First-Year Writing at UNT | Department of English

First-Year Writing at UNT

The First-Year Writing (FYW) program at UNT prepares students to write, research, and engage as citizens within and outside of the university. We emphasize writing skills, critical thinking, and creativity as a means of preparing students for the increasing demands on their literacy in the workplace and in their communities.

Every aspect of our FYW program -- from courses, to assignments, to classroom activities -- builds on these core values of our program:

  • Writing is an activity through which we inquire, experiment, and discover ideas. The act of writing encourages intellectual and personal development, and leads to greater knowledge retention, deep reflection, and empathy. We are able to understand ourselves and others through the experience of putting ideas into words and listening to responses from the people around us. Writing also can help us develop a sense of belonging in our communities.
  • Writing encourages critical thinking. When we write, we practice offering clear, coherent, and concise responses to complex problems. While a minority of students will go on to write in academic genres after graduation, academic writing gives students practice in precision and logic, while developing attunement to audience and purpose.
  • Writing is a complex, lifelong process. Writing is not an isolated skill or a set of rules to learn. The writing process involves planning, reading, collaborative talk, and substantial revision, often with multiple drafts. In addition, writers must develop flexibility and learn to reflect continually throughout their lives as they encounter new writing tasks.
  • Writing gives writers power. Academic audiences expect well-researched writing to provide evidence for solutions to problems or reasoning for difficult questions. Nonacademic audiences also rely on written arguments to persuade, explain complex issues and bring insight to the concerns of their communities.
  • Writing is inseparable from information literacy. The process of writing is vitally interconnected with the ability to read sources carefully, think about content critically, and decide how use information effectively.
  • Writing is challenging to learn and to teach. We provide instructors with initial and ongoing training, professional development opportunities, and individual support to encourage best teaching practices based on research. We create leadership opportunities and award instructors to create a culture that facilitates high quality teaching and fosters student success.

Instruction in First-Year Writing at UNT extends across two 1000-level courses:

ENGL 1310. First-Year Writing I

ENGL 1310 Course Overview: The ENGL 1310 course serves as an entry point into the environment of academic inquiry and argument. Instruction in ENGL 1310 begins with an emphasis on cultivating writing through personal discovery, exploration, and reflection. Students learn about writing processes, explore genre conventions, and gain rhetorical knowledge while writing through their experiences and memories. With these more personal contexts as background, students are guided over the course of the semester towards becoming more comfortable with the conventions and habits of academic argument. The goals of ENGL 1310 include developing a working knowledge of writing processes, recognizing and using written genre conventions, and learning rhetoric for the purposes of analyzing and composing effective written texts. Students in ENGL 1310 fulfill these goals while engaging with nonfiction readings emphasizing narrative and description and focusing on issues of cultural significance.

ENGL 1310 Assignments: Students will complete four formal written assignments in ENGL 1310, in addition to other informal and unassessed writing. Assignments in ENGL 1310 include a personal narrative or literacy narrative, a critical observation of a place or person, a summary of a community issue, and an analysis of a cultural artifact or object. The Signature Assignment for the course is an analysis essay.

ENGL 1310 Representative Readings: Shorter collections of nonfiction readings that capture students' interests: Personal narratives; memoirs; profiles; essays on pop culture, film and media.

ENGL 1320. First-Year Writing II

ENGL 1320 Course Overview: The ENGL 1320 course guides students into habits of effective academic and nonacademic argument. Instruction in ENGL 1320 begins with a focus on student-driven research and inquiry. Students are guided in strategic information literacy skills as they begin to identify, read, and analyze arguments about social and cultural issues that are important to them. While paying close attention to other arguments, students also practice commenting and evaluating in order to begin forming their own opinions about relevant issues. The course then helps students articulate a context for their own arguments and begin gathering evidence for their own claims and conclusions. Before they write their own final arguments, students are encouraged to play with argument through forms and modes outside of the traditional academic essay. Reflection on this experimentation helps students contextualize written argument alongside other possibilities for informing and persuading audiences. The ENGL 1320 course ultimately asks students to put everything they have been learning about writing and argument together in a high-stakes final writing project that showcases written argument on the topics students have been researching all semester. This final project serves as a capstone for student learning in the ENGL 1320 course, emphasizing clear explanation of the issue students are addressing, effective use of evidence and support, and compelling claims and conclusions. A brief reflection on the skills, processes, knowledge, and habits students have developed across their ENGL 1320 experience closes out the course.

ENGL 1320 Assignments. Students will complete four formal written assignments in ENGL 1320, in addition to other informal and unassessed writing. Assignments in ENGL 1320 include summary, research proposal, definition of a problem (using multimodal forms), and research-based argument (proposal of a solution). A short reflective piece at the end of the semester is also expected. The Signature Assignment for ENGL 1320 is a Research-Based Argument.

ENGL 1320 Representative Readings: Nonfiction texts that offer summary, evaluation, response, and/or solutions to contemporary social issues of national or global significance. Arguments from business, the sciences, and investigations of culture.