The Writing, Speaking, and Argument Program

Information About the Program

Faculty across the College agree that mastery of the skills of written argument, including critical thinking, problem solving, organization of ideas, and clarity and power of expression, is of enormous importance both in academic work during residence in the College and in the world of work beyond the College. Writing as part of college life is a given, whether by students completing required coursework, by scholars as part of their professional lives, or by those who find in writing a source of discovery and pleasure. Writing is how we know what it is that we know, because our ability to explain a subject clearly and precisely is an ultimate test of having learned it. To help students join Rochester’s community of writers and researchers, the Writing, Speaking, and Argument Program offers writing courses and writing and speaking support services, as well as opportunities to celebrate outstanding writers and their work.

The Writing, Speaking, and Argument Program is home to the Primary Writing Requirement, the College’s first step in drawing students into our community of researchers and writers, the English for Academic Purposes Program (formerly the ESOL Program), and the Writing and Speaking Center, where students can find tutoring services.

Primary Writing Requirement and Placement

All students at the University of Rochester, whether incoming freshmen or transfers, must satisfy the Primary Writing Requirement. The majority of students fulfill the requirement by earning a "C" or better in WRT 105, Reasoning and Writing in the College, or WRT 105E, a version of 105 chosen by students who need more support to meet the demands of college-level writing. Students who believe that they are already proficient college writers may petition to substitute a University of Rochester writing-intensive course for WRT 105/105E. The substitute course may not also be used to fulfill the Upper-Level Writing Requirement. Transfer students who have completed a WRT 105/105E-equivalent at another institution and received a B or better may petition to use this course to satisfy the Primary Writing Requirement. For more information on satisfying the Primary Writing Requirement, including instructions on how to access the Writing Placement Survey, please refer to writing.rochester.edu.

Students admitted to the College through the English for Academic Purposes Program fulfill the requirement by earning a grade of "C" or higher in WRT 103, EAPP Critical Reading, Reasoning, and Writing, and WRT 104, EAPP Research, Reading, and Writing. For more information on EAPP placement and courses, please refer to writing.rochester.edu/EAPP.

Courses

WRT 101. EAPP Speaking and Listening I. Designed to help undergraduate nonnative speakers of English improve their English oral communication and listening skills in preparation for social interactions at the University. Students practice speaking at greater length and faster speed by developing fluency, grammatical accuracy, complexity of sentence structures, and vocabulary. In addition, students practice listening actively to peers, summarizing, paraphrasing, and repeating key information from native speakers of English. Also covers such techniques as asking follow-up questions, using socialization strategies, adapting to cultural differences, practicing small talk, and making formal and informal introductions. Class work takes place in and out of the classroom with the collaboration of native and nonnative speakers of English in formal and informal settings. Significant class time is devoted to English pronunciation. (Fall)

WRT 102. EAPP Speaking and Listening II. Builds upon the lessons from WRT 101, EAPP Speaking and Listening I, and is designed to help undergraduate nonnative speakers of English improve their English oral communication and listening skills in preparation for academic and social interactions. Students practice taking notes, summarizing, repeating, and critiquing key information from recorded lectures and presentations—with an emphasis on the discourse most prevalent in undergraduate university courses. Students also practice communicating in different academic, social, and cultural contexts as they engage in classroom conversation, debates, interviews, speaking to formal audiences, and giving academic presentations in English. Class work takes place in and out of the classroom with the collaboration of native and nonnative speakers of English in formal and informal settings. Class time is devoted to English pronunciation. (Spring)

WRT 103. EAPP Critical Reading, Reasoning, and Writing. An introduction to critical reading and writing skills. Lessons center on the analysis of varied readings and on using writing as a tool for critical thinking and reflection. Students are introduced to concepts of rhetorical analysis and the use of logic, as well as the roles of audience and purpose in shaping the organization, style, and argumentative strategies of their own papers. In addition, students build writing fluency and self-expression through freewriting and in-class writing. Collaboration is an important part of learning; therefore, students work together as they learn to critique their own work and the work of their peers. Attention is given to writing beyond the classroom, such as communicating with faculty and others across the College. (Fall)

WRT 104. EAPP Research, Reading, and Writing. Extends the critical reading and writing skills learned in WRT 103: EAPP Critical Reading, Reasoning, and Writing to the act of research. Research may include traditional library sources and academic journals, but it may also include primary research such as fieldwork, surveys, and interviews. A variety of texts are analyzed and discussed in preparation for constructing extended argumentative essays and a final research paper. Reading and responding critically to texts are practiced. Students learn how to incorporate source material into research writing and integrate their own ideas with those from other texts. Collaboration is an important part of learning; therefore, students work together as they learn to critique their own work and the work of their peers. Attention is given to writing beyond the classroom, such as communicating with faculty and others across the College. (Spring)

WRT 105 and WRT 105E both satisfy the Primary Writing Requirement with a grade of "C" or better. Each section has unique content. For an updated list of course descriptions, please refer to writing.rochester.edu.

