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English 103 - Critical Reading, Writing, and Thinking - Joshua Spurgeon

Course:Critical Reading, Writing, and Thinking
Professor:Joshua Spurgeon
  • Online
Course Length:
  • Applies to All Course Lengths


Paint Drawing of Professor Spurgeon

Hello. My name is Prof. Joshua Spurgeon. I will be your instructor for English 103 and I love critical thinking!

This is not a course syllabus. Your syllabus, which can be downloaded from your Canvas course site on the first day of the semester (Monday), provides all necessary course information. The following information is to help you understand the scope and perspective of the course and to give you a better sense if this class is right for you.

Course Description

English 103 is a 3-unit course which examines the principles of critical thinking as applied to writing and reading arguments on complex issues. This class focuses on close textual analysis, argumentative/persuasive writing, and logical reasoning.

100% Online: This course is 100% online and there are NO face-to-face meetings. The Canvas course site cannot be accessed until the first day of the semester (8:00am PST – Pacific Standard Time). This course requires a great deal of discipline, organization, reading and participation several days a week (and by “several,” I mean 3-4 days a week”).

VERY IMPORTANT: To avoid being dropped from the course as a “no show”, you must login to the course website on Canvas and complete a discussion board activity by 11:59pm by the end of the first week of the semester. If you do not complete this assignment by the deadline, you will be dropped from the course. Again, the website becomes available for student access on the first day of the semester. It is not enough to log in to our Canvas course; you must complete the discussion board activity to be counted as “present”.

What to Expect in this Course

Please do not take this class because you do not have time in your schedule to take a “real class.” This is a real college class (we’ll be delving into some real college readings and topics – it may even be fun!) that requires the same time commitment as a class that meets face-to-face for 16 weeks.

This is not a class where you can complete work far ahead of your classmates or make up work during the last minutes of the semester. Our class-wide online discussion boards will be asynchronous, not synchronous, meaning that you can log in at a time of day convenient to you -- even 3 am. (Which is when I will usually be up working). However, there are due dates and deadlines for assignments.

Types of Assessments

Reading & Writing Expectations
There is a great deal of challenging reading in this course, so please be aware that you may be asked to read anywhere from 20-30 pages a week (sometimes more) from the required textbook IN ADDITION to reading handouts, watching videos, and reviewing websites, if applicable. There is also a great deal of writing in this course. All assignments have word count requirements that must be met to be eligible for full credit.

Late Work Policies
No late work is accepted. However, there is one exception to this rule. I will accept final drafts of essays 24 hours after the deadline, but they will receive point deduction. Specific point deductions for late final drafts will be outlined in the syllabus. Final drafts are the only assignments I will accept late.

Using Technology
I understand that technology can be unpredictable (as is life!), but the best approach would be to not wait until the last minute (or even the last hour) to finish an assignment and definitely have a backup plan (or three…or five) in case your wifi decides it doesn’t feel like connecting or there’s a technological apocalypse of sorts. Starbucks? A friend’s house? A local library?

For this class, you must also have access to Microsoft Word. You do not need to purchase the Microsoft Office suite of programs, but you must have access to Microsoft Word. You can download the Microsoft Office 365 suite of programs (Word, Excel, PowerPoint and more programs) for free and safely (no viruses or malware) via your own COC email account (not Canvas).

Here are the instructions:

Once you click on the link, scroll down to the section "What else do you get besides email and calendar?" and you will see some links that will guide you to downloading Office 365.

If you are unfamiliar with using Canvas and need help logging in, you can view several tutorials online here:

Getting Help
If you have any trouble logging in, you can visit the TLC at the Valencia campus or Room 306 at the Canyon Country Campus for assistance. Go to for hours and contact information.

Textbook Information

The COC bookstore will have the book listed below in stock. Although there are other editions of the texts available, I will be using, referring to, and assigning pages from the 6th edition of this text. If you have a different versions or editions of these books, it may be difficult or impossible for you to complete assignments and follow along in class.

The required text is:

From Critical Thinking to Argument  by Sylvan Barnet, 6th edition, ISBN: 9781319194437

Students will be assigned readings, complete quizzes, respond to Discussion Board questions, complete activities, and write essays based on the information in the book, so please purchase, borrow, or rent it before the semester begins or, at the latest, during the first week of the semester.

There is a copy of the book on reserve at both the Valencia and Canyon Country TLC. You may read the book while in the TLC, but you may not remove it from the building.

Other Relevant Course Information

Make-Ups and Absences

There are no make-ups and no excused “absences” - even with a doctor’s note. An absence is an absence. If you miss an assignment, you cannot make it up.

However, if you have an emergency that prohibits you from completing assignments, you must email me immediately so we can discuss your progress in the course and steps to take to ensure the best possible solution. Your prompt communication is imperative!

If you will not be able to participate in this manner, this is not the course for you.


Please feel free to email me if you have any questions regarding the course. I am diligent about checking my email and will respond to your email within a 24-hour business day (not Saturdays and Sundays).


I look forward to working with all of you and helping you succeed in this course. Did I mention I love critical thinking?

Best wishes and see you online on the first day of the semester! Sincerely,


Josh Spurgeon

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: 08/05/2021 Sub#: 459