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English 103 - Critical Reading, Writing, & Thinking - Tracey Sherard

Course:Critical Reading, Writing, & Thinking
Professor:Tracey Sherard
  • Online
Course Length:
  • 16 Week


Welcome to English 103. I’m Dr. Tracey Sherard, the instructor of this course, and I’m looking forward to working with you!

 I have been teaching online for over 16 years now and feel optimistic and confident our classroom community can be as valuable and fulfilling as a traditional face-to-face class—provided we all recognize and fulfill our roles in that communal capacity.

Course Description

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

Course Student Learning Outcomes:

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

1. Evaluate the strength of written, visual, or multi-media arguments.

2. Compose logical, well-reasoned arguments in thesis-driven, MLA style formal essays.

What to Expect in this Course

Some Basic Information:

While this is a 100% online class, it requires just as much—if not more—time and effort than a traditional in-person one. You will be expected to complete the same amount of work that is required in a face-to-face class (‘class time’ plus ‘homework’). Therefore, expect to spend an average of 8-10 hours a week on reading and writing assignments for this course.

Students who do well in online courses tend to share the following qualities:

  • They are good at motivating themselves to complete work by deadlines
  • They are strong readers and communicate well in writing.
  • They have strong time management skills.
  • They enjoy active, cooperative learning experiences.
  • They have reliable access to the Internet.
  • They have basic computer skills, including the ability to cut/copy and paste between documents, send and receive email attachments, and most importantly, save documents in the appropriate requested file formats.

Basic Required Skills:

You will need to have ready access to current word document creating software (Microsoft Word preferred). If you do not have Microsoft Word, you will still be expected to be able to either save (or ‘export’ if you have a MAC) your documents in Microsoft Word and/or PDF formats (no rich text format, Pages, etc.). You will need an up-to date version of an internet browser (See CANVAS login page for compatible browsers). You need to be computer literate, well-skilled in basic document creation and handling. You should know how to copy and paste from one document to another and how to attach documents to emails. You must know how to override default settings in your word processing program to set page margins, spacing, and fonts, so that I can ensure fairness in determining whether your writing assignments meet minimum full-page requirements.

You will also need to avoid working close to deadlines as unreliable internet connections and computer issues do not generally result in extended deadlines.


Course Requirements:

In order to successfully complete this course, you must log onto our class site several times a week to retrieve and submit assignments and to participate in collaborative exchanges with your peers. All of these activities involve deadlines (late work may be accepted at the instructor’s discretion with official documentation of a mandated court date, medical emergency, or illness/death of an immediate family member).

This course requires the same amount of total work hours (including time spent in class) as a regular face-to-face, full semester length section. In a regular semester, that would mean time spent in class plus reading and homework, usually totals 8-10 hours. If you cannot devote this amount of time, please reconsider whether this is the appropriate time for you to take a 100% online course.

NOTE: just as in a traditional class, if you know in advance that you are going to “miss” a few class periods, doing a few (not many) assignments ahead of time may lessen the negative impact of your “absence” on your grade. However, while early assignment availability is usually possible, it’s never guaranteed, as I continuously update and create new material depending on the needs of each particular class.



Definition of Online Learning Terms:

  • Synchronous (“in time”: whole class ‘meets’ together virtually on specific days at specific times): This is when an online class meets at specific days and times, all together, as a complete class. This is NOT the format for this class in light of the restrictions the COVID19 pandemic has imposed on so many of our lives).


  • Asynchronous (“outside of time”: while there are specific deadline requirements, the instructor and students do not ‘meet’ as a whole class on specific days and times. Instead, everyone will be logging into the CANVAS course shell depending on their individual schedules—to meet predetermined deadlinesThis IS the format for this class in light of the restrictions the COVID19 pandemic has imposed on so many of our lives).

I will be online at various times during ‘business hours,’ 9-5, Monday through Thursday (and occasionally on some Fridays), to facilitate discussion, make announcements, and provide schedule reminders. These virtual ‘office hours’ addressing course-related questions will take place on CANVAS via the Announcements page, the Issues and Questions discussion board, and possibly other means still to be determined. If you have a personal or grade-related question, make sure to message me privately from within CANVAS classroom).

However, I will not be available to you 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so planning ahead to get any questions you may have answered is essential for your comfort and confidence as the course proceeds.

Types of Assessments

I will evaluate your work based on specific assignment instructions. Assignments may include--yet may not be limited to--weekly discussion boards (including responses), quizzes, reflective reading journals, annotated bibliographies, and rough and final drafts of formal academic essays (submitted to CANVAS, which automatically runs them through, an online database that helps students to learn about—and teachers to detect—plagiarism). 

As you know, English 101 covered the ‘ins and outs’ of paraphrasing, summarizing, quoting, and citing sources, and we will be reviewing that material at the start of the class. My course syllabus will contain a detailed description of plagiarism and of the college procedure for handling it.

***AI-generated writing is NOT allowed in this class***

Textbook Information

Required Text Purchase:

The World is a Text: Writing About Visual and Popular Culture, updated compact edition, edited by Johnathan Silverman and Dean Rader

ISBN#: 978-1-55481-379-7

Please arrange to have your text ready to go for the first week of class.

Required Online Text (Free):


Excelsior Online Writing Lab: Argument & Critical Thinking


Other Relevant Course Information

If this course is not full, you should be able to add it via MyCanyons.

If the course is full, the best way to add is to be on the waitlist, as the college will automatically add you if a spot opens up. They will notify you by email so that you can pay your fees and remain enrolled in the course. Students dropped for non-payment will not likely be able to re-add.

In the event that there is room for additional students other than those on the waitlist to add the class, I will know on Wednesday of the first week of class, so please contact me by email early that day at the latest (even if you are on the waitlist you need to contact me). If I am able to add you to the class, your name will be sent directly to Computer Support Services via computer by Admissions and Records and it may take 1 business day before your account is created in CANVAS, though I will do my best to expedite that process.

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: 05/30/2024 Sub#: 1220