Syllabus FAQ

Syllabus: FAQ Version


What is ENG 1101?

Course Description

This composition course provides all students with effective essay writing skills and basic research techniques, including an introduction to using our college library. Demanding readings assigned for classroom discussion will serve as a basis for essay writing and developing skills for critical and effective reading. Nearly all first year students at City Tech take this core course. Learning how to write well and to think critically during your first semester will help you do well in all of your classes. The “prerequisite” (required competency) for enrolling in ENG 1101 is: CUNY proficiency in reading and writing

How can I contact my instructor during or in-between class sessions?

Faculty Contact Information

Name: Professor Sarah Schmerler

Email address:

What are “office hours”? When are your office hours?

My online office hours: Hours TBA on Zoom.

Why You Should Use Office Hours

I honestly think that Office Hour is one of the best parts of teaching and learning. During office hours, you can speak with me outside of class about questions you have for this course, about assignments or expectations, to receive extra feedback on assigned work, and any other course related issues you may have. Maybe you feel overwhelmed? Here is where you can totally get my ear and I really want to help.

In a traditional in-person class, the office hours are conducted in my office — well, I never really had my own office, I shared one. I’d meet students at my desk in the adjunct office, or sometimes in the Cafeteria or the Bookstore. With the pandemic making this no longer an option,  “virtual office hours” are being offered on Zoom. Remember, these will be available to all students in all of the courses I teach, so you may not be the only student present, but that can be cool, too. You learn from each other.

When does our online class “meet”?

Online Class Meeting Information

For now, we will meet on Zoom during regular class time. Then, we will set up a schedule of when we meet live and when we work, self guided, solely from posts on our OpenLab website. Group DISCUSSION and student work will get posted there, as well as weekly ANNOUNCEMENTS that will convey your new assignment and weekly TO DO lists. When you do you assignments and posts on time (they are time and date stamped) that counts as an attendance if we are not meeting on Zoom.

This design  is modeled on a typical twice a week, semester-long course and follows the official Academic Calendar found on the college website. To re-iterate:

  • EachTuesday and Thursday at 10 am, we meet in Zoom; if we don’t meet “live” that week for any reason, you will get an ANNOUNCEMENT and a To-Do List with information and links about the day’s activities. Timely participation in these activities will count as attendance credit for that day.

Where will I find course material and information?

Online Learning Platforms

Our course will be facilitated online on OpenLab. It is extremely important that you familiarize yourself with our OpenLab site and find out where course materials are located.

How will I use the class OpenLab site?

On our OpenLab site you will:

  • Find the Announcements and To-Do List
  • Find all class reading and presentation materials
  • Create posts including your works in progress for participation in peer review activities
  • Comment on your peers’ posts

The OpenLab course site, discussion area, and To-Do lists constitute our primary means of keeping in touch, so please check these platforms regularly.  You must also check your CUNY email! Please contact me if you are having trouble!

Course Readings and Texts

We will have many readings and course materials, all of which will be made available on this  OpenLab site.  All course materials are available at no-cost. You will also be given instructions on how to use our College library materials.

How will my grade in ENG 1101 be determined?

Grading Policy and Breakdown

Your grade will be assessed based on two primary components.

  • The Final Portfolio (60%), which will include revisions of the major essays
  • Homework and Participation (40%), which will include all class discussion boards, peer review activities, homework assignments, and basically everything else you post online.

What is in the Final Portfolio?

All assignments are found under assignments on the course OpenLab site. The assignments in your Final Portfolio will be worth 60% of your final grade, with the grade breakdown as follows:

Unit One: 10% (Educational Narrative)

Unit Two: 20% (Annotated Bibliography)

Unit Three: 20% (Exploring a New Genre)

Final Reflection: 10% (Reviewing what you have learned in ENG 1101)

All of the above represent  60%  of your overall course grade. Please note that you will have the opportunity to revise units one, two, and three for the final portfolio. When you resubmit revisions, you will be able to improve your grade on those units.

What is included in Participation and Homework?

Your participation and homework count for 40% of your grade in this class. In this class, you’re graded almost as much on your weekly low-stakes assignments (which include the blog posts with short writing assignments, comments/posts, and peer review activities) as you are on your high-stakes essay assignments. This is because in this class, you’re not learning how to write one particular paper or how to do one particular thing, you are learning about the process of writing (and reading—and researching) and all of these are the behind-the-scenes work, the homework. The process is also learned through online participation with others in this class. Many of these activities are designed to help you get your thoughts and ideas down in words. Still more will focus on ways to organize your papers, read and effectively take notes, conduct research, and read thoughtfully the papers of others in peer review.

How will you assess my grade in participation and homework?

Grading Policy for Participation Activities and Homework

If you complete the required class Participation Activities specified on the Announcement To-Do List and homework such as the Peer Review activities before the designated deadlines, you’ll get full credit. Grammar is not the focus of these activities though you should aim write in a manner that you feel proud of sharing, because I will mark off for sloppiness and I will reward you for being professional. Approach these assignments thoroughly and thoughtfully, and in a timely manner. Writing is largely about discipline and routine, so this is a good way to learn that– and to earn 40% of the credit for this course. Over the months, I DO pay ATTENTION to your activities.

A Note on Attendance

I love a woke, active, fun class, and you should, too. I watch on Zoom to see who is helping the time along, and who is not.

