English Composition I: Achieving Expertise

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.

About The Course

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 questions about expertise itself: What factors impact expert achievement? What does it take to succeed? Who determines success? Since personal investment yields better writing, you can select an area of expertise meaningful to you (a hobby, trade, profession, discipline, etc.) for your major writing projects, which will be drafted and revised in sequenced stages: a critical review to an argument about expertise (600-800 words); an explication of a visual image (600-800 words); a case study of an expert (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. Let's start now.

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**English Composition I has earned a Certificate of Recognition from Quality Matters, a non-profit dedicated to quality in online education.**

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Will I get a Statement of Accomplishment after completing this class?
Yes. Students who successfully complete the class will receive a Statement of Accomplishment signed by the instructor.
  • Will I get feedback on my written work?
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).
  • Will this course provide instruction on grammar?
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.
  • Will the course be especially difficult if a student is not very proficient in the English language?
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 will 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.
  • Will this course be geared primarily to writing in English Literature courses? No. This course will help you with academic writing in all disciplines. We will have experts working with the course who have doctorates across the social sciences, natural sciences, and humanities, and we will address disciplinary conventions explicitly. We will ask you to reflect on how you can transfer the writing knowledge you gain in this course to other writing experiences you might have in various disciplines.
  • What is the song in the promo video and why is it there? Throughout the course, we will be including songs about writing. We will include links to the songs and (if available) the artist web pages on our course wiki page. The song in the intro video is "Writing Backwards" by the group impossible songs.

Recommended Background

Students should have basic English proficiency and exposure to secondary-level (high-school level) English or composition