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First-Year Writing Program

Director: Dr. Jonathan Goodwin


The First-Year Writing Program at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette is composed of approximately sixty instructors, and it serves about 5000 students per year. Throughout all the various courses, engagement in co-curricular activities such as museum exhibits, local theater and film series, lectures, and poetry and fiction readings, is encouraged.

The purpose of the First-Year Writing Program is to introduce students to the critical thinking, reading, and writing skills required of them in the academy by focusing on rhetorical awareness and argument. All assignments are designed with the following outcomes and goals, to prompt students to:

  • Engage in writing as an iterative process
  • Recognize the structures of argument
  • Use writing and reading for learning, thinking, and communicating
  • Respond to the needs of various audiences
  • Discuss appropriate voice, tone, and level of formality
  • Integrate their ideas with those of others

By the end of the writing sequence, students should be able to write thesis-driven argument papers. “Argument” in this context is broadly defined to mean making a claim with which reasonable people could disagree and supporting that claim with appropriate evidence. To meet this goal, instructors are expected to structure assignments so that students have ample practice constructing this type of essay. English 101 focuses on expository writing, which can take the form of narrative and essays based on observation and interview, and English 102 focuses on research writing using primary and secondary sources.

Course Descriptions

English 101: Introduction to Academic Writing. This course is designed to introduce students to the critical thinking, reading, and writing skills required in the university and beyond. All students enrolled in English 101 must complete a semester total of 15-20 pages of polished prose, writing that has been reviewed and revised. Teachers often assign in-class writing that students are not given an opportunity to revise and expand, but this writing does not count towards the polished prose requirement. English 101 engages issues of cultural diversity, thus fulfilling the UL System's diversity requirement.

English 102: Writing and Research About Culture. Prerequisite: score of 28 ACT English (630 SAT Verbal) or C or higher in English 101. Through exploration of cultural themes, students will build on and advance the thinking, reading, and writing skills learned in English 101 while focusing on rhetoric and research. The purpose of English 102 is to build on the writing skills students learned in English 101 by focusing on academic research. All students enrolled in English 102 must complete a semester total of 20-25 pages of polished prose. Readings and writing assignments in English 102 focus on international issues in accordance with the Louisiana Board of Regents' International Education requirement.

English 115: Honors Academic Writing. Prerequisite: score of 28 ACT English (630 SAT Verbal). This is a course in writing for advanced students, and it emphasizes critical reading of literature and research-based writing on literary topics. Because students who qualify for English 115 must have a 28 ACT English or 630 SAT Verbal and therefore get automatic credit for English 101, completion of English 115 with a C or higher will satisfy the first-year writing requirement. English 115 meets diversity and international requirements.

Placement and Exemption

Students who make a score of 3 on the College Board's Advanced Placement Exam are exempt from English 101, and a score of 4 or higher carries English 102 credit. Students who score a 28 ACT English subscore (630 SAT Verbal) or higher are exempt from English 101. Students who take the College Level Examination Program (CLEP) exam in English Composition and score a 55 or higher may qualify for English 101 credit. The student must also submit at least one writing sample (additional writing samples increase the probability of success) to the Director of First-Year Writing for review.

The Advance Credit Exam in English is an opportunity to receive automatic credit for English 102. In English 102, students are required to write at least 20-25 pages of revised and polished prose, including research-based argument-centered essays. To correspond with the expectations and outcomes of English 102, the First-Year Writing Program requires a portfolio of writing samples rather than a timed exam.

To be eligible to submit a portfolio for English 102 credit through the Advance Credit Exam portfolio process, students must have a minimum ACT English subscore of 32. The portfolio must contain the following to be considered for English 102 credit:

  1. At least 20-25 pages of writing overall.
  2. A letter (2-3 pages) prefacing the portfolio that explains your choices in the portfolio: where each writing sample originated and why you selected it for inclusion in the portfolio. The letter must also provide an explanation of why you believe, based on the criteria in our writing program's list of outcomes and rubric (cite criteria directly and specifically), that you qualify for English 102 credit. You can find the outcomes and rubric on this page below:
  3. A 7-10 page research paper using MLA citation style. The paper can be on any subject but must have a clear position (argument) on the topic, supported by adequate evidence from scholarly sources (minimum of 4 sources).
  4. Pieces of nonfiction prose of your choice: shorter analysis/response papers, a senior thesis project, papers for classes other than English, writing for publications such as student newspapers, etc.

You may send the portfolio by mail to:

Jonathan Goodwin, Director of First-Year Writing
University of Louisiana at Lafayette
P.O. Box 43719
Lafayette LA 70504

Or electronically as one document in PDF or DOCX format to

International students / ESL

International students whose first language is not English and who have not graduated from a U.S. high school are required to take First-Year Writing in the Department of Modern Languages (ESOL 101 and 102). Students who are non-native speakers of English but who are U.S. residents and who have graduated from a U.S. high school have the option to take English or ESOL writing courses. However, students must finish the sequence they began; for example, a student cannot go from English 101 to ESOL 102 or ESOL 101 to English 102.


