ENL 111 & 121 (Vavra) Main Courses Menu

General Directions for Major Papers

      This section contains the major paper assignments that probably will be used in the course. Note the "probably." Do not start an assignment before the due date of the preceding assignment or before you are specifically told to do so: if you do, you may have wasted your time as the assignment may be replaced. Note that in addition to the assignment, there are links to a checklist and grading sheet(s) for each major assignment. Be sure to read all of these before you begin. In some cases there are also sample papers which should help you understand what is expected. 
     Under the "Grading Sheet(s)," you will find a summary grade sheet and links to detailed sheets. The detailed sheets break the grade for each assignment into numerous categories with the point values of each. You should at least look at these. If you wish, you can print them out, complete them (grading your own paper), and submit them with your paper. If you do so, I will complete my part of them, add more comments, and return them to you. (The more work you do, the more work I will do for you.) If you opt not to do the detailed sheets, you will simply get a summary sheet with your grade. 

The following are additional suggestions. 

      1. Don't procrastinate! I will expect your envelope to contain lots of notes, outlines, drafts, etc. If you put the paper off until the night it is due, you will not do a good job, and major papers count for a large percent of your grade. 

      2. Plan on working on your paper on at least four different days. Use the first day to brainstorm and tinker with a tentative audience, thesis, and outline. Then put the paper aside for a day. When you resume work, review your storming, audience, thesis and outline - you may see it in a very different light. When you are satisfied with them, draft the essay. (This may take several sessions over several days.) When you have finished the draft, put the essay aside for at least a day. When you resume work, review and revise the essay. The best way to do this is to examine the detailed grading sheets and see how your paper fits the criteria for Audience, Thesis, Organization, and Details. If it doesn't get enough points to satisfy your expectations (and desires) for a grade, make changes. When you finish revising, you should be mentally exhausted. Set the paper aside. On the last day of work, edit your paper, concentrating on spelling, sentence structure, and the other aspects of style. Then print or type the final copy. 

      3. See me if you have questions/problems, but bring what you have done with you. I used to chase after students: I required conferences from everyone, etc., but I learned that some students simply don't care and will procrastinate. Conferences are useless unless you have started work and have questions. I learned to stop wasting time chasing, and to use that time to relax and to help those students who want help. 

      4. Use the Tutoring Center if you need additional help. I'm usually in or near my office during my office hours, and I will come in to see you if you make an appointment, but I realize that some students may not feel comfortable with me. The Tutoring Center is open many hours a day, and it is convenient. Use it if you want/need to. Remember, however, that you are responsible for your paper. The Tutoring Center is there to help you understand what you are doing, not to do it for you. (You should also know that the Center sends me a report every time you use it.) 

5. Follow the MLA format for papers. This includes your last name and a page number in the upper right corner of each page. Do not include a title page. On the first page, top left put your name. Under it, put my name (Dr. Vavra). Under that, put the course ("ENL 111 Composition" or ENL 121 Introduction to Literature"). Under that put the date. [Note for ENL 111 -- Under the date, put your intended audience (publication).] Then, center your title. Do not underline or put quotation marks around your own title.
     Start your text, indenting paragraphs. Double-space everything, and use a 10- or 11-point standard font. (Use something fancy, and I may have trouble reading it.) For an example, click here to see the first page of the "Sample Research Paper -- MLA," from page 33 of the Fifth Edition of A Basic Guide for Producing the Research Paper, by Sandra Lakey and Joseph Loehr (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2002).
     Don't forget that, in addition to using this MLA format, I expect you to number the paragraphs in your paper (1,2,3,4,5, etc.) to correspond with your paragraph outline.

      6. If you want to do a good job, make the assignment your own. A human brain can be interested in almost anything. You are human, and you are NOT stupid. You can narrow most of the major paper assignments in any way you like. 

This border is a reproduction of
Diego Velazquez's
The Count-Duke of Olivares on Horseback
1634 Oil on canvas, Museo del Prado, Madrid 
adapted from Mark Harden's WWW Artchive
[for educational use only] 
Click here for the directory of my backgrounds based on art.