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ENG-103 - Critical Thinking in Reading and Writing - Abby McMillen

Course:Critical Thinking in Reading and Writing
Professor:Abby McMillen
  • Online
Course Length:
  • 5 Week


I'm Abby McMillen, an English instructor here at College of the Canyons.  I have taught at COC for five years, and have been a classroom teacher since 2004.  I started as a full-time instructor in the local high school district, and then spent a few years working with home-schooling families at a local charter school before starting my career here at COC.

Course Description

English 103 examines the principles of critical thinking as applied to writing and reading arguments on complex issues.  Focuses on textual analysis, argumentative writing, and logical reasoning. Essay topics may include pop culture, politics, social issues, or moral/ethical issues.

Upon successful completion of the course, you will be able to:

  • Evaluate the strength of written, visual, and multimedia arguments.
  • Compose logical, well-reasoned arguments in thesis-driven, MLA-style formal essays.

Specific Objectives:

1. Critically read, analyze, compare, and evaluate complex, non-fiction texts

2. Demonstrate understanding of formal and informal fallacies and bias in texts, including one?s own writing

3. Identify a text's conclusion, premises and assumptions

4. Analyze texts through various social, historical, humanistic, cultural, psychological, or aesthetic contexts

5. Analyze and employ logical and structural methods such as inductive and deductive reasoning, cause and effect, and rhetorical strategies such as logos, ethos, and pathos

6. Compose thesis-driven arguments to suit the rhetorical situation and support them with a variety of appropriate and credible textual evidence and examples

7. Find, analyze, interpret, and evaluate primary and secondary sources, incorporating them into written essays using current MLA format without plagiarism

8. Use style, diction, and tone appropriate to the academic community and the purpose of the specic writing situation, including proofreading and editing essays so they exhibit no disruptive errors in English grammar, usage, or punctuation

What to Expect in this Course

We do not "meet" at the same time for this online course. It is your responsibility to use Canvas for our class for assignments and due dates. Regularly check the "Announcements," and "Modules" folders. This will help you to keep track of upcoming assignments and due dates. Plan to spend just as much time doing the work for this class as you would for an in-person course. Remember that online courses are student driven. This means that it will be YOUR responsibility to read the material, do the work, keep track of deadlines, and notify me if you have any questions. Any student who does not log in or show any form of online participation for seven consecutive days will be dropped from the class.

***To avoid being dropped from the course as a "no show," you must login to the course on Canvas and complete an online discussion board activity by 11:59pm on the first day the term begins.  If you do not complete this assignment by the deadline, you will be dropped from the course.

The specifics of the grading process and assignments will be available in the course syllabus, which will be posted on our class Canvas page as of the course start date.  Please read it carefully and make sure you understand the demands of the course.  If you have any doubts about your ability to complete this course, please drop immediately so that other students can enroll without complications. 

Time Commitment:

This course requires as much of a time commitment as any face-to-face English 103 class. You should expect to log on at least three times a week to complete assignments. You should also expect to spend anywhere between 12-24 hours per week on class assignments and online participation. If you are not able to commit this time to the course, this course is not for you. This is not a class where you can work far ahead. You likely need to log in every weekday (unless you submit at least some assignments in advance of their due date) and complete the course work at an appropriate pace in order to succeed.

Advantages of and Misconceptions about Online Learning:

Online learning can be an incredibly rewarding and exciting adventure. It provides flexibility and an educational opportunity for students who might not otherwise be able to take advantage of a college curriculum; however, you should be aware that self-discipline, self-motivation, and attention to detail are required to complete the course successfully in this format. Students must be committed to meeting deadlines for reading and homework assignments in addition to participating in the virtual classroom for a minimum of six hours per week (online time). Some students are under the impression that online courses are ?easier? than on-ground courses. This is not the case. Students who take the online version of English 103 believing that it will be easier than the on-ground version will be surprised by the volume of written work and the amount of reading required. If you are ready for the challenge, this online course will allow you to build critical reading and expository writing skills without being in a traditional classroom.

Types of Assessments

For this course, you will be completing weekly discussions, assignments, and quizzes as preparation for your portfolio writing assignments, which are MLA-style essays analyzing and arguing about cultural texts. The majority of points for the course will be from your comprehensive portfolio (writing) assignments.