As for asynchronous time, well: In face-to-face classes, we take attendance for your sake as much as for our own. If someone isn’t coming to class, we worry they won’t succeed in a writing class -– and that’s because, as I said above, writing is more about work and learning your own process than it is about magical talent. Even in an asynchronous online class, you have to “show up.” Remember to check the Announcement and To-Do Lists to see what you need to catch up with, even if we are not meeting on Zoom. In other words, I want to see you! I want to see all of my students working together in this class. In addition, you will get a much fuller college experience by taking time on participation activities and interacting with your peers online.

How can I keep track of my assignments and work that needs to be done?

  • An overall schedule is provided on the course site with major due dates
  • You must also check the ANNOUNCEMENTS and TO-DO Lists by using the menu at the top of the OpenLab Site

What criteria did the instructor use to design this course and the assignments?

ENG 1101 Departmental Learning Outcomes

These materials and the course structure were designed to meet  learning outcomes (course goals)  developed by the English Department It is expected that at a minimum, students in ENG 1101 will:

Read and listen critically and analytically in a variety of genres and rhetorical situations: Identify and evaluate exigencies, purposes, claims, supporting evidence, and underlying assumptions in a variety of texts, genres, and media.

Adapt to and compose in a variety of genres: Adapt writing conventions in ways that are suitable to different exigencies and purposes in a variety of contexts, including academic, workplace, and civic audiences. When appropriate, repurpose prior work to new genres, audiences, and media by adjusting delivery, design, tone, organization, and language.

Use research as a process of inquiry and engagement with multiple perspectives: Learn to focus on a topic and develop research questions that lead to propositions and claims that can be supported with well-reasoned arguments. Persuasively communicate and repurpose research projects across a variety of contexts, purposes, audiences, and media. Demonstrate research skills through attribution and citation gathering, evaluating, and synthesizing both primary and secondary sources. Learn how to use appropriate citation styles depending on disciplinary and situational requirements (MLA, APA, Chicago, etc.).

Use reflection and other metacognitive processes to revise prior assumptions about reading and writing and transfer acquired knowledge into new writing situations. Students write reflections of their own reading and writing process from the beginning and throughout the semester with the intention to transfer their acquired knowledge about genre and composing practices into new writing situations.

Demonstrate the social and ethical responsibilities and consequences of writing: Recognize that first-year writing includes academic, workplace, and civic contexts, all of which require careful deliberation concerning the ethical and social ramifications concerning fairness, inclusivity, and respect for diversity. Write and revise for academic and broader, public audiences accordingly.

Compose in 21st Century Environments: Learn to choose among the most current and effective delivery methods for different composing situations. Students learn to compose in new media environments, including alphabetic texts, still and moving images, sonic, and mixed media compositions. Use digital media platforms appropriate to audience and purpose.

University Policies

Where can students find out about the extra learning accommodations at the College? How do I sign up?

Accessibility Statement

 Your success in this class is important to me. We all need different accommodations because we all learn differently. If there are aspects of this course that prevent you from learning or exclude you, please let me know as soon as possible. Together we’ll develop strategies to meet both your needs and the requirements of the course. I encourage you to visit or contact The Center for Student Accessibility to determine how you could improve your learning as well. If you need official accommodations, you have a right to have these met. If you have or think you may have a disability, you may be eligible for reasonable accommodations or academic adjustments as provided under applicable federal, state and city laws. You may also request services for temporary conditions or medical issues under certain circumstances. The Center for Student Accessibility is located at 300 Jay Street room L-237, or can be reached at (718)260-5143 or

What constitutes as plagiarism and how can I avoid it?

Never ever plagiarize in my course. What is plagiarism? Read this for starters.  I will give you a failing grade for the assignment in which you copied and if you do it two more times I will fail you from the whole course. I run all your work through an Online plagiarism checker, in case you were wondering. I also look to see that you are not copying from your fellow students on OpenLab.

Academic Integrity and Plagiarism Statement

 Students and all others who work with information, ideas, texts, images, music, inventions, and other intellectual property owe their audience and sources accuracy and honesty in using, crediting, and citing sources. As a community of intellectual and professional workers, the College recognizes its responsibility for providing instruction in information literacy and academic integrity, offering models of good practice, and responding vigilantly and appropriately to infractions of academic integrity. Accordingly, academic dishonesty is prohibited at New York City College of Technology and is punishable by penalties, including failing grades, suspension, and expulsion.

How can I get extra writing help on my assignments?

Writing Center

For one-on-one help with your writing assignments, send an email to requesting an appointment. You will receive an automatic reply with information about available tutoring sessions.

What if my health or other conditions surrounding the COVID-19 Pandemic unexpectedly deteriorate over the course of this fall semester? Will I have to drop the course?

Self-Care Statement

There isn’t a handbook for the situation we are in right now as a state and a nation, and the resultant uncertainty can be stressful. We need to recognize the toll this situation might be taking on us and be compassionate with ourselves and with others. This semester, our priority will be to foster intellectual nourishment, social connection, and personal accommodation. We will remain flexible, and if we have to, we will adjust to the situation (adapted from Prof. Brandon Bayne’s syllabus, UNC).

Where can I get free software for my computer?

Microsoft Office Programs

The City University of New York provides Microsoft Office 365 for Education to students at participating colleges, including City Tech via the Microsoft Office in Education program. You sign in using your Blackboard credentials (this is different than your regular CityTech email) and have online access to MS Word, Powerpoint, Excel and other programs in the MS Office Suite. You may also be eligible to download the Suite to your computer.  For more information, see this onerous link: