• WRIT 1301, 4 credits
  • Faculty Coordinators: Sarah Selz
  • Faculty Coordinator Assistants: Vicki Cary
  • Sponsoring U of M Department: Writing Studies
  • Fulfills U of M Requirement(s): First-year writing
  • Teacher Applications: Check the Applicant Handbook for details

Course Information

WRIT 1301 introduces students to rhetorical principles that provide a framework for successful written communication in college and beyond.  Students study and write in a variety of genres and disciplines, and in multimodal forms. The course focuses on writing as a way of knowing and learning to develop ideas through critical thinking, including analysis and synthesis. Based on the assumption that writing is a social activity, the course uses a workshop format and requires active engagement in the writing process, including pre-writing, peer review, revision, and editing.  Students develop information literacy and hone the ability to locate, evaluate, and effectively and ethically incorporate information into their own texts.

Class size limit: 24

Sample Syllabus

U of M Catalog Description

Drafting, revising, editing. Academic genres. Critical reading, rhetorical analysis for principles of audience, purpose, and argumentative strategies. Emphasizes electronic/print library. Critical analysis, annotated bibliography, research paper.

Student Qualifications

WRIT 1301 is a process-based, interactive course that requires a significant time-commitment,  and students should be ready to engage in intensive reading, writing, and critical thinking.

Students should be seniors who can meet at least two of the following criteria:

  • in the top 30% of their class
  • a GPA of 3.0 or higher in previous English coursework
  • an eagerness to engage in an interactive, process-based course that requires significant time commitment in and outside of the classroom, as demonstrated in a letter of interest OR teacher recommendation
  • experience with or passion for coursework with intensive reading and writing demands, as demonstrated through a letter of interest, teacher recommendation, OR writing sample

Instructors and schools should strive to make CIS Writing 1301 accessible to students who do not meet the quantitative criteria. We encourage the use of additional methods for meeting the qualitative criteria (e.g. interviews or conversations), and the development of recruitment and promotion strategies, to attract and admit students who have historically been excluded from such coursework.

Instructor Qualifications

Instructors apply and are selected by faculty in accordance with the U of M policy governing Academic Appointments with Teaching Functions. Once approved, an instructor is appointed as a Teaching Specialist 9754 (University Job Title and Code) in the College of Continuing and Professional Studies. Instructor qualifications are determined by the sponsoring University department.

View the Instructor Applicant Handbook for course-specific qualifications and application steps. 


WRIT 1301 on campus has no required textbooks, and students access all course readings at zero cost through the Library Course Page on Canvas. Similarly, CIS instructors can choose to incorporate library and other online readings, and they may also choose to use one or more textbooks based on their context.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are all of the readings specified or mandated by the University of Minnesota? If not, what are some of the choices?
No. However, we encourage instructors to use open-access resources that students can return to and utilize throughout their academic careers. We also ask that instructors center the course on student texts and limit other readings. Readings should therefore be carefully selected and should serve one or more of the following functions:

  • model writing genres, choices, and strategies
  • allow students to practice rhetorical analysis and reading as writers
  • serve as shared sources for synthesis
  • serve as individually selected sources for researched inquiry

In addition, it’s important that reading choices do not shift the course focus from writing to a topic- or theme-based exploration.

Do teachers have a choice in assignments? Are there required assignments?
Somewhat—teachers and faculty discuss assignments and best practices during workshops. At least three drafted writing projects are required but project design can vary depending on the length of the course and the individual instructor’s choices. These projects should include an experience-based assignment, a synthesis or other source-based assignment, and an inquiry or other research-based assignment.

Overall, this course offers instructors a high level of flexibility in curriculum development and individual attention to students. Shared practices and content areas that work to center students’ learning processes and experiences, such as process-based writing and equity-focused learning, are more important to the course than the form or genre of the writing assignments. The goal of WRIT 1301 is not (and couldn’t possibly be) giving students experience with every genre of writing they will be assigned in college. Rather, the goal is to provide students with experience navigating the writing process, making effective rhetorical choices, and accessing resources that will support their ongoing writing development.

Is there a training and mentoring system for new WRIT 1301 teachers?
Yes. Veteran CIS teachers form a close-knit group that immediately provides new teachers with a resource for support and ideas. These ideas are most often shared at workshops and via continuous email. New teachers also attend two new teacher workshops—the first concentrates on course content and pedagogy, while the second introduces teachers to University processes and resources. New teachers also benefit from an orientation to College in the Schools that will familiarize them with the support available through CIS as well as prepare them for administrative tasks such as registering students and posting grades. Beyond the new teacher workshops, all teachers attend a fall, spring, and summer professional development workshop each year.

What happens at typical teacher workshops?
Typical activities at CIS workshops include meeting University faculty and hearing about their recent research in the discipline; reviewing and/or developing student assessment tools; sharing instructional materials; discussing particular content, pedagogy, or assessment of the University course; and receiving updates on CIS program policies and practices.

High school class schedules vary: can a teacher in the block system teach the U of M University Writing course?
All courses offered through CIS have the same minimum number of contact hours as the on-campus sections. Teachers wishing to teach a U of M University Writing course on the block schedule should consult with the faculty coordinator (contact information above) to make sure this arrangement will work.

What happens at typical student field days?
Student field days provide an opportunity for CIS students to meet their peers, practice skills they have learned in class, and explore the Twin Cities campus. Rather than focusing on a specific assignment, the field days are designed to connect CIS students with the writing experiences of students on campus through a variety of activities, such as panel presentations and visits to multiple resources available to them as U of M students, including library research workshops, Student Writing Support, and multimedia resources.

High Schools Offering This Course

  • Academy for Sciences and Agriculture (Vadnais Heights)
  • Anoka High School
  • Belle Plaine Senior High School
  • Blaine High School
  • Buffalo High School
  • Burnsville High School
  • Cathedral High School (New Ulm)
  • Central High School (Saint Paul)
  • Champlin Park High School
  • Como Park Senior High School (Saint Paul)
  • Coon Rapids High School
  • Delano High School
  • Eagan High School
  • Eastview High School (Apple Valley)
  • Eden Valley-Watkins High School
  • Farmington High School
  • Forest Lake Area High School
  • Humboldt Senior High School (Saint Paul)
  • Irondale High School (New Brighton)
  • Johnson Senior High School (Saint Paul)
  • Litchfield High School
  • Milaca High School
  • Monticello High School
  • Mora High School
  • Mounds View High School (Saint Paul)
  • New Prague High School
  • North Community High School (Minneapolis)
  • North High School (North Saint Paul)
  • North Lakes Academy (Forest Lake)
  • Patrick Henry High School (Minneapolis)
  • Pine City High School
  • Rosemount High School
  • Shakopee High School
  • South High School (Minneapolis)
  • Tri-City United High School (Montgomery)
  • Watertown-Mayer High School
  • White Bear Lake Area High School