First Year Composition Program

Welcome

The First-Year Composition Program welcomes students to CSUSB. Students earn their General Education credit in Written Communication by taking first-year composition through the English Department’s innovative stretch composition program. Students are invited to learn more about the composition program below.

Why First-Year Writing?

Students who are admitted to CSUSB have successfully met expectations for high school writing. Like most first-year students nationwide, students take first-year composition at CSUSB because writing at the university is significantly different from the writing students do in high school. No matter how focused students’ high school education has been on preparing students for college writing, there are foundational college-level writing practices that students can only learn while they are actually in the college context.

Writing in the College Context

When students write as college students they are entering conversations already in progress among professors, scholars, and students. Because writing is used as a way of participating in conversations about ideas, discoveries, and questions, first-year students discover that university writing is not limited to the five-paragraph essay, the Schaffer essay, or “the research essay.” In first-year composition students learn approaches to university writing which may include:

  • using writing as inquiry, as a means for exploring a question or problem
  • establishing a meaningful project
  • working closely with other texts
  • moving between abstraction and specificity
  • distinguishing popular discourses from academic discourses
  • evaluating information with respect to its rhetorical and social context
  • learning how to meaningfully revise
  • editing and rhetorical grammar

American college students have been taking first-year composition since the late nineteenth century. Historically, first-year composition was the first step in a multi-year writing sequence which included both composition and rhetoric. This traditional multi-year sequence faded away in most institutions by the late twentieth century, replaced by an emphasis on writing in all classes across the curriculum.

Today most American college students take first-year composition. At CSUSB students also take a junior year expository writing course. Research shows that students become strong writers through consistent exposure to writing-centered classes.

Stretch Composition

CSUSB offers “stretch” composition in which the first-year course is stretched out in time to cover three quarters, two quarters, or one quarter. Incoming students use Directed Self-Placement (DSP) to choose between the four options for their first-year composition: Stretch Composition, Stretch Composition for Multilingual Students, Accelerated Stretch Composition, and Advanced First-Year Composition. 

All incoming students are beginners at college-level writing. All students become stronger writers through consistent exposure to writing-centered courses. First-year writing courses for all students must immerse students in college-level reading and writing from the beginning. 

In response to this realization, the faculty eliminated remedial writing courses at CSUSB; we offer instead college-level reading and writing courses that vary in length. Students have the option of taking one college-level reading and writing course with the same instructor and cohort of students “stretched out” over three quarters, two quarters, or one quarter. First-year students choose which option (the three-quarter, two-quarter, or one-quarter version) will best fit their needs through Directed Self-Placement. None of these sequences is remedial – they all do college-level work. The differences between them are the time they offer students to develop and practice this college-level work.  

We know from scholarship that writing and reading practices are acquired recursively, meaning that they need to be acquired and re-acquired – the longer the stretch sequence a student is enrolled in, the more chances they have to reinforce college-level reading and writing practices. We therefore encourage incoming students to make a thoughtful decision about which stretch sequence they enroll in.

The CSUSB First-Year Composition Writing Contest also demonstrates that stretch composition is successful. In 2011 we had 19 submissions for the contest from a range of first year composition courses. The judges read the submissions “blind,” meaning that they did not know who the students were or which composition courses they were in. The grand prize winner was a student from a ENG 105-106 Accelerated Stretch Composition class.  Two of the honorable mentions were from ENG 102-103-104B Stretch Composition classes.  There was one honorable mention from a ENG 107 Advanced First-Year Composition class.

Directed Self-Placement

Students at CSUSB use Directed Self-Placement to decide which First-Year Composition sequence to take. DSP is an alternative to timed placement tests like the English Placement Test. DSP is an effective mechanism for placing students in first year writing courses that are appropriate to their experiences, interests and goals. As the name directed self-placement suggests, you will be making your own decision about which first year composition course suits you – with the help of our DSP survey.

The DSP survey guides you through a self-assessment of your current reading and writing practices, offers you suggestions based on your results, and provides you with a thoughtful overview of the available course options. By considering your own history and development as a reader, writer, and learner in relation to the first year composition course options at CSUSB, we believe that you will be able to make an informed and wise choice about your first year writing sequence.

Visit DSP survey now.

Early Start

Early Start is not part of Stretch or First-Year Composition at CSUSB.

Early Start is a California State University initiative mandated by the CSU Chancellor, and it is the Chancellor’s office which decides how students are placed into Early Start through the English Placement Test (EPT).  Early Start does not directly prepare students for Stretch First-Year Composition.  Because CSUSB does not offer remedial composition courses, Early Start does not affect students’ ability to enroll in Stretch First-Year Composition.

ESE (Early Start English) Entry Survey:

You are invited to take the ESE Entry Survey. Your feedback will help us make changes to and improve this course in the future:

ESE Entry Survey

ESE (Early Start English) Exit Survey

You are invited to take the ESE Exit Survey. Your feedback will help us make changes to and improve this course in the future:

ESE Exit Survey

 

Requirements for General Education Program:

A. Basic Skills Category (12 units)

1. Written Communication

Note: Beginning Fall Quarter, 2009, the following courses will satisfy requirements A.1.

