Skip to Main Content
Mobile Menu

English 90: Developmental Writing

Statement of Mission and Course Goals

One of the strengths and challenges of Boise State University is the rich diversity of its students, and ENGL 90 students are often some of the most diverse students on campus. They may be adults, returning to college after many years; they may work full or part-time as they attend school; they may be speakers of more than one language or dialect. English 90, an introduction to college writing, is required if a placement test or writing sample demonstrates need, and it also provides review for those who wish further preparation before taking ENGL 101. ENGL 90 offers students extra time to work on their writing with attention to fluency, development, organization, revision, and editing/proofreading. ENGL 90 counts as the equivalent of 3 credits, though the credits do not count toward graduation.

What You Should Know About This Course

Transforming Attitudes
Students in English 90 are usually just entering the university and can often be distinguished by their lack of confidence. Yet to thrive in college, students must become confident as readers and writers and as members of the academic community. English 90 is a course that builds both confidence and skill. We believe that students’ experiences with language and language use in the course should be positive, and that this will provide the basis for the development of writing skills. As a consequence, ENGL 90 focuses, like English 101, in part on the affective dimension of writing and thinking processes; that is, the course hopes to encourage students to believe that reading and writing are meaning-making activities that are relevant to their lives, within school and without.

Making the Transition to the University
English 90 serves as a bridge between the community and the university. Instructors should assist students with this transition into the world of studenthood. Essential topics include active, critical reading; an introduction to the culture of the academy and to basic terms of academic analysis; review of study skills; and an introduction to campus resources for academic support.

Relationship to English 101
English 090 students will be prepared to enter English 101 because they have begun to

  • develop confidence in their reading and writing abilities
  • learn the conventions and expectations of university classrooms
  • develop an awareness of the activities in writing classrooms and the terms used to talk about writing

Demonstrations, Examples, and Models
Students may have not seen writing develop over time and may be unfamiliar with the processes writers engage in to produce writing. Thus, students will observe how writing is produced.

Consistent Goals and Methods
We believe English 90 students thrive in an atmosphere that is predictable. Clear goals, repeated routines, and “scaffolded” assignments are likely to create an atmosphere that builds student confidence and provides the basis for the development of writing skills.

Language Study
English 90 is one of the few courses in which editing and proofreading skills are taught; however, such skills are only one part of English 90, which is clearly a writing course. Language skills should be taught largely within the context of the student’s own writing.

Minimum Requirements
Students in writing classes should continuously produce written work. This includes evaluated work, such as formal assignments and subsequent revisions, as well as informal and non-evaluated work, such as journal entries, in-class writing exercises, rough drafts, and peer responses. ENGL 90 students will produce, on average, the equivalent of 3 to 3.5 double-spaced and typed pages-about 1000 words-a week. The equivalent of 15 pages of double-spaced and typed writing will be the basis for assessing students’ final grades in the course.

Students will write several informal responses to reading materials using a variety of strategies for active, critical reading.

Students will begin to learn the terms, processes, and conventions of academic writing necessary for success in ENGL 101 and other university classrooms.

Students will meet all the attendance and class participation requirements and submit required assignments on deadline.


Students will:

  • have confidence in themselves as writers and readers within a college environment;
  • engage in a multi-faceted process of writing, that includes invention, development, organization, feedback, revision, and editing/proofreading;
  • be willing to use multiple strategies to view, revise, and edit their evolving written texts over time, moving from writer- to reader-based prose;
  • produce writing that has a beginning, middle, and end developed with relevant details and examples;
  • produce writing in a format appropriate to its purpose;
  • read actively and critically and engage in a dialogue with a text;
  • edit their work for mechanical errors to the extent that, while perhaps not “perfect,” surface features of the language do not interfere with communication.