Course Syllabus

WR 60: Argument & Research

First Generation Students and the Promise of Higher Education


Instructor: Yolanda Santiago Venegas

Office Hours: Tu/Th 12:20-1:00 p.m. & in Zoom by appointment

Email Me: The best way to reach me is to use the Canvas Inbox to email me. Linked here is a video that shows you how to use the Canvas Inbox to email me or your peers

Required Materials 

  • The Anteater Guide to Writing and Rhetoric (AGWR 9th edition), Online Perusall Edition 
  • Selections from our Canvas Course First Gen Ebook (free pdf readings)

Course Description: Writing 60, Argument and Research, is the second of UCI‘s two required writing courses that together fulfill the Lower Division Writing Requirement. Like WR 50, 60 focuses on critical reading and rhetoric and teaches you intellectual strategies for identifying, understanding, and then using various genres and rhetorical situations for important communicative purposes. WR60 deepens your understanding of rhetoric and communication by teaching you how to conduct research and to evaluate and use various types of evidence. The reading, composing, and researching practices you will learn in this course and the various intellectual strategies you develop will help you to succeed in your other courses, prepare you to engage in the university community and in your chosen discipline, and deepen your perspective on current issues and problems and the idea of social justice itself.  

Required Course Text: this course requires that you buy one text, The Anteater's Guide to Writing and Rhetoric (AGWR).  This is an online text that is available through Perusall.  As you can see the Perusall App is embedded into our Canvas course environment on the left hand panel.  AGWR is the only text available in the Perusall Library.  You will be able to purchase the text through Perusall directly (you'll  be prompted when you click on the book for the first time), or you will purchase a digital access code through the campus bookstore if your financial aid requires this.  Please let me know if there are financial or other extenuating circumstances preventing you from accessing the text by week one of the quarter and I can facilitate access for the first few weeks until you can purchase the required text. 

How Our Course Works:

1. Our WR 60 Section 33368 class will meet in person at HH231 on Tu/Th 11:00 a.m.-12:20 p.m. Our Plan of Action or work for the week and all documents will be published on our home page on Monday of each week.  Our weekly Plan of Actions is a list of about 6 tasks you need to complete each week with live links to all all assignments, readings, and resources you need to complete them.  I will send you an announcement on Canvas right after I publish it.  The weekly Plan of Action is also published in Modules to allow you to look at the work ahead.

2. Instructor Contact: I will have office hours immediately after class--please let me know after class if you would like to meet for office hours OR email me before class. There will be no scheduled office hours on the weeks when I am meeting students in Writing Groups.  You will also meet with me and your Writing Group at least two times during this class.   Read more about this below.  

3. Email Policy: If you need to contact me, use the Canvas Inbox to email me and I will get back to you within 24 hours.  One of the requirements of this class is that you check your Canvas Inbox once a day as I will use this method to contact you.

4. Feedback: I will do my best to provide feedback on your major assignments/essays within a week of submission as google doc comments.  Please read the "Feedback Schedule" linked below and also posted in the Getting Started Module for specifics on when and how you will receive feedback.  Because of the fast pace of this course, I will not comment on every single assignment you turn in yet I will read and grade all of your work.  For more about this, read the feedback schedule below

Our Course Theme First Generation Students and the Promise of Higher Education: Did you know that in June of 2019, First Gen Students at UCI made up more than half the graduating class?  Did you know that in 2020 UCI received the most applications from CA high school seniors to become the top choice for First Gen, low-income, minority students.  According to the University of California Office of the President (UCOP) 42 % of the undergraduates now enrolled in the UC system are first-generation students and a growing number are students from immigrant families.  The theme in this class centers the experiences of First Generation students with an emphasis on low-income students and students from immigrant families.

We will begin our inquiry by reading and using writing to critically examine the meaning and purpose of higher education in our lives and our communities.  We will then learn about and apply a Critical Race Theory of Education framework to examine "Who Gets to Graduate?," learn about persistent graduation gaps, and consider the reasons behind them.  After spending the first third of the class reading together, you will have the opportunity to chart your own path through the core readings by choosing to read about some of the major challenges faced by First Gen students including:  

    • K-12 educational inequality and how the educational inequality low-income First Gen students experience impacts access to higher education and shapes their first year experience as they enter the  public research university
    • The rising cost of higher education, trends in financial aid "free-money" within the context of the state and federal defunding of public education
    • The effect of the model minority myth on Asian-American First Gen students
    • How the  dramatic increase of Chinese international students impacts the educational experiences of  First Gen Asian-American students
    • Access to higher education for undocumented students in the face of the uncertain future of DACA.
    • Public Higher Education and the International Student Industrial Complex

As you can see, this class is about choice: Giving you the freedom to research, read, and write about what is personally relevant and meaningful to you!  By selecting what to read/research/write from our List of Possible Research Topics, you will be able to choose a social justice issue within higher education that matters you.  In the last third of the class, we will gather again to read about how First Gen students through their reading, writing, activism, are redefining higher education--how they are transforming our public universities and teaching all of us what our public higher education institutions need to do to adequately meet their needs.  In this class you will expand your critical thinking about your identity/ies and American higher education through research, reading, reflection, discussion, and writing, and become self-conscious (in the best sense of the word) as students in the university who understand the power of writing: why writing matters and how to use rhetoric for social change.    

