First-Year Writing

The UNC Asheville First-Year Writing Program strives to foster students’ awareness of the dynamic and diverse nature of writing. Writing is central to education, not only as a product which may demonstrate skill, but also as a process by which to explore and focus thinking, listening, and communicating. We present writing not only as a means for entering existing conversations, but also as personal expression, for we endeavor to help students understand that even academic writing is simultaneously a personal and a social act. The practice of writing takes time and a balance between working alone and interacting with other writers and readers. Our program works, then, to create learning spaces that hone students’ capacities to listen and speak, inquire and reflect, write and revise. In our classrooms, we work to raise awareness of the rhetorical decisions inherent in the act of writing, challenging students to think critically and ethically as they make these decisions.


LANG 120

Learning Foundation courses at UNC Asheville offer students an opportunity to develop intellectual breadth and to lay the groundwork for their later studies. The mission of UNC Asheville’s First-Year Writing course is to provide a concentrated classroom experience in the best practices of clear, effective writing. These include developing the ability to recognize and effectively employ composing processes in a variety of communication situations according to audience and purpose.

Through their participation in their classroom writing communities, students also engage closely with texts written by themselves, their classmates and professionals. Thus they hone their expressive, interpretive and critical abilities.

In addition, students expand and strengthen their research writing skills. They increase their abilities to pose good questions and to find and analyze valid sources to develop and inform their ideas. They practice appropriately integrating materials from these sources into their own writing using appropriate academic documentation conventions. Through these activities, students construct the foundation for their growth as writers throughout their academic careers and beyond.

The UNC Asheville First-Year Writing course, Language 120, aligns itself with the best practices of teaching first year writing as articulated by the Writing Program Administrators (WPA)—the national, professional organization charged with establishing standards for the teaching of academic writing especially in composition programs. According to their Outcomes Statement, “learning to write is a complex process, both individual and social, that takes place over time with continued practice and informed guidance.” Thus, at the completion of Language 120, students must demonstrate competency as outlined in the course student learning outcomes, ratified by a final course grade of at least a C-.

Student Learning Outcomes

At the completion of LANG 120, students will have developed writing processes to:

  • Engage in critical inquiry and reflection: Discover and refine critical questions and problems and investigate them from multiple perspectives.
  • Develop information literacy: Access, evaluate, and integrate relevant information from a variety of sources in an ethical manner.
  • Communicate in rhetorically effective ways: Craft and revise written work marked by choices in focus, structure, and style appropriate for rhetorical purposes, audience expectations, and disciplinary conventions.

Common Practices

We believe that First-Year Writing instructors are academic professionals who deserve the autonomy to create curricula that help students achieve our student learning outcomes. Our instructors engage in these common practices:

  • Providing opportunities with the following genres:
    • reflective writing
    • personal writing
    • writing that puts sources in conversation with each other
    • analysis
    • summary
    • multimodality/digital rhetoric
    • writing to learn
  • Fostering awareness of context, audience, purpose, and a range of disciplinary or genre conventions
  • Fostering comfort with academic writing
  • Cultivating reading skills/strategies that foster awareness of individual (or student) writing skills  [Reading as a writer–looking at the “moves” published writers make; also reading for information, for language development, etc.  but being careful not to displace writing as the primary subject or focus of a writing course]
  • Providing feedback through individual  and group conferencing as well as peer review
  • Fostering awareness of writing as a cyclical process that includes drafting, reflecting, and revising
  • Collaboration with university support services (library, writing center, media design lab, advising,  etc.)
  • Community established assessment

Professional Practices

Because we are professionals, we also commit to participating in reflective practice, professional development, and academic engagement through our own initiatives and as our individual schedules allow. Our program provides the following opportunities:

  • Monthly First-Year Community Meetings
  • Gudger Celebration of First-Year Writing
  • Writing in the Disciplines Panel
  • Carolinas Writing Program Administrators Fall retreat and Meeting in the Middle

Petition for Waiver Guidelines

Students requesting that their LANG 120 requirement be waived should submit the following documentation to the Director of the Writing Program:

  1. Catalogue description of the General Education writing requirement from previous institution.
  2. Evidence of writing instruction in the syllabus and/or course description of an additional course if the general education writing requirement is a 3-hour course.
  3. Catalogue description and syllabus of college-level writing course(s) and/or any other course(s) submitted to waive LANG 120.
  4. Proof of student’s final grade for any courses submitted as part of a request to replace LANG 120.
  5. Proof of student’s final grade for any courses, including the 4 credit-hours of course(s), submitted as part of a request to replace LANG 120.
  6. A writing sample (must include research writing) in cases where students have not taken a college-level writing class (such as in cases in which students exempted a college writing requirement with a 4 for only one AP English exam);

** Post-baccalaureates are exempt from Language 120 although, if they have concerns about their proficiency, they are encouraged to meet with either the Director or Associate Director of the Writing Program for advising on directed self-placement.
*** Petitions to exempt or waive LANG 120 must be submitted during the semester via email to the Writing Program Coordinator, Jessica Pisano (