ENGL 111 syllabus

instructor: Dr. Heather Noel Turner, Assistant Professor, Department of English

email: hturner (at) scu (dot) edu

office hours: T 10:30-11:30 and W 11:00-12:00, and by appt

office: St. Joseph’s Hall, room 316


ENGL 111 syllabus

instructor: Dr. Heather Noel Turner, Assistant Professor, Department of English

email: hturner (at) scu (dot) edu

office hours: T 10:30-11:30 and W 11:00-12:00, and by appt

office: St. Joseph’s Hall, room 316


What is this class about?

Design that works in the world requires understanding multiple contexts: the perspectives of different communities, historical and cultural background, legal constraints, resources, the technical or process issues individuals face, and our own position in the world. For this reason, our class will engage with democracy as a design problem and work with our parters to facilitate change.

In ENGL 111 Writing for Social Change we will use community participatory research methods as tools for a sustained writing project with the Northern California Innocence Project. Components of this writing project include, but not limited to: content strategy and creation, project management and strategic planning, human centered design and usability testing, and information design.

Because this is an ELSJ and Advanced Writing course, we will spend time with our community partners and engage in critical and liminal reflections, as well as generate research-based texts.

What if I need an accommodation?

Your success in this class is important to me. We will all need accommodations because we all learn, think, and write differently. This course affirms students’ right to the languages and dialects you grew up speaking, or those in which you find your own identity and style. We will find ways to honor and respect what these languages can teach about writing and rhetoric. If there are aspects of this course that prevent you from learning or exclude you, please let me know. Together we’ll develop strategies to meet both your needs and the requirements of the course.

For official accommodations

If you need an official accommodation, you have a right to have these met. I encourage you to visit The Office of Disabilities Resources, located in Benson Center, Second floor, Room 216 or visit https://www.scu.edu/disabilities/register-with-dr/ (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.. The Office of Disabilities Resources will request documentation and make a determination regarding the nature of the accommodation to which you are entitled.

For pregnant and parenting students

Pregnant and parenting students can often arrange accommodations by working directly with me. In alignment with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, and with the California Education Code, Section 66281.7, Santa Clara University provides reasonable accommodations to students who are pregnant, have recently experienced childbirth, and/or have medical needs related to childbirth. If you experience related medical conditions, you may request accommodations through Disability Resources located in Benson Center, Second floor, Room 216 or visit https://www.scu.edu/disabilities/register-with-dr/ (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site..


What materials do I need? Where do I access course materials?


  • Quesenbery, W., & Brooks, K. (2010). Storytelling for user experience: Crafting stories for better design. Rosenfeld Media. (ebook)

  • Gray, D. (2016). Liminal Thinking: Create the Change You Want by Changing the Way You Think. Rosenfeld Media.

  • When possible, I will use open-source and freely available texts. I will provide PDFs or links readings that will be noted on the schedule.


To facilitate ongoing reflection about how technologies interact with social change, we will use the following resources:

  • Slack (a messaging service on desktops and via app): for communicating inside and outside of class and for submitting assignments.

  • Your SCU google drive (for seeing your grade)

  • Access to creative software (either available on all library computers, paid for individual use, or free) that may include:

    • the Adobe Creative Suite

    • Canva

    • iMovie, QuickTime

    • Audacity

  • Professional recording equipment loaned from Media Services


What are the goals of this course?

Experimental Learning for Social Justice

Social Justice: Developing a disciplined sensibility toward the causes of human suffering and misery, and a sense of responsibility for addressing them.

Civic Life: The roles, rights, and responsibilities of citizens and institutions in societies and in the world.

Perspective: Seeking out the experience of different cultures and people, striving to view the world through their eyes.

Civic Engagement: Addressing major contemporary social issues, including environmental sustainability and peaceful resolution of conflict, by participating actively as an informed citizen of society and the world.

Advanced Writing

Critical Thinking: The ability to identify, reflect upon, evaluate, integrate, and apply different types of information and knowledge to form independent judgments.

Complexity: An approach to understanding the world that appreciates ambiguity and nuance as well as clarity and precision.

Communication: Interacting effectively with different audiences, especially through writing, speech, and a second language.

Information Literacy: The ability to know when there is a need for information, to be able to identify, locate, evaluate, and effectively and responsibly use and share that information for the problem at hand. – (Adopted from the National Forum on Information Literacy)

Intentional Learning: The ability to be self-aware about the reasons for one's studies, adaptable in using knowledge, and able to connect seemingly disparate experiences.


