Rhetoric & Writing: Program Design
Rhetoric & Writing: Program Design
About the Program
The UCCS First-Year Rhetoric and Writing Program exists to help students become stronger critical thinkers and more confident, successful writers.
Our courses are grounded in rhetorical theory. The lens of rhetorical theory provides students from any discipline with powerful and broadly transferable heuristics and conceptual frameworks for reading, writing, research, and critical thinking applicable to their academic, civic, personal, and professional lives.
Our courses equip students with tools that will help them negotiate the complexities and interactions of audience, exigence, purposes, and so on in any writing situation. We use the term “writing” broadly here insofar as we construct situations and subjectivities through language, spoken or unspoken, written (in the narrow sense) or otherwise. The rhetorical abilities students learn as writers in our options for completing their first core writing requirement (ENGL 1300, 1305, 1308, and 1310) provide a foundation for the writing they do in their second required writing course (ENGL 1410, TCID 2080, TCID 2090, or INOV 2100), in their upper-division writing-intensive courses, and in writing they do in their majors and their lives outside of school.
These rhetorical tools—tools for analyzing and evaluating texts and understanding multiple perspectives and arguments inherent in complex issues—additionally shape the student’s process of being human among other humans and communicating in and through all our human interactions.
Teaching Rhetoric & Writing
Faculty in the First-Year Rhetoric and Writing Program at UCCS are full-time professionals who are continually working to grow as teachers and writers. Our professionalization includes robust professional development work, both collaboratively in large group workshops on rhetorical theory and composition pedagogies and individually and in small groups. Our faculty group represents diverse teaching philosophies, styles, and experiences.
Signature features of our courses include writing instruction in a computer-mediated classroom, low course caps of 19 students, extensive small-group and whole-class discussions, and one-on-one writing conferences for all students.
Contact the Director of the First-Year Rhetoric and Writing Program, Dr. Ann Amicucci, with any questions.
ENGL 1300, 1305, 1308, and 1310
UCCS students can complete their first core writing requirement in 3 ways: ENGL 1310 (3 credits), ENGL 1308 (4 credits), and ENGL 1300 + ENGL 1305 (6 credits over 2 semesters).
In these courses, students learn and practice rhetorical analysis. Students are asked to consider texts’ rhetorical situations, study the role of rhetorical appeals, and build analytical arguments across a variety of genres and modalities. Students move through the writing process several times to hone their analytical abilities and build their confidence as writers.
First Core Writing Requirement Assignments
All students compose multiple projects in ENGL 1305, 1308, or 1310 to practice academic analysis. Most projects are essays, while some are multimodal projects with significant text components. Across the major assignments, rhetorical theory serves as a lens for analysis. Students also engage in informal writing including blogs, journals, online discussions, outlines, parts of drafts, and so on.
First Core Writing Requirements Signature Elements
Rhetorical focus: By the end of their first core writing requirement, all students should have a deep understanding of the rhetorical theory taught in the course and how to apply it to a variety of texts and their own writing. The content includes audience, context, rhetorical situation, ethos, logos, and pathos. The Course Exit Survey measures to what extent students have learned this content.
Process Focus: The first core writing requirement courses focus on writing process theory. This means the course is concerned with the methods by which students compose and produce texts, rather than focusing solely on the quality of students’ written products. Process refers to a variety of activities that go into writing/composing, including planning, drafting, reader response, revising, and editing.
Conferences: Faculty meet with each student for at least one one-on-one conference during the semester outside of scheduled class time.
English 1410 is a research writing class that focuses on stasis theory as a rhetorical heuristic inquiry. ENGL 1410 is designed with multiple aims in mind: to further students’ understanding of rhetoric and writing and development of useful habits for performing research and using library resources throughout their college careers, and to foster critical thinking and habits of engaged, deliberative inquiry in their academic, professional, civic, and personal lives.
The course is taught through the lens of stasis theory because of its efficacy and broad transferability, fulfilling students’ need in a first-year writing course for concepts they can readily understand and apply to writing situations outside of 1410.
ENGL 1410 Assignments
Students follow an assignment sequence designed to guide them through a sustained research project. Each part of the course sequence can be assigned as a single essay/project or as more than one assignment. Some ENGL 1410 courses work through the research process one time, while others work through the process twice. In either case, faculty design course assignments to meet the requirements and outcomes of the First-Year Rhetoric and Writing Program. Across all of the major assignments, rhetorical theory serves as the vehicle for student research and arguments. In more detail, the assignments include:
Rhetorical analysis: In this first stage of the research sequence students use rhetorical principles to analyze how a particular text makes an argument. The assignment introduces the course theme and reinforces and/or familiarizes students with basic rhetorical concepts (i.e., audience, context, rhetorical situation, ethos, logos, and pathos).
Texts in conversation: This second assignment sets the stage for the course’s culminating research-based argument. The extended rhetorical inquiry required in this assignment, which students undertake using classical stasis theory, helps students map the conversation around their research topic, encouraging students to move beyond a dualistic or simplistic understanding of their chosen issue. Students examine how different writers define and frame the issues to determine where contention or disagreement exists. The conclusion of the texts in conversation assignment often serves as a proposal for a student’s research-based argument.
Research-based argument: This assignment asks students to produce a well-supported, focused argument drawing on traditional library sources, primary sources, and quality online sources. The final researched argument is cast as an argument in the stasis/stases of the student's choosing: definition, cause, quality, and/or proposal. Successful essays demonstrate a clear understanding of a specific issue, incorporate opposing views and multiple perspectives, integrate material from sources accurately and effectively, and demonstrate persuasive rhetorical choices based on the writer's chosen purpose, context, and aim.
Additional assignments: Apart from the major writing assignments, students do a significant amount of informal writing, including blogs, journals, online discussions, outlines, parts of drafts, and so on. Overall, the total amount of polished, final-draft writing students produce in ENGL 1410 is between 7500 and 9,000 words (25-30 pages at 300 words per page). Students often give an oral presentation at the end of the research sequence.
ENGL 1410 Course Textbook
The core text for ENGL 1410 is Stasis Theory and Research Practices, by Catherine Grandorff, Matthew Balk, Michelle Brown, Heather Fester, Phillip Heasley, Andrea Wenker, and Nathan Price. Students also read articles and/or books related to the course theme.
ENGL 1410 Signature Elements
Rhetorical focus: By the end of ENGL 1410, all students should have a deep understanding of the rhetorical theory taught in the course and how to apply it to a variety of contexts and their own writing. The content includes classical stasis theory, audience, context, rhetorical situation, and the rhetorical appeals. The ENGL 1410 Exit Survey measures to what extent students have learned this content.
Process Focus: ENGL 1410 focuses on writing process theory. This means the course is concerned with the methods by which students compose and produce texts, rather than focusing solely on the quality of students’ written products. Process refers to a variety of activities that go into writing/composing, including:
- Planning: inventing and developing ideas
- Drafting: creating text from previously unwritten ideas
- Reader response: eliciting feedback from readers
- Revising: developing or changing a text after an initial draft
- Editing and polishing: making sentence and paragraph level changes to refine a piece of writing to its final form, whether in print or digital form
Kraemer Family Library: All ENGL 1410 courses are assigned to a research librarian from the Kraemer Family Library. The instructor and librarian collaborate to ensure students learn ethical research practices and are supported throughout their research for the course.
Conferences: Faculty meet with each ENGL 1410 student for at least one one-on-one conference during the semester outside of scheduled class time.
Course Themes: Faculty each select a broad research theme for their ENGL 1410 courses. Students then complete research related to the course theme throughout the semester. Descriptions of faculty themes are available on the ENGL 1410 Themes page.