College Writing Overview

Goal of College Writing: 

Students meet our learning outcomes through a sequence of projects in analysis, argument and research; we demonstrate scholarly habits of mind, introduce best practices for the writing and research process, and align our course outcomes with transferrable skills for writing projects across the Washington University curriculum.

Learning Outcomes:

  1. Students acquire critical thinking habits when they encounter multimodal texts and respond to the evidence they encounter.
  2. Students articulate a clear central claim as they write, relying on methods of argument to move from a focused initial thesis statement to a developed conclusion.
  3. Students develop an understanding of how various kinds of research inform their writing in order to assemble a project of their own design.
  4. Students understand their own rhetorical situation in a given context and compose work that is appropriate to a given audience.
  5. Students make deliberate and thoughtful organizational and sentence-level decisions to effectively communicate their ideas.
  6. Students reflect upon their writing process as they share their work with others and can speak fluently about their writing habits and revision strategies.

Assignments

Writing Process Portfolio (20%)

The Writing Process Portfolio will help students build the skills needed for composing formal essays while taking chances and seeing writing as a process. It also lays the foundation for the Analysis Essay.

Analysis Essay (15%)

This is students' first formal essay in College Writing. The aim of analysis is to identify the most significant choices—of stance, of thesis, of evidence and arrangement, of style, etc.—that a writer has made, and to analyze the effects of those choices.

Argument Essay (20%)

In this essay, students craft a claim to qualify, complicate, challenge, or extend, rather than discredit, dismiss, or simply agree with what another critic has argued about a topic. Primary and secondary sources are utilized.

Research Process Portfolio (10%)

Students will be required to produce a Research Process Portfolio that helps them set the trajectory for their research project. It will help clarify what they hope to accomplish and the tough questions they need to ask of their sources.

Research Paper (25%)

All College Writing students undertake a research project on a topic of their choice. The project culminates in an 8-10 page research paper. Students have the opportunity to submit their research papers for publication.

Publication Opportunities
students sitting in the grass, talking

Curriculum

In this course, students acquire critical thinking habits when they encounter multimodal texts and respond to the evidence they encounter. They learn to effectively communicate their ideas and reflect upon their writing process as they share their work with others. Through a sequence of projects in analysis, argument and research, students learn to articulate a clear central claim as they write, relying on methods of argument to move from a focused initial thesis statement to a developed conclusion. They learn to understand their own rhetorical situation in a given context and how various kinds of research inform their writing in order to assemble a project of their own design. By demonstrating scholarly habits of mind and introducing best practices for the writing and research process, our program helps students acquire transferrable skills for writing projects across the Washington University curriculum.

Writing Placement Exam

The Writing Placement Exam may be required for certain students to ensure that they are adequately prepared for the challenges of College Writing (L59 111-120), the University’s first-year writing requirement. Our sole objective in requiring this exam is to ensure that all students who take College Writing have the skills and support they need to do well in the class.

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College Writing Program Administrators

In this video students discuss what they enjoyed about the themes of their College Writing courses.

Resources

  • The Writing Center and Speaking Studio

    The Writing Center and Speaking Studio provide free, one-on-one tutoring to all undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, and staff for any writing or public speaking project.

  • The Learning Center

    The Learning Center offers academic mentoring programs that facilitate students’ transition into the University, support their intellectual growth and maturity, and prepare them for post-graduation academic and professional experiences.

  • Disability Resources

    The official resource for students who have disabilities or suspected disabilities, Disability Resources assists students individually by providing guidance and determining reasonable accommodations to remove barriers to access.

  • Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention Center

    The RSVP Center's 24-hour services are available for individuals in immediate need of assistance, such as hospital care, reporting an assault to police or emergency housing accommodations.

  • Sexual Assault and Rape Anonymous Helpline

    (314-935-8080) S.A.R.A.H. is a confidential resource available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (excluding winter and summer break)

  • Mental Health Services

    MHS provides counseling, crisis response, and therapy groups. They also work with students on conflicts with or worry about friends or family, concerns about eating or drinking patterns, and feelings of anxiety and depression.

  • Uncle Joe's Peer Counseling and Resource Center

    (314-935-5099) Uncle Joe’s is a peer-run counseling and resource center with a helpline available 24-hours a day, 7 days a week (excluding university holidays and breaks). They also have walk-in hours every night from 10PM-1AM.

  • Bias Report and Support System

    Students, faculty, staff, and community members who have experienced or witnessed incidents of bias, prejudice or discrimination involving a student can report their experiences to the University’s BRSS team.

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Beyond College Writing

Once they have successfully completed College Writing, students may wish to take another writing course. The College Writing Program offers 200-level courses that will help students continue to learn and grow as writers.

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