Composition I

Course overview

Composition is more than just writing. It describes a set of important critical thinking skills, such as summarizing, evaluating, organizing, and arguing, which we communicate through writing and speaking. In this course we will identify the features of critical thinking that are important in college, and practice using them in writing for a range of academic purposes. At the end of the course, you should be able to articulate not only how well you understand a given piece of writing, but also what you would need to do to understand it further.

This course will be organized in units that a) identify specific critical thinking skills, b) you to learn those skills through investigation and problem solving, and c) move you to the point where you can express those skills by writing about important topics. In other words, we will focus on learning how to think, and practice putting our thoughts into words. There will be a significant reading component to this class, along with hands-on learning in class and tutorials on research and research methodologies. Finally, there will be a major emphasis on learning how to evaluate your own writing and that of your peers.

In addition to learning a set of critical thinking and critical writing skills which will apply broadly to your college experience, you will explore how writing is used in your field(s) of interest. Writing might not be easy, but it can be satisfying – if we learn how to make it useful, and what to use it for.

Student Learning Outcomes

By the end of the class, you should be able to

  • compose college-level writing, including but not limited to, academic discourse, that achieves a specific purpose and addresses an identifiable audience;

  • provide evidence of effective strategies for generating, revising, editing, and proofreading a text in order to produce high quality finished prose.

Using those skills, you should be able to

  • compose a successful argument that makes appropriate use of source material that is relevant and credible and that is referenced correctly.


Readings and assignments will be posted on Google Calendar as part of the class schedule, or provided as handouts. I will post homework on the board every class – those postings supersede any other directions.


Draft No. 4, by John McPhee

Deep Work, by Cal Newport


  • Personal narrative essay
  • Research project
  • Literature review
  • Short writing assignments (3-4)