The Composition program works with students to develop the habits of mind, tools, and strategies for writing in college and beyond. English 105 and 106, our required first-year courses, ask students to engage with campus life and the world at large, challenging them to ask meaningful questions and seek answers through directed investigations of self and society. In thinking, talking, and writing about complex texts, students employ progressively more sophisticated critical skills. As they analyze data and rhetoric, formulate and defend arguments, and integrate outside sources, they participate in a conversation with their peers and instructors that leads them to an increased sense of their own ethos and ability to participate successfully in public discourse. The first year sequence familiarizes students with the standards and expectations of discourse in a variety of disciplines, including engineering, science, nursing, business and music, and helps them become effective communicators for the widest possible range of audiences.
Dedicated to providing a superior learning experience, our award-winning faculty come from a range of backgrounds and bring to the classroom a student-centered approach to teaching. Composition sections are small--no more than 19 students--and sessions are dedicated to hands-on activities meant to challenge students to expand their understanding of the role of writing in the academy and in society. Students gain a concrete understanding of their power to persuade as they carry out interviews and observations, study archival materials, explore the ways in which film and photographs influence viewers' responses, read complex essays, and evaluate websites, and then produce their own compositions in papers, Blackboard discussion rooms, websites, blogs, wikis, and other modes.
Students who desire greater ability to write in specific disciplines or fields have the opportunity to take several upper level courses described in the Course Offerings.
Outside the classroom, students can seek one-on-one tutoring for writing and composing projects in our program's Writing Center, which is open year-round to all members of the University community. Here, students receive guidance on crafting their work to answer specific assignments, on revising, and on addressing any questions they have about grammar, research, and citation. For further information, please visit the Writing Center. Outreach programs by the Writing Center include workshops for students on topics such as avoiding plagiarism, proofreading effectively, and citing correctly. In addition, workshops sponsored in conjunction with the Instructional Advancement Center and with Richter Library serve to familiarize faculty with current thinking about best practices regarding writing.
Our diverse, energetic Composition faculty implement the latest theory and practice, and keep in touch with national trends by participating in conferences on writing, composition, rhetoric, and technology. Active writers and researchers ourselves, we regularly publish scholarly and creative work, including articles in magazines and peer-edited journals, poems, short stories, and books of non-fiction, fiction, and poetry. At the same time, our faculty pursue ties across the University, endeavoring to frame our courses in light of writing expectations across the disciplines. Through the Citizens Board Summer Institute, funded in addition by the Office of the Dean and private donors, we assist faculty in the College of Arts & Sciences to implement productive writing assignments in their content-based courses.