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ENGLISH 3RW3 Exprtl Pract.:Rdng&Writ Commun (C01)

Academic Year: Winter 2020

Term: Winter

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Cathy Grisé


Office: Chester New Hall 325

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 23510

Office Hours: Tuesdays 2:00-3:00PM; or By Appointment

Course Objectives:

Course Description

This course provides program students with an experiential learning opportunity with an approved community partner: a local elementary school and a secondary school in Hamilton or Burlington. One way in which Humanities students can actively contribute to the community is by volunteering at an elementary or secondary school and assisting in children’s learning. This form of community engagement is valuable for both parties: many children struggle with literacy skills and benefit from the individual assistance of bright, enthusiastic undergraduate students, and many undergraduate students can gain valuable pedagogical experience and skills that will help them understand the importance of literacy and humanities learning for the broader community. McMaster’s vision of Community Engagement emphasizes that relationships between the university and community partners should be reciprocal and benefit both parties. 

Students will combine a volunteer placement with the community partner (40 hours in total for the term) with studying the theories and research of community engagement, experiential learning, and the literary and cultural arts. The instructor and teaching assistant meet weekly with the class for a seminar-style discussion of their academic readings and volunteer experiences. The students will write reflection pieces (such as weekly logs and journals), critical readings summaries, and a final paper that incorporates both a reflection on their volunteer experience and a synthesis of their research findings in a chosen topic of community engagement and the arts. Students will apply their skills of critical reflection and analysis to evaluate their experiences and to examine the roles of Service Learning (SL) partnerships and students-teachers within North American educational systems.


By the end of this course, successful students will be able to:

• Explain, both orally and in writing, key terms and concepts introduced in the course.

• Identify critical frameworks for the study of literacy, pedagogy, and community engagement and evaluate their usefulness as well as their limits.

• Participate successfully and professionally in a service learning partnership and enhance skills of communicating and interacting in a simulated workplace environment.

• Employ the skills of critical reflection and critical analysis to service learning experiences.


Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

Textbooks, Materials & Fees

The required texts are listed on the syllabus and our Avenue to Learn site. These texts include: uploaded documents to Avenue, McMaster Library online texts, and other online texts.

Students are required to have a Vulnerable Sector Screening in order to participate in the experiential practicum portion of the course.

Method of Assessment:

Evaluation Scheme

  • Class Participation: 20%
    • Attendance and participation in seminar-style classes as well as placement contributions.
  • Reading Responses: 15%
    • Students will write brief responses to our reading and provide 2-3 discussion questions (250-500 words each), three times throughout the course. Sign-up for dates will be available in class.
  • Weekly Journal Entries: 20%
    • Student write weekly log entries (250-500 words each) concerning their placement using the template available on Avenue. More information will be supplied in class. Students will submit their entries on Feb. 24 and Mar. 24.
  • Final Paper Proposal: 15%
    • Due Mar. 9, one page (250-300 words), presented to the class for feedback: 10%
    • Peer review workshop feedback, Mar. 16, 5 %
  • Final Paper: 30%
    • 2500 words, Due Apr. 6, last day of classes.


Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Late Policy: Late assignments will be penalized 2% per day, including weekends. Extensions may be requested in advance of the deadline: please contact your TA and/or instructor.



Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:

Reading Schedule – tentative

  • 6 January: Introduction and Community Engagement (CE)
    • Please Complete CE modules 1 and 2 at Complete – take a screenshot before you log out and please submit it.
  • 13 January: What is Service Learning?
    • See Avenue readings and discussion questions.
  • 20 January: What is Critical Reflection?
    • See Avenue readings and discussion questions.
  • 27 January: Service Learning Partnerships I
    • Donna M. Bickford and Nedra Reynolds: “Activism and Service Learning: Reframing Volunteerism as Acts of Dissent”
    • Mary-Beth Raddon and Barbara Harrison: “Is Service-Learning the Kind Face of the Neo-Liberal University?”
  • 3 February: Service Learning Partnerships II
    • Margaret Himley: “Facing (Up to) ‘The Stranger’ in Community Service Learning”
    • Nancy Welch: “’And Now That I Know Them’: Composing Mutuality in a Service Learning Course”
  • 10 February: Literacy Pedagogy I
    • Hamilton, “The Social Context of Literacy”
    • Allan Luke: “Defining Critical Literacy”
  • 17 February: Winter Reading Week
  • Feb. 24: Literacy Pedagogy II
    • Lisa Ottenbreit: “Linking Student Literacy”
    • Carlin Borsheim-Black et. al: “Critical Literature Pedagogy”
  • 2 March: New Literacy Studies
    • Street, “At Last”
    • Mills, “Digital Turn” or Compton-Lilley, “NLS and Struggling Readers”
  • 9 March: Peer Review Day – Final Paper Outline Due
  • 16 March: Savage Inequalities
    • Jonathan Kozol: “Savage Inequalities” – read the introduction and one chapter to share with the class.
  • 23 March: Inequality in Education
    • Gloria Ladson-Billings and William F. Tate IV: “Toward a Critical Race Theory of Education”
  • 30 March: Final SL Analysis Assignment due – discussed in class, discuss final papers too
  • 6 April: Wrap up and Course Evaluations – Final Paper Due