First-Year Composition is a course in critical thinking, reading, and composing, with an emphasis on integrating academic research and documentation. Students read and produce work for a variety of purposes and audiences, focusing on strategies for researching, organizing, drafting, sharing, and revising.
First-Year Composition (any variation of English 100) is a general education requirement at UMBC, which students must pass with a grade of C or higher.
How We Teach Composition
Because effective writing and composing practices are essential to our students’ academic and professional success, at UMBC we teach First-Year Composition using an innovative approach that combines increased face-to-face contact with the instructor, peer-to-peer learning, collaboration, and technological enhancements that support learning in and out of the classroom.
In English 100, a trained peer facilitator, called a Writing Fellow, joins the class on certain weeks during the semester, typically working with small peer review groups while the instructor also works with small groups of students, giving them feedback about their drafts. Writing Fellows are UMBC students–undergraduate or graduate, often with experience as Writing Center tutors–and in addition to work with peer review groups, they can provide one-on-one assistance in the classroom. This model allows students to discuss, share, and consider their work in progress in a variety of important and useful ways.
Many of our faculty are using innovative approaches to providing feedback on student work, employing online review tools such as FRED and iAnnotate. One other element in ENGL 100 is the use of our custom UMBC Edition of Writing About Writing by Downs and Wardle, which introduces students to some core concepts in the field of composition studies through a selection of scholarly articles that address the many roles, functions, and varieties of writing in our world.
An April 2013 article in The Chronicle of Higher Education titled “Not Your Grandfather’s Composition Class: Model Mixes Face-to-Face Time with Technology” describes UMBC’s approach as a way “to ensure that technology fosters collaboration, just as old-fashioned discussions do.”
The UMBC Writing Placement Exam places students into one of the following composition courses:
ENGL 100: Composition is the standard three-credit course.
ENGL 100Y: Composition. This class serves as an alternative to English 100. This three-credit class is combined with a one-credit Introduction to an Honors University seminar focusing on issues such as advising and career exploration, developing study skills, time management, critical thinking, and other subjects and techniques designed to help students’ college success.
ENGL 100H: Honors Composition is a three-credit course for Honors students. This course is open to students who score 670 or above on the SAT-V. Honors identification required.
ENGL 110: ESL Composition is a four-credit course for students who are English-language learners.
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