Program Mission

The First-Year Writing program at the University of Connecticut administers the different ways of fulfilling the University of Connecticut First-Year Writing requirement, offers classes that prepare students to fulfill the requirement, and coordinates with other campus programs to develop students’ writing skills throughout their time at UConn.

The University of Connecticut First-Year Writing requirement is a four-credit, single semester writing seminar; students may choose either an interdisciplinary seminar (English 1010: Seminar in Academic Writing) or a seminar somewhat more literary in nature (English 1011: Seminar in Writing through Literature).

Students who do not feel ready to take English 1010 or 1011, or need more time to develop their writing abilities than one semester provides have the option of taking English 1004: Introduction to Academic Writing, a four-credit seminar that guides students in developing their writing practices and introduces them to meaningful participation in critical conversations, before taking 1010 or 1011 to fulfill the requirement. Students with SAT verbal scores below 440 are required to pass English 1004 before continuing to English 1010 or 1011.

For the programs we coordinate with throughout the University, please see our Associated Writing Programs.

Core Values

We seek to have UConn students learn to read and write with (alongside, against) challenging texts not simply to absorb information but to take up an engagement with a larger, ongoing conversation as they make broader meanings and connections from their reading and writing.

We aim to offer first-year college writers opportunities to contribute—through all modes of expression—to larger issues and conversations (globally, nationally, regionally, locally, personally) as we are also then encouraging and illustrating ways for them to:

  • find their stake and ground in an issue;
  • move the conversation productively forward;
  • challenge the terms of ongoing conversations;
  • make new connections among ideas and exhibits;
  • begin new research;
  • extend arguments to new ground;
  • reveal the uses and limitations of others’ arguments; and, most importantly,
  • explore different positions and practice new ways of writing.

We believe in “projects”—rather than “papers” or even essays—rooted in inquiry-based writing, that ask students to develop, revisit, and revise their work continuously over the semester (and not by repeating the same question over and over, but by working through, for example, who they are in their community before examining how their community views outsiders).

You can find a full articulation of the learning objectives for First-Year Writing courses here.

Habits of Mind We Hope to Foster

Through the work of our FYW courses, we ask students to practice eight habits of mind, as advanced by the Framework for Success in Postsecondary Writing:

  • Curiosity: the desire to know more about the world.
  • Openness: the willingness to consider new ways of being and thinking in the world.
  • Engagement: a sense of investment and involvement in learning.
  • Creativity: the ability to use novel approaches for generating, investigating, and representing ideas.
  • Persistence: the ability to sustain interest in and attention to short- and long-term projects.
  • Responsibility: the ability to take ownership of one’s actions and understand the consequences of those actions for oneself and others.
  • Flexibility: the ability to adapt to situations, expectations, or demands.
  • Metacognition: the ability to reflect on one’s own thinking as well as on the individual and cultural processes used to structure knowledge.

Confidence in Our Students’ Abilities

We’ve seen repeatedly that students can do sophisticated work: we’ve seen students compose theories conjecturing about how assimilation may be performed through singing the “Star-Spangled Banner” at a baseball game; or argue that a Kentucky Fried Chicken commercial in Beijing mimics but also undermines the persistent orientalism of Western media; or trace the “problematics of place” on a contemporary beach near the ruins of docks built to capitalize on the Triangle Trade. Through compositions such as these, our students make sophisticated moves and unpack complex ideas that will not only make them valuable members of the academic community but also invaluable citizens of the world.

The Multimedia of Composition—Or WAT’s This All About?

Writing has changed over time, and the teaching of writing needs to keep pace with our multiplying means of communicating. We certainly don’t write on clay tablets any longer, but even our newest word processing programs use the image of “paper” as we write on the screen. While writers have found audiences across media, many common practices in writing instruction haven’t changed since the desktop computer was introduced commercially in 1981.

An important part of UConn’s First-Year Writing pedagogy is Writing Across Technology (WAT), which allows students to develop critical 21st-century literacies and make use of all the available means of persuasion afforded by new media environments.