like UNIV 111, UNIV 112 applies the notion of the “spiral curriculum” in that you build your skills by repeating key concepts and adding to the complexity of those concepts with each subsequent unit.

  • Critical Thinking: continue to apply critical thinking to texts and ideas, with a specific focus on analyzing and creating academic arguments that make sound claims and support conclusions with appropriate evidence
  • Writing Proficiency: create formal and informal pieces of writing in a variety of genres, to include multimodal, analytical, and ethical reasoning argument
  • Collaborative Learning: continue to work with peers on group assignments, projects and classroom activities; practice peer response to writing assignments
  • Oral Communication: continue to build communication skills through active participation in class discussions and formal presentations
  • Information Fluency: retrieve information through VCU Libraries, evaluate source reliability, and critically read and respond to texts
  • Ethical and Civic Responsibility: consider multiple ethical points of view; apply methods of ethical reasoning to texts and arguments
  • Quantitative Literacy: evaluate quantitative information when used as evidence

In UNIV 112, you will continue to develop your ability to interpret, analyze, evaluate, and infer based on appropriate evidence. The course will emphasize writing, revising, and proofreading. By the end of the class, you will produce work that reflects your ability to appropriately frame writing according to both purpose and audience. More specifically, you will be equipped to narrow your topics to an academic focus, analyze single texts, analyze and synthesize multiple texts, construct an argument based on ethical reasoning and scholarly evidence which contends with counter-arguments, shape your ideas for an academic audience, correct mechanical problems in your writing, and cite sources appropriately.

UNIV 112 is divided up into three theoretically and thematically connected units. These units are:

  • Experience/Culture/Text
  • Text/Context
  • Context/Argument

Required Course Materials

 You are responsible for having access to all these materials.  Copies of course texts are available on reserve at Cabell Library.

  • Hayden McNeil Custom Reader: True Stories: Focused Inquiry, 2016-2017 Edition
  • Lauren Redniss – Radioactive
  • Additional readings will be available on our Blackboard and Rampages sites

Core Assignments

 Writing: As in UNIV 111, students will produce one core writing assignment during each of the three units of the course. Each piece of writing will be taken through a process of drafting, revision, and/or reflection, which may include preliminary drafts, guided revision, peer review, and critical self-assessment. Core writing assignments in each unit will grow out of and evidence the critical thinking and critical reading that occurs during the unit. When secondary research is involved, sources should be properly documented with in-text citations and a Works Cited or References page. In addition to the core writing assignments, students will also be expected to practice writing inside and outside of class through various class activities, which may include discussion board postings, critical responses to assigned readings and ideas, peer review feedback, and other class activities.

  • Unit I: Students will produce a multimodal composition that incorporates analysis or experiential narrative.
  • Unit II: Students will produce a piece of analytical writing that summarizes, analyzes, and synthesizes outside sources (minimum of 4 pages or 1000 words).
  • Unit III: Students will produce an Ethical Reasoning Argument (5-7 pages or 1250-1750 words)

Oral Communication: Each student will complete one formal (i.e. planned & rehearsed) individual presentation and one formal collaborative oral presentation. These presentations may be subject to specific parameters, such as time limits, use of audio/visual aids, delivery technique, etc. In addition to these two formal presentations, students will also regularly be asked to orally share their ideas, written work, summaries of readings or group discussions, and critical responses to readings, assignments, or class activities.

Course Grading

Weight of course components in final grade:

  • Unit One Multimodal Project: 15%
  • Unit Two Analysis Paper: 15%
  • Unit Three Final Project and Presentation: 20%
  • Group Presentation: 10%
  • Short Assignments and Process Work: 20%
  • Class Attendance and Active Class Participation: 20%

Students must earn a C or better in UNIV 112 to exit the course. Students who do not earn a C or better must repeat the course.

Course Policies

Focused Inquiry Program Attendance Policy

UNIV 112 requires prepared, active participation during class sessions.

  • While attendance is mandatory, students should not expect to do well simply by attending.
  • Being absent from class does not relieve students of responsibility for completing all course work by the scheduled due dates.
  • The instructor has the right to lower a student’s final course grade as the sole result of his or her repeated absences and tardiness.
  • Students who miss more than 25% of the classes will automatically fail. In a MWF class, this is 11 or more absences.
  • There are no “excused” or “unexcused” absences.

