Home | About | Undergraduate | Graduate | Prospective | Current | Athletics | Alumni | Faculty/Staff



Course purpose and objectives
The goals for Writing for the Social Sciences, ENGL 103, are to develop students' critical reading, thinking, and writing skills within the context of the writing and research conventions of the social science fields, including nursing and education (exclusive of Secondary English Education). Students in the course should be taught how to read and evaluate texts critically, how to construct original arguments in response to social science readings, how to locate research data in the library and through electronic means, and how to generate original research data through field research projects. To help students accomplish these goals, teachers are asked to present writing as a process and to give students some exposure to the collaborative nature of researching and writing in the social sciences.

Essential skills and outcomes to be acquired through the course include:

1) the ability to render close textual analysis;

2) the ability to synthesize information from multiple texts;

3) the ability to generate clear, cogent ideas;

4) the ability to structure well-developed essays, with thesis, textual support, and analysis;

5) the ability to employ standard written English usage correctly;

6) the ability to locate, evaluate, and incorporate scholarly materials through library and electronic research;

7) the ability to generate and process data through field research;

8) an ability to utilize basic technology to improve writing, thinking, and data processing skills;

9) an understanding of and respect for ethnic/cultural diversity.

Required texts and materials
Dictionary; Social Ethics: Morality and Social Policy by Thomas A. Mappes and Janes S. Zembaty (or other departmentally approved text); Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA); computer account for use of the Knutti Collaborative Learning Computer Lab.

Essays and documented research papers
A minimum of five documented essays are required, one of which will be a longer, formal research paper of at least 1,250 words and one of which will be a documented paper based on an original field-research project. Each essay will be graded and returned to students before the next writing assignment, and at least one essay must be an in-class essay. All papers should be documented according to the APA Publication Manual.

Computer literacy
Because Shepherd University values the importance of computer literacy and because the Department of English values the processes of revision and editing in writing, at least four of the five ENGL 103 essays must be computer drafted. In addition, both the library research paper and the field research paper may require students to use a spread-sheet program (such as Microsoft Excel) to create tables, charts, and graphs. All students must acquire a university computer account and become familiar with the three General Studies basic technology/communication requirements: 1) Internet use, 2) electronic library research, and 3) word processing.

The University Writing Center
To receive individual instruction and feedback on writing in progress, students should be encouraged to visit The Academic Support Services Center in the basement of Scarborough Library. Visits are by appointment (via the online schedule found at or through ShepOwl at

Grades awarded for essays should be consistent with the Department Grading Criteria at, and should follow the values: 90-100=A, 80-89=B, 70-79=C, 60-69=D, 0-59=F.

Revision Approved 4-02-08


Department of English and Modern Languages | P.O. Box 5000 | Shepherdstown, West Virginia | 25443-5000 | 304-876-5220 | 800-344-5231