First-Year Writing at MCLA

Writing Philosophy

First-year writing plays a vital role in preparing MCLA students for the different writing situations they will encounter in both their academic classes and as 21st century citizens writing in the world. To foster the next generation of flexible writers and thinkers, each first-year writing course will ask students to closely read and compose a variety of texts for both academic and civic audiences. Students will use writing to both interpret and influence the world using various genres and writing techniques, which will help prepare them for the diverse literacy practices they will encounter in their advanced academic studies and beyond.


During registration CSSE will place the majority of first-year students in either College Writing I or College Writing II based on their individual writing needs. Both are 3-credit courses. Students placed into College Writing II will satisfy the 3-credit Critical Reading, Thinking, and Writing core requirement. Students placed into College Writing I will earn 3 elective credits, and have the added benefit of taking two writing classes over the course of a full year for a more sustained introduction to college-level writing. To ensure students are prepared to write successfully in their other courses, all students should complete College Writing II by the end of their first year. For questions regarding placement and exemption from College Writing II, please contact Academic Advising & Support at or Director of Writing, Dr. Amber Engelson, at


Though individual course content will vary depending on faculty interests, by the end of each College Writing course, students will compose at least four major writing projects across a range of genres and audiences. Given that good writing often develops from a recursive process involving collaboration, revision and reflection, students will be asked to complete multiple drafts of each assignment with the help of genre-specific workshops and faculty and peer feedback. Overall, by the end of each course, students will compose 15-20 pages of polished prose using a variety of genres to reach different audiences. Given research showing that developmental writers just need more time and focused feedback to be successful, the following outcomes pertain to both College I and College Writing II.

Writing Outcomes:

If students fully engage with the resources presented in the College Writing I and II, they will leave with the following:

  • The ability to respond to a variety of rhetorical situations to effectively reach different audiences.
  • The ability to use different genres (or types of writing) to reach different audiences.
  • The ability to use library databases to find peer-reviewed academic sources.
  • The ability to evaluate, synthesize, critique, and add your own ideas to published sources.
  • The ability to effectively and ethically summarize, paraphrase, quote, and cite published sources to achieve their purposes.
  • The ability to vary their texts’ structure, paragraphing, tone, style, and grammar depending on genre and audience.
  • The ability to edit and proofread their writing.

Process Outcomes:

If students fully engage with the resources presented in the College Writing I and II, they will leave with the following:

  • An understanding that good college-level writing involves a process of revising and editing across multiple drafts.
  • The ability to both give and draw from constructive feedback during the revision process.
  • The ability to critically and carefully read a diversity of texts written for different audiences and purposes.