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First Year Writing

Writing 1010 and 2010 need to be taken within the first 3 semesters at the U, and before students enroll in their upper-division classes

First Year Writing Requirement

The first-year writing series at the University of Utah prepares students to write effectively and clearly, using a number of academic genres. Though the goal of WRTG 1010 and WRTG 2010 is to prepare students to succeed academically, the behaviors and abilities they develop in these courses transfer to other writing contexts, giving students the resources to analyze, identify, and respond to the writing expectations for workplace settings, community engagement, and beyond. Students develop a number of flexible capabilities that they can adapt to future situations that call for writing.


Waitlisting is now available on all WRTG 1010 and 2010 classes

If a class is full when a student registers, wait listing allows a student to add their name to an electronic wait list and potentially be added to the class if space opens up, and they meet all the requirements. Wait listing is not a guarantee for enrollment into a class.

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Welcome to Writing 1010

Writing 1010 is designed to prepare students like you for the kinds of reading and writing that you will do as a member of an academic community. We begin by embracing the idea that writing in academic settings is about joining an ongoing conversation. We focus on developing the tools and literacy practices that students will need in order to fully participate in the research, projects, and conversations that are important in their individual disciplines. In other words, even though you have been reading and writing for most of your life, the kinds of reading and writing required in a university setting are different.

Importantly, learning to the reading and writing genres and expectations doesn’t mean giving up the important literacy practices of home. Rather, it means developing new ways of using reading and writing that are connected to the values and goals of the university in general and the student’s academic major, more specifically. Writing 1010 provides students with a set of foundational practices that allow them to join this new academic conversation, practices that can be adjusted to suit the purposes of different fields/majors as students progress through their studies at the U.

When academics write-up their research, or when they decide what to research, they are contributing to a body of arguments about the same topic. In order to do that, scholars:

  1. “listen” to the conversation that other people are already having,
  2. identify the various perspectives and voices contributing to the conversation,
  3. articulate the conversation in their own words,
  4. synthesize the various voices in the conversation,
  5. identify a gap in the conversation--an argument that hasn't been made or is weak, or an approach that is missing,
  6. doing research that helps fill the gap, and
  7. contribute an argument of their own that is based on research (rather than opinion).

And of course, this cycle happens over and over again as the conversation develops.

Writing 1010 focuses on points 1-4 (leaving 5, 6, and 7 for Writing 2010), reading, summarizing, and synthesizing academic arguments, helping students develop dexterity with reading, paraphrasing, and using quotations.

Students will also learn about their chosen or potential major, collecting data about that major. This research project focuses on primary data, and it helps connect students with their major and with the topics and practices valued in that major.

Learning Objectives

The assignments in WRTG 1010 are structured to teach students to:

  • read and comprehend academic arguments,
  • summarize academic arguments,
  • synthesize (combine) ideas and arguments, 
  • understand academic argumentation in terms of complexity rather than opinion (like/dislike; agree/disagree),
  • use the generic conventions that structure academic writing in appropriate ways and places, and
  • write an academic report.

Along the way, students work on these capabilities:

  • strategies for reading long, complicated texts
  • sentence structure, paragraph structure, and argument organization
  • critical reading skills
  • drafting tactics
  • revision strategies
  • vocabulary for evaluating writing (yours and others)
  • invention techniques (the process of coming up with an idea to write about)

Assignment Overview*

The assignments in Writing 1010 prepare students for success in WRTG 2010 and other courses that they will take at the University of Utah. There are lots of small assignments that prepare students to complete two kinds of papers.

Literacy Narrative

For the first assignment, students write a narrative about an experience with literacy that stands out in their memory. It could be a positive experience or it could be a negative experience. What is important is that it shaped how the student feels about reading and writing as they begin college. This assignment acts as a bridge, connecting life outside the university with life inside the university.


Being able to summarize other people’s arguments is an essential part of reading and writing at the university level. The summaries we will write in WRTG 1010 are different than others students may have written. In this summary, you need to summarize the author’s argument, not just his or her words, or an article, point for point. That is, you have to make sure that you represent the big picture of the argument and it’s supporting evidence so that a reader of your summary really understands the argument. This process requires a thorough understanding of the argument and recursive reading process that helps students to really engage with academic prose style. Students also develop quotation, paraphrasing, and summary abilities.

Major Literacy Practices Report

For this assignment, students work with other members of the class to make an initial foray into primary research, by doing a mini-ethnography on their major. The focus of the report is how the discipline uses and values reading and writing. Students apply what they have learned about literacy in the course, and what they have learned about joining a conversation, by researching their experiences as an undergraduate at the University of Utah. They collect data, in the form of information about the major, requirements, types of assignments taught, uses of writing in course-work, advertised events, etc. The goal is to figure out how people in the community that makes up your major use reading and writing—what are the literacy practices of the major? It also gives students the opportunity to meet and meet with administrators, faculty, and other students, who make up the community.

*These are the standard assignments. Individual instructors’ syllabi and assignments may vary. Students need to make sure they are reading the full instructions that instructors provide for them in class.


Writing 2010 is designed to provide students with the foundational practices and capabilities needed to read and write academic arguments proficiently. Academic writing isn’t a solo endeavor, in which the author sits and comes up with ideas by him or herself. Instead, it is more useful to imagine academic writing as a conversation, in which an author talks to others concerned with the same topic, and who are reading and writing arguments and doing research on that topic. Strong academic writing is founded on strong research and reading skills, which allow you to: 

  • read the arguments and ideas about a topic that have already been writ,
  • demonstrate knowledge of the prior research through accurate and fair summary,
  • synthesize prior research, arguments about and approaches to the topic,
  • contribute your own argument to the conversation,
  • situate your argument in the existing body of research on the topic, and
  • support your argument using evidence.

