English 211/213x: Academic Writing about Social and Natural Sciences/Literature

Below, you will find catalog and course descriptions, course outcomes, scheduling sequences, and curricular sequences for English-211/213x. As with the 111x courses, these guidelines form the scaffolding structure for your course; however, the “content’ of your course is completely up to you. The readings you choose should be in service of the writing project anchoring each unit.  While planning your class, keep in mind what your writing project will be and make sure that you choose readings and activities that will ultimately help the students excel at these projects.  It might be helpful to think of the writing projects or papers the “capstone’ of each unit.  Your readings and activities should be the scaffolding for your papers, helping students develop their skills so that they can create the best possible writing for that unit.

Catalog and Course Descriptions   »
Course Outcomes   »
Scheduling Sequences   »
Curricular Sequences   »
Sample Proposals and Syllabi   »



Catalog Description

This course provides instruction in critical reading and writing by examining academic questions from the perspective of rhetorical situations. The course concentrates on the research methods and techniques necessary to create extended written arguments and multimodal texts for a variety of audiences. (Prerequisite: Completion of ENG 111x or its equivalent)

Relationship to 111X

This course continues student development of critical reading, writing, and thinking. The course builds on the knowledge and practices of English 111x as students develop their inquiry through deductive writing techniques such as micro writing, research reports, and thesis-driven arguments. Readings in the course are selected by the instructor and organized around a topic or theme. These readings are diverse in terms of genre, perspective, and language. In addition, the course concentrates on how its participants can build mastery in both academic and public rhetorical situations.

Remember that though most students enrolled in 211/213 courses have gone through the 111 sequence, it is sometimes important to repeat and re-emphasize concepts from that course.  Essay organization, for example, remains relevant, and it is always important to guide students toward thinking of writing as a choice.

General Description for Syllabus

This student-centered, audience-based writing course is designed to help students develop rhetorical strategies for active citizenship in and out of the classroom. [Further description written by instructor and provides 1-2 sentences on the course theme/topic.]


Learning Outcomes
By the end of second semester writing (English 211X or 213X), students should be able to have evidence of the following skills by composing texts which do the following:
Critical Reading:      Select and synthesize information from multiple perspectives, genres, and audiences. Critical Writing:        Design effective texts in response to changing audiences, contexts, and purposes.
Critical Thinking:      Assess their choices as writers.


Scheduling Sequences for English 211X/213X

Schedule individual or small group conferences with your students at least once each semester. Encourage students to work with tutors in the UAF Writing Center as part of their writing process.

Keep in mind that you are preparing students to meet the writing requirements they will face in their major and other upper division courses. Not only are we preparing students for these requirements but we are also helping them discover the nature of academic ideas and disciplinary conversations that interest them.

Schedule a visit to Rasmuson Library, and introduce students to the major collections and online resources relevant to your course and theme. Help students learn how to predict which sources will best meet their needs, and show them how to devise a plan for locating, surveying, and evaluating these sources. Show students how they might integrate their research into their writing in order to participate in broader academic and public conversations.

Familiarize students with the discourse and conventions of academic and public writing communities by collectively developing a working vocabulary, a language particular to your classroom that describes how these modes of writing operate. Encourage students to draw on this vocabulary as they engage in the work of the course.  

At the end of the semester, students should prepare a typed (also digital copy) piece of writing for Program Assessment. They should take 45-minutes for this writing outside of class. It should be based on the signature prompt that all classes will use.

Require a final during the University final exam period; this is a university policy. This period may be individual conferences with students in which you offer them feedback on their writing development or it might be a whole class period devoted to reflecting on what your students learned about writing in your course. See the Director of the University Writing Program for specifics on how this might be done.


Curricular Sequences

Develop a topic and a theme for the course and select appropriate readings. Challenge students by choosing a handful of difficult, but rewarding, texts. Because 211X/213X are writing courses not literature courses, comprehensive coverage of topics and themes should not be a primary concern. Rather, the focus should be on exposing students to a few key texts–as few as four and as many as eight–that allow them to interrogate the chosen topic and theme from various perspectives and genres. Be wary of texts that address well-worn political issues, for these kinds of readings invite boilerplate responses. Instead, select thought-provoking, multifaceted texts that engage students in important, ongoing academic and public conversations.

Provide students with guidance and practice in a variety of micro writing, short writing assignments that are very intentionally focused on a particular skill/task: answer a question, define a term, respond to a quotation, analyze a passage, solve a problem, support a thesis statement, summarize an issue, etc. This micro writing is anchored by the research-based writing project for each unit.


  • Unit 1: Writing for an Academic Audience
    Combine reading-thinking-writing in your classroom in two major units. Each major unit is anchored by a research-based writing project, each project differs in terms of audience. One should challenge students to write (minimum of 2,000 words) a report or paper which contributes to an academic conversation on the topic of the course. This paper should engage in conventions and language appropriate to the audience. Class activities during this unit may involve a discussion of writing conventions in a variety of academic disciplines or small group work that explores organizational strategies for a long, research-based essay.

Emphasize critical reflection in course assignments and activities. You might assign a reflective essay as part of this process, asking that students look back on and analyze their learning and writing process.

  • Unit 2: Writing for a Public Audience
    The second unit and project should challenge students to consider the same or a related topic for a different audience, a public audience. This project may be multimodal and be equivalent in terms of scope to the first. Some teachers may even choose for this project to be collaborative. For example, students may practice grant proposals or public service announcements related to the topic or theme of the course. This unit may offer an opportunity to discuss authority and power in writing. It should also involve discussions about what changes when the audience changes, and about writing as dialogue, as entering one’s voice into a conversation — whether academic or public.

Provide prompt, constructive, honest feedback on students’ writing-thinking. All papers should receive feedback within one week. Do not hold onto student writing without feedback for longer than two weeks. Think about the impact of the “red pen.’ Dialogue with your students in the margins and end comments of their papers–motivate them to take risks and help them understand the consequences of their writing choices. All instructors must comment on one set of rough drafts to prompt and support evermore complex and effective writing from students.

Curricular sequence


Sample Proposals and Syllabi

Here’s a basic example of an WRTG 214 syllabus.

Here’s an example proposal for an ENGL 213 by Elle Fournier.

Here’s a course proposal August Johnson submitted for ENGL 211.

Here’s a website that Kendell Newman Sadiik created for her ENGL 211 class that includes her syllabus.