Discernment & Discourse

Dallas Hall

Policies

Statement on Academic Honesty

Southern Methodist University has an Honor Code; students are expected to pledge that any work that they turn in is the product of their own minds and efforts. When you sign your name to the Honor Pledge-"On my honor, I have neither given or received any unauthorized aid on this work"- you offer your own character as evidence that you have abided by SMU's Honor Code.

  • You have not taken any words from any other piece of writing-published, unpublished, or online-without putting quotation marks around such words and indicating their source. This pledge pertains to phrases as well as whole sentences, and even to significant single words, such as those that express opinion or judgment.
  • You have not taken ideas from any source-including an online source-even if you express them in your own words in summary or in paraphrase, without giving credit to that source.
  • You have organized your material according to a plan of your own creation, based upon your own thorough exploration of the assignment.
  • While you may have asked someone for an opinion about your paper, you have received only suggestions. You have neither asked nor allowed someone else to write, revise, edit, proofread, or otherwise modify your work in any way.

SMU students understand that a violation of the Honor Code results in severe penalties. One minimum penalty given by the Honor Council is a notation of "Honor Violation" for the course, which will remain on a student's official transcript for three years after graduation. Other penalties recommended by the Honor Council can include deferred suspension for one calendar year, indefinite suspension, or even expulsion from the University.

Class Attendance and Office Visits

Written English classes are workshop classes; therefore, attendance, preparation, and participation are both expected and required. However, since illnesses and crises do occur, you may need to miss a class or two. You may also need to miss class to observe a religious holiday per University Policy 1.9 or to participate in a legitimate University function. Inform your instructor—in advance whenever possible—if you must be absent. Be prepared to provide documentation for absences you believe excusable, and be aware that it is your responsibility to ascertain that the instructor will, in fact, excuse the absence. Whether your absence is excused or unexcused, you are nevertheless responsible for all work that is due and for all material covered or assigned in the class or classes you miss.

Attendance Policy

If you have more than three unexcused absences in a MWF section or two in a TTH section, your grade will suffer a penalty of up to a full letter grade. And if you have more than six unexcused MWF absences or four in a TTH class, you should expect to fail the course. If you have more than one absence during a summer session, expect your grade to be lowered; if you have more than three absences, you risk failing the course. Because the University’s General Education policies mandate that students be enrolled in the Written English sequence each semester until they satisfactorily complete the Written Fundamentals requirement, students may not drop Written English.

If you have a special problem with attendance, confer with your instructor. Do not just stop attending your classes. Your teachers will announce their office hours at the beginning of each semester; you can visit their offices during these hours or request an appointment for a conference. If you experience difficulties with any phase of the course, see your teacher immediately. Do not wait until these problems become insurmountable.

Standards for Evaluation

Content

  • Excellent (A)
    Significant controlling idea or assertion supported with concrete, substantial, and relevant evidence.  
  • Good (B)
    Controlling idea or assertion supported with concrete and relevant evidence.
  • Adequate (C)
    Controlled idea or assertion general, limited, or obvious; some supporting evidence is repetitious, irrelevant, or sketchy.
  • Poor (D)
    Controlling idea or assertion too general, superficial, or vague; evidence insufficient because it is obvious, contradictory, or aimless.
  • Failing (F)
    No discernible idea or assertion controls the random or unexplained details that make up the body of the essay.

Development

  • Excellent (A)
    Order reveals a sense of necessity, symmetry, and emphasis; paragraphs focused and coherent; logical transitions reinforce the progress of the analysis or argument. Introduction engages initial interest; conclusion supports without repeating.
  • Good (B)
    Order reveals a sense of necessity and emphasis; paragraphs focused and coherent; logical transitions signal changes in direction; introduction engages initial interest; conclusion supports without merely repeating.
  • Adequate (C)
    Order apparent but not consistently maintained; paragraphs focused and for the most part coherent; transitions functional but often obvious or monotonous. Introduction or conclusions may be mechanical rather than purposeful or insightful.
  • Poor (D)
    Order unclear or inappropriate, failing to emphasize central idea; paragraphs jumbled or underdeveloped; transitions unclear, inaccurate, or missing. Introduction merely describes what is to follow; conclusion merely repeats what has been said.
  • Failing (F)
    Order and emphasis indiscernible; paragraphs typographical rather than structural; transitions unclear, inaccurate, or missing. Neither the introduction nor the conclusion satisfies any clear rhetorical purpose.

Style

  • Excellent (A)
    Sentences varied, purposeful, and emphatic; diction fresh, precise, economical, and idiomatic; tone complements the subject, conveys the authorial persona, and suits the audience.
  • Good (B)
    Sentences varied, purposeful, and emphatic; diction precise and idiomatic; tone fits the subject, persona, and audience.
  • Adequate (C)
    Sentences competent but lacking emphasis and variety; diction generally correct and idiomatic; tone acceptable for the subject.
  • Poor (D)
    Sentences lack necessary emphasis, subordination, and purpose; diction vague or unidiomatic; tone inconsistent with or inappropriate to the subject.
  • Failing (F)
    Incoherent, rudimentary, or redundant sentences thwart the meaning of the essay; diction nonstandard or unidiomatic; tone indiscernible or inappropriate to the subject.

Usage

  • Excellent (A)
    Grammar, syntax, punctuation, and spelling adhere to the conventions of “edited American English.”
  • Good (B)
    Grammar, syntax, punctuation, and spelling contain no serious deviations from the conventions of “edited American English.”
  • Adequate (C)
    Content undercut by some deviations from the conventions of “edited American English.”
  • Poor (D)
    Frequent mistakes in grammar, syntax, punctuation, and spelling obscure content.
  • Failing (F)
    Frequent and serious mistakes in grammar, syntax, punctuation, and spelling make the content unintelligible.

On Plagiarism

Plagiarism is literary theft. At its worst, it involves an outright intent to deceive, to pass off another's work as one's own. More often, it is the result of carelessness or ignorance. But whether intentional or unintentional (the distinction is often hard to draw), plagiarism is always an error and a serious one (Stone and Bell 214).

Copyright laws exist to protect author's rights to their own ideas as well as their actual words. In addition, scholarly ethics demand that writers make accessible to their readers the research materials they have used to develop their written argument or presentation. Student writers are expected to observe at all times both the limits of the copyright laws and the ethics of scholarly research. To this end, all written work submitted in any course should be organized according to an original plan. Words taken from anyone else's work-spoken or written, in print or on line-must be quoted and cited; and ideas taken from someone else's work, whether paraphrased or summarized, must be cited as well.

While the purpose of any argument should be to express an original idea and point of view, it is often desirable for students to draw information or ideas from responsible sources and to use those ideas to support or enhance their own observations and conclusions. All quotations and borrowed material must properly credited to their sources.

Copying published material or borrowing the words of another person without acknowledging indebtedness constitutes plagiarism. SMU students who plagiarize may be subject to failure in the course and to any other disciplinary actions the Honor Council may impose.