Course Design

On this page faculty teaching 1000 and 1100 can find resources for designing their section of the course.


Our course outcomes are based on the Writing Program Administrator’s Outcomes Statement for First-Year Composition.  In the opening page of the course textbook, Stuart Greene and April Lidinsky’s From Inquiry to Academic Writing, A Practical Guide, 4th ed., faculty will find a chart aligning those outcomes to the chapters from the textbook.

Course Readers

All sections of 1000 and 1100 will use Greene and Lidinsky’s From Inquiry to Academic Writing, and faculty can supplement that rhetoric with readings of their own choosing.  The Writing Program recommends the following course readers:

The Bedford Spotlight Series.  Titles include “Border Crossings,” “Pursuing Happiness,” “Monsters,” “Sustainability,” “Food Matters,” “Money Changes Everything,” and “Composing Gender.”

The Oxford University Press A Reader for Writers Series.  Titles include, “Queer,” “Community,” “Creativity,” “College,” “Gender,” “Poverty/Privilege,” “Food,” “Technology,” “Humor,” “Language,” “Globalization,” “Culture,” “Identity,” and “Sustainability.”

The Fountainhead Press V Series.  Titles include, “Sport,” “Funny,” “(E)Tunes,” “Health,” “Authenticity,” “Death,” “Monsters,” “Money,” “Borders,” “(E)Dentity,” “Food,” and “Green.”

If you are interested in any of these, contact Dr. Peter Wayne Moe, director of campus writing.

Some Thoughts on Course Themes

It is important to remember that the students taking these courses will be undeclared freshmen.  These are students who will likely change majors a few times before settling into a course of study within a discipline.  Because of this, WRI 1100 is not an introduction to the major.  The course can recruit students to the major, yes, but the course needs to be broad enough that the student who, say, takes the Art History section will be well served when she chooses to major in Economics.

How is such transfer possible?  In Transfer of Learning: Cognition, Instruction, and Reasoning, Robert Haskell outlines 11 conditions for transfer to occur; in his book chapter “Seeking Sponsors, Accumulating Literacies: Deborah Brandt and English Education,” Michael Smith synthesizes those 11 conditions into four:

  1. If students have command of the knowledge that is to be transferred
  2. If students have a theoretical understanding of the principles to be transferred
  3. If a classroom culture cultivates a spirit of transfer, and
  4. If students get plenty of practice in applying meaning-making and problem-solving principles to new situations.

For WRI 1100, this means the course must be a course in writing, one where the meta-skills of critical inquiry take center stage.  At the end of the course, as the outcomes state, the student will be able to analyze and synthesize texts—whether those texts are raw data from the field, pieces of research, or literary, historical, or theological criticism—and from working with that research, make an evidence-based claim.  The student will have an awareness of the rhetorical situation in which she writes, able to adapt her writing to fit the demands the audience, occasion, and subject matter of her writing place upon her.  The student will be able to revise and edit his work with care, attentive to how the conventions of the discipline in which he writes are unique to this given situation.  And the student will be able to see a project through multiple stages, developing and refining that evidence-based claim.

Even though this writing course is a course in writing, the class must have something to talk about.  I recommend the course be centered on one big question or problem.  Those questions or problems could be, perhaps, foundational concepts in the field, or current issues, or your area of expertise.  A few examples of what the course might look like:

Should we mitigate the effects of climate change?

How do we know the sun is at the center of the universe, especially when there’s a lot of observational evidence favoring the heliocentric model?

What can we learn from the failure of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge?

What place do the humanities have in a college education?

The first deals with a current issue, one approachable from multiple fields.  The student would learn about climate change, but more so the student would think through how someone in this field thinks about a big problem.  The second is an epistemological take on the course, one tapping into the Ways of Knowing curriculum at SPU, one where the course would interrogate a basic, fundamental belief.  The third has a historical component to it as well as a future application, and the fourth gets at a question the students may be asking of their own education.  With each, the focus is not as much on climate change, the universe, the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, or the aims of education, but on the student learning to enter into an academic discussion, to hear what’s been said on these issues and then intervene in that discussion, to be able to say “Yes, but …” or “No, but …” or “Yes, and …” or “No, and …” in response to others writing on these issues—which is the transferable skill we are teaching.