Textbook Information

Picture of Beyond Feelings Cover

Beyond Feelings, 9th edition by Vincent Ryan Ruggiero
ISBN: 978-0-07-803818-1

Picture of The World is a Text cover

The World is a Text, Updated Compact Edition 
by Jonathan Silverman and Dean Rader
ISBN: 978-1-55-481379-7

Please ensure that you buy the correct copies of the required texts (pictured for reference).  As always, books are available for purchase at the campus bookstore, but if you choose to purchase elsewhere, double-checking ISBN numbers is helpful in ensuring the correct book is purchased.  

(There is also a free online text that is required, but is available to everyone on our Canvas site.  It is called Writers' Handbook, and it is a book to help with essay writing and language skills.)

*Please keep in mind that you will need these books from day one of class.  Assignments missed due to having a missing, late, or incorrect textbook will not receive credit.

Other Relevant Course Information

Email Policy:

Open communication is an important part of academic success. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns regarding the course. The fastest way to contact me for an online class is to message me through the Canvas system (rather than the school email system).  I will typically respond to your messages within 24 hours, and I do NOT respond to messages on weekends. This means it is best not to wait until the last minute for clarification. All correspondence must be professional and follow basic email etiquette (they need a descriptive and informative subject which includes the course name, an appropriate greeting, information details, closing line, and your name in the body of every email). If you do send an email to my school email account rather than through Canvas, remember to sign your name and to use your Canyons email account, as I cannot reply to personal email accounts.

Additional Resources


This course can be accessed on the first day of class via Canvas at Log into Canvas using your CanyonsID single sign-on:

  • CanyonsID Username is your COC student email address (Ex:
  • CanyonsID Password is your COC student email password

Please visit the Get to Know Your Online Classroom page for help logging into Canvas and for tips on using Canvas and Zoom. Canvas Chat Support is also available 24/7 for any Canvas related issues.

Online Education

Check out the Online Education website for more information on a variety of topics that can help you be a successful online student such as: exam proctoring, learning styles, computer skills, and tips for student success. If this is your first online course, feel free to take our online learning readiness assessment to assess your skills.

The Learning Center (TLC)

The TLC provides FREE online tutoring resources to COC students!

Academic Accommodation Center (AAC)

College of the Canyons AAC provides educational services and access for eligible students with documented disabilities who intend to pursue coursework at COC. A variety of programs and services are available which afford eligible students with disabilities the opportunity to participate fully in all aspects of the college programs and activities through appropriate and reasonable accommodations. For more information on their services visit the Academic Accomodation Center website.

Online Counseling

The Counseling Department offers appointments online. You can schedule an appointment by visiting the Online Counseling website. Counselors can help you map out a plan to reach your educational goals as well as advise you on course selection and registration.

Management of Stress and Mental Health

Often the pressure on our students is very strong, involving academic commitments, relationships, outside jobs and family pressure to name a few. The staff and faculty of College of the Canyons are here to see you succeed academically and care about your emotional and physical health. You can learn more about the broad range of confidential student services, including counseling and mental health services available on campus by visiting the Student Health & Wellness Center in the Student Services Building (across from the bookstore). The phone number is 661-362-3259 that you can call 24/7. You can also e mail for an appointment at At the Canyon Country Campus the Health Center will be in the new Student Services Building.

Also, the National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline number is now 988. All students at COC are encouraged to enter that phone number in their cells. You can call it when you, or someone you know, is having thoughts of suicide or is in severe distress.

You can also now use the Crisis Text Line: Just text "Courage" to 741741. Someone will get back to you immediately. Its free, 24/7, and confidential.

Veterans Resource Center

The College of the Canyons Veterans Resource Center is a department within the Student Services Division at the college, created to help veterans and veteran dependents with applying to College of the Canyons, enrolling in classes, and requesting VA Education or Vocational Benefits. For more information please visit the Veterans Resource Center website, email or phone (661) 362-3469.


The Library provides live online and in-person research help, access to a full range of e-resources and physical materials that support the curriculum, individual and group study areas, and much more!

Last updated: 10/25/2021 Sub#: 947