Composition Skills

This page provides a brief explanation of the goals and desired outcomes for all students who are enrolled in first year writing classes. These skills also carry over into our upper-division courses where they are built upon. These curricular goals are intended to meet the standards created by the National Council of Writing Program Administrators (WPA). For a more detailed explanation of these standards, please see the WPA Outcomes Statement for First Year Composition.


After completing first-year composition, students will be able to use the reading and writing process for inquiry, learning, thinking, and communicating. They will also evaluate the differences in quality between scholarly sources and more journalistic or web-based sources. They will learn how to use these resources for their own rhetorical purposes (such as reinforcing their own argument). Students are also encouraged to see reading and writing as pleasurable activities that open paths to self-discovery and a means to better articulate their world views.

Being able to think critically about the messages students read, see, and hear is a vital skill in college and in a democratic society. The ability to engage with complex ideas and texts on a deeper, more scholarly level will give students a distinct advantage in their coursework and beyond.


As a result of taking English 1010 and 2010/2020, students will be able to craft documents that are suitable for the rhetorical context in which they are composing. Students will learn how to appropriately adjust their tone and level of formality for their intended audience, genre, medium, and purpose. To these ends, first year writing courses offer a wide variety of assignments to give students practice in making the varied writing choices that will lead to the most effective communication.

In practical terms, gaining rhetorical knowledge means students will be able to successfully complete the required tasks for writing assignments in other college courses. They will know how to write in a variety of academic genres and for different educational purposes. Beyond academics, increased rhetorical knowledge allows students to see the nuance in seemingly simple ideas or positions and simultaneously engage the inherent complexity of any communicative situation.


After successfully finishing general education writing courses, students will see the value in research and writing as an educational and personal process rather than merely a final product. They will experience first-hand the advantages that come from creating multiple drafts, extensive research, and collaboration with peers.

Good research and writing takes time, discipline, and hard work. It is not something that can merely be crammed into one night. Students will learn this lesson in their first-year composition courses because all of the required writing projects are designed to be completed gradually in stages throughout the semester. Peer review and collaboration are also heavily emphasized.


After finishing the first-year writing program, students will be able to write competently using appropriate academic conventions. They will learn how to effectively organize various kinds of papers, how to form solid paragraphs, and how to document their sources correctly. They will also learn how to control surface-level features such as syntax, grammar, punctuation, and spelling. More importantly, students will learn that any communicative situation comes with its own set of conventions and expectations. With this knowledge, students will be well equipped to compose in a variety of genres and in different media forms.

Critical Thinking


Writing Process

Knowledge of Conventions. Make boxes red to match the other pictures.