Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon

Course Number:
WR 115
Course Title:
Introduction to Expository Writing
Credit Hours:
Lecture Hours:
Lecture/Lab Hours:
Lab Hours:
Special Fee:

Course Description

Introduces college level skills in reading critically, exploring ideas, and writing. Covers composing essays which support a thesis through structure appropriate to both thesis and reader and revision for clarity and correctness. Prerequisites: (Placement into WR 115 or completion of WR 90 or ESOL 262) and (placement into RD 115 or completion of RD 90 or ESOL 260). Audit available.

Addendum to Course Description

Students write 2000-2500 words of revised, final draft copy, including at least one essay that incorporates source materials and employs MLA citation conventions. Students meet with the instructor for two out-of-class conferences.  Students will be able to work through multiple drafts of several pieces of writing with time to separate the acts of writing and revising.

Intended Outcomes for the course

 Upon completion of Writing 115 with a €œC€ or better, students will be able to:

  1. Read to determine a writer€™s purpose and perspective.
  2. Formulate questions to explore a variety of college?level texts.
  3. Write for a variety of purposes, audiences and contexts.
  4. Write coherent essays that develop ideas in support of a thesis.
  5. Develop the ability to paraphrase, summarize, and synthesize information effectively and ethically in order to integrate and connect other writers€™ ideas with one€™s own.

Course Activities and Design

The Composition and Literature SAC values the autonomy of individual instructors and a diversity of approaches to its courses. The following course activities guide reflects these values.  This guide is not intended to be prescriptive; it is descriptive of what we do in our classes.  It is not a list of outcomes, but rather is a description of the ways we may get to the course outcomes. It describes the typical activities students may undertake in the process of working towards these outcomes Some of the items in the guide may overlap; some may contradict each other.  These inconsistencies reflect the SAC€™s inclusive approach to course content as well as the oftentimes messy and recursive process of designing a composition course.

Read to determine a writer€™s purpose and perspective.


1. Identify a writer€™s thesis and supporting points.

2.  Cultivate and develop vocabulary to understand a writer€™s thesis or position.

3.  Listen to and reflect on other points of view in discussion and in written work.

Formulate questions to explore a variety of college-level texts.


 1.  Engage in college-level discourse to exchange ideas while showing respect for those who disagree.

2.  Practice active reading of college-level texts.

3.  Reflect upon one€™s role in the larger community.

4.  Appreciate challenging points of view and acknowledge their merits.

Write for a variety of purposes, audiences and contexts.


1.  Learn about the roles played by situation, purpose, and audience in directing a writer€™s choices.

2.  Recognize differences among audiences and practice responding appropriately in writing.

3.  Develop an understanding of the way that voice, tone, and level of formality inform written texts.

4. Revise to incorporate feedback from readers and respond to readers€™ needs.

5.  Work through multiple drafts to refine purpose, organization, and appropriate tone for an audience.

Write coherent essays that develop ideas in support of a thesis.

1.  Write unified and coherent paragraphs and link essay paragraphs to thesis/main idea, including the use of transitions.

2.  Practice steps in a flexible writing process to generate ideas, draft, peer review, revise, edit and proofread paragraphs and short essays.

3.  Evaluate one€™s own writing skills and process to revise drafts to emphasize thesis/main idea and the relevance of evidence.

4. Improve essays through revision, incorporating instructor feedback.

5. Practice use of writing conventions.

Develop the ability to paraphrase, summarize, and synthesize information effectively and ethically in order to integrate and connect other writers€™ ideas with one€™s own.


1.  Weave relevant information and ideas from source material into an essay.

2.  Maintain academic honesty by acknowledging all sources in written work.

3. Practice crediting source material using MLA style, beginning with the use of signal phrases. 

Outcome Assessment Strategies

All Writing 115 students must pass an in-class timed Exit Exam with a grade of C or better.

All Wr 115 students must take a final in-class exam so that instructors can assess their readiness for Wr 121.

Instructors assess students using

out-of-class writing

responses to assigned texts

class discussion

in-class writing

research tasks.

In addition instructors may assess students using

study questions

reading journals. 

Attendance policies vary with instructors: Students missing a week€™s worth of classes may not expect an A; those missing two weeks€™ worth may not pass the course.

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

  • Identifying reasons to write;
  • Understanding the relationship of the writer to the topic;
  • Identifying which arguments one has a stake in;
  • Understanding that the thesis is a contract between writer and reader;
  • Writing for particular purposes and audiences;
  • Supporting claims by the use of specific examples;
  • Addressing style as a component of good writing;
  • Reading other writers as models;
  • Having respect for other points of view and developing sensitivity to the social and political implications of a variety of texts, including one€™s own;
  • Understanding the elements that make up a piece of writing:











 Competencies and Skills:

  • Speaking and listening attentively;
  • Analyzing audiences for appropriate language and content;
  • Working in small groups;
  • Joining in classroom discussions;
  • Identifying a writer€™s stated or implied thesis;
  • Analyzing the writer€™s use of style and logic to affect audience;
  • Using experience, observation and analysis as part of the creative process;
  • Appraising one€™s own writing skills and abilities;
  • Building vocabulary;
  • Summarizing, paraphrasing, and citing sources;
  • Understanding correct sentence structure;
  • Getting exposure to new ideas in a spirit of open interaction;
  • Developing the ability to integrate and connect one writer€™s ideas with another€™s;
  • Recognizing and avoiding plagiarism.