Composition Program

All first-year students, regardless of major, are required to take Composition I and II. It is a program designed to introduce first year students to academic writing and critical thinking.

Goals for Composition I and Composition II

In these courses, you will:

  • Consider: Rhetorical occasion, or the audience, genre and purpose of any writing/reading situation
  • Reflect: on the relationship between individuals and society; on your development/growth as a writer; on strategies/tools you might import to other rhetorical occasions; on your role as a writer and thinker in our world; on the relationship between oral and written texts
  • Explore: strategies for organizing a text; multiple viewpoints; strategies for reading academic texts;strategies for developing rhetorical flexibility in regard to voice
  • Engage: with texts; with peer and instructor feedback; with complex ideas and problems; with academic discourse; with sources; in scholarly conversations
  • Practice: generative work and extensive revision; locating, evaluating, summarizing, and synthesizing sources; thinking on paper; representing complex thinking in formal writing; conventional documentation; inquiry-based writing and reading
  • Produce: polished prose that claims a position

English Composition I (ENGL 101 and 101 Plus)

In achieving these goals for Composition I, students will

  • Write and revise at least 16 pages of formal academic prose in varied genres and for varied audiences
  • Write at least one issues-based documented text that uses summary, response, and analysis
  • Gain exposure to and practice a variety of feedback strategies involving their instructor and peers throughout the drafting process
  • Read texts as models for writing
  • Develop strategies for comprehension, interpretation, and analysis of texts
  • Attend a library session related to a class text/ project
  • Actively prepare for and participate in the classroom community
  • Produce a final portfolio

Students who do not meet all of these objectives will not pass English Composition I.

English Composition II (ENGL 102)

In achieving these goals for Composition II, students will

  • Write and revise at least 20 pages of formal academic prose (including an annotated bibliography and research proposal) that have been through an extensive drafting process
  • Write at least one inquiry-driven researched text and correctly document sources gathered from the library and from other methods of research
  • Write a formal annotated bibliography and project proposal to assist in scaffolding researched text
  • Build upon and continue to practice feedback strategies
  • Read, respond to, and critique a variety of texts
  • Attend a library session related to a class text/project
  • Actively prepare for and participate in the classroom community


In keeping with the college policy on academic honesty, the English Department expects students to write their own papers and to document any paraphrased ideas, summaries, or direct quotations from other sources. Unacknowledged use of the information, ideas or phrasing of other writers is an offense comparable to theft or fraud and is known in literary terms as plagiarism. Plagiarism is subject to academic penalty, which can include failure of the course. A record of the violation is submitted to the Office of Academic Affairs; a second offense can result in suspension or dismissal from Westfield State University.


ENGL-101+/101/105 and ENGL- 102/110 students are invited to submit their essays to the Composition Coordinator for the Department’s annual fall and spring essay contests.


ENGL-101 Plus Composition I (3): Students who are assessed as needing more intensive instruction in writing, particularly in the areas of grammar, usage, and mechanics, are assigned to 101-plus. Students spend an extra 50 minutes per week improving their writing skills in a hands-on interactive setting. After successful completion of the course, which includes a portfolio assessment, students receive three credits and are eligible to take English Composition II.

ENGL-101 Composition I (3) A writing course that provides instruction in the process of composing academic essays. Students strengthen techniques in three stages—pre-writing, drafting, and revision—in order to compose well-structured papers written in proficient American English. This course covers the fundamentals of rhetoric, research methods, critical reading of texts, and sentence and paragraph development. In addition to writing informally throughout the semester, writers compose at least 16 pages of formal writing, including at least one documented essay, and produce a final portfolio. Students need permission of the Composition Coordinator or the English Department Chair to withdraw from this class.

ENGL-105 Composition I Seminar (Honors) (3) Students with outstanding writing ability will analyze and employ rhetorical strategies through classroom discussion and expository writing. Permission of instructor.

ENGL-102/English Composition II: Writing About Texts (3) A course that uses critical inquiry to examine and write about a range of genres (e.g. fiction, non-fiction, poetry, essays, novels, literary nonfiction, advertisements, film, on-line texts). ENGL 102 continues to facilitate writing strategies introduced in ENGL 101 and provides instruction in research methods. Students will write one or more papers with documentation. Because many of these courses have a specific theme and/or are part of an integrated learning community or linked with a course from another discipline, students need to exercise care and examine options when choosing sections. SUCCESSFUL COMPLETION OF THIS COURSE IS A PREREQUISITE FOR ALL 200- and 300-LEVEL ENGLISH COURSES OFFERED.

ENGL-110 English Composition II Seminar (Honors) (3) For students who have been invited from ENGL-105 or who have been recommended by their ENGL-101 instructors. Students focus on the critical and appreciative reading of poetry, drama, fiction and the essay, and on interpretive and analytical writing about literature. Techniques of research are discussed and practiced.

Essay Standards:

An “A” paper displays originality, focus, imagination, and vitality. The writer fulfills all assignment and genre requirements and makes choices for the audience toward whom the paper is directed. There is a clear and compelling thesis or main point that is presented fully and accurately and developed with specific and relevant examples or other forms of evidence. When source material is used, the writer clearly understands what others have said and uses source material to contribute a unique perspective or point of view. The paper has a clear structure, and the writer uses transitions effectively. The writer has fully considered feedback from readers and revised appropriately. The writer consistently exhibits rhetorical sophistication regarding sentence structure and has minimal problems with grammar and punctuation. When required, the
writer has used documentation correctly. The word choice is precise, and the sentence lengths are varied

A “B” paper displays most of the elements of a good paper; the writer meets most of the assignment and genre requirements and makes appropriate choices for genre and audience. The writer addresses the topic, establishes a thesis or main idea that is clear and accurate, and has developed it with examples and/or other forms of evidence. When source material is used, the writer is attempting to discuss the relevance in relation to the main point or thesis. The structure is identifiable, and the writer is working to use transitions effectively. The writer shows consideration for the feedback of readers and has revised appropriately. The writer generally controls sentence structure, has few problems with grammar and punctuation, and has a consistent grasp of how to use documentation correctly when required. The writer may need to spend more time with word choice and work to vary sentence lengths.

A “C” paper displays minimal competence and fulfills some assignment and genre requirements. The writer may need to spend time considering audience and making subsequent rhetorical choices. The writer may attempt to establish a thesis or main point but needs some assistance to
clearly articulate it. The writer may offer some examples or other forms of evidence at some points in the paper, but the use of evidence or development may be inconsistent, or there may be a disconnect between source material and the writer’s analysis. When source material is used, the writer’s use of documentation is inconsistent. The structure is emerging, but the writer could use help with transitions. The writer may show some consideration for the feedback of readers. The writer may need continued support around the use of grammar, correct use of sentence structure, and varying sentence lengths.

A “D” paper falls below minimal competence in most areas. The writer would benefit from further use of reader feedback. The writer does not fulfill genre or assignment requirements. While the writer attempts to articulate a thesis, it may lack tension or clarity or be absent altogether. The rhetorical choices lack consideration, and there is little to no support or evidence. The writer shows no consideration for the feedback of readers, and the writer’s use of source material may be nonexistent. The writer needs to invest significant effort regarding the use of grammar and correct sentence construction.

An “F” paper warrants failure. The writer has not met genre or assignment requirements or has blatantly plagiarized. There has been little or no attention to process.