English 111x: Introduction to Academic Writing

Below, you will find catalog and course descriptions, course outcomes, scheduling sequences, and curricular sequences for English-111x. 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 chose 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   »


Catalog Description

This course provides instruction and practice in written inquiry and critical reading. It introduces writing as a way of developing, exploring, and testing ideas. The course also orients students to informational literacy, the writing center, and writing technologies.

General Description for Syllabus

This student-centered, inquiry-based writing course is designed to help students throughout their college careers and as they enter communities beyond the university. Inquiry-based writing is designed to engage the student in both problem posing and problem solving. Drawing on the rhetorical situation–specifically, audience, purpose, and context–instruction emphasizes the social nature of inquiry and how writers test ideas to discover the reasons behind and for discursive choices. Students practice recursive writing processes, such as peer review, in order to help them adapt to changing demands of writing within the university and their lives.




Learning Outcomes
By the end of first semester writing (English 111X), students should be able to compose texts that demonstrate the following skills:
Critical Reading:      Identify and explain how features of a text reflect audience, context, and purpose.
Critical Writing:       Select and analyze evidence for a specific purpose.
Critical Thinking:    Reflect on their own past writing to identify its constraints.

Scheduling Sequences:

Provide students with guidance and practice in a variety of writing processes. Through systematic design of class activities and assignments, emphasize revision and reflection in your students’ writing processes.

In the first few days of class, assign, as a take home essay the diagnostic prompt for Program Assessment. This prompt is written to elicit important information about who your students are as language users and learners. Share with students that the audience of the writing is for Program Assessment. We read their responses to learn about how well they are at being aware of how they learn and what they think. Students should write for 45-minutes and type up their response. They should retain the digital copy because it will be collected for Program Assessment.

Schedule individual or small group conferences with your students at least once per semester. Encourage students to work with tutors in the UAF Writing Center as part of their writing process. Schedule a visit to the library, discuss how to pose inquiry-based questions to scholarship, and how to engage in ethically-based research.

At the end of the semester, students should prepare a typed (also digital copy) 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:

Assign and discuss unit-based texts from a rhetorical reader or anthology of your choosing. Challenge your students by selecting difficult, but rewarding, texts. Build discussions around analysis of a text’s purpose, audience, and context. Remember that this is not a literature course. Discussions, readings, and writing assignments should be geared toward helping students identify the choices that writers make and the opportunities available to them as writers. The units’ goals and paper specifics should ground these discussions by highlighting linguistic and multimodal design choices of writing.

Combine thinking-reading-writing in your classroom in four separate units–each unit-paper must draw on inductive analysis and one of these papers must be over 1000 words.

  • Unit 1: Observation  
    In the first unit, you will be responsible for crafting an inductive assignment that asks students to write from an experience, grounded by an assignment based on a particular scene of inquiry (a place, a person, a thing, a word). The goal here is to get students to observe in a critical, self-aware way. If we return to John Dewey’s forked road analogy, we are starting at the point of observing the road they are on and the choices they have. The writing a student will produce should evidence that the student has gained insight about the choices that they have in writing about what they observe and how they portray their observations. More on Observation, including sample lessons, prompts, etc.

Critical reflection and critical revision (the reasons behind what we do when we write and how we re-think writing decisions) are an essential part of the course. Emphasize these practices throughout your course in both your course assignments and related writing activities.

  • Unit 2: Analysis
    In the second unit, you will be responsible for selecting several challenging texts (between two and four) that will ground student writing that explores text-based inquiry for an academic audience. The student writing should take a form that is appropriate to the writer’s discovered purpose and evidence a clear understanding of audience. Classroom activities may involve discussions of how to engage in critical reading practices and how to use reading for intellectual discovery. The student writing should develop the significance behind the analysis, and teachers should encourage class discussion on thesis statements and organization in the context of the rhetorical situation. The goal here is not to teach the five-paragraph essay, but rather to ask what purpose and audience a five-paragraph essay might address, and then push students to find a form appropriate to their rhetorical situation.    More on Analysis, including sample lessons, prompts, etc.

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. It might be useful to ask questions about choices made in rough drafts and give suggestions about how to go further in subsequent drafts.  

  • Unit 3: Synthesis
    In the third unit, you will be responsible for working with your students to engage in informational literacy. You may assign a 1500- to 2000-word inquiry-based paper that evidences the use of academic paraphrase, citation and citation styles, summary, and analysis. Or you may break these components down into manageable practices, which culminate in an audience-based research project. The outcome of this unit is to work with students on synthesizing information and using their own lens to communicate it effectively to a specified audience. Classroom activities may involve practicing summary and paraphrasing as well as discussions about a writer’s purpose in presenting research-based inquiry.    More on Synthesis, including sample lessons, prompts, etc.

Emphasize the social nature of the writing process though the academic practice of peer review.  Do not assume writers know how to engage in peer review before they arrive in your class.  Modeling this process with students is a beneficial method to teach this technique, as is scaffolding the practice with specific questions/aims for the reviewer to consider. In fact, there are many ways of developing a classroom culture of peer review such as whole-class workshops, sentence workshops, paragraph workshops, partner exchanges, developing goals and rubrics as a class, etc.

  • Unit 4: Reflection or Teacher’s Choice
    In the fourth unit, you will be responsible for designing a creative-critical assignment that builds on the work of your classroom. You might choose a reflective/revision paper assignment as the fourth unit; you may also choose an alternative unit based on your own particular expertise as a teacher and your students’ interests. The last unit, for example, might be a study of a particular genre or a site of public writing (such as film reviews, a blog, Facebook, etc.). Some teachers require a “portfolio’ that collects all the student’s major assignments from the semester as well as a revision and/or reflective essay.    More on Reflection, including sample lessons, prompts, etc.

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