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College Writing Program

College Writing Program Committee

Overview of Course Objectives for College Writing

The six-credit College Writing curriculum consists of two semesters of rigorous, sequential work in composition and rhetoric. The majority of first year students are required to take:

  • ENGW 101: Exposition in the fall of their first year, followed by
  • ENGW 102: Argumentation and Research in the spring semester 

These courses emphasize the writing process (particularly recursive revision), are closely monitored by instructors (including customized feedback and individual writing conferences) and include effective writing workshop protocol (particularly the students' ability to recognize strengths and weaknesses in their own and others' writing).

The courses also share the inculcation of skepticism in readers/ listeners/viewers; students are taught to analyze not only the content, but also the credibility, of a variety of texts--written, visual and aural. Early in the first semester, instructors are expected to assess their students for their writing proficiency using a diagnostic prompt from the list provided by the department.

Student Writing Assessment

Areas of student writing to be assessed include: 

  • claim development and support
  • organizational facility
  • clarity of expression
  • precision of vocabulary
  • mastery of grammatical conventions
  • awareness of audience expectations  

These initial assessments help the instructor shape a flexible, tiered curriculum designed to augment skills essential for success at the college level and beyond.

Students who arrive at Nazareth with 6 college credits in English composition, whether through a 4 or 5 AP   exam score or transferred college courses, place out of ENGW 101-102.   Students who arrive with 3 credits typically take ENGW 103: Writing in the Disciplines, though students interested in the Honors Program, or Pre-Law may wish to enroll in ENGW 251: Rhetoric I.   On the basis of outstanding high school performance and SAT scores, some first-year students may be invited to take ENGW 251-252: Rhetoric I-II in lieu of ENGW 101-102.

Course Descriptions

Exposition (ENGW 101)

This course focuses on moving students from the initially useful, but ultimately limited and limiting five-paragraph structure they learned in secondary school to genre- and assignment-specific essays of greater length and complexity. Purpose-driven writing instruction teaches students that they are entering varying discourse communities (with varying expectations for style, tone, organization, development and content) depending on what they are writing, and for whom. This awareness, coupled with intense practice at all stages of the writing process, prepares students to write productively and appropriately in their concurrent and future courses.

This course will concentrate on the modes. However, a professor does not have to divide the course into the specific modes explicitly as long as the students learn a common vocabulary and are consciously aware of the modes used in successful expository writing. ENGW 101 requires a minimum of 15-20 pages of "final" copy; students will, in fact, produce double this amount in draft material.

Argument and Research (ENGW 102)

This course carries forth the key methods and objectives of ENGW 101, but now engages students in scholarly application, focusing on argumentation techniques (including recognition of such rhetorical strategies in professional writing) and research protocol (including library holdings/database navigation, as well as academic integrity in all of its complexity). Students bring their newly learned (or recently augmented) exposition skills into the arena of higher-level college discourse, learning to develop sophisticated, textually supported, logical arguments free from fallacious and/or unsupported claims.

Students typically produce 20-25 pages of final copy in ENGW 102, again supported by a comparable amount of draft prose. At the end of ENGW 102, students compile a reflective portfolio through which they self-evaluate their progress and provide evidence for their instructor's evaluation. These portfolios also serve as evidence of the success of the program, and random samples will be evaluated regularly as part of program-wide assessment.

The two courses, together, provide students with a solid foundation for further work in the numerous discourse communities they will encounter in their core and major courses, as well as in their future academic and professional contexts. Regardless of their majors, vocations or graduate school intentions, students will be expected to produce clear and cogent writing that is attentive to its context. Our belief is that there are key transferable skills in oral and written communication that will enhance the productivity and citizenship of all of our students, irrespective of their career choices.

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