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Course Descriptions

WR 121: College Composition I – Written Reasoning as Discovery and Inquiry

Catalog description: 121 College Composition I (4) Written reasoning as discovery and inquiry. Frequent essays explore relationship of thesis to structure and audience. Strong focus on the process of revising. Regular work on editing.

WR 121 is a college-level course in written reasoning that presents writing as a means of exploring, developing, confirming, and communicating ideas.  The ideas that students write about develop from their understanding of issues encountered in readings and focused discussions, responding to them in writing to represent them fairly and explore available responses.  Students compose an essay or essays that support and develop a significant, enthymeme-based thesis, and they learn to make structural and rhetorical choices based both on the requirements of that thesis and on their knowledge of the audience.  They are taught to practice open-minded inquiry into ideas so that their writing will be based on honest and defensible reasoning.  They learn how clear and effective communication is a way of showing respect for one’s audience.  They learn the importance of revision in the process of written reasoning, and they learn to become better critical readers of their own and others’ prose. The purpose of this form of argumentation is not to “prove” one’s own ideas or to “win” by defeating an opponent.  Rather, it is to discover the best available reasons to support one’s own ideas by examining them in relation to the competing ideas and reasoning of other people.  Thus conceived, argumentation is the development and support of one’s ideas in the context of an understanding of and respect for the ideas of others.

WR 121 students are typically required to write three academic papers, each revised.  Each first version and revision comprises an essay cycle, and each essay cycle involves the integration of peer and teacher feedback.  In addition to rigorous academic papers, part of the course work in WR 121 includes reflective writing about the learning that students see taking place in their own writing process and product.  Formal, polished academic writing ranges between 8,000 and 11,000 words, including both versions of each essay.  A range of other writing opportunities, such as reading journals, in-class writing, or peer commentaries may be included, but only formal writing counts toward the word count for the course. Reading assignments are required, both to develop students’ ability to understand arguments and concepts with which they may be unfamiliar and to provide them with a context of ideas for composing their own essays. Students are encouraged to discuss their responses openly in class, both to develop a sense of what questions are at issue with regard to the text under consideration, and to come to a more concrete sense of the audience for whom they write.

In addition, WR 121 provides students with the opportunity and means to improve grammatical, mechanical and stylistic skills; this course also provides an opportunity to become familiar with an academic environment where the conventions of advanced written communication are practiced.

Designated sections of WR 121 are offered each term for these student populations:

  • International students: Placement into 121E is made through Composition Program Secretary. Only students who have completed AEIS 112 are eligible.
  • Students with SAT verbal scores below 480: Students with verbal SAT scores below 470 are preauthorized for these sections, which fill on a first come, first served basis. These students are also preauthorized for the concurrent writing tutorial, WR 195, also available on a first come, first served basis.
  • Underrepresented populations at UO: The Center for Multicultural Academic Excellence (CMAE) preauthorized students for these sections.

The designated sections adhere to the same course requirements as other WR 121 sections.

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WR 121 Specific Populations

Low SAT
Designated sections of WR 121 are staffed by a teacher experienced in developmental writing. Although this class accomplishes the same goals as our other WR 121 courses, it is specially designed to meet the needs of students with lower test scores. Places are filled on a first come, first served basis without alphabetical priority because there are more people eligible than there is space available. Students are not required to register for these sections and can take one of the regular WR 121 sections.

English Language Learners (ELL)
Designated sections of WR 121 are staffed by a teacher experienced in English Language Learners. Although this class accomplishes the same goals as our other WR 121 courses, it is specially designed to meet the needs of international students. Placement into 121E is made through the Composition Program Secretary. Students who have completed AEIS 112 are eligible and will be preauthorized to register for these sections.

Underrepresented Populations
In conjunction with The Center for Multicultural Excellence, designated sections are specially designed for underrepresented populations at the UO. Although the class accomplishes the same goals as our other WR 121 courses, the needs and experiences of underrepresented students of the campus are considered in the course design. CMAE preauthorizes students for these sections.

Click here for more details about the ELL and CMAE sections of the writing courses.

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WR 122: College Composition II – Written Reasoning as a Process of Argument

Catalog Description: 122 College Composition II (4) Written reasoning as a process of argument. Developing and supporting theses in response to complex questions. Attention to critical reading in academic setting. Continuing focus on revising and editing.

Building upon the concepts covered in WR 121, WR 122 focuses on specific ways to develop argumentative essays in response to the challenges of complex contexts, which should include increasingly sophisticated competing arguments and issues, as well as an expansion of enthymeme-based arguments.

Students practice further how to develop effective theses and compose essays in which they control the reasoning that supports their theses. The course emphasizes critical reading of more intellectually demanding essays than those read in WR 121. WR 122 students are typically required to write either two or three academic papers, each revised.  Each first version and revision comprises an essay cycle, and each essay cycle involves the integration of peer and teacher feedback. Additionally, course work in WR 122 includes reflective writing about the learning that students see taking place in their writing process and product.  Formal, polished academic writing ranges between 12,000 and 16,000 words in two or three essays, with both versions included in the word count. A range of other writing opportunities, such as reading notebooks, in-class writing, or peer commentaries may be included.  Reading assignments are required, both to develop students’ ability to understand arguments and concepts with which they may be unfamiliar and to provide them with a context of ideas for composing their own essays.

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WR 123: College Composition III – Written Reasoning in the Context of Research

Catalog Description: 123 College Composition III (4) Written reasoning in the context of research. Practice in writing documented essays based on the use of sources. Continuing focus on revising and editing.

WR 123 shares the aims of WR122, with the added requirement that students develop their arguments in response to independent research into the questions at issue that they are addressing in their argumentative essays.  WR 123 is structured into two academic papers, each revised.  Each first version and revision comprises an essay cycle, and each essay cycle involves the integration of peer and teacher feedback.

WR 123 addresses the problems of controlling the structures and strategies of writing that makes appropriate use of information, arguments, and counter-arguments found in relevant sources.  As such, its objectives parallel those of WR 122, which focuses on argumentative writing based on the logical development of an adequate thesis, generated in response to critical reading and discussion.

In the two essay cycles, students should be given the opportunity to practice the art of responding critically to what they read, especially when it challenges what they already think.  Research is critical inquiry and discovery, not amassing authorities to prove an unexamined idea or, worse yet, to provide a simple patchwork of what authorities say. Although more reading may be expected than in WR 121 and longer essays may be required, the course does not focus on the production of a single term paper, and it should not pose requirements in terms of minimum numbers or kinds of sources.

Readings should be discussed in common with other members of the class, and writing assignments should be developed in response to issues generated by readings and discussion in the discourse community. There is no reason that the process of writing well-structured and well-reasoned responses to sources must be learned exclusively in the area of one’s special expertise.

The use of accurate, honest, and effective documentation as a part of the writing process is important, though not the central focus of the course. Students may be required to follow the guidelines in The Little Duck Handbook or a supplemental research writing text regarding note-taking and related research tasks. WR 123 is not a course in how to take notes, organize notes and research, punctuate footnotes, or other basic tasks of research writing.  Although the instructor will of course, help students with problems in these areas, such matters do not constitute the content of this course as much as the discovery and integration of outside sources into a line of reasoning.

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WR 195: WR 121 Tutorial

WR 195 is a one-credit tutorial that will support eligible students’ work in WR 121 and can only be taken concurrently with WR 121. The course is graded P/NP. In order to pass, students schedule and keep seven one-hour sessions with a tutor. Eligible students will be sent instructions about how to make tutorial appointments after registering for the course.