First-Year Writing Program


Department of English, Rhetoric, and Writing

RHW 101 and RHW 102 are designed to introduce students to college-level academic writing. The courses help students make the transition from simpler forms of writing such as the five-paragraph theme or a quick research paper that is primarily informative in purpose to more complex analysis or arguments that depend on students’ setting forth a contestable claim and then providing the evidence to support the claim in an organized essay. Many college professors will be interested in students’ ability to analyze, interpret, and draw conclusions from the materials they read, observe, or research. The aim of the first-year writing courses is to help student learn how to do this effectively. The courses are also focused on helping students understand their own process of writing and the value of revision, of understanding that being willing to rethink and make multiple changes to a draft so it is stronger makes a student a more effective writer.

RHW 101 focuses heavily on the basic skills of developing an effective analytical or argumentative essay. Students work intensively on such basics as thesis statements, topic sentences and paragraph development, transitions, using evidence effectively, basic source usage, introductions and conclusions, and so forth. RHW 101 is an optional course that carries 4 hours of academic credit toward graduation and is designed for students who, through a self-placement process, think that they might like to be better prepared for RHW 102.

RHW 102 assumes some familiarity with the qualities of an effective academic essay and adds more complex skill development including but not limited to more sophisticated ways to develop theses and paragraphs; understanding the rhetorical appeals of logos, ethos, and pathos for specific audiences; and gaining greater experience at finding, reading, evaluating, and using sources effectively to help students construct their own academic essays. The course is organized around a central theme and will engage students with multiple perspectives on that theme. RHW 102 is a 4-hour course required of all first-year and transfer students with fewer than 30 credits and all transfer students who have not earned transfer credit for a comparable course. Students should enroll in this course by their second term at Berry, and once students have enrolled at Berry, they must take RHW 102 at Berry.  Students must earn a grade of C- or better to pass out of this course.