Course Syllabus

Dear students:
Welcome to English 1A! Please read the syllabus carefully, as there will be a quiz on it.
I look forward to working with you this semester.
--Johnny Sarraf

English 1A (Online): College Composition

“You are a no bull---- type of teacher, and that’s what
I like. Also, you are fair & you care.”

—Former composition student


Johnny Sarraf
Faculty Profile page:
Office Hours: Mondays & Wednesdays 10:30 to 11:15 a.m. 
Always check the Canvas Calendar for posted office hours since they will sometimes change.


Welcome to our English 1A online community. In this course you will be exposed to different types of expository writing, as well as some research and documentation skills. You will be expected to read and write regularly. Your reading, writing and our class discussions complement each other; therefore, your participation in all areas is crucial to your success. 

Although this syllabus may seem intimidating, past students have found the class much more comfortable than what the syllabus suggests. Check out what my past students have said, in their own words (under “Getting Started in Canvas" in the Canvas Modules). The syllabus is so specific in order to put you in the best position to succeed in the course. If you make the needed effort, I’m confident that you’ll get a lot out of the class, and hopefully you’ll also enjoy it.

Be advised, however, that we will be dealing with some sensitive material that requires maturity and an open mind to examine. If any material is a concern to you, please contact me about it.

Even as this is an asynchronous online course (meaning that you will be working independently through the course modules this semester), we will have a few optional (but recommended) video class sessions, using Zoom. Those sessions will allow us to meet each other and will make it easier for me to help you to navigate the course as well as permit me to cover a few things more easily than just to have you work through them independently. For the library research instruction session, I will give you a few times and ask that you let me know which work for you. Please respond to that survey as soon as it becomes available to you in Announcements. I'll select the time that works best for most of you. You would then access the Zoom link in order to attend the class meeting by clicking "TechConnect Zoom" from the menu on the left side of the homepage. You must have a working web camera and microphone.


  • A Pocket Style Manual (9th ed.), by Diana Hacker & Nancy Sommers. Bedford-St. Martin’s.
    ISBN: 978-1-319-16954-1
  • Flash drive or regular, reliable access to a web-based application like Google Drive (to save all outside writing in as backup)
  • Regular access to a reliable computer (not a cell phone with Internet access but a computer) and reliable Internet service and working web camera and microphone
    *Please get the exact edition of the book listed so that you're using the current version of MLA format.


  1. Demonstrate an understanding of a variety of discipline-specific skills, strategies, and resources that facilitate the acquisition of college composition conventions and academic discourse.
  2. Demonstrate the capacity to comprehend, summarize, analyze, evaluate, and synthesize college-level texts of various lengths and genres, primarily non-fiction.
  3. Write primarily expository and argumentative texts that respond to a variety of rhetorical situations and contexts.
  4. Locate, evaluate, analyze, and synthesize outside source materials and integrate them into writing assignments using MLA style.
  5. Engage in inquiry and analysis of texts to determine how meaning is constructed and how it relates to the reader.


Upon completion of the course, students will be able to do the following:

Critical Reading, Thinking, and Inquiry:

  1. Demonstrate close reading strategies in order to comprehend primarily non-fiction texts through techniques such as identifying format, genre, purpose, and audience.
  2. Read, analyze, and evaluate a variety of primarily non-fiction texts for content, context, and rhetorical merit with consideration of tone, audience, and purpose.
  3. Demonstrate, in writing and discussion, the conclusions of textual analysis, including an understanding of a text's coherence and structure.
  4. Summarize a text's thesis and major supporting points.
  5. Evaluate a variety of ideas and perspectives through course readings, discussions, and writing assignments.
  6. Engage in deep analysis of ideas, issues, and themes that surface in course readings and assignments.
  7. Understand the role and value of their critical reading, writing, and inquiry practices.
  8. Critically read, analyze, and evaluate a variety of primarily non-fiction texts to make inferences and identify biases and assumptions, to construct meaning from text and make connections to the world around them.


  1. Per Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum (IGETC) standards, students will write, revise, and edit predominantly academic essays totaling 6,000 to 8,000 words.
  2. Organize and develop essays and paragraphs logically and coherently with relevant and sufficient support, demonstrating effective use of rhetorical strategies.
  3. Revise essays, paragraphs, and sentences for coherence and development.
  4. Write timed/in-class essay(s) exhibiting acceptable college-level control of mechanics, organization, development, and coherence.
  5. Demonstrate the capacity to employ academic writing conventions without any disruptive errors of punctuation, grammar, and spelling to achieve one's desired rhetorical purpose.

Informational Literacy and Research:

  1. Demonstrate facility with research techniques, including use of library and online tools.
  2. Evaluate ideas and arguments that address a variety of social and cultural topics from different points of view.
  3. Recognize the difference between primary and secondary sources.
  4. Synthesize ideas from outside source materials to draw evidence-based conclusions.
  5. Integrate outside source material into writing assignments using MLA format for essays and Works Cited.
  6. Understand the ethical implications of source attribution to avoid plagiarism.


