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Eloquentia Perfecta FAQs

What are the most common reasons proposals are returned to faculty for revisions?

The syllabus lacks a clear statement, usually in the ‘Course requirements’ section, of how it fulfills the EP requirements.
In the syllabus documents, ideally, there should be explicit mention of EP-related work under “requirements” and under some of the scheduled, week-by-week work. (Core documents specify: “Eloquentia perfecta (or EP) seminars will dedicate at least one fifth of class time to student writing and oral expression.”) Be sure to include both formal and informal writing assignments, workshops, forms of feedback—anything in the course that helps students to develop their written and oral expression. In terms of the committee’s work, it is helpful to have these plans mentioned clearly at the macro and micro level.

The syllabus does not meet the requirements for fifteen pages of writing.
The most common reason for a returned proposal is that the proposal does not make sufficient provision for writing assignments. The Core documents specify that EP courses should require at least 15 pages of formal expository writing. (For more on how the committee defined this, see below.) For many courses (see below) EP courses involve a slightly higher page-count, in order to meet other, related provisions of the core documents.

The syllabus does not incorporate assignments geared toward the development of oral expression/speaking.
Fordham’s core curriculum documents specify that EP courses foster “the ability to express oneself with logical clarity in both written and oral form.” A successful proposal will include formal assignments dedicated to oral expression that go beyond ordinary class discussion. These might include formal oral presentations; conference-style panels or presentations; group work in which small groups formulate questions for discussion, or lead the class in discussion of the material, or a portion of the material.

Too many of the required writing assignments are informal.
There are many forms of writing that can be valuable for instruction, and these include on-line chat, group work, blogs, and even creative projects and performances and note-taking. The EP committee urges instructors in these courses to incorporate writing in some form into every class meeting. We encourage faculty to use these other kinds of written assignments to supplement formal writing assignments, or to spark in-class discussion. But in terms of meeting the formal requirements for EP designation, the committee looks for at least 15 pages of polished prose in the form of an academic essay. For more on this see below.

There are no assignments that involve revision or feedback or incremental development; all writing assignments are “first draft” type assignments.
Fordham’s EP policy emphasizes “clarity” of expression, and “advanced” abilities in written and oral expression, which the committee interprets to mean that at least some of the formal writing assignments go beyond first drafts. While some of the writing assignments may be first drafts, at least some of the assignments should consist of second or third drafts, or even incremental planning stages for the papers (prospectuses, annotated bibliographies, drafts of the paper’s opening or a section). For this reason, many syllabi will likely involve more than 15 pages of writing total, especially if they include longer research papers (see below). To reiterate, an EP syllabus should include some writing assignments and exercises that develop writers’ abilities to revise and develop their work at an advanced level. EP’s emphasis on the development of advanced rather than beginnerlevel writing skills suggests that at least some in-class work be devoted to the incremental steps by which writers plan, develop, and rework their prose and products. These may also be in-class writing workshops in which skills are discussed collectively (that is, feedback/revision is not restricted to teacher comments on drafts, but may be approached from numerous angles).

The kinds of assignments are not geared appropriately toward the EP levels, from 1-4.
In the core document EP is envisioned as a progression of courses, so that students continue instruction in writing at all levels of their education (rather than the common scenario in which they write short papers in courses like Composition, and long research papers in the senior year, with an unfortunate gap in between). The core document refers to courses that go “beyond” the written expression first taught in Composition; it specifies that written and oral expression will be incorporated into courses in the disciplines, in ascending order of difficulty and development of skills.

What this means in practice is that the committee looks for shorter assignments in the entry-level courses, especially EP1 and EP2. Even those beginning-level academic writers who have the skills to write a long research paper at the conclusion of the course, will benefit from shorter assignments throughout the semester. Even in the advanced courses, where a longer research paper may be appropriate, or may be the capstone of the course, the emphasis on revision means that the syllabus should include at least one or two “pre-writing” assignments and/or drafts that receive comments either from the instructor or through peer review. Generally speaking, longer research papers are probably only appropriate for the advanced EPs, though they might form a part of an introductory course provided there are shorter assignments along the way.