What will I be able to do after this course?

1.1 Recognize the importance of life-long responsible citizenship and civic engagement in personal and/or professional activities in ways that benefit underserved populations. (Civic Life, Civic Engagement, and Social Justice)

1.2 Demonstrate an understanding and appreciation of the formal and informal knowledge, wisdom, and/or skills that individuals in these communities possess, showing awareness of own and at least one other perspective/worldview. (Perspective)

1.3 Recognize, analyze, and understand the social reality and injustices in contemporary society, including recognizing the relative privilege or marginalization of their own and other groups. (Social Justice)


1.1 Read and write with a critical point of view that displays depth of thought and is mindful of the rhetorical situation of a specific discipline. (Critical Thinking, Complexity, Communication)

1.2 Compose texts that demonstrate intellectual and creative rigor, engagement, and clear purpose (Critical Thinking, Complexity, Communication)

1.3  Independently locate, deliberately select, and appropriately use and cite evidence that is ample, credible, and smoothly integrated into an intellectually honest text appropriate for a particular discipline. (Complexity, Communication, Information Literacy)

1.4 Demonstrate an understanding of their writing processes as modes of learning and intentionally manipulate those processes in response to diverse learning tasks. (Critical Thinking, Complexity; Meta-Goal: Intentional Learning)


What will I learn?

During this course, you will learn to.

  • Understand how personal/societal experiences of privilege and oppression have a role in writing and design

  • Structure opportunities for reciprocity with community partners, organizations, local stakeholders, and peers

  • Apply design-based approaches (e.g. ethical listening, participatory design, content strategy) with community partners toward collaboratively generated rhetorical goals

  • Design content (including media and alphabetic content) using a variety of information sources including community partners, primary research, and secondary sources

  • Articulate the rationale of your rhetorical choices and a personal methodology for working toward social change

  • Engage in advocacy work in your own organizations and communities


What assignments will I do?

Area 1: Participation

Collaboration | In class Work and Attendence

Our classroom serves as a workspace for invention, creation, and practicing of different ways of thinking and writing. Similar to an art studio, we will use a studio approach to strengthen your understanding of writing through reading, discussion, and practice—that means we are constantly at work in the classroom: generating new ideas, tinkering with writing we’ve already drafted, sharing strategies for improving some writing we are looking at together, etc. We will talk about and practice writing in various genres, formats, and media to work with and examine the approaches to writing teaching and development described in the readings. In-class activities will also help you approach the major writing assignments in the class

Journal | Descriptive log and Reflections

Throughout this quarter, I will ask you to keep a journal, write in it twice a week, and bring it to class as a launchpad for ideas, discussions and more. Because social change requires our participation, it is important to for us to continually consider or question our own positions in society, the contexts we travel through (as well as the ones that we don’t), and our own thinking and feeling.

The content should include some kind combination of these three elements:

  1. a description: you are writing about something, so make whatever it is (a quote from a reading, an interaction you had, a design you made for class, something you observed in the world, a memory…) write out the details.

  2. a reflection: Consider some of the follow questions: what sensory impressions did you experience? What did you already know before? How did I act in a situation? What am I missing/misunderstanding/ignoring? What did I learn from? Did my actions reflect what I learnt about in the this class? How would I do things differently? Would I do things differently based on the concepts discussed in the this class? What connections can I make between my description and other things from my study or work? What is the best next step for me? Would I follow the recommendations from the class? What surprised me? Does my experience mirror what usually happens? How was it similar/different and why do I think this was the case? Who and what helped me at the time? What do readings from the class say about working with others? What can I do better? Are there any other questions that arise? How and where might I use my new knowledge and experience?

The form of you journal can be as simple or creative as you’d like. Perhaps a straightforward running google doc is all you’d like. Maybe you want to engage in the physical act of writing in a bound journal. Or maybe you want to engage in something more experimental like sketchnoting or podcasting.

Area 2: Community Partner Project | The Northern California Innocence Project

This quarter you will apply the methods and theories you are learning to a sustained project with one community organization: The Northern California Innocence Project.

Initial Research

Our mission is to promote a fair, effective, and compassionate criminal justice system and protect the rights of the innocent. We challenge wrongful convictions on every front by exonerating the innocent, educating future attorneys, and reforming criminal justice policy.

