Strategies for the First Year Writing Course

Instructors in the First Year Writing course teach effective writing practices that engage and advance student learning and stimulate habits of mind that are critical to academic success.


  1. The instructor follows the common E130 course syllabus, including writing assignments and learning labs, to ensure that all students engage in high impact educational practices.
  2. The instructor clarifies the purpose, audience, and context for each writing assignment.
  3. The instructor guides students in their development as writers by promoting the stages of the writing process.
  4. The instructor requires students to interact with course texts and research material, including resources from library databases and informal electronic networks.
  5. The instructor explains common formatting, documentation, and genre conventions.

Achieve these writing requirements by:

  • Clarifying assignment expectations: Give students an assignment sheet that defines the writing project and a rubric that illustrates how their writing will be evaluated
  • Explaining the rhetorical nature of writing: Teach students how audience and purpose shape writing content, format, and design
  • Highlighting the writing process: Help students develop effective strategies for reading as well as for generating ideas, drafting, revising, and editing
  • Teaching writing as an intellectual process: Guide students in comprehending, evaluating, analyzing, and synthesizing reading material and in reflecting on ideas and information
  • Scaffolding or sequencing writing assignments: Explain how each writing project builds on the other so students learn to transfer writing skills from assignment to assignment
  • Providing opportunities for feedback: Give students feedback and advice throughout the composing process, and allow students to engage in peer feedback in or out of class
  • Requiring students to compose in electronic environments: Direct students to draft, review, revise, edit, and share texts in electronic settings, and emphasize the interplay of text and images in composing
  • Clarifying writing conventions: Guide students in negotiating surface features such as grammar, punctuation, and spelling