You need to follow MLA format for each essay:

  • Double-space every line. (It’s a good idea to set up double-spacing once you create a document.)
  • Use one-inch left, right, top, and bottom margins.
  • Use Times New Roman and have 12 characters per inch.
  • Do not include a separate cover page.
  • For the 1st page, in the upper left corner, include your name, instructor name, course name (and section number in parentheses), and date.

    First page of an essay.jpg


  • For other pages include a header at the top right (e.g., Jones 2).

    Second page of an essay.jpg


  • Center your essay’s title and come up with a title that directs and focuses the essay rather than just restates the title or description of the assignment.
  • Don’t justify your text. Make sure the right side of the paper is uneven. (Use this syllabus as an example.)
  • All your writing for essay assignments should be appropriate for a college writing course, which means that in your writing you should generally not use slang and language that would be appropriate in casual conversation.
  • You must save every draft of every out of class essay in a flash drive or through a web-based application such as Google Docs (in addition to wherever you save it in the computer itself). There will be no excuse for a draft that you didn’t save and can’t access. Save as a .doc or .pdf.
  • The revision of Essay #1, Essay #2, OR Essay #3 will be accepted up to two days (48 hours) late, but it will be lowered a letter grade (ten percentage points) per day that it is late. It is considered late if it is submitted any time after the time that it was due. You’ll need to contact me right away if your paper is going to be late. You won’t receive written feedback on a late paper. Failure to submit any one of the assigned essays will lead you to fail the course.
  • The rough draft of Essay #1, Essay #2, and Essay #3 cannot be accepted late since Canvas will distribute the drafts for the peer review workshop for each assignment. Not submitting the rough draft will lower the revision grade one letter grade (ten percentage points). Also, you will forfeit the points from the peer review workshop.
  • Many of your assignments require a computer (not smartphone) to complete, so be prepared ahead of time.
  • I highly encourage you to visit the Online Writing Center ("SRJC Tutoring" in the menu on the left side of our homepage) to get help on some area of at least your first paper in progress. Show the assignment to the instructor there and have a focus for your visit—something particular to have the instructor address. Complete the Writing Center form from the Modules section of our course page and get an electronic verification from the Writing Center for your visit. Complete and then submit the form to me before you submit the revision of your essay. You may earn five points of extra credit for your visit if you also submit a completed Writing Center form. You may earn extra credit for up to two such visits. Students who earn lower than a B- grade on the first essay are especially encouraged to visit the Writing Center in order to get help with their next essay prior to the due date.


  • Plagiarism—the undocumented use of someone else’s words or ideas—will result in a grade of F or 0 for the assignment, depending on the nature of the offense. Repeated plagiarism or any other academic integrity violation will result in an automatic F in the course and possible administrative action by the college. See SRJC’s Academic Integrity policy.
  • In its commitment to academic honesty and accurate assessment of student work, SRJC uses to prevent and detect plagiarism. This instructor reserves the right to have students submit their assignments to in order to check for similarities between student submissions and the Internet, various research databases, and the database of previous student submissions. Furthermore, this instructor may also submit essays to other instructors seeking plagiarism matches. Assignments submitted to by students will become part of a database and will be used for plagiarism prevention and detection. Student papers, however, will remain the intellectual property of the author.
  • For a few quizzes, Procotorio Secure Exam Proctor will monitor you. Your computer must have a minimum of 2 GB RAM available and a working web CAMERA in order to take those quizzes. You must follow the directions exactly as provided to you by Proctorio in preparing you to start a quiz, including moving the web camera slowly all over your room and working space when directed to do so.
  • You may not open up any other web browser or use any other computer other than what you are using to take the quizzes. Proctorio also monitors screen activity. Violation of these conditions will lead to a 0 on the quiz and will be followed by administrative action


  • Attendance: You must be involved regularly in order for our community to thrive and for you to be successful. Per SRJC policy, students who do not initiate participation in an online course by the end of the first day may be dropped from the course.
  • Missing more than FOUR informal assignments such as exercises, free-writing, quizzes, or Discussion Board postings (each considered the equivalent of a class session) will result in you being dropped from the class (per SRJC attendance policy). This is because it will be impossible for you to learn and develop the skills that this course is designed to provide if you are not a present and active contributor. This policy will be enforced regardless of passing grades earned on assignments.
  • You will not be permitted to submit informal assignments such as exercises, free-writing, quizzes, and the Discussion Board past the deadline, so be sure to keep up with due dates. No exceptions.
  • Technical problems are not an acceptable excuse for not submitting assignments on time.
  • All the written work done for the course must be typed.
  • If you don’t understand something about what I covered or what is assigned, then please contact me early enough to be able to help you, but be sure first to read directions carefully for all assigned work. Don’t be the “Blue-haired Boy” from this video:
  • The best time to reach me is during my office hours. We will use Zoom, a video conferencing application, for office hours. You will need to have a working web camera and microphone in order to use Zoom. Certain questions (such as those having to do with grades) lend themselves to such a video meeting. Sign up for an appointment during my office hours by clicking on the Canvas Calendar from the menu on the left side of our homepage. Then select an available block from the office hours listed. Just before your appointment is scheduled to begin, use the provided Zoom link. Once your appointment time comes (or once I finish meeting with another student), I will admit you from the waiting room in Zoom so that we can meet.
  • Withdrawals must be completed according to college policy (see catalog) or risk a grade of F. You may not count on being dropped by me; if you plan on dropping the class, you’ll need to do so officially.
  • As a student here, you are required to abide by SRJC’s Student Code of Conduct.


