English Composition 1

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Final Revisions

Important: With each of your final revisions, please include a separate page summarizing the improvements that you have made to each essay, as explained on the Revision Plan page.

Due Dates

ENG 1001-03 (Mon/Wed/Fri 10:00-10:50 a.m., A-212)
Friday, May 2
: Two Final Revisions due.

ENG 1001-04 (Mon/Wed/Fri 1:00-1:50 p.m., A-212)
Friday, May 2
: Two Final Revisions due.

ENG 1001-300 (Tues 6:00-8:40 p.m., B-213)
Tuesday, April 29
: Two Final Revisions due.

Important Notes

On the due date, you will need to submit two final revisions. These final drafts will be revisions of two essays that you choose from Essays 1, 2, 3, or 4. Only essays submitted earlier for a grade can be resubmitted as final revisions. The Diagnostic Essay, from the beginning of the course, is not one of the essays you can submit as a final revision.

The final revisions count as a large percentage of the final course grade (from 20 to 50 percent), so read this page carefully. Pay special attention to the following resources and review them thoroughly as you work on each final revision:

Important! The final revisions must demonstrate deep-level revision: significant attempts to strengthen the content of each essay--the thesis, the organization, the support and development of ideas, and the insights into the subject. An essay that is only corrected and only revised at the surface level and that demonstrates no significant attempts to improve the content will earn a lower grade than the grade of the earlier draft. 

This page presents some questions and answers about the final revisions. Read this information carefully, and make sure to ask questions if you have any.

Do I have to revise two essays?

Yes. The two final revisions are included in that total number of essays required for the course.

What do I need to submit with my final revisions?

When you submit your final revisions, you need to turn in the earlier graded versions of the essays you revise, the version that includes an attached page with the instructor's comments and the grade. If you revise Essay 3 or Essay 4, please submit copies of the sources you used in the paper.

In addition, please include your revision plan with each essay, as explained on the Revision Plan page.

On the due date, please submit the following for each final revision:

How much do my final revisions count toward my final course grade?

The final revisions count from 20 percent to 50 percent of your final course grade. Each revision counts as a new assignment worth 10 percent of the final course grade, so the two revisions automatically count as 20 percent of the final course grade.

However, if the grade you earn on a final revision is higher than the grade you earned the first time you submitted the essay for a grade, that earlier, lower grade will be replaced by the grade you earn on the revision. If the grade you earn on the revision is lower than the grade you earned the first time you submitted the essay for a grade, the earlier grade will not be changed, but the new grade will still count as 10 percent of the final course grade. The first two essays for the course, Essay 1 and Essay 2, count as 10 percent each, and Essay 3 and Essay 4 count as 15 percent each. Thus, if you are able to raise the grades on both of your final revisions, those grades will count from 40 percent to 50 percent of your final course grade. (The 10 percent difference is because of the difference in how much the first two and the second two essays count.) 

This is a good opportunity, so please take advantage of it by doing your best on the final revisions. It is important that you finish the course writing strong papers. If you wrote one or two weak papers in the course, that should matter much if you can demonstrate strong writing and revising skills at the end of the course. 

Sounds like a good deal, doesn’t it? Well, it is, but . . .

Can the grades on revisions be lower than the grades on the earlier drafts?

Yes. The two essays you revise will be evaluated not just as essays but also as revisions. When I evaluate revisions, I always compare the earlier draft with the revised draft. I look both at how good the final revision is and at what kinds of improvements you have made to the earlier version. In other words, I look to see how effectively you have revised the paper.

The other reason why the revision grades can be lower than the grades on the earlier versions is because we are at the end of the semester, and the final revisions should demonstrate the best work you can do. All aspects of the revisions should be strong, and the papers should be the most "polished" you have submitted in the course.

This is important! As explained below, revising involves much more than simply proofreading, correcting mistakes, and rewording sentences. A final revision that is only a corrected version of the earlier graded draft or that demonstrates only surface-level revision (such as the rewording of sentences) will receive a lower grade than the earlier version.

One of the main reasons that grades on revisions sometimes go down is a lack of effort from the writer. I would much rather see you try to make effective changes to your papers and maybe not be completely successful instead of not trying to do much with the papers.

