You will gain a foundation for college-level writing valuable for nearly any field. Students will learn how to read carefully, write effective arguments, understand the writing process, engage with others' ideas, cite accurately, and craft powerful prose. We will create a workshop environment.
English Composition I provides an introduction to and foundation for the academic reading and writing characteristic of college. Attending explicitly to disciplinary context, you will learn to read critically, write effective arguments, understand the writing process, and craft powerful prose that meets readers’ expectations. You will gain writing expertise by exploring an area or topic in which you would like to gain expertise (a hobby, trade, profession, discipline, etc.). Your major writing projects will be about your own selected topic and will be drafted and revised in sequenced stages: a visual analysis (600-800 words); a case study (1000-1250 words) and an Op-Ed (500-750 words). Your writing will be central to the course as we create a seminar/workshop structure with peer response and selected instructor feedback.
Two overarching assumptions about academic writing will shape our work: 1) it is transferable; 2) it is learnable. Being an effective academic writer involves asking meaningful questions and engaging in complex dialogue with texts and ideas. These
skills are useful across virtually all academic disciplines and they provide a valuable means for making sense of non-academic experiences as well. Perhaps even more important, though, is that learning how to write effectively does not require inspiration
or genius, but hard work, reflection, and feedback. This means that, with practice, dedication, and working with others, you can be an effective academic writer and contribute your ideas to important, ongoing conversations.
**English Composition I has earned a Certificate of Recognition from Quality Matters, a non-profit dedicated to quality in online education.**
Foundational Writing Project: Reading Critically (Weeks 1 - 2)
How do we become experts? In the first week, you will prepare a brief foundational writing exercise designed to help you build central skills for the course. I will ask you to write a critical review of an article about expertise. Specifically, we will focus on how to:
Students should have basic English proficiency and exposure to secondary-level (high-school level) English or composition
Students are encouraged to refer to the materials in the following open-source textbook for additional help with their writing: Writing Commons
By engaging with ~40 interactive instructional
videos (each ~six-eight minutes in length), students will each choose their own area of inquiry or topic and research, draft, and
revise the following three major projects in sequenced stages and with feedback
from their peers: a visual analysis (600-800 words); a case study (1000-1250 words); and an
Op-Ed (500-750 words). Smaller assignments enable students to build up
to these projects; these include a smaller critical review assignment, directed reflections, forum participation,
response papers, peer review, practice quizzes, polls, discussions, and
Yes. Students who successfully complete the class are eligible for a Verified Certificate.
Yes. There are peer evaluations of your work that are the basis of the course grade. In addition, Professor Comer and her teaching staff will model effective feedback practices so class members can respond productively to one another. We will also hold several in-time virtual workshops, and use selected student writing for examples (anonymously and with your permission).
No. Although grammar is important and resources on grammar will be provided, this course is focused primarily on how to write effective arguments. This involves asking meaningful questions, engaging with the work of others, and writing powerful prose. We will focus at times on sentence-level aspects of writing, including how to write more concisely, but our primary interest is in communicating your ideas effectively to readers through the use of argument and evidence.
We welcome cultural and linguistic diversity, and will tailor the course to meet the needs of learners with varying levels of familiarity and facility with the English language. Part of our work will involve discussions about how different people use language, and what different expectations people bring to writing. These conversations will be strengthened with the inclusion of people who speak a wide variety of languages. We have an expert on English as a Second Language working with our course to provide resources, model feedback practices, facilitate productive conversations, and provide instruction at times.