First Year Writing (UW1020) Template

The joint purposes for this course are to strengthen every GW student’s ability to write clearly and effectively at the university and in other arenas, and to emphasize the importance of strong writing for success in all academic, public, and professional enterprises that require critical thought and communication. This course will be required of all freshmen entering the university.

Course Description: Practice in the processes and techniques of academic writing, drawing upon stimulating topics of current intellectual interest that will invigorate students’ writing. The course focuses on framing important questions, constructing an argument through identifying and discussing both supportive and contradictory evidence, accommodating a variety of purposes and audiences, and using the ideas of other writers appropriately. The value of revision for clear expression is a constant emphasis; review of conventions for syntax, grammar, and punctuation is incorporated as necessary.

Objectives: In order to prepare students for rigorous academic writing projects across the range of disciplines offered at GW, the course strives to develop or extend the following skills:

  • Capacity for critical reading and for analytic thinking that examines assumptions and evidence, in both scholarly texts and informed public commentary.

  • Ability to explore information resources – through both the traditional library and emerging technological sources – to use them effectively, and to acknowledge them correctly.

  • A functional grasp of rhetorical principles: the purpose or genre of each piece of writing, the expectations of various audiences, and the use of formats, evidence, tones, lengths, and levels of formality appropriate to a range of contexts.

  • Practice in the writing tasks of framing sound questions or hypotheses, analyzing and synthesizing information that can be brought to bear on the chosen question, preparing and repeatedly revising drafts to achieve clarity and coherence of argument, and citing others’ work with integrity.

  • The habit and discipline of careful editing and proofreading to ensure that final drafts are essentially free of errors in grammar, syntax, usage, paragraphing, punctuation, and spelling.

Requirements: 25-30 pages of finished writing, developed through pre-draft preparation, drafts, and revisions based on instructor’s advice and classmates’ comments. Each student will complete at least three writing assignments of increasing complexity. Papers will be based on assigned texts and often on additional reading; although instructors will develop assignments that reflect a variety of academic writing projects, one paper will require significant library research. Class attendance is required, with limited excused absences; class participation is essential to performance and affects the final grade.

Primary readings are chosen from authentic, effective prose that addresses the course topic and invites students’ responses. A rhetoric handbook, chosen from a small group approved by the Writing Program Committee, will also be employed.

Research component:   Each section of UW1020 is assigned a librarian from the Gelman Library System and assessments have shown that students profit from librarians' involvement by gaining the skills and confidence as researchers that will serve them well throughout their college career.  As they participate in class sessions throughout the semester, librarians help students develop core information literacy skills, improving their ability to locate, evaluate, and use information as independent, life-long learners.  Collaborating with the course instructor, the librarian conducts in-class sessions on various aspects of research, such as topic formulation, search strategy, and the evaluation of sources.  In addition, the librarian may meet regularly with students in one-on-one and small group settings, to provide guidance as students work through their research projects.

Credit Hours: 4 credits.

Guidelines for approximate weighting of products and performance:

  • at least 70% of the final course grade based upon written work, including a developed capacity for successful revision;
  • no more than 10% of the course grade based on quizzes and/or skills tests;
  • up to 20% of the course grade based on participation in class activities such as discussion, workshops, small group work, and listserve postings.
Grading Scale: A grade of C- or above in UW1020 indicates that the student is prepared to write solid academic essays in later upper-division, writing-intensive courses. Students must pass UW1020 with a grade of C- or above in order to receive credit for the course. If a UW1020 student is not prepared for the next level of university writing, the instructor will award the student a grade of R (for Repeat.)  The R grade is reserved for students who work hard in the course, complete the main course assignments, but will still benefit from additional UW1020 writing instruction. The student will not receive credit for the course; however, the R will not factor into the student's GPA.  Students who do not complete the course materials, who are consistently absent from class, or who violate other expectations of academic behavior, will be awarded an F.