Pre-requisites: You must have satisfied all Academic English and Entry Level Writing Requirements and passed WR 45/50 with a grade of "C" or better in order to enroll in WR 60.

Respect for Diversity: In this class, diversity is a resource that enhances the learning for all.  I consider it part of my responsibility as an instructor to address the learning needs of all the students in this course.  I will present materials that are respectful of diversity: race, color, ethnicity, gender, age, disability, religious beliefs, political preference, sexual orientation, gender identity, citizenship, or national origin among other personal characteristics.  I also believe that the diversity of student experiences and perspectives is essential to the deepening of knowledge in a course.  Because of this the course reading and assignments are designed to create a positive climate for diversity by explicitly centralizing historically marginalized groups and perspectives. Creating a positive climate for diversity includes being sensitive to our pronoun use; asking students to identify the specific pronouns they self-identify with and remaining mindful of this in our interactions throughout the course.  Any suggestions that you have about other ways to include the value of diversity in this course are welcome.  In scheduling due dates and exams, I have tried to avoid conflicts with major religious holidays.  If there is a conflict with your religious observances, please let me know as soon as possible so that we can make other arrangements. 

A Note About Pedagogy (The work we will do and why)

This is an Integrated Reading and Writing (IRW) course.  What this means is that we will focus not only on the process and practice of writing, but also on the ways that reading, thinking, and writing interact and complement each other.  A premise guiding our approach is that writing, reading, and thinking are all interconnected and you become better at these by learning how to use one to improve on the other--as you become a better writer, you become a better reader and a more careful and critical thinker. 

In addition to the assigned course readings, the second type of primary text will be your writing and the writing of your classmates.  This is a class where your writing--and how you can continue to develop and hone your writing skills--will be taken seriously.  We will therefore make use of a writing workshop on a regular basis.  I will ask you to bring your writing or replicate your essays and/or excerpts from your writing to allow us to focus on issues of writing.  This is an essential part of learning to return to your writing and develop a language for talking about writing. This class’s success depends above all on the learning community we are able to build as writers who respect and are interested in the work that individual writers are doing.  Let me know if you do not want me to share your writing; otherwise I may use your writing for in-class work.

Student Learning Outcomes

  • Read closely and compose in and across a variety of genres.
  • Develop rhetorical knowledge through critical analysis of texts and contexts and the study of audiences, compositional arrangements, deliveries, and varieties of persuasion.
  • Define information literacy and develop the ability to assess the credibility of sources, databases, archives, and other repositories of source material.
  • Cultivate metacognition: a student’s ability to reflect upon and contextualize their own writing processes and strategies.
  • Teach the analysis and composition of arguments delivered in different modalities: written, oral, and visual forms.
  • Develop your sense of authority and self-efficacy as an academic research writer

Pass/No Pass Grade Change Option: I will send you an announcement and create a page in our Getting Started Module with deadline information on the Pass/No Pass Grade Change Option in Week 1.  


  • Participation 5%
  • Research Project Part One: Context (35%)
  • Research Project Part Two: Advocacy (40%)
  • Final ePortfolio (20%)

*Each of the major assignments will have a sequence of process assignments leading up to the final draft.  These include worksheets, outlines, Source Evaluations, peer-reviews, discussion forums etc. These process assignments are graded as complete/incomplete.  In order to receive a grade on the major assignments (CP, AP, Portfolio), you must submit all process assignments and drafts on time and receive the grade of "complete" on them.  If you need to submit a process assignment late or if you need to redo it because you receive the grade of "incomplete," you will loose 10 points from the final assignment grade for each process assignment submitted late, or that you had to redo because it was "incomplete."  If you received an "incomplete," on any process assignments, you need to redo it then come to office hours for a regrade on that assignment BEFORE you submit the final CP or AP in order for me to grade your final draft. 

Major Assignments + Due Dates: As we move through the quarter we will achieve our course outcomes by working on a version of the following assignments. The course calendar has a list of the deadlines for major and minor assignments (these deadlines are subject to minor changes to better serve the needs of the class). Each assignment has a corresponding module with the prompt, grading rubric, process work, and samples.

  • Contexts Project: Due by end of Week 5
  • Advocacy Project: Due by end of Week 8
  • Mid-quarter Reflections: Due Weeks 3 and 6
  • Final ePortfolio: Reflective Introduction: Due Week 9

Feedback Schedule: When and How Can I expect Feedback?

First Day Rule: All students enrolled in the Composition Program’s writing courses—WR 45, WR 40, WR 40A, WR 50, WR 60)—are required to attend the first meeting of your writing class. For writing courses offered online during the COVID-19 pandemic, your instructor will assign a brief first-day activity that you must complete in lieu of attendance.

**If you do not attend the first meeting of your class or complete the online assignment on the first day, you are required to drop the course so that a waitlisted student may enroll.**

To drop the course, your instructor will give you an authorization code that must be submitted to the Registrar by the end of the second week of classes. 

