WRIT 102

Course Design

WRIT 102 (First-Year Writing II) is a theme-based, first-year, second-semester writing course designed to build on writing skills learned in either WRIT 100 or WRIT 101 and develop critical thinking and research skills appropriate for use in academic writing. The course pays special attention to developing argumentative skills, analyzing texts, and synthesizing information into thoughtful, coherent essays and projects.

The five themes are Business, Environment, Food, Pop Culture, and Power/Privilege. Each theme will use different readings from different textbooks, but the learning outcomes of the course and the assignments remain the same. The prerequisite for WRIT 102 is the successful completion (at least a D) in WRIT 100/101 or other similar course or AP credit. Classes are limited to 21 students. WRIT 102 is similar to LIBA 102 in that both fulfill the same requirements for graduation; Students will take either WRIT 102 or LIBA 102, but should not take both.

Each WRIT 102 instructor will be assigned a subject librarian who can lead or assist instruction in using library services. WRIT 102 instructors should coordinate with this librarian by sharing assignments and learning goals. It is courteous for instructors to stay with the class during this instruction period. If instructors plan to miss class during this library visit, they should arrange to have another W&R instructor there. The librarians have also created courses pages for WRIT 102 which can be found here.

Instructors should hold at least one mandatory conference with students. It is recommended that this is done during the research paper drafts. Instructors may cancel classes to hold these conferences but cancellations should be comparable to the number of courses one teaches and should not extend beyond one week.

As is the case in every writing course, peer review and timely instructor feedback are important to student success.

Sample Syllabus

Sample WRIT 102 Syllabus

Required Texts

Each Theme has a Separate Textbook




Money, Fountainhead Press


American Earth, Library of America


Food: A Reader for Writers, Oxford University Press (spring: Food Common Read)

Power & Privilege

Rereading *America, 10th edition, Bedford/St. Martins

Pop Culture

Reading Pop Culture: A Portable Anthology, 2nd edition, Bedford/St. Martin’s

Assignment Sequence

WRIT 102 has six major assignments in roughly this sequence: Analysis, Synthesis, In-Class, Research, Multimodal, Commonplace Book. Each paper assignment should teach fundamentals of academic writing, including learning to find and evaluate sources, learning how to integrate and cite these sources correctly, and learning how to create a unique thesis in response to these sources.

Major Projects

Students compose six major projects. A brief overview of each project, with a description of the areas students usually struggle with, is provided below.


Paper #2 is a synthesis paper where students weigh at least two different arguments and synthesize a thesis in relation to these arguments. The skills learned in the synthesis paper should support the work done for the research paper. To that end, the WRIT 102 curriculum committee has offered two different tracks for the synthesis paper in the assignment library, with the recognition that these approaches are not necessarily mutually exclusive. The first track practices locating, evaluating, and synthesizing sources, and the second track, focuses on developing a unique position in response to given texts. For either track, students should engage with 2-3 sources and practice citation in a 4-5 page paper. The Synthesis paper is worth 15-20% of the student’s final grade.

This is probably the most difficult assignment in the WRIT 102 sequence. Students are confused about what defines a synthesis essay because it does not fit into familiar and practiced models of writing. The WRIT 102 committee, after lengthy discussions, essentially agrees with this assessment because of our own divergent opinions. See the WRIT 102 synthesis in the assignment library for more information on this discussion and the committee’s conclusion.

Areas to Highlight

Instructors should go over plagiarism issues such as correct citation and using paraphrases as well as other skills that will help students succeed in the research paper. Students struggle with balancing their sources; students may also have trouble maintaining their writing voice in relation to the sources. If using two sources, students may need help in avoiding a compare and contrast paper.

In-Class Essay

The in-class essay is a timed writing exercise where students may do similar work as in papers 1 and 2 in that students might be asked to respond to a particular text or argument or evaluate a text’s argument. This may be related to paper #3, the research paper. The in-class essay is worth 5-10% of the student’s final grade.

Areas to Highlight

Timed writing can be intimidating to many students. Going over strategies to alleviate stress will be useful for this assignment and for future timed writing situations. Further, students may believe the writing process does not apply to timed essays but instructors should model how to use brainstorming/outlining, drafting, and revision in this context, with special attention to time management. Students who do not do well in this assignment often do not prepare for the in-class essay or do not read the prompt carefully. Instructors may also opt for a practice timed essay in class. Students who need special accommodation should provide the appropriate paperwork from Student Disability Services.

Research Paper

Paper #3 is the research paper where students will develop a research question relevant to the class theme. This paper should be 7-9 pages and use at least seven credible sources. This assignment is worth 25% of the student’s final grade.

Areas to Highlight

This is the most intimidating assignment for students. Many of them may have never written this length of paper. Some may have only written an “informational” research paper and not an argumentative one. Since the class spends nearly a month of class periods on this assignment, the sequence of homework assignments, in-class work, and other elements of the process are important to a student’s success. Emphasize their many avenues of support – the instructor, their peers, the consultants in the Writing Center, and the reference librarians.


The multimodal assignment revises the research paper into another mode. This assignment is worth 10-15% of the student’s final grade.