Both social change and user experience articulate the need for awareness across contexts, audiences, spaces, time, needs, users, and our roles/relationships/resources. In order to gain this awareness, we will collaboratively acquaint ourselves with existing work from our community partner, their mission, values, history, secondary research about subject matter (in this case, some light reading on legal and policy scholarship).

Individual pitch

Based on our initial research, readings, needs and goals from our community partners, a survey of our interests, skill areas, you will develop an informal pitch (5 minutes max) to deliver to your classmates about what we should create for our partners and why we should do that work.


After joining a team, you will collaboratively draft a project proposal to our partner in the form of a one page memo. This proposal builds off one of your individual pitches by creating a more concrete plan that includes: the need/problem that you are meeting, a brief description of your project, SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely), teammate roles, a timeline, and deliverables.

Community Contact

Over this course, you will spend a total of 16 hours (4 in class, and 12 in the NCIP office) listening and interacting with our community partners. Some of these hours in the NCIP office will be 1) attending law clinics 2) generating relevant content for our project and 3) soliciting feedback on our project. You will keep track of your hours and submit them to me in your journal.

Content Design, Strategy, and Testing

While the exact shape of this project will always require a negotiation between community members, yourself, your peers, and me (your professor), your work will involve these touch points and deliverables:

Prototype : Using your research and proposal plan, you will create drafts, what we call wireframes, mockups, and design comps, of your project. These quick sketches or prototypes are enough for you to prove your concept, or to realize you have to revise.

Usability test: At many stages in your project process you will conduct low fidelity usability tests to determine if your proposed project is accessible, inclusive, functional, and usable.

Implementation Plan and Sustainability packet

After the deliverables are completed, each group will need to provide instructions for putting your work to use. These instructions will need to include: a complete list of file types, action items, required software, potential update schedule, and a sunsetting plan.


Using your work from the quarter, each group will deliver a (15 mins max) presentation to our community partner that 1) articulates your research 2) uses your research findings as a basis for your design 3) provides recommendations and 4) answers questions from our partner.

Area 3: Social Change Methodology

For this 3-5 page memo, you will draft a personal mission statement of sorts to articulate what you believe about writing for social change and how it can be done by other writers/UX’ers. In order to do this methodological work, you will define social change, consider when, how, and why specific methods can support social change, and reflect on the ways in which writers and UX’ers can work for social change.


How will we work together?

Using language is inherently a social process, which makes our writing social acts although we might not think of them as such. Many people find discussions with trusted mentors, colleagues, friends, or family to be an invaluable way to develop and polish ideas. Professionals in most disciplines, for example, attend conferences so that they can discuss ideas with colleagues and leading researchers. Writers in business and scientific contexts commonly work in teams with individuals responsible for their areas of expertise, such as marketing language, audience, finance, research, and editing.  Many writers do not feel comfortable beginning a new project until they have discussed their ideas with others. Successful writers do not wait until they have completed a project before seeking constructive criticism. Instead, they share early drafts with critics.

Because of the social nature of writing, we will share our work and thoughts even if we aren’t comfortable. This collaborative agreement will guide interactions in this course. With each other, we will clarify expectations and foster an environment of mutual respect and collaborative inquiry. We will revisit these guidelines throughout the quarter to reflect on group process or to frame potentially challenging conversations.

  • Confidentiality and comfort. We want to create an atmosphere for open, honest exchange. Knowing that, have the confidence to speak out and share opinions and ideas because we are all learning and we are all together.

  • Our primary commitment is to learn from each other. We will listen to each other and not talk at each other. We will read each other’s writing, not as a fixer, evaluator, or critic. We acknowledge differences amongst us in backgrounds, skills, interests, and values. We realize that it is these very differences that will increase our awareness and understanding through this process.

  • Listen, delay judgements and assumptions. We will trust that people are doing the best they can.

  • Challenge the idea and not the person. If we wish to challenge something that has been said or written, we will challenge the idea or the practice referred to, not the individual sharing this idea or practice.

  • Speak your discomfort. If something is bothering you, please share this with the group. If you make a mistake and say something you didn’t mean to say or write something that came off differently than you intended, recognize your mistake with Oops. If your feelings are hurt by something said or written, vocalize it with Ouch. Often our emotional reactions to this process offer the most valuable learning opportunities.

  • Step Up, Step Back. Be mindful of taking up much more space than others. On the same note, empower yourself to speak up when others are dominating the conversation.