Tardiness and Attendance Policy: In a Tu Th class, more than 2 absences is considered excessive.  If you miss more than 3 classes, you will be asked to drop the class.   You are expected to be in class when class begins.  You will get three free tardies and will be marked absent after that. 

Late Work Policy: The expectation is that all process assignments and essays will be submitted on time.  Because this is a fast-paced course where you will be reading & writing every week, and because one week's work will lead to the next assignment, you cannot afford to fall behind. That said, there is usually a three day grace period after each due date yet submitting your work late will impact your final assignment grade (read above). If you need to submit an assignment late, please do not email me, just submit it late before the assignment closes. This late work policy does not apply to the 3 major assignments, the CP, AP, and final ePortfolio--these must be completed on time.  

Requirements/Course Policies: For all UCI writing courses, final grades of C or above satisfy the writing requirement. If you earn a final grade of C- or lower in any writing course, you must repeat that course and you must drop your enrollment in the next course in the sequence.  If you are repeating WR60, you may NOT resubmit the same papers. Resubmitted papers from a previous WR 60 will receive a non-passing grade.  All assigned work must be completed to qualify for a final grade. In other words, you may not omit an assignment. Draft(s) must be submitted in order to receive a grade on the final paper. Final submissions of all major projects—final versions of the CP, AP, and ePort Reflective Introduction—must be submitted to Canvas

Academic Integrity for Your Writing Class: The Composition Program and its teachers assume that work submitted by students–all process work, drafts, low-stakes writing, final versions, and all other submissions–will be generated by the students themselves, working individually or in groups. This means that the following would be considered violations of academic integrity by the Composition Program: 1) if a student has another person/entity do the writing of any substantive portion of an assignment for them, which includes hiring a person or a company to write essays and drafts and/or other assignments, research based or otherwise, and using artificial intelligence affordances like ChatGPT; 2) if a student submits the same work for more than one class without consulting with the instructors. 

Plagiarism: As you move through your writing classes here at UCI, your instructors will teach you how to use sources properly. If you’d like a primer on plagiarism, click on this link Understanding Plagiarism. Generally speaking, plagiarism is broad and multifaceted concept, which can be basically defined in the following way: a student submits a paper or other writing as their own that uses chains of words, sentences, paragraphs, and ideas from a pre-existing text that the student did not write and does not acknowledge or cite as a source.

Possible Outcomes for Violations of Academic Integrity & Plagiarism: Students who commit ethical violations like these may find themselves subject to disciplinary action, which may result in the failure of an assignment or the course itself. In accordance with the UCI Academic Senate Policy on Academic Integrity, all academic integrity policy violations will be reported to the Office of Academic Integrity & Student Conduct (OAISC). As such, it is the responsibility of OAISC to conduct the review and assign Administrative Sanctions as appropriate. Violations of academic integrity may affect a student's graduation and eligibility for honors. 

Copyright: Please remember that the teaching material you receive from your teacher is the intellectual property of the person/people who wrote, created, and designed this material. For example, your instructor’s lectures and course materials, including videos, PowerPoint presentations, worksheets, quizzes, outlines, prompts, rubrics, and similar materials are protected by U.S. copyright law and by University policy. Your instructor is the owner of the copyright for those materials that they created. Likewise, all of your course readings belong to their respective authors or originators. Use of these materials is made possible for non-profit, educational purposes through fair use laws (see 17 USC, 107).


Please do not copy or distribute any assigned readings or course materials without written consent from the copyright owner. 


This means that you violate copyright law if you reproduce, distribute, or display (digitally post/upload) lecture notes or recordings or course materials in any other way without your instructor’s express written consent.  You also may not allow others to do so.  If you do so, you may be subject to student conduct proceedings under the Code of Student Conduct, Section 102.23.


Accommodation: University of California, Irvine is committed to providing reasonable accommodations for all persons with permanent or temporary disabilities.I consider disability an aspect of diversity and find that students with disabilities enrich our learning environment. If you are a student in need of accommodations inform me ASAP so that I can make sure you have the same opportunity to succeed in this class as any other student. I make every effort to design my courses using the principle of universal design, yet please let me know if you need more time for an assignment or any other accommodation. This syllabus is available in alternate formats upon request. If you have a disability that impacts your participation in this class, please contact the Disability Services Center (DSC) as soon as possible. Students approved for accommodations will notify the instructor by sending out a Faculty Notification Letter from the DSC website. Disability Services Center - Building 313 in Engineering Gateway - - (949) 824-7494

Important forms for WR 60: There are some important forms that you need to fill out for this class that are available online:

Consent to Reproduce and Publish / Academic Honesty, PlagiarismLinks to an external site.

Please make sure you complete these forms by the end of the first week of class.

Resources for Writers:

Course Schedule: The weekly course schedule--Plan of Action--will be posted on our Canvas homepage on Monday at the start of each week.  Previous and forward weeks will be posted in Modules by week--if you need to look backwards or plan forwards. If you go to our course calendar you will see the deadlines for all major and minor assignments.  These deadlines are subject to minor changes to meet better your needs.