Areas to Highlight

This assignment is perhaps the most individualized by theme; however, problems with technology will the biggest issue. Instructors should take advantage of Andrew Davis (Lamar Hall Ste. B, Rm 1) to learn how to teach the technology to students. Instructors should keep in mind that this assignment can be as low or high tech as wanted.

In general, since this assignment is most often paired with the research papers, students may be tired of their subject or be reluctant to cut their papers. Further, failures in the paper version may translate to problems with the multimodal project. Try to return the research paper back as quickly as possible to alleviate this issue and try not to double-penalize them.

Commonplace Book

The commonplace book is a personalized space for recording, organizing, and reflecting on a student’s learning. This semester-long project incorporates daily, weekly, and unit reflections, culminating in a final reflective post. This assignment is worth 15% of the student’s final grade.

Areas to Highlight

Students are generally unfamiliar with self-reflection and metacognition and need many opportunities throughout the semester to practice. Many will need help with being more specific about their learning. Students may have difficulty demonstrating their progress, or lack thereof, through examples, often resorting to more telling than showing. Students may also struggle to understand how tagging can be a mechanism to represent the larger structures of their learning.


There are five themes for WRIT 102. Each theme is based on the same assignment sequence and outcomes, but may use different texts.

Pop Culture

We are surrounded by a constant stream of pop culture from films, music, television, social media, advertising, and many other media. But how often do we stop to ask ourselves what it all means? In this theme of WRIT 102, we will examine the various ways in which we influence and are influenced by pop culture. Some questions we may attempt to answer are: How are we affected by advertising? What can we learn from television, film, and music? What are the roles of race and gender in popular culture? Students should come into this course prepared to examine critically and thoroughly a variety of media and sources that are often disregarded or taken for granted.

Required Texts:

  • Maasik, Sonia and Jack Solomon, eds. Signs of Life in the USA: Readings on Popular Culture for Writers. 8th Edition. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2012.

  • Reading Pop Culture: A Portable Anthology,* 2nd edition, Bedford/St. Martin’s

Power and Privilege

Systems of power and privilege create more than just acts of discrimination in our culture, and yet these systems are invisible to many people. This course, through a variety of readings, videos, and supplemental material, will attempt to uncover and analyze the ways Power/Privilege manifest in the U.S. through issues of race, gender, class, ability, sexual orientation, and others. Students will learn to engage this material through rhetorical techniques and strategies in a way that enables them to join these cultural and social justice conversations with conviction and credibility. The course may explore such questions as: How does socioeconomic status from an early age impact one’s path in life? Why is it so challenging to discuss systemic issues of racism in America? How do traditional gender roles hurt American men?

Required Texts:

  • Columbo, Gary, Robert Cullen, and Bonnie Lisle. Rereading America 10th edition. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2016.li>

  • Hacker, Diana, and Nancy Sommers. A Writer’s Reference with Writing in the Disciplines. 8th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2011


This WRIT 102 class explores writings and arguments about food in the United States. Among many topics, we may read about the beginnings of food and the politics of the planting, growing, and cultivation of meat and vegetables, exploring such questions such as “should farmers receive corn subsidies?” and “should there be government regulation on genetically modified foods?” We may then study the effects that food has on those who eat it. We may explore such questions as “How and why has our diet changed over time?” and “What has contributed to the obesity epidemic in Mississippi?”

Required Texts:

  • Rollins, Brooke and Lee Bauknight, eds. Food Southlake, TX: Fountainhead Press, 2011.

  • Food: A Reader for Writers Oxford University Press (Spring Semesters- SFA/DWR Common Read)

  • For Spring only: Common read co-sponsored by the Southern Foodways Alliance and the DWR.


What is the meaning of ecology and nature? What counts as an environment? How do current issues about our environment affect our daily lives? How do we begin to connect with and investigate the real issues of impacting local ecologies and environments? We will read and analyze a variety of genres—literary, social commentary, cultural analyses, theory, and philosophy that relate to our theme.

Required Texts:

  • McKibben, Bill, ed. American Earth: Environmental Writing since Thoreau. Library of America, 2008

  • Hacker, Diana, and Nancy Sommers. A Writer’s Reference with Writing in the Disciplines. 8th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2011.


How many economic decisions have you made today? From what you had for breakfast to what you decided to wear to class, your choices have been influenced by businesses, both local and global. But there may be some issues of which you are many not even be aware. In this class we will explore a variety of questions related to business, including, but not limited to: is Wal-Mart good for America? Should corporations have the same legal rights as that of an individual person? Is out-sourcing jobs a good idea? What ethical obligations does a business have to the environment? to our health? to the nation?

Required Texts:

  • Gillam, Kenneth M, ed. Money. Southlake, TX: Fountainhead Press, 2011.

  • Hacker, Diana, and Nancy Sommers. A Writer’s Reference with Writing in the Disciplines. 8th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2011.


Rubrics for each project are available on the assignment library. There is a general essay rubric which can be used with papers 1, 2, 3, and the in-class essay. The multimodal and ePortfolio project have separate rubrics.

Sharing the rubric with students at the beginning of each unit, and using the rubric to determine the project’s final grade, helps students understand the expectations for each project and the reasons for the final grade. Using the rubric to determine grades also provides consistency across sections of Writing courses. Projects should be graded within one week of submission.