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College Writing 1 (English 110)

Decorative image of a pen writing the words "I am a writer."The First Year Writing Program
Students begin their coursework at Queens College by taking a two-semester sequence that teaches them how to enter a scholarly conversation in writing. College Writing 1 (CW1) is taught only in the English Department, and College Writing 2 (CW2) is offered in departments across the college.

College Writing 1: English 110
The primary goal of English 110 is to help students develop the research skills and rhetorical conventions they need to write well in all of their courses. Unlike the rest of the English Department’s offerings, English 110 does not focus primarily on literary study, because it aims to prepare first year students for every major they choose. With that goal in mind, each section of English 110 has a topic that reaches across several disciplines—“Cultural Identity,” for example, “Higher Education,” or “Memory”—and raises questions that spark real debate among contemporary scholars.

The enrollment in ENG 110 is limited to twenty students to ensure that each section works like a seminar. Modeling the practices that scholars use to share ideas across and beyond the college, English 110 teaches first year students how to engage meaningfully in an intellectual community as they work with digital texts and environments; workshop pieces of writing; revise their work with feedback from their instructors and each other; and use the library’s resources. Each section of English 110 emphasizes ten learning goals and a series of guidelines.

Most sections of English 110 are linked with a General Education course through the First Year Initiative (FYI). In FYI Communities, students travel through the curriculum together, building interdisciplinary conversations that sustain them throughout their college careers.

First year students should fulfill the CW1 requirement in their freshman year, and they are required to fulfill it before they have taken 60 credits. Transfer students may only be exempted from the requirement if they have taken a similar course that is worth the same number of credits; test scores do not provide grounds for exemption. See Academic Advising for more information.

Learning Goals for College Writing 1

The learning objectives of each section of English 110 should reflect the goals below. Instructors may choose to represent a smaller number of these goals on a syllabus, or adapt them to suit their courses, but it is important that all instructors understand these goals as a fundamental component of the first-year writing program at Queens College.

Students who complete English 110 will be able to:

1. Develop an awareness of the craft, rhetoric, and process of writing.

2. Identify strengths and weaknesses in their writing and articulate strategies for improvement.

3. Adapt the elements of writing–including thesis, audience, motive, evidence, analysis, and structure–to a variety of writing contexts.

4. Read critically and write fluently in a variety of genres, including the following possibilities in print and digital media: argumentative essays, narrative essays, ethnographic essays, case studies, blogs, letters to the editor, or wiki pages.

5. Understand the guidelines for a variety of assignments and to respond to these guidelines with imagination and ingenuity.

6. Articulate how rhetoric and ideas work together to produce meaning.

7. Revise and edit their work effectively.

8. Demonstrate a proficiency in methods of research and documentation, including the evaluation of secondary sources, annotation, integration of quotations, and proper citation according to a discipline appropriate guideline (such as MLA, APA, or Chicago).

9. Recognize the conventions and methods of various disciplines in the liberal arts and sciences.

10. Make connections with other courses in terms of both content and methods of critical inquiry.

Guidelines for College Writing 1

The primary goal of English 110 is to introduce students to the writing strategies and methods of inquiry that are at the heart of a liberal arts education and the College’s General Education curriculum. In English 110, students pursue questions of scholarly consequence as they build the authority they need to write their way into existing intellectual conversations.

To foster this kind of authority, English 110 puts writing at its center. In other words, it sequences assignments and class activities to teach the craft, rhetoric, and processes of writing. The program asks each instructor to create a “Course Overview” that makes this sequence evident. The overviews are designed to emphasize particular elements of writing and demonstrate how writing assignments give students practice with these elements. In addition, the overviews demonstrate how the goals that students achieve in earlier reading and writing assignments enable them to meet the requirements of later, more complex assignments.

Writing Assignments foster a conversation about the course topic with:

  • At least four formal essays over the course of the semester, for a total of at least 4,000 words. However, an annotated bibliography or some other writing-intensive project may be substituted for the fourth essay.
  • At least one formal research essay or project that introduces students to using and evaluating library resources. Sources should include both physical and online materials, such as CUNY+, appropriate research databases like JSTOR or EBSCOHost, and Rosenthal Library. Additionally, all 110 courses should schedule at least one meeting with a librarian.
  • Pre-draft writing, drafts, and revisions of all formal writing assignments. At least one of these revisions should be done as a peer review.
  • Regular, ungraded informal pieces of writing (both in class and outside).


Reading Assignments serve writing assignments, as they are selected with writing in mind and are examined from a rhetorical point of view. In addition, they should be limited to what may be discussed in class or on an electronic forum. Because of this, students in English 110 read to learn:

  • Methods for active engagement with a variety of texts and genres of appropriate difficulty for college freshmen.
  • Principles of excellent writing—for example, the development of a style appropriate to a particular audience, responsible use of evidence, and methods of analysis.
  • The conventions of academic writing and other genres.
  • How academic sources “speak” in “conversation,” and how to intervene among them with authority in writing.


Every student in English 110 conducts original research and enters into a scholarly community through:

  • A process of inquiry that he or she devises through the analysis of evidence.
  • A clearly defined policy on academic integrity that is stated on the course syllabus.
  • The academic conventions of citation, which they practice by integrating source material into their writing.
  • The distinctions they draw between primary and secondary sources.
  • The regular use of “The Goals for Student Writing at Queens College” and a vocabulary for discussing elements of writing, such as Gordon Harvey’s “Elements of Academic Writing.”
  • When possible or appropriate, a digital platform that encourages formal and/or informal student writing. The digital platforms could include anything from blogs, wikis, podcasts, videos, Blackboard discussion threads, Epsilen software, social networking sites, or anything along those lines.
Date: October 04, 2017

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