  • Take group work seriously. Remember that your peers’ learning partly depends upon your engagement.

  • Be careful about how you use humor or irony in class. Keep in mind that we don’t all find the same things funny.

  • Understand that we are bound to make lots of mistakes in this class, as anyone does when learning a new language, a new way of thinking, and new ways of writing. Take risks and support others in their risk-taking.


How will I be graded?

Grading in this class is inspired by labor-based grading contract models, a model that focuses on work processes of students rather than quality of work alone. Because so much of the laboring in writing and thinking is often invisible to professors, you will have a midterm and final grading conference with me where we will discuss your laboring and determine your grade together.

...labor is work the body does over time. Labor in the writing classroom is the experience of languaging. No matter what our pedagogical assumptions are about learning or literacy, about grades or how to evaluate student writing, we all take for granted that our students must labor in order to learn. They must read or write, take notes or discuss. All pedagogies ask students to labor, to do something in order to gain something else. However, typical grading systems rarely account for students’ labor in any way...Because labor is neglected in such conventional grading systems, they often are unfair to diverse groups of students.

They [labor-based grading contracts] open a space for practices that can fail or miss the mark, allowing students the freedom to take risks, and try new things in their writing without the fear of losing points or failing the course. They allow students and teacher chances to redefine failure more productively (see also Inoue, “Theorizing Failure”), since failure is just a situated judge’s assessment of a performance that assumes a single standard, without acknowledging other differently situated judges and standards.
— Asao Inoue

Final grade

Area 1: Community Partner Project

Area 2: Participation

Area 3: Social Change Methodology


exceeds all areas


exceeds 2/3 areas

meets 1/3 area


exceeds 1/3 areas

meets 2/3 areas


meets all areas


meets 2/3 areas

does not meet 1/3 area


meets 1/3 area

does not meet 2/3 areas


does not meet any areas


What is academic integrity? What is plagiarism?

The Academic Integrity pledge is an expression of the University’s commitment to fostering an understanding of -- and commitment to -- a culture of integrity at Santa Clara University. The Academic Integrity pledge, which applies to all students, states:

I am committed to being a person of integrity. I pledge, as a member of the Santa Clara University community, to abide by and uphold the standards of academic integrity contained in the Student Conduct Code

Students are expected to uphold the principles of this pledge for all work in this class.

Plagiarism is a complicated issue for students and faculty alike. We will discuss plagiarism in the digital age as part of our class inquiry. Yet, I need you to understand that I will follow Santa Clara University’s academic honesty policies. You can read more about SCU’s policy here: http://www.scu.edu/studentlife/resources/upload/Academic-Integrity-Protocol-Document.pdf (Links to an external site.)


What if I see or face harassment and discrimination?

Santa Clara University upholds a zero-tolerance policy for discrimination, harassment and sexual misconduct. If you (or someone you know) have experienced discrimination or harassment, including sexual assault, domestic/dating violence, or stalking, I encourage you to tell someone promptly. For more information, please consult the University’s Gender-Based Discrimination and Sexual Misconduct Policy at http://bit.ly/2ce1hBb  (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.or contact the University's EEO and Title IX Coordinator, Belinda Guthrie, at 408-554-3043, bguthrie@scu.edu. Reports may be submitted online through the Office of Student Life https://www.scu.edu/osl/report/ (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. or anonymously through EthicsPoint https://www.scu.edu/hr/quick-links/ethicspoint/ (Links to an external site.)


What if I don’t feel good?

Santa Clara University is a Jesuit Institution wherein the value of cura personalis, translated to care for the whole person, holds a place of incredibly high importance. Caring for oneself in both a physical and mental sense is paramount to a student’s ability to live an enjoyable life at Santa Clara University, excel in academia, and reach their full potential in all aspects of their personhood.

  • Try to get an appropriate amount of sleep each night; the recommended amount of sleep for adults ages 18-25 is 7-9 hours.

  • Visit the Wellness Center’s (currently located at 852 Market Street) website to see what resources are available on campus to aid and promote student well-being at https://www.scu.edu/wellness/ (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site..

  • Utilize the six free counseling sessions you are given from Counseling and Psychological Service. The number to make an appointment with CAPS is (408) 554-4501. Visit the Counseling and Psychological Services website to learn more about these sessions and more at https://www.scu.edu/cowell/caps/ (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site..