The First-Year Writing Program features regular course-embedded assessment in accordance with the university's participation in the Voluntary System of Accountability. Also, in compliance with the SACS (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools) requirement of outcomes assessment, instructors in the First-Year Writing Program are required to administer a Proficiency Exam at the end of each course. Students must pass this exam in order to advance to the next course.

Standards for Student Writing

Poor  Satisfactory  Outstanding

    Topic is too broad and general for a paper of its length
    No clear main idea or sustained position in the paper (or argument is incredible to an academic audience)
    Argument, if present, is unsupported,
    or evidence is insufficient
    Paper is overly reliant on cliches or
    culturally conditioned/ ethnocentric
    assumptions and bias
    Sources, if used, are used inappropriately (data dump, awkward
    integration, unintentional plagiarism,


    Topic is manageable for a paper of its length
    Position/argument is comprehensible even if not clearly stated
    Amount of evidence is sufficient
    Demonstrates critical thinking (ability to recognize
    complexity, biases, and
    stereotypical representations; distinguishing fact from opinion)
    Use of sources is appropriate; no serious problems with integration of other materials


    Topic is narrow enough to allow for a rigorous, nuanced treatment of the subject
    Thesis is stated clearly
    Evidence is ample to support position
    Contains some acknowledgment of opposing/divergent views
    Sources are used purposefully and strategically, integrated seamlessly


    Introduction does not orient the reader to the concerns of the paper or contextualize the subject of the paper
    Arrangement of the paper is haphazard and random
    Paragraphs do not have transitions that guide the reader from one idea to
    the next
    Conclusion is absent or abrupt


    Introduction is
    recognizable even if it is not always reader-based
    Paragraphs generally treat one idea at a time
    Attempts at transitions between
    paragraphs are made, even if they are awkward
    Conclusion provides some closure to the argument, even if
    only a summary
    of the main points


    Paper contains a
    clear, reader-based introduction, development, conclusion
    Logical, smooth transitions between sections
    Plan of development stated (forecasting statement, selfannouncing structure to
    Conclusion does more than just summarize the
    paper; restates the thesis in a fresh way or includes a gesture (call for action,
    unresolved questions, etc.)


    Frequency of error (of any type) seriously detracts from the content of the paper


    Grammar, punctuation, and spelling are mostly correct
    Student shows command of language (word choice/ vocabulary)
    Varied sentence structure


    Paper is virtually free of error
    Writer shows an unusual felicity with regard to word choice, turns of phrase (ex. uses obscure words, bon mots)
    Sentence structure is complex but not cumbersome

Ann Dobie Outstanding Freshman Essay Awards

Each year the First-Year Writing Program gives two cash awards, one for Outstanding Narrative/Personal Essay and one for Outstanding Research Paper. They are given during the English Department's annual spring awards ceremony.

Textbook Information

In keeping with the Higher Education Opportunity Act, the First-Year Writing Program provides information below about the course textbooks: the University Bookstore price and International Standard Book Numbers (ISBN) for easy comparison shopping. The prices listed are the Fall 2012 semester prices; these are subject to change.

English 101

In English 101, all students are required to buy the Freshman Guide, which they keep for English 102. Teachers choose between Writing Arguments and The Reader ; students will be required to buy one of these.

  • The Freshman Guide to Writing at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. UL English Department. Price at University Bookstore: $17.25 new. ISBN-13: 978-1-59871-389-3
  • Writing Arguments, Concise Edition: A Rhetoric with Readings (6th Edition). John D. Ramage, John C. Bean, and June Johnson. ISBN-10: 0205171494 ISBN-13: 978-0205171491 Price at University Bookstore: $64.50 new; $48.50 used
  • The Reader (2nd Edition. James C. McDonald. ISBN-10: 0205244394 ISBN-13: 978-0205244393 Price at University Bookstore: $55.00 new; $41.25 used

English 102

In English 102, all students are required to use the Freshman Guide and They Say/I Say. Teachers choose one reader from the seven listed.

  • They Say / I Say: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing (Second Edition). Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkenstein. ISBN-10: 039393361X ISBN-13: 978-0393933611 Price at University Bookstore: $25.25 new; $19.00 used
  • International Views: America and the Rest of the World. Keith Gumery. ISBN-10: 032138881X ISBN-13: 978-0321388810 Price at University Bookstore: $25.25 new; $19.00 used
  • Language and Prejudice. Tamara M. Valentine. ISBN-10: 0321122364 ISBN-13: 978-0321122360 Price at University Bookstore: $25.25 new; $19.00 used
  • Issues of Gender. Ellen G. Friedman, Jennifer D. Marshall. ISBN-10: 0321108795 ISBN-13: 978-0321108791 Price at University Bookstore: $25.25 new; $19.00 used

English 115

The default text for this course is listed below, but professors often use other textbooks. For accurate book information, please contact the department.

  • Bedford Introduction to Literature: Reading, Thinking, Writing. Michael Meyer. ISBN-10: 0312539215 ISBN-13: 978-0312539214 Price at University Bookstore: $100.00 new; $72.00 used

Information for Instructors

The First-Year Writing program has a Moodle site for instructors which contains various teaching resources.