Mary Ragan entered higher education through Macomb Community College, but then took a detour through the worlds of factory labor and banking before becoming a financial planner. Unable to resist the lure of literature, she returned to school to complete her bachelor's degree at St. Mary's College and then her master's degree at Oakland University.  Her return to higher education came full circle as she began her teaching career as a Writing Mentor in Macomb's writing center.  She moved into an adjunct role and then served as temporary full time faculty before becoming full time faculty. Now, in addition to her teaching, she coordinates the hiring, evaluation, and training of some 50 adjunct faculty for the English Department.  Her formidable organizational power and a keen awareness of the class biases that can misdirect education are central to  In particular, she is responsible for transforming the worn notion of the modes by treating them as specific facets of a larger process: critical thinking.

The Process Paper: due April 1


Where in Your World Are Processes?


Process emphasizes “how,” and thus often connects to ideas of replication and reliability that are central to the sciences. Thus, process has roots in the human hope to control the world.

Process in Daily Life

     • Using a recipe

     • Assembling a bicycle on Christmas morning

     • Planning a wedding

Process in School

     • Using a step-by-step model to write a paper

     • Creating a spreadsheet for a project

     • Conducting online searches

Process at Work

     • Following instructions in an automotive manual

     • Performing an appendectomy

     • Predicting weather patterns

The Argument Paper: due April 29


This assignment  emphasizes the modes as facets of a larger thinking process called “argument." The assignment tests your ability to use the modes to develop a college-level claim and to express it in college-level writing. It will enable you to:

     • Construct a productive question

     • Identify vital background issues, facts, and ideas     

     • Recognize and use appropriate evidence

     • Name the connections between the claim and evidence

     • Recognize opportunities to add insights, judgments, and corrections to the existing map of a topic

     • Use a variety of modes to produce a thoughtful, evidence-based argument