  • If you are sick, please check in with me regarding your ability to attend class. By continuing to attend class while feeling sick, you are not only harming your own health, but likely the health of those around you as well. If you are feeling ill, visit Cowell Health Center during the operating hours of 8:30 am to 5:00pm, Monday through Friday. Visit the Cowell’s center website to learn more about the various services this health center provides at https://www.scu.edu/cowell/

ENGL 111 Schedule

The schedule below contains weekly topics, assigned readings, and due dates for assignments. This schedule is tentative, so make sure you check it frequently.

ENGL 111 Schedule

The schedule below contains weekly topics, assigned readings, and due dates for assignments. This schedule is tentative, so make sure you check it frequently.

Week 1

For Tuesday 4/2/19

  • Write in journal: tell me a story…

For THURSDAY 4/4/19

Week 2

For TUESDAY 4/9/19

Community Partner visits class

For THURSDAY 4/11/19

  • Read: Quesenberry "Ch 10 Sharing Stories” and Ch 15 “Ways to Tell stories”

  • Write in your journal: think about our visit from NCIP, our discussions in class, and our reading—what ways do you want to tell stories? post in Slack #journal

  • In class: Brainstorming individual pitches that meet a specific need for our partner

Week 3

Students draft and revise project proposal

For TUESDAY 4/16/19

  • Read Gray “Principle 2 Beliefs Are Created” and “Quesenbery and Brooks Ch 5 “Stories as Part of a UX Process”

  • Write in your journal: what is your SMART goal? What needs are you meeting? Who is the audience for your project? What resources do you need to accomplish your goal? What existing materials/info from the NCIP do you need? What products will you create/modify? and post to Slack #journal

In class: drafting one page memo for your group proposal in Slack #communityproject

For THURSDAY 4/18/19

  • Read Gray “Principle 3 Beliefs Create a Shared World” and Quesenbery and Brooks Ch 4 “The Ethics of Storytelling”

  • Write in your journal and post to Slack #journal

Collaboratively draft charter

Week 4

Proposal approval/changes

For TUESDAY 4/23/19

Lori visits to give feedback on proposal and charter

  • Read Quesenbery and Brooks Ch 12 “Considering the Audience”

  • Write in your journal and post to Slack #journal

For THURSDAY 4/25/19

  • Revise group proposal based on Lori’s feedback and post in Slack #communityproject

Week 5

Research phase

For Tuesday 4/30/19

  • Write in your journal giving an update about your tasks for our community project post to Slack #journal

For THURSDAY 5/2/19

  • Write in your journal and post to Slack #journal

Week 6

Design sprint based on research phase

 For Tuesday 5/7/19

For THURSDAY 5/9/19

Week 7

Orienting for use, interpretation, effects

For Tuesday 5/14/19

NCIP visits to see work in progress

Revise your research slides based on feedback from class last week

Complete your design activities and share all your notes, products, and deliverables in #communityproject. Some of these deliverables might include:

  • User research: sample survey questions, 1 page memo about research findings, annotated bib about stats

  • Content strategy team: prototypes of social media posts, wireframe of editorial calendar

  • Podcast Team: episode storyboard

  • Web design team: wireframe for reform page, wireframe for donate page

  • Visual design team: prototype for landing page

For THURSDAY 5/16/19

Week 8

Test projects

For Tuesday 5/21/19


After reading and browsing usability.gov, start to brainstorm in #journal: what do you want to test about your designs and research? What assumptions have you made that need to be validated/identified and revised? What specific methods from our readings might help you find answers?

For Tuesday 5/23/19

Revise your design debrief slides based on feedback from Tuesday’s class.

Post to #journal what usability roles and responsibilities are you interested in?

Week 9

Revise projects

For Tuesday 5/28/19

Write up your test results and share in #communityproject

For THURSDAY 5/30/19

Submit 1 pg rough draft of your personal ux methodology to #methodology

Week 10

prepare client presentation and packet

For Tuesday 6/4/19

Kelea Sommerton, User experience researcher at Google video conference in class and discussion about UX as a profession

For THURSDAY 6/6/19

Presentation workshop

For Final Exam 6/13/19 9:10Am-12:10PM AT NCIP Office in Charney Hall

9:10am Meet in Oconnor Hall classroom

9:45 Walk to Charney Hall and set up

10:00 Present deliverables, implementation instructions, and recommendations

10:50-11:00 Q&A and done!

Submit your final methodology to Slack #methodology