First-Year Writing Seminar


The First-Year Writing Seminar introduces students to the Whittier College Writing Program.

These seminars—themed courses designed by faculty from all disciplines—delve into challenging intellectual questions which freshmen explore in class discussions and in essays. Composition instruction emphasizes writing as a process involving the constructive critical collaboration of author, the author's peers, and the instructor. Seminar size is limited to 15 students and differ in content each year. Each seminar is a 3-credit course, and is taken for a letter grade.

Program Objectives

  1. Through analysis of complex texts chosen to frame a central course theme, students sharpen critical reading and thinking skills.
  2. Students transfer and apply these skills to writing assignments designed to teach the use of description, narration, exposition, analysis, argument, and synthesis as developmental strategies but not as ends in themselves.
  3. Students are also introduced to research-based writing, writing under time pressure, and correct mechanics of language.
  4. Extensive revision is emphasized as integral to the writing process.
  5. The student identifies, summarizes, and critiques the arguments presented in class readings.
  6. The student demonstrates the ability to write an effective essay, which states and supports a thesis.
  7. The student demonstrates the ability to communicate clearly, in written and oral form, conclusions about complex problems.
  8. The student evaluates the mechanical strength of his/her own writing.
  9. The student develops a habit of revision.
  10. The student writes a final analytical paper of more substantial length supported by research.

Writing Across the Curriculum

Freshman writing seminars at Whittier are taught on the “Writing Across the Curriculum” model (WAC). This model holds that, since writing is essential to learning generally and a prized skill in all disciplines, writing instruction is the responsibility of every department and not a compartment of the English department. Thus, our first writing classes are taught by professors from a wide variety of disciplines.