English 101: Intro to College Writing

“Ms. Lueck was an amazing teacher, worked with each of us personally, and her lectures were interesting and interactive. She made sure that we understood her and was always clear and precise. She also took our feedback and altered class to our specific needs and questions. I would deinately [sic] take one of her classes again if I get the chance. Nothing bad to say” –ENGL 101 student

Course Description

This course provides an introduction to argumentative writing—the most common and most difficult form of college-level writing. You will practice identifying, analyzing, constructing, and organizing effective arguments. This practice will improve your critical thinking skills, enhance your understanding of academic writing, and prepare you for writing assignments you will receive in other courses across the university.

Major Assignments

Assignment 1: Ad Analysis

Find an advertisement and write a rhetorical analysis with a minimum of 500 words (2 double-spaced pages) assessing this ad’s effectiveness. Please note that while the 500-word minimum should be sufficient to pass the assignment, essays that demonstrate precision and breadth will likely be closer to 750 words. Use the models on pages 158-159 as guidelines for developing and organizing your analysis.

Goals: This assignment is designed to help you:

  • Make an argument using unfamiliar academic terms (i.e., ethos, pathos, logos, and kairos)
  • Demonstrate critical thinking skills: particularly clarity, precision, breadth, and logic
  • Write a thesis-driven argument with clear topic sentences
  • Become a more critical reader of images in the media

Advertisement Selection:

The advertisement you use may come from a newspaper, magazine or website—or you may use Color Plates E or F in WA. Be sure to select an ad that has plenty of text as well as images; otherwise, you may have difficulty finding enough to write on.

Note that advertisers of certain products such as prescription medications or cigarettes are federally required to include certain disclaimers and warnings in their advertisements. You should not include this federally mandated copy in your analysis.

Assignment 2: Evaluative Argument

Find a current (less than two years old) popular culture artifact such as a recent TV show, book, movie, video game or musical album that has received mixed reviews from critics and write an evaluation argument respectfully and thoughtfully disagreeing with critics whose views differ from your own.


This assignment is designed to:

  • Improve your ability to thoughtfully refute or concede arguments and evidence that differ from your point of view.
  • Give you practice writing a thesis-driven, criteria-match argument.
  • Give you practice paraphrasing and quoting from other authors as you insert your voice into ongoing arguments.

Choosing a Topic:

The following websites collect reviews and compile an overall favorability score. Pick a film, TV show, video game, musical album or book that has received overall scores between 30 and 60 percent positive. The item that you choose must be less than two years old and should be an item that you have access to so that you can review it for details. Do not pick a film that is unavailable in DVD unless it is still in the theaters and you are willing to pay to see it again.

Be sure to choose an artifact you feel you can be objective about. For example, if you think the third installment of The Twilight Saga is the best film ever made and absolutely refuse to concede that someone else might not like it, it may not be the best choice for this assignment.

Assignment 3: Causal Argument

Choose a current and/or local trend or event with significant causes or consequences and write an argument attempting to persuade an audience to accept your explanation of the causes or consequences of your chosen current and/or local trend or event.

Goals: This assignment is designed to help you:

  • Develop causal chains that explore multiple reasons for a phenomenon and that clearly connect claims, reasons, and evidence
  • Locate and assess the credibility and relevance of sources.
  • Support an argument with persuasive, logical evidence.
  • Thoughtfully refute or concede (without dismissing) arguments and evidence that differ from your point of view.
  • Write a thesis-driven argument.

Choosing a Topic:

Think of trends or occurrences at the university or in your community. Perhaps you’ve noticed a study trend or behavior among your peers, like a popular area of the library where it’s always hard to find a seat, or the increase of students with I-Pads; or perhaps you’ve heard of a policy change or development around the university, such as the abolition of diploma fees at graduation or the building of Cardinal Towne.

You can imagine your issue either as a puzzle or as a disagreement. If a puzzle, your task will be to create a convincing case for an audience that doesn’t have an answer to your causal question already in mind. If a disagreement, your task will be more overtly persuasive because your goal will be to change your audience’s views.

You should also be careful about overstating a cause/effect relationship. Perhaps, rather than arguing that one single cause determined all, you might be better off arguing that something was a cause in a complex string of happenings. The best papers will demonstrate an understanding of the complexity of causality by addressing—and effectively conceding or refuting—other explanations for or contributing causes to or consequences of the trend discussed.

Assignment 4: Proposal Argument

Write a practical proposal that describes a problem with which you are already familiar and then proposes a practical solution to that proposal. Your proposal must be accompanied by a cover letter that includes the name and address of a specific (real) person who has the authority to enact the changes you are proposing. The proposal should be written in a formal business style and must use some form of numerical evidence such as survey results, budgets, or other data.

Goals: This assignment is designed to:

  • Give you practice writing one of the most common genres in professional as well as academic writing: the proposal.
  • Give you practice integrating numerical as well as verbal evidence into your writing.
  • Introduce you to document design principles, such as the use of headings, tables, and graphs.
  • Continue to improve your ability to respond respectfully to those who disagree with your viewpoint.

Choosing a Topic:

You are free to pick your own topic for this assignment, but you should pick a practical rather than a policy proposal. Many of you might find it useful to think of a proposal related to your life at UofL. Possible proposals include:

  • A proposal to improve safety conditions in a particular building or facility.
  • A proposal to change a rule in an organization (e.g., sorority, team, club) to which you belong.
  • A proposal to change the requirements of your major or the requirements of a specific course.

Other topics might include a proposal to change a particular procedure in your work place or a proposal relevant to your community. Make sure that you select a manageable topic: you should already be familiar with the issue and have some expertise on the topic. A proposal for solving the national economic crisis, for example, is not a manageable topic. You should not write a proposal on something with which everyone in the class agrees.