Situating your argument in the current and ongoing conversation is key. In order to do that, scholars:

  1. “listen” to the conversation that other people are already having,
  2. identify the various perspectives and voices contributing to the conversation,
  3. articulate the conversation in their own words,
  4. synthesize the various voices in the conversation,
  5. identify a gap in the conversation—an argument that hasn't been made, an argument that is weak or incorrect, or an approach that is missing,
  6. do research that helps fill the gap, and
  7. contribute an evidence-based argument of their own that is grounded in research (rather than opinion) and that
  8. address a particular audience.

And of course, this cycle happens over and over again as the conversation develops.

Writing 2010 focuses on synthesis and contribution. Students learn to synthesize prior arguments and contribute one of their own by completing a set of common readings on a topic selected by the instructor that talk to each other. Then they move on to completing research into their own topic.

Though our focus is on setting you up to be a successful writer in your university courses, the writing practices and capabilities students learn in this class have application outside of the university. Learning how to write strong sentences and well-organized paragraphs, learning how to collaborate, and learning how to write in and with new technologies, 

learning how to research a problem, learning how to contribute a viewpoint to an ongoing conversation—all of these are behaviors and abilities that are required to succeed in most workplaces.

Learning Objectives

In this course, students will:

Write Academic Arguments

  • Employ a variety of inventional strategies
  • Situate an argument in current research on the topic of the paper
  • Articulate prior research accurately
  • Synthesize prior research accurately
  • Write for a particular purpose, context, and audience
  • Compose an argument, using good evidence
  • Contribute to an ongoing conversation
  • Format, edit, and proofread according to the expectations of academic writing

Develop Information Literacy

  • Conduct secondary research to write in an academic context
  • Use research databases and other online search tools 
  • Identify and use reliable sources that are appropriate to the topic and audience
  • Demonstrate flexibility using a variety of online genres and source types
  • Generate arguments using digital media appropriate to the rhetorical context
  • Employ multimodal composition strategies appropriate to the writing situation

Develop Strategies for Working with Genre and Academic Conventions

  • Identify and describe the conventions of a variety of genres
  • Compose in multiple genres, both academic and nonacademic
  • Use visual elements to support the purpose and/or argument of the text
  • Write well-formed sentences, with strong clausal organization that follow the expectations of Standard Written English
  • Write paragraphs that are structured to develop ideas and make connections between the paragraphs
  • Use a citation style consistently, attributing words and/or ideas to the appropriate author
  • Reflect on the relationship between generic conventions and context of use


  • Collaborate with peers to research a problem or topic
  • Write collaboratively to create persuasive and informative messages
  • Incorporate feedback from peers and instructor in written work
  • Give honest and useful feedback to peers that will improve their written work


The assignments are structured to develop the capabilities and strategies of academic literacy.

Synthesis 1: Mapping the Conversation

For synthesis 1, we will read a number of articles on a particular topic as a class. We will discuss the argumentative and rhetorical strategies used in the articles, and we will identify the ways that the articles are in conversation with one another, sometimes more explicitly than others. Students will “map” the conversation, by creating a visual representation of the camps involved in the conversation about the current state of higher education. The ‘map’ will be accompanied by a three-page paper, in which the student describes how s/he came up with the structure of the map, the points of overlap, and the points of disparity.

Annotated Bibliography (Collaboration)

In groups, students will select a topic that they will work collaboratively to research. For the annotated bibliography, students will collect 15-21 articles, books, visuals, etc. on the topic and make a bibliography using APA style, in which they annotate each entry with a two/three sentence summary of the argument the article makes.

Synthesis 2: Literature Review

After submitting the Annotated Bibliography as a group, students will individually write a literature review of the sources that were collected by the group. A literature (lit) review is a common and important academic genre, in which the author reviews and synthesizes the fundamental and cutting-edge research on the topic. Like Synthesis 1, Synthesis 2 will identify camps within the conversation. Synthesis 2 will then explain, describe, and define the stakes associated with the particular positions.

Argument Campaign: Contribution Paper plus one companion piece in a non-academic genre (pamphlet, white paper, position paper, postcard, direct mail, poster, website, etc.)

Campaign Element 1—Contribution Paper: The contribution paper will work directly out of synthesis 2 to contribute an argument to the ongoing conversation you researched in groups.

Campaign Element 2: In addition to the contribution paper, you need to create one companion piece to accompany or otherwise present the information in the formal academic paper. Maybe you’ll create a direct mail, a postcard, a pamphlet, a postcard, or a white paper. You’ll need to think about what fits the topic and your contribution to the topic.

Presentation (Collaboration): After you have written and contributed a single-authored academic paper and a companion composition on the topic you researched earlier in the semester, you will join-up with your research groups again to write and give a 10-minute presentation on the topic.


At the end of the semester, you will create an ePortfolio, using Pathbrite, in which you collect and present all of the work you did this semester. You will also need to revise one previously graded essay and write a portfolio analysis that reflects on and explains what you learned over the semester, both of which need to be included in the ePortfolio.

*These are the standard assignments. Individual instructors’ syllabi and assignments may vary. Students need to make sure that you are reading the full instructions that instructors provide for you in class.

Last Updated: 8/18/20