Through the First-year Writing Course, students should. . .

Be introduced to:

  • conventions of formal academic writing in contrast to informal writing
  • some types of writing assignments in the discipline, e.g. a public policy paper, close literary analysis, a primary research paper analyzing data, or analysis of empirical research

Gain guided practice in:

  • critical reading
  • analyzing student writing
  • writing as a process
  • incorporating feedback and revision
  • writing appropriately for a given audience


About writing

  • that conventions of good writing are different from spoken language and are dependent on discipline, audience, subject and media
  • that writing is an iterative process
  • the distinction between topic and thesis (thesis=assertion)
  • the distinction between primary and secondary sources

About writing as a process

  • that pre-writing, composing, and revising are distinct intellectual activities
  • the value of varied pre-writing activities (brainstorming, critical reading, etc.)
  • the distinction between revising and editing/correcting
  • some useful roles readers can play in the revising process

About academic honesty

  • when to document sources
  • ethical, legal, and professional reasons for documenting sources
  • that citation styles vary among disciplines

Be able to do the following at the basic level:


  • read critically
  • identify a thesis
  • identify and paraphrase argument


  • limit scope of argument appropriately
  • develop a clear, arguable thesis
  • introduce and conclude a topic
  • develop and sustain an argument
  • target claims to specific text/data
  • judiciously select and effectively integrate evidence/supporting details
  • follow conventions of formal academic writing
  • make appropriate stylistic choices
  • cite and document sources properly
  • write grammatically
  • strive to write with clarity, coherence, and unity, whether writing narrative, argument, or summary
Outcomes approved by Cornell faculty 05/2004.