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 first-year students 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

Through the program, students:

  1. Sharpen critical reading and thinking skills by analyzing complex texts chosen to frame a central course theme.
  2. Transfer and apply these skills to writing assignments designed to teach the use of description, narration, exposition, analysis, argument, and synthesis as developmental strategies, not as ends in themselves.
  3. Are introduced to research-based writing, writing under time pressure, and correct mechanics of language. Extensive revision is also emphasized as integral to the writing process.
  4. Identify, summarize, and critique the arguments presented in class readings.
  5. Demonstrate the ability to write an effective essay, stating and supporting a thesis.
  6. Demonstrate the ability to clearly communicate conclusions about complex problems, in writing and orally.
  7. Evaluate the mechanical strength of their writing.
  8. Develop a habit of revision.
  9. Write a final analytical paper of more substantial length supported by research.

Writing Across the Curriculum

First-year writing seminars at Whittier are taught on the “Writing Across the Curriculum” model. 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.