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ENGLISH 3RW3 Exprtl Pract.:Rdng&Writ Commun

Academic Year: Winter 2018

Term: Winter

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Cathy Grisé


Office: Chester New Hall 325

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 23510

Office Hours: Thursdays 12:30-1:30pm, 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 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.

Students will combine a volunteer placement with the community partner (and 48 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 will 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 in a service learning partnership, being critically aware of the power dynamics and models that these partnerships can create as well as critique.

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

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

Textbooks, Materials, and 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:

Method of Assessment

Evaluation Scheme

Class Participation: 15%

Attendance and participation in seminar-style classes as well as placement contributions.

Seminar Assignment: 10%

Students will sign up on the first day of classes for their seminar assignment slot(s) throughout the term. The assignment is a choice between 2 reading responses (250-500 words each) or group teaching an article to the class.

Personal Reflections: 15%

Student write these weekly (250-500 words each) and they will be collected on 3 due dates: Feb. 8, Mar. 1, and Mar. 22.

Service Learning (SL) Analysis Assignments: 20%

Students will submit a midterm assignment (500 words, Feb. 15, 5%) and an end-of-term assignment (1000 words, Mar. 29, 15%).

Final Paper Proposal: 10%

            Due Mar. 8, one page, presented to the class for feedback.

Final Paper: 30%

            Due Apr. 5, last day of classes.


Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Attendance and Participation 

This course has high expectations for your participation and attendance. We have two components: the seminar class portion (2-3 hours per week) and the experiential practicum portion (48 hours for the term, approximately 4 hours per week). The seminar class will depend on group discussion and in-class activities, and thus will require active student participation. In addition, it is important to be a consistent presence to the students you are working with in the practicum. Please be sure to alert your TA and your contact person at the school if you are unable to make your commitment.

Late Assignments 

Extensions must be approved before the due date. Late assignments will be deducted two percent per day (including Saturdays and Sundays). We have some in-class assignments as well, which will require special arrangements if they are missed.

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 for seminar portion of the class; schedule for experiential practicum will be determined individually

  • 4 January: Introduction and Community Engagement (CE)
    • Complete CE modules 1 and 2 at Complete, and read the webpages on CE provided on Avenue
    • Questions: What definitions of CE have you learned? What do you think CE is?
  • 11 January: What is Service Learning?
    • Read through Avenue content and the Johns Hopkins Service Learning Toolkit:
    • Questions: What benefits do you see in applying SL to your studies? What can SL add that traditional courses cannot? How does the institution ensure that SL is not an add-on to a course but truly enhances the learning experience and curriculum? Why/how is SL or a practicum useful for gaining classroom experience?
  • 18 January: What is Critical Reflection?
    • PowerPoint presentation on Avenue and Colorado State University's description of the Importance of Student Reflection:
    • Questions: What value could critical reflections add to your observation journals? How can critical reflection help you apply your learning to your experiences and vice versa? What do you think is the goal of critical reflection?
  • 25 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?”
  • 1 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”
  • 8 February: Literacy Pedagogy I – Observation Journals Collection 1
    • Hamilton, “The Social Context of Literacy”
    • Allan Luke: “Defining Critical Literacy”
  • 15 February: Literacy Pedagogy II – Midterm SL Analysis Assignment due
    • Lisa Ottenbreit: “Linking Student Literacy”
    • Carlin Borsheim-Black et. al: “Critical Literature Pedagogy”
  • 22 February: Winter Reading Week
  • 1 March: New Literacy Studies – Observation Journals Collection 2
    • Street, “At Last”
    • Mills, “Digital Turn” or Compton-Lilley, “NLS and Struggling Readers”
  • 8 March: Peer Review Day – Final Paper Outline Due
  • 15 March: Inequality in Education
    • Gloria Ladson-Billings and William F. Tate IV: “Toward a Critical Race Theory of Education”
    • Tristany Leikem “The Starting Line: Examining Inequality in United States”
  • 22 March: Savage Inequalities – Observation Journals Collection 3
    • Jonathan Kozol: “Savage Inequalities” – read the introduction and one chapter to share with the class.
  • 29 March: Final SL Analysis Assignment due – discussed in class, discuss final papers too
  • 5 April: Wrap up and Course Evaluations – Final Paper Due