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College of Arts & Sciences
First-Year English


Rhetoric and Composition


English 102 builds on English 101 to help prepare students for the writing they will do in future college courses and beyond. While English 101 honed students’ ability to critically read and closely analyze a text, English 102 emphasizes developing well-reasoned argumentative papers that draw on multiple sources and viewpoints. During the semester, students learn to identify the elements of an effective argument and to apply those principles in composing researched essays about academic and public issues. This course also strengthens students’ information by teaching strategies for finding, assessing, using, citing, and documenting sources.

Learning Outcomes

While individual instructors’ approaches vary somewhat, all sections of English 102 share common
learning outcomes.

During the semester, students:

  • Learn rhetorical concepts and terms that enable them to identify and analyze the elements of an effective argument.
  • Write papers on a variety of academic and public topics, each tailored appropriately to its audience and purpose.
  • Craft papers that articulate a central claim (thesis), draw on credible supporting evidence, and effectively address opposing viewpoints.
  • Do research to find, assess, and use appropriate supporting materials from the university libraries, the Internet, and other sources.
  • Effectively integrate material from research into their papers via summary, paraphrase, and quotation.
  • Document source materials correctly using MLA style and understand basic principles of academic integrity.
  • Work through a full range of writing processes—including invention, planning, drafting, revision, and editing—in order to produce effective college-level essays;
  • Work with classmates to share ideas and critique each other’s work in progress.Develop a clean, effective writing style, free of major errors, and adapt it to a variety of rhetorical situations.

Assignments and Coursework

Students develop rhetorical knowledge and persuasive writing skills not by listening to an instructor lecture, but through frequent and intensive practice. In English 102, students complete a minimum of 20-30 pages of finished, polished writing. Students should expect to:

  • Learn specific rhetorical concepts and terms that will help them to understand how arguments work, and apply these terms in discussing both course readings and their own writing.
  • Complete frequent short writing assignments that enable them to practice identifying and analyzing arguments and to thoughtfully develop ideas for their papers. (Examples: summaries, rhetorical analysis exercises, invention exercises, topic proposals, reports on research, source evaluation exercises, peer critiques, group exercises.)
  • Complete 4-5 longer, researched essays in which they analyze and develop researched, persuasive arguments on current academic and/or public issues.
  • Submit and receive feedback on prewriting materials early in the process of developing each major essay.
  • Participate in peer revision activities and incorporate peer feedback before submitting final versions of the essays.