WRT 105. Reasoning and Writing in the College. Introduces students to disciplinary writing at the college level through instruction in small sections that focuses on the act of writing. Section topics have ranged from “Adolescence: War or Peace” to “Searching for Whales: Myth, Science, and Ecological Sustainability,” and cover a range of subjects and disciplines. Provides instruction and practice in clear and effective writing and in constructing cogent and compelling arguments, as students draft and revise numerous papers of different forms and lengths. Students consider the roles of audience and purpose in shaping the organization, style, and argumentative strategies of their own papers, while they learn to become critical readers of their writing through peer critiques and revision/editing workshops. (Fall and Spring)

WRT 105E. Reasoning and Writing in the College. An extended version of Reasoning and Writing in the College. While WRT 105 and WRT 105E have the same expectations for completion, WRT 105E is intended for students who decide that they need a more supported writing experience to meet the demands of college writing. All sections include an additional class session each week and are taught in computer labs and limited to 10 students. Students who have worked diligently but have not attained a "B-" or better may take an incomplete and sign up for the WRT 105E Extension, a weekly workshop and tutorial that allows students to raise their final grades and satisfy the Primary Writing Requirement. (Fall and Spring)

WRT 108. Workshop in Writing. Offers ongoing practice and instruction in writing and critiquing writing. Guided by a writing center consultant, students plan, draft, and revise their writing; critique each other’s work; assess their own writing; and participate in group sessions on writing issues that the group faces. The semester’s work culminates in a final portfolio that features polished essays and an overall self-assessment. WRT 108 is a 2-credit course, which is graded pass/fail. Prerequisite: WRT 105/WRT 105E or alternative satisfaction of the Primary Writing Requirement. (Spring)

WRT 245/ENG 285. Advanced Writing and Peer Tutoring. Prepares sophomores, juniors, and seniors enrolled in five-year programs for work as writing fellows. Facilitates development of a strong, intuitive writer and speaker in order to become a successful reader, listener, and responder in peer-tutoring situations. Ample writing and rewriting experiences, practice in informal and formal speaking, and the critical reading of published essays and student work enhance students’ abilities to become conscious, flexible communicators. Before tutoring on their own, students observe writing fellows and writing center consultants conduct tutoring sessions. On completion of the course with a "B" or better, students should be ready to conduct tutoring sessions as writing fellows. Prerequisite: satisfaction of Primary Writing Requirement and a minimum GPA of 3.0; by application only. (Fall)

WRT 247 Spoken Communication and Peer Tutoring. Prepares selected sophomores, juniors and eligible freshmen for work as speaking fellows. Focuses not only on the skill of public speaking, but also on peer tutoring and assisting students with their own forms of spoken communication. In this course, we will examine various components of presentations, including effective use of visual aids and professional delivery styles. We will also explore several types of spoken communication for different purposes and audiences, including argumentative and descriptive speeches, interviews, and group presentations. Through analyzing, studying the construction of, and creating and delivering their own presentations, students will improve their own speaking styles and develop the skills necessary to aid their peers in constructing and revising presentations, as well as in making the transition from page to performance. By the end of the semester, students should be ready to take on their own hours as peer tutors. (Fall)

WRT 272/BIO 272W Developing a Professional Biology Writing Portfolio. Tailor information to multiple audiences while developing a portfolio of professional documents including cover letters and research abstracts. Writing, feedback, self-assessment, and revision. Restricted to biology majors; permission of instructor required for all others. (Fall and Spring)

WRT 273 Communicating Your Professional Identity. This interactive course teaches “real life” communication skills and strategies that help students present their best professional selves. Students will explore and articulate their internship and career goals for distinct audiences and purposes as they develop a professional communication portfolio of materials such as resumes, cover letters, electronic communications, technical project abstracts, online profiles (i.e., LinkedIn), and TED Talks. Students will revise and refine their written and spoken work across the semester based on critical feedback from peers, instructors, alumni and potential employers. By the semester’s end, students will have gained extensive experience with the communication skills expected in today’s competitive job market. (Fall and Spring)