I keep and report daily attendance. You will receive an automated email each time you are absent. This email is also sent to your advisor. If you receive an email in error, please let me know immediately.
Policy on Electronic Devices 

Because this class aims to foster discussion and a collaborative learning environment. I strongly encourage you to minimize your dependence on electronics during class. Cell phone and laptop use can create significant distractions in an active-learning class such as ours. I will let you know prior to class if we need technology for research or note taking. Therefore, unless they are needed for an activity or reading, please leave your laptops in their cases. Turn off and put away your cell phones before entering the classroom. (I understand that there are occasional times when students need to be reached by cell phone– for instance, if you have a job that requires you to be on-call or you are a parent with a sick child. If this is the case, please notify me as you enter the room at the start of class.) Failure to do so will impact your participation grade for this course.

Paper Acceptance Policy

Papers are due by the beginning of class on the due date along with any required process material for that paper (i.e. your memo and/or peer review worksheet, etc.). Late papers will lose ten points for each day they are late (including weekends). You will turn in most papers electronically as assignments in Blackboard and they will be time-stamped by Blackboard. Occasionally, you will be asked to turn in a paper in more than one format (electronically to Blackboard, paper copy, for program assessment). Papers submitted via email will not be accepted, nor will paper copies be accepted in lieu of submission to Blackboard. Note that during the spring semester, I will not accept computer issues as an extenuating circumstance; part of your job as responsible scholars now involves deciding on the best ways to save and back up your work.

Required format for written assignments (including homework)

Written assignments should conform to the following specifications. You may need to adjust software settings to adhere to these requirements:

  • Times New Roman or Arial, 12 point
  • Margins: 1 inch, left and right, top and bottom
  • Justification: left margin only
  • Line spacing: double-spaced.
  • Print: dark, and on one side of the page
  • Graphics: in an appendix only
  • Documentation: MLA or APA style

Important Sites

Blackboard – http://blackboard.vcu.edu

Rampages – http://rampages.us/logank

Focused Inquiry – http://focusedinquiry.vcu.edu

ALICE, our online writing commons – http://rampages.us/alice

VCU Common Book Program – http://commonbook.vcu.edu


 Course documents, schedules, assignments, discussion forums, communication, and secure file storage in the Content System are available through the Blackboard learning management system or through your VCU portal. You are required to check Blackboard on a regular basis and are completely responsible for the consequences of not reading announcements, assignments, or other posts in a timely fashion. The library has computers with Internet connections available for student use. If you have technical difficulties with Blackboard, VCU email, or your computer, it is your responsibility to resolve those difficulties through the appropriate channels in a timely manner. The technology help desk can be reached at 828-2227 or online here.

 Digital Technologies and Online Learning and Sharing

 Increasing your digital fluency and developing an informed online presence are important aspects of your university experience. The Department of Focused Inquiry encourages the innovative use of a variety of technologies to enhance your learning. Rampages, a WordPress platform, has been specifically designed for housing VCU students’ online work. As a UNIV student, you will be expected to create your own Rampages site to house some of your course work.

Working in an online environment opens up tremendous learning and sharing possibilities; however, it also creates unique challenges especially regarding your privacy and intellectual property rights. It is therefore important for you to know your rights and responsibilities when learning, sharing, and posting academic work online.

Visibility: Rampages allows you to control the visibility of your work (i.e. restricted to specific users, restricted to the VCU community, or publicly accessible). At a minimum, you must allow your instructor to view your work. Please consult with your instructor if you would like more information about restricting the visibility of your Rampages site.

Licensing compliance: Familiarize yourself with any user licensing agreements and applicable laws that may apply to the technologies you use. You should understand and comply with end-user licenses, platform policies, and applicable laws for any open-or protected-access sites that you use in support of your academic work. This includes sites such as Blackboard, YouTube, Google Drive, Slideshare, or any cloud storage you might use.

Intellectual Property Rights: You have intellectual property rights to the work you generate in support of your studies at VCU as described in the VCU Intellectual Property Policy. If a class project requires use of a site for which users must waive intellectual property rights, you have the right to utilize an alternate platform for posting or submission of your materials. Please consult with your instructor for more information.

Consent for Group Work: No group work may be posted online or used in any manner other than submission to the course instructor without the full consent of all group members.

VCU policies and regulations regarding the network and resources are also applicable.

University Policies

 Campus emergency information

What to know and do to be prepared for emergencies at VCU:

  • Sign up to receive VCU text messaging alerts. Keep your information up-to-date. Within the classroom, the professor will keep his or her phone on to receive any emergency transmissions.
  • Know the safe evacuation route from each of your classrooms. Emergency evacuation routes are posted in on-campus classrooms.
  • Listen for and follow instructions from VCU or other designated authorities. Within the classroom, follow your professor’s instructions.
  • Know where to go for additional emergency information.
  • Know the emergency phone number for the VCU Police (828-1234).
  • Report suspicious activities and objects.
  • Keep your permanent address and emergency contact information current in eServices.

