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English 102: Introduction to College Writing and Research

Statement of Mission and Course Goals

English 102 is a course in academic inquiry: in how writers form their own research questions, and in how academic writers enter and respond to an ongoing conversation through sustained research. In English 102, students will come to understand the spirit and methods of academic inquiry; they work from the perspective that knowledge is made through engaging with the ideas of others. Writers consider many perspectives on their subjects and speak to and sometimes against those ideas as they explore what they think. This kind of writing occurs through close interactions with a wide range of sources, including academic and non-academic sources. While the course emphasizes academic research, it also considers how inquiry informs all kinds of writing within the academy and beyond.

Students emerge from English 101 with more confidence as readers and writers, a deeper understanding of the range of options they have as writers, and a clearer sense of the challenges and possibilities of writing in the academy and beyond. In English 102, students will build on those understandings and extend them.

The outcomes for English 101 and 102 have been developed locally through discussion and collaboration among instructors in the First-Year Writing Program. They are directly informed by the annual program-wide student writing assessment, and they have been written within the framework of nationally accepted outcomes for first-year composition. The yearly assessment reports are available at the First-Year Writing Program website; the Council of Writing Program Administators Outcomes for First-Year Writing are available at their site.

What You Should Know about This Course

Rhetorical Knowledge

Students in English 102 will engage with research-based writing as an active, rhetorical process. Sometimes this approach means that students will be encouraged to develop their own lines of inquiry entirely, working from them to discover various kinds of evidence and perspectives. At other times, students will be challenged to find a way into an ongoing academic conversation through immersion in an area. As students undertake extensive research, their questions will shift and change. They will need to, as writers so often do, negotiate multiple, conflicting perspectives on a particular issue.

Critical Thinking, Reading, and Writing

Working as researchers, students will read and write extensively as they develop and refine their inquiry projects in English 102. They encounter a range of texts and learn to read source-based writing and other forms of written inquiry. For example, students may read texts written for a general audience as well as texts written for a highly specialized academic audience. With each reading encounter, they act as active readers willing to understand and interrogate the text at hand.

Students also consider the various rhetorical moves and research strategies that other writers use. They work to consider how others’ ideas complicate and deepen their own understandings, often leaving them with a richer set of questions rather than “the” answer.

Knowledge of Process and Conventions

The process of inquiry is driven by questions, and the product of an investigation is built around a response to others’ ideas. In English 102, students are introduced to the many ways that research is conducted—from gathering data and information within academic resources to initiating first-hand research of various kinds (e.g. interviews, observations, surveys, and so on).

Additionally and importantly, in English 102 students experience various ways of representing research in writing—from using research-based writing to add to or extend an ongoing conversation, to exploring what they think about a question or issue, to making a research-based assertion in some way. In 102, students and instructors are encouraged to work in digital spaces as much as possible, and they are also pushed to consider how research-based genres work in a variety of settings.

A Final Note about the Activity of Writing and Research

In English 102 students work within a community of writers and researchers in which they understand that membership implies engagement with each others’ struggles to make meaning. They experience writing as a social interaction for a particular purpose, for knowledge is not created in isolation but through dialogue and writing which is shared with a real audience. The writing classroom is an intellectual community that encourages students to think deeply, where difference is not only accepted but is also seen as an opportunity for learning—and for further inquiry.

English 102 Student Outcomes

By the end of English 102, students will be able to:

  • understand academic work as a recursive process of inquiry, using writing and research to form new questions and pursue existing enduring questions;
  • craft questions that guide research, making their process manageable and likely to yield insights;
  • find, read, evaluate, analyze, and synthesize appropriate sources;
    integrate evidence in their own writing in a way that complicates (develops, refines, extends, refutes, and deepens) their own ideas;
  • produce research-based writing in formats appropriate to the context, purpose, genre, and audience;
  • implement a variety of research strategies and resources as appropriate to their inquiry;
  • use a variety of media (print and digital) to address different audiences, as appropriate;
  • understand genre expectations for some research-based writing contexts within the university;
  • use an academic documentation style consistently and appropriately;
    articulate the rhetorical choices they have made as a writer and researcher, illustrating their awareness of a writer’s relationship to the subject, context, purpose, and audience;
  • produce prose without surface-level convention errors that distract readers from attending to the meaning and purpose of the writing.

Curricular Components

The curricular components listed here only begin to capture the energy and commitment necessary for student success in a first-year writing course. Individual instructors work within these outcomes and curricular expectations in a variety of ways.

Writing

  • Students in writing classes continuously produce written work. This includes evaluated work, such as formal assignments and subsequent revisions, as well as informal and non-evaluated writing, such as research blog entries, annotated bibliographies, collaborative wikis, in-class writing exercises, reflective logs and memos, rough drafts, and peer responses. Students can expect to write a considerable amount of informal and non-evaluated work from which their formal, evaluated work will grow.
  • Throughout the semester, instructors generally assign three substantial, research-based projects, sometimes building from a particular theme or area of inquiry. Students produce the equivalent of approximately 20+ pages’ worth of “final draft” material. As students work in digital spaces, the writing produced should be appropriate for those genres and media.
  • English 102 is a revision-based writing course. At the end of the semester, students select at least two “final draft” projects to substantially revise and also write an extensive portfolio cover letter. Taken as a whole, the revisions and reflection demonstrate how students have met or exceeded the assessment scoring guide for English 102. The final portfolio generally accounts for a significant portion of students’ final grades.

Research

  • Instructors assign at least three research-based projects that use multiple and varied sources of information. Many disciplines encourage writers to develop and refine a position, so at least one of these projects will encourage students to take a perspective and/or build an argument.
  • Students will engage in extensive practice with and reflection on text- and/or digitally-based academic research. They will also be encouraged to use multiple forms of research (e.g., observations, interviews, surveys) and to consider how researchers make conscious choices about research tools.

Course Community

  • Writing courses are highly interactive and depend on frequent feedback, discussions, and in-class workshops. Attendance, in-class participation, and respect for submission deadlines are expected in writing classes.