Letter grades equal the typical grade percentage (for example, a B = 85%, a B- = 80%, etc.). The grading breakdown below has to do with how much weight each assignment or category is given (for example, the Timed Writing accounts for 15% of the total course grade).
(72% is the very minimum percentage to earn a C in the course overall.)

20% = Essay #1
25% = Essay #2 (Research-based Argumentative Essay)
20% = Essay #3 
20% = Discussion Postings, Exercises, Quizzes
15% = Final: Timed Writing (Essay #4)


 5 Feb.       Last Day to Drop (without a W)
 6 Apr.       Last Day to Drop (with a W)
30 Apr.      End of Course   


SRJC is committed to providing reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities upon timely request of the student and upon verification of disability. Please contact the Disability Resources Office (Jacobs Hall, Room 101) at (707) 778-2491. On the Santa Rosa Campus (Bertolini Hall, 3rd floor), call (707) 527-4278.


  • E-mail messages must be professional: do not just start writing your message; first, address me by name (e.g., Professor Sarraf, for example). I will show you the same courtesy.
  • Use appropriate professional language (not language that is acceptable when texting your friends).
  • Be sure to identify the course and section number.
  • Do not expect to reach me during weekends. If you need to reach me during the week, the best time is during my posted office hours. If you need to reach me but not during that time, please send a message. If you e-mail Monday through Thursday, I will usually get back to you within 24 hours. 
  • Please understand that you are not the only person trying to reach me, so if your need is urgent, then you really need to see me during office hours. Otherwise, I will get to your message once I can.


  • An online course requires you to be self-disciplined and always aware of due dates. When you read the overview for each week, you should plan your days so that you can give yourself enough time to complete each assignment. Be sure always to read carefully every post in Announcements as well as everything that I e-mail to you.
  • In order to pass the course, you must expect to participate actively, take notes where needed, contribute to class discussion, complete assignments, and pass the quizzes. Please keep all the work that is returned to you until you receive your grade from the college.
  • I encourage you to be open to different approaches that we take and to different views on various subjects. Challenge yourself by considering different ways of doing things.
  • It’s important that you always do the work assigned (even the little things), if you expect to do well in the class.
  • I highly encourage you to meet with me during my Zoom office hours to get help on your writing or to talk about anything we’re covering in class or any problems you’re having in the class. Your concerns are not “silly” or “stupid” to me, but I can try to help only if you make it known that you need help.
  • Please do not e-mail your drafts to me with questions that probably cannot reasonably and easily be answered electronically; instead, set up an appointment during my office hours, and have a focus for your visit, something particular to address in your writing. I would be very happy to help you then.
  • Someone else who can help you is our fabulous Peer Assisted Learning Specialist (PALS). I highly encourage you to set up a time to meet with our PALS briefly via Zoom in these first few weeks of the term. Then later in the term, when you need help, you'll see how approachable and helpful that person is.
  • Please note that Canvas tracks your activity in the course such as when you access an assignment, a post in Announcements, my feedback within the revisions of your essays, and so forth, so when you are asked to read feedback by a certain date, please be sure to do so in order to make whatever adjustments are needed as you work on the next assignment.
  • It is completely inappropriate to lobby an instructor for a higher grade than the one that you are earning. If you would like clarification for a particular grade earned on an assignment, you’re welcome to come by my office during office hours at least seven full days after receiving your essay and after you have read the grading rubric, assignment, and the essay itself, but do not persist in making comments like, “But I’m an A student” and similar remarks. I will answer questions about grades only privately during an office (Zoom) visit. Do not e-mail questions about your grade, and do not e-mail any messages at the end of the semester about trying to get a higher grade than the one that you earned.
  • This is our contract, so as an enrolled student in our class you understand your responsibilities and accept the conditions for being a student in it. Please speak to me if you have any questions. It is also a good idea to review the syllabus periodically throughout the term. Just because you couldn’t remember anything from the syllabus does not mean it does not apply to you.
  • I find learning and teaching to be very rewarding, and I really value playing a part in helping students reach their goals. I try to foster a healthy, comfortable environment in my classes, and I hope that you will sense that right away and allow it to help you reach your full potential.                  

Course Summary:

Date Details Due