 Class registration required for attendance

Students may attend only those classes for which they have registered. Faculty may not add students to class rosters or Blackboard. Therefore, if students are attending a class for which they have not registered, they must stop attending.

 Honor System: upholding academic integrity

The VCU Honor System policy describes the responsibilities of students, faculty and administration in upholding academic integrity, while at the same time respecting the rights of individuals to the due process offered by administrative hearings and appeals. According to this policy, “Members of the academic community are required to conduct themselves in accordance with the highest standards of academic honesty, ethics and integrity at all times.” In addition, “To support a commitment to the Honor System, all members of the VCU community are required to:

  • Adhere to the Honor System policy and its procedures;
  • Report any suspicion or knowledge of possible violations of the Honor System;
  • Answer truthfully when called upon to do so regarding Honor System matters;
  • Maintain appropriate confidentiality regarding related to Honor System matters.”

More information can be found at in the VCU policy library.

In this class, because coursework will be at times collaborative, particular issues of integrity arise. You should not copy or print another student’s work without permission. Any material (this includes ideas and language) from another source must be credited, whether that material is quoted directly, summarized, or paraphrased. In other words, you should respect the work of others and in no way present it as your own.

The process-oriented nature of this course demands that original work be submitted for every assignment. In this spirit, submitting an assignment in this course implies that the work is original to the course. Therefore, submitting the same work for credit in this course completed for another will be regarded as academic misconduct and subject to action under the University’s honor code. If you wish to build upon prior work, please consult your instructor first.

Important dates

You can view important dates for the semester in the academic calendar.

 Managing stress

Students may experience situations or challenges that can interfere with learning and interpersonal functioning including stress, anxiety, depression, alcohol and/or other drug use, concern for a friend or family member, loss, sleep difficulties, feeling hopeless or relationship problems. There are numerous campus resources available to students including University Counseling Services (804-828-6200 MPC Campus, 804-828-3964 MCV Campus), University Student Health Services (MPC 804 828-8828, MCV Campus 804 828-9220) and the Wellness Resource Center (804-828-9355). 24 hour emergency mental health support is available by calling 828-1234 and asking to speak to the on-call therapist or utilizing the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-784-2433).

 Mandatory responsibility of faculty members to report incidents of sexual misconduct

It is important for students to know that all faculty members are mandated reporters of any incidents of sexual misconduct/violence (e.g., sexual assault, sexual exploitation and partner or relationship violence). This means that faculty cannot keep information about sexual misconduct/violence confidential if you share that information with them and they must report this information immediately to the university’s Title IX Coordinator. In addition, department chairs, deans, and other unit administrators are required to report incidents of sex or gender-based discrimination to the university’s Title IX Coordinator. Once a report is made, you will receive important information on your reporting options, on campus and off campus resources and remedial measures such as no-contact directives, residence modifications, and academic modifications. If you would prefer to speak with someone confidentially for support and to discuss your options for reporting, contact:

  • VCU’s Wellness Resource Center – 804.828.9355, myoptions@vcu.edu, thewell.vcu.edu
  • Greater Richmond Regional Hotline (Community program) 804.612.6126, a 24-hour hotline
  • VCU’s Counseling Services 804-828-6200

For more information on how to help, please click here. The Policy on Sexual Misconduct/Violence and Sex/Gender Discrimination, can be found in the VCU policy library. For more information about the University’s Title IX process, please visit equity.vcu.edu.

 Military short-term training or deployment

If military students receive orders for short-term training or for deployment/mobilization, they should inform and present their orders to Military Student Services and to their professor(s). For further information on policies and procedures contact Military Student Services at 828-5993 or access the corresponding policies.

 Student conduct in the classroom

According to the Faculty Guide to Student Conduct in Instructional Settings, “The university is a community of learners. Students, as well as faculty, have a responsibility for creating and maintaining an environment that supports effective instruction. In order for faculty members (including graduate teaching assistants) to provide and students to receive effective instruction in classrooms, laboratories, studios, online courses, and other learning areas, the university expects students to conduct themselves in an orderly and cooperative manner.” Among other things, cell phones should be turned off while in the classroom. The Student Code of Conduct also prohibits the possession of or carrying of any weapon. For more information see http://register.dls.virginia.gov/details.aspx?id=3436.

