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Academic Writing

Inquiry, rhetoric and conversation are the core of UMD English’s Academic Writing Program. 

While characteristics of academic writing vary across university disciplines, successful academic writing largely relies on using inquiry and rhetoric to engage in a scholarly conversation. 

English 101 at the University of Maryland prepares students to write effectively within academic contexts. This course also invites students to make connections between academic and public contexts, exploring the public stakes of academic inquiry and argument.

Academic Writing Course

About the Course

The goal of English 101 is to familiarize students with the kind of writing they will have to do in college, broadly referred to as academic writing. Inquiry, rhetoric and conversation are the three major concerns of English 101. To start the course, students first inquire: they determine what is known—and credible—about a topic or issue by conducting research to assess the conversation. As students engage in this inquiry, they gain expertise in rhetoric: the art of knowledge-making and persuasion. By analyzing and practicing rhetorical strategies, students learn how to use writing to make sense of their inquiries, consider alternate perspectives, engage audiences and craft persuasive arguments they believe their audiences should consider. The ultimate work of the course is for students to learn how to participate thoughtfully, critically and persuasively in academic conversations.

English 101 is a rhetorically based course. Here, students not only gain the knowledge and skills to form arguments and persuade audiences, but they also learn to inquire, listen, reconsider and reflect on an issue of their choice and their evolving positions within that issue. Students will thus learn to ask good questions, conduct effective research, explore possible arguments, consider counter arguments, form claims and then reflect on those claims as they craft their positions. 

Because a good deal of English 101 is dedicated to exploring the various positions people hold around an issue, a priority for the course is for students to step beyond the realities they know best and consider how others experience the world. A main goal of the course, then, is for students to learn to listen and write “across difference.” Students work on genuinely considering what others who hold positions different from their own have to say and craft their own arguments based on reflection. Ultimately, English 101 is a course in which students learn how to engage in academic and public discussions with generosity and rigor, exploring ways to make positive change in the world around them.

Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of an academic writing course, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate understanding of writing as a series of tasks, including finding, evaluating, analyzing and synthesizing appropriate sources, and as a process that involves composing, editing and revising.
  • Demonstrate critical reading and analytical skills, including understanding an argument's major assertions and assumptions and how to evaluate its supporting evidence.
  • Demonstrate facility with the fundamentals of persuasion, especially as they are adapted to a variety of special situations and audiences in academic writing.
  • Demonstrate research skills, integrate your own ideas with those of others and apply the conventions of attribution and citation correctly.
  • Use standard written English and revise and edit your own writing for appropriateness. You will take responsibility for such features as format, syntax, grammar, punctuation and spelling.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the connection between writing and thinking and use writing and reading for inquiry, learning, thinking and communicating in an academic setting.

University Resources


One way to learn how to compose effectively in academic and public contexts is to study both the genre characteristics of specific kinds of writing and the effective rhetorical strategies used by successful writers. Interpolations showcases model projects from English 101 composed by UMD students. The intent for this publication is to offer current students the opportunity to see how those before them have, in their own unique ways, composed within the genres assigned in English 101. This publication also celebrates exemplary student writing in UMD’s academic writing courses.

Explore Interpolations

Academic Writing Faculty

Catherine Bayly

Senior Lecturer, English

2109 Tawes Hall
College Park MD, 20742

Scott Eklund

Administrative Coordinator, English

1116 Tawes Hall
College Park MD, 20742

(301) 405-3771

Jessica Enoch

Professor, English

1116 Tawes Hall
College Park MD, 20742

(301) 405-3761

Brittany Starr

PhD Candidate, English