The final revisions should also demonstrate that the writer has mastered a few basic concepts concerning essay writing, such as the effective use of a thesis statement and an understanding of its purpose, effective use of topic sentences, well-focused body paragraphs, well-supported and well-developed ideas, a logical progression of ideas, an avoidance of stylistic weaknesses, and a mastery of the "mechanics" of Standard English usage. If any of these aspects of a final revision is weak, then the grade of the paper may go down. The items listed above represent the main things that everyone successfully completing English 1001 should have mastered.

No or few changes to a paper will substantially reduce the grade of that paper. 

What should I consider as I revise my papers?

Everything. When you revise a paper, you should consider all aspects of the paper, including

  1. Thesis and the thesis statement
  2. Organization
  3. Use of topic sentences
  4. Support and development of ideas
  5. Use of material from sources (if applicable)
  6. The logical progression of ideas
  7. Use of transitions
  8. Stylistic matters (word choice, tone, sentence variety, etc.)
  9. "Mechanics" (correction of errors, the correct format, use of a title, etc.)

Important: Each final revision must demonstrate both "deep-level" revision and "surface-level" revision.

Deep-level revision involves changes to the thesis (or your approach to your topic), the organization, and the support and development of ideas. In general, deep-level revision involves changes to the content of essays, changes to what you say in your essays. Deep-level revision to an essay includes the following:

Tip: To help ensure that you are making deep-level revisions to your essays, try to add new supporting evidence to each body paragraph.

Surface-level revision involves changes at the sentence level and the correction of errors, changes to how you express your ideas in your essays. Surface-level revision to an essay includes the following:

Note that the lack of sufficient deep-level revision is the most common reason that grades on final revisions go down or remain the same. The next most common reason is problems with errors.

As you revise your essays, you may be tempted to start by identifying and correcting the errors marked on your graded versions. Avoid this temptation. Writers are most often successful with their revisions if they begin with the "larger" aspects of a paper, such as the thesis and organization, as opposed to beginning with the sentence-level matters. Part of this is psychological. If you spend time at the beginning of the revision process correcting all of the errors, you probably will not want to delete anything that you have corrected, even if your paper could be stronger if you deleted some of the sentences that you corrected.

When I evaluate the final revisions, I do check to see if errors are corrected, but I think it’s more important that you end the course having fewer problems with errors than you may have had earlier in the course. It’s one thing to correct an error that has been pointed out to you, but the real evidence of learning comes when you can revise a paper substantially and have fewer errors in the final revisions than may have been in the earlier draft.

For example, if comma splices have been a problem for you, it would be good if you could correct those errors that have been pointed out on your papers, but it would be even better if you can demonstrate in your revisions that you understand what comma splices are and that you can avoid them as you revise sentences and write new sentences.

Note that errors substantially reduce the grades of final revisions.

Mastering Standard English usage should be something you do earlier in your college career.

Should I make changes based on your comments on the graded versions?

Yes. When I write comments on a paper, I try to identify what I think is strong about a paper and what I think could be more effective. It is your paper, of course, and you must decide how to make it stronger, but the suggestions I have written on the earlier drafts indicate ways that I think the papers could be stronger, and, if those aspects remain the same in the final revisions, I will still think that they could be more effective.

Do I just need to follow your comments on the earlier draft, and that’s all?

No. As indicated above, you should review all aspects of your papers as you are revising them, not just what I pointed out. The instructor comments on graded essays represent only some of the ways that an essay might be stronger; the comments do not indicate everything that could be done to an essay to make it more effective. Do not limit your revision only to addressing the comments on your graded drafts.

Realize as well that I often identify ways that an aspect of an essay could be stronger by giving an example from the essay, but the example should not be regarded as the only way that the aspect of the paper could be improved. For example, I might comment that the support and development of ideas could be stronger, giving one specific example from the essay. This is an example to help you get started and should not be regarded as the only place where the support and development of ideas could be stronger in the essay.

It would be a good idea for you to review my comments on all of your papers. Collectively, these comments should give you a clear sense of what is working well with your writing and what might be stronger ("with your writing," not just with a particular essay).

What if I have questions about my revisions?

Of course, ask those questions!

Please take the revisions seriously. I do!

Copyright Randy Rambo, 2014.