Student email policy

Email is considered an official method for communication at VCU because it delivers information in a convenient, timely, cost-effective, and environmentally aware manner. Students are expected to check their official VCU email on a frequent and consistent basis in order to remain informed of university-related communications. The university recommends checking email daily. Students are responsible for the consequences of not reading, in a timely fashion, university-related communications sent to their official VCU student email account. This policy ensures that all students have access to this important form of communication. It ensures students can be reached through a standardized channel by faculty and other staff of the university as needed. Mail sent to the VCU email address may include notification of university-related actions, including disciplinary action. Please read the policy in its entirety at the VCU Policy Library.

 Student financial responsibility

Students assume the responsibility of full payment of tuition and fees generated from their registration and all charges for housing and dining services, and other applicable miscellaneous charges. Students are ultimately responsible for any unpaid balance on their account as a result of the University Financial Aid Office or their third party sponsor canceling or reducing their award(s).

 Students representing the university – excused absences

All student athletes should provide their schedules to their instructors at the beginning of the semester.

 Students with disabilities

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended, require that VCU provide “academic adjustments” or “reasonable accommodations” to any student who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity. To receive accommodations, students must register with the Disability Support Services Office on the Monroe Park Campus (828-2253) or the Division for Academic Success on the MCV campus (828-9782). Please also visit the Disability Support Services website and/or the Division for Academic Success website for additional information.

Once students have completed the DSS registration process, they should schedule a meeting with their instructor (s) and provide their instructor (s) with an official DSS accommodation letter. Accommodation letters will outline the required classroom accommodations. Additionally, if coursework requires the student to work in a lab environment, the student should advise the instructor or a department chairperson of any concerns that the student may have regarding safety issues related to a disability. Students should follow this procedure for all courses in the academic semester.

 Withdrawal from classes

Before withdrawing from classes, students should consult their instructor as well as other appropriate university offices. Withdrawing from classes may negatively impact a student’s financial aid award and his or her semester charges. To discuss financial aid and the student bill, visit the Student Services Center at 1015 Floyd Avenue (Harris Hall) and/or contact your financial aid counselor regarding the impact on your financial aid.

 Make a Commitment to Community Learning

Your learning here at VCU is not limited to what goes on in your classrooms; in fact, part of a full and rich college experience is tapping into as many different kinds of learning as possible. Learning happens as a result of being exposed to different ideas and different experiences, both in the classroom and beyond, in the larger University community. It often takes other peoples’ perspectives and opinions to spark in us new and deeper ways of seeing something. Think, for example, when you listen to other people in class or in general conversation, how many times you have said to yourself, “Gee.  I never thought of it that way before.”  Thus, we learn and think through social exchange. Be a social learner while you are here. There are a number of social learning communities that should be of particular interest to you as a first-year student.

Campus Learning Center

Hibbs Hall, 1st Floor | 827-8108

The Campus Learning Center offers a variety of community learning opportunities to support your work in most 100 and 200 level courses.  You can receive one-on-one or group based learning support at no charge. Study skills assistance is also available.  Check out the CLC website for complete information.

 Cabell Library & Focused Inquiry Guides

Research & Instructional Services for UNIV 111 and UNIV 112

 VCU Libraries are one of the largest research libraries in Virginia – with nearly two million volumes; almost 24,000 journal and other serial titles; more than 3.18 million microforms; film, video, sound, comic, manuscript and book art collections; and the largest health sciences library in Virginia. James Branch Cabell Library is the university’s center for study and research in the arts, humanities, social sciences, and physical sciences.

Academic Advising

Hibbs Hall, 1st Floor
827-8648 (UNIV)

The Office of Strategic Enrollment Management provides academic advising for all first-year students and for those who are not yet admitted into a professional school or academic program. Your advisor can help you find your way around the university, especially in helping you understand academic requirements and policies, choosing an appropriate program of study, and identifying educational and career goals.

The Writing Center 

Academic Learning Commons, 4th Floor, Room 4203 

 The Writing Center offers support for currently enrolled VCU students and faculty. Services for students include one-on-one consultations and workshops on a wide variety of topics associated with academic writing, reading, and critical thinking. As you work on your writing assignments, you will benefit the most if you plan multiple visits to the Writing Center – for brainstorming and planning, for developing and organizing, and then for revising. Students are now able to schedule appointments online. They can do this via UCMe, or they can also click “Advising Appointments” in the VCU portal.

English Language Resources at the Writing Center provides specialized support to English Language Learners at VCU. This service encourages success by helping students develop their vocabulary and reading comprehension, fluency in composition, oral communication, and understanding of American academic rhetorical expectations.

“Advising Appointments” in the VCU portal.

The Focused Inquiry Learning Lounge 

Harris Hall room 5116

The FILL is located in Harris Hall, room 5116. This is an open work space for any students currently taking UNIV courses. The FILL provides private, individual, and group work spaces, stationary and mobile white boards, two computers, a scanner, and a pay-to-print station. The FILL is open Monday through Friday from 7:30am to 7pm. Come join us!

