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First-Year Writing Program

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Main Hall Room 532
720 S. High Street
West Chester, PA 19383

Office Hours: Mon-Fri: 8:00am-4:30pm
Summer Hours: Mon-Fri: 8:00am-4:00pm

Phone: 610-436-2822

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First-Year Writing Program

Welcome to FYW at WCU!

The English Department's First-Year Writing (FYW) sequence—WRT 120 and one WRT 200-level course—fulfills the six-credit Academic Foundations in English Composition component of the university's General Education curriculum. Some students may also take ENG Q20, which provides them with additional support in their writing.

Housed in English and taught primarily by full-time English faculty, FYW is designed to help students succeed as writers and develop as thinkers, both at the University and beyond. Our classroom best practices are based in research about (and expertise in) what works to help newer writers explore ideas, take ownership over their writing and writing processes, and learn "rhetorical agility"—that is, the ability to navigate and make change in different writing situations with awareness, sophistication, confidence, and, when the situation calls for it, resistance. In today's rapidly-changing, multimedia-driven world, the skills that students develop in our FYW program have never been more timely or important.

What to Expect

The good news: Our program will expose you to some of the key genres and conventions of academic writing that you're likely to see over and over again in your classes at WCU. These genres include analysis (WRT 120) and research (WRT 200-level courses), as well as memoirs, websites, personal essays, brochures, manifestos, investigative reporting, and more.

The "bad" news: Our classes won't guarantee that you'll be able to write perfectly in every course you take, or in every situation you ever face in the world outside the classroom. Writing scenes vary so much, even from course to course at a single university, and it would be impossible to teach students to master every last one. But learning this lesson isn't "bad" at all; in fact, researchers in the field of Writing Studies have shown that being able to adapt to different writing situations is an essential step to writing success. Writers succeed when they bring their previous writing knowledge to bear on a new project—when they're able to apply what they already know and also ask what new things they need to know.

The best news: Our FYW classes will support you in this "learn to learn" approach, so that you'll be able to write more effectively in any situation, and learn to take an "inquiry stance" in any new communicative encounter. And our courses, faculty, assignments, texts, and your peers will also support you to engage your voice, your curiosity, your mind, and your world.

Learning Outcomes

In addition to meeting WCU's General Education goals of critical thinking, effective communication, and responsiveness to diversity, students who complete the FYW program will also be able to:

  • THINK WITH WRITING. Use composing processes and tools as a means to discover ideas, engage deeply with questions, reconsider concepts and beliefs, explore problems, and promote local and global change, including but not limited to engaging those questions, problems, and concepts currently of relevance to the academy.
  • THINK ABOUT WRITING. Develop metacognitive awareness about writing and rhetoric.
  • CONSTRUCT WRITING. Demonstrate genre awareness and rhetorical agility through both producing and problematizing academic and public, dominant and non-dominant, genres, in both written and multimodal forms.


For more information about placement, please visit our WRITESurvey FAQ.


ENG Q20: Basic Writing emphasizes the process of producing writing and focuses on the critical study of Academic Written English (AWE). Students will compose in various genres using revision and draft editing, and they'll develop a greater understanding of themselves as writers. Read more about ENG Q20 and Basic Writing.

WRT 120: Effective Writing I emphasizes student awareness of "the self" as a writer and helps students to understand how various genres can enable writers to communicate ideas and experiences in different contexts, including the university itself.

WRT 200-level courses are designed to teach students how to use research in academic disciplines and related professions; to introduce techniques of finding and evaluating evidence for research-based genres, including scholarly research; and to provide practice in composing in these genres. Each of the courses listed below meets the same WRT 200-level General Education requirement, and students may pick any course they wish.

  • WRT 200: Critical Writing and Research. A general introduction to scholarly research writing and skills; focus may vary with instructor.
  • WRT 204: Critical Writing: Approaches to Popular Culture. Students explore scholarly research related to television, film, music, social media, and other elements of "pop" culture.
  • WRT 205: Critical Writing: Investigating Experience. Students explore the integration of personal experience and "the self" with scholarly research.
  • WRT 206: Critical Writing: The Multidisciplinary Imagination. This course engages with the question, What role does imagination play in advancing new knowledge and perspectives, including scholarly research?
  • WRT 208: Critical Writing: Entering the Public Sphere. This course offers students an opportunity to publish their writing in professional and/or class-produced print or electronic forums while also conducting scholarly research projects.
  • WRT 220: Critical Writing: Special Topics. Each WRT 220 section offers a special topic that integrates scholarly research writing focusing on current (inter)disciplinary issues of importance in the humanities, arts, social sciences, and/or sciences; contact professor for more information.

Questions or comments about First-Year Writing? Please contact Dr. Tim Dougherty, the English Department's FYW Director. The First Year Writing Director can also be reached at 610-436-2220. In addition to answering student questions, Dr. Dougherty assists faculty in developing theoretically sound methods for teaching general education writing courses; he also facilitates ongoing, university-wide discussions about issues in writing instruction.