The Office of Multicultural Student Affairs

Student Commons room 215

OMSA coordinates month-long celebrations such as Hispanic Heritage Month, LGBTQ History Month, Black History Month, Women’s History Month, and more. Their programming also includes regularly intercultural dialogues, cultural excursions, a diversity film series, and discussion groups for men of color, women of color, and LGBTQIA students. Their second floor offices offer study and recreational space, and walk-in support for interested students. For the 2016-2017 school year they will be hosting open discussion spaces on our Common Book, Just Mercy.

Overview of the Course Schedule

 Unit I: “A Tale of Love and Fallout”  

 We will use our analysis and discussions of Radioactive to produce multimodal projects—in this case, a children’s book about an historical figure of your choosing. You will need to think carefully about how to shape your ideas and narrative for a very specific audience and how to offer reasoning and evidence for the decisions you make about what material to include and exclude in your book. You will begin to identify and assess ethical questions and problems. You will reflect on your writing practices and revise your writing in light of written and oral responses.

Inquiry Questions: How do we approach a text in assessing not only its meaning, but also its methods? What kinds of support do writers need to offer for the assertions they make? What can one learn from a text about writerly choices and the craft of writing? How do shared understandings affect ethical choices? How does the writing/thinking situation change when the medium, mode, or audience changes?

 Core Assignment:

A children’s book that incorporates narration of an historical figure, along with a 2-3 page assessment of your process.

Unit II: “Written in Stone? Memory, commemoration, and community”

 You will examine texts that commemorate a particular cultural, political, or historical person or event by posing a research question and engaging in the research process. You will attend an intensive library instruction session to further learn about academic research in the VCU library system. You will also think critically about expert sources, their credibility, and their sources of knowledge. You will continue to reflect on your writing practices and revise your writing in light of written and oral responses. You will also practice generating ideas for larger writing projects, working to improve your ability in determining how sources relate to each other, how you discern and explain that relationship, and what meaning emerges from it.

 Inquiry Questions: How does considering the “larger” (i.e. social, political, historical, etc.) contexts of a topic lead to greater critical understanding? How can exploring “expert” sources help one understand these larger contexts? How are the larger questions that characterize the human experience changing over time or from culture to culture? How does organizing a topic and synthesizing sources for an academic audience lead to more substantive analysis?

 Core Assignment:

  • Writing: Analytical writing which summarizes, analyzes, and synthesizes outside sources (minimum of 4 pages or 1000 words)

Unit III: “Who Tells Your Story?”

 In this unit, you will utilize the research methods and writing strategies you learned about in Unit II to produce research questions that will lead to a proposal for a specific commemoration of your chosen person or event. The culminating product will be an ethical reasoning argument—a piece of writing that takes a position and/or makes a claim and supports that position through ethical reasoning and other forms of academic evidence. You will continue to reflect on your writing practices and revise your writing in light of written and oral responses.

 Inquiry Questions: How does one navigate thinking and research when writing for an academic audience? How does starting the research process with a question change the process itself? What kinds of questions lend themselves to ethical reasoning and academic research? How can different answers, and even different kinds of answers, to research questions, help form more complex claims? How can one maintain one’s “voice” within a more formal piece of writing? How do we begin to understand our place and represent our ideas in the larger academic conversation?

 Core Assignments:

  • Individual Writing: Ethical Reasoning Argument (5-7 pages or 1250-1750 words)
  • Individual Presentation of the Final Project

 Calendar: Spring 2017 

Monday Wednesday Friday
  January 18
Unit I Begins

This is the last day to add/drop classes.




Deadline for students to provide advance written notification to observe religious holidays.

30 Feb 1 3 Fishbowl One


6 8 10 First library visit (we’ll be in classroom 203 in Cabell instead of our usual room)
13 15

Last day for undergraduate grades of incomplete to be converted from fall semester

17 Fishbowl Two
Book Exhibition/Peer Review



Unit I Materials Due; Unit II Begins

27 March 1 3 Fishbowl Three

Spring Break


Spring Break


Spring Break

13 15 17



Grade and Project conferences


Grade and project conferences


This is the last day to withdraw from class with a “W.” Consult with your academic advisor before dropping a class.



29 31


Apr 3

Unit II Peer Review

5 7

Unit II Paper Due; Unit III begins

10 12 14
17 19 21

Individual Presentations

Individual Presentations
Individual Presentations
May 1

Last day of class

Individual Presentations






Privacy Statement