Four units chosen from:

  1. ENG 104A. Stretch Composition III (4)
  2. ENG 104B. Stretch Composition III for Multilingual Students (4)
  3. ENG 106A. Accelerated Stretch Composition II (4)
  4. ENG 106B. Accelerated Stretch Composition II for Multilingual Students (4)
  5. ENG 107. Advanced First-Year Composition (4)

COURSE OFFERINGS IN ENGLISH (ENG)

Lower Division

102. Stretch Composition I

A. Stretch Composition I

Analysis and use of strategies for critically reading and writing expository texts. Builds students’ understandings of the relationships among language, meaning, and context, as well as their abilities to conduct research and evaluate sources, to use writing as a means of critical thinking, and to write essays that reflect a variety of rhetorical approaches. Students will remain with the same cohort of classmates in the same time slot across ENG 102A-103A-104A. Graded Credit/No Credit. No more than eight units of the ENG 102A-103A-104A stretch sequence may count toward graduation. (4 units)

B. Stretch Composition I for Multilingual Students

Analysis and use of strategies for critically reading and writing expository texts. Builds students’ understandings of the relationships among language, meaning, and context, as well as their abilities to conduct research and evaluate sources, to use writing as a means of critical thinking, and to write essays that reflect a variety of rhetorical approaches. Students will remain with the same cohort of classmates in the same time slot across ENG 102B-103B-104B. Graded Credit/No Credit. No more than eight units of the ENG 102B-103B-104B stretch sequence may count toward graduation. (4 units)

103. Stretch Composition II

A. Stretch Composition II

Continued emphasis on the relationships among language, meaning, and context, on conducting research, and on strategies for reading and writing expository texts with varied purposes and audiences. Students will remain with the same cohort of classmates in the same time slot across ENG 102A-103A-104A. Graded Credit/No Credit. No more than eight units of the ENG 102A-103A-104A stretch sequence may count toward graduation. Prerequisite: ENG 102A. (4 units)

B. Stretch Composition II for Multilingual Students

Continued emphasis on the relationships among language, meaning, and context, on conducting research, and on strategies for reading and writing expository texts with varied purposes and audiences. Students will remain with the same cohort of classmates in the same time slot across ENG 102B-103B-104B. Graded Credit/No Credit. No more than eight units of the ENG 102B-103B-104B stretch sequence may count toward graduation. Prerequisite: ENG 102B. (4 units)

104. Stretch Composition III

A. Stretch Composition III

Further attention to relationships among written language, meaning, and context. Develops students’ understandings of writing as a recursive process requiring rethinking and rewriting, as well as their abilities to conduct research, to integrate it into their own arguments, and to use writing as a means of critical thinking. Students will remain with the same cohort of classmates in the same time slot across ENG 102A-103A-104A. Graded A,B,C/No Credit. A grade of C or better fulfills GE A.1. No more than eight units of the ENG 102A-103A-104A stretch sequence may count toward graduation. Prerequisite: ENG 103A. (GE=A.1) (4 units)

B. Stretch Composition III for Multilingual Students

Further attention to relationships among written language, meaning, and context. Develops students’ understandings of writing as a recursive process requiring rethinking and rewriting, as well as their abilities to conduct research, to integrate it into their own arguments, and to use writing as a means of critical thinking. Students will remain with the same cohort of classmates in the same time slot across ENG 102B-103B-104B. Graded A,B,C/No Credit. A grade of C or better fulfills GE A.1. No more than eight units of the ENG 102B-103B-104B stretch sequence may count toward graduation. Prerequisite: ENG 103B. (GE=A.1) (4 units)

105. Accelerated Stretch Composition I

A. Accelerated Stretch Composition II

Analysis and use of strategies for conducting research and critically reading and writing expository texts. Explores relationships among language, meaning, and context, and emphasizes writing as a recursive process and a means of critical thinking. Students identify themselves for placement in this course through Directed Self-Placement or an NC in 103A or 103B. Students will remain with the same cohort of classmates in the same time slot across ENG 105A -ENG 106A. Graded Credit/No Credit.

B. Accelerated Stretch Composition II for Multilingual Students

Analysis and use of strategies for conducting research and critically reading and writing expository texts. Explores relationships among language, meaning, and context, and emphasizes writing as a recursive process and a means of critical thinking. Students identify themselves for placement in this course through Directed Self-Placement and through self-identification as a speaker of a native or home language other than English. Students who meet these two criteria may also opt to take ENG 105A instead of ENG 105B. Students will remain with the same cohort of classmates in the same time slot across ENG 105A -ENG 106A. Graded Credit/No Credit.

106. Accelerated Stretch Composition II

A. Accelerated Stretch Composition II

Prerequisites: ENG 105. Graded A,B,C/No Credit. A grade of C or better fulfills GE A.1
Further examination of how written language functions in context. Builds students' abilities to conduct research and to integrate it into their own arguments. Students will remain with the same cohort of classmates in the same timeslot across ENG 105A - ENG 106A.

B. Accelerated Stretch Composition II for Multilingual Students

Prerequisites: ENG 105. Graded A,B,C/No Credit. A grade of C or better fulfills GE A.1
Further examination of how written language functions in context. Builds students' abilities to conduct research and to integrate it into their own arguments. Students will remain with the same cohort of classmates in the same timeslot across ENG 105A - ENG 106A.

107. Advanced First-Year Composition

Concentrated composition course for advanced first-year writers. Examines the ways written language functions in various contexts. Requires students to conduct research, to draw upon their critical readings of texts to develop their own arguments, and to examine and use rhetorical strategies that respond to different situations. Formerly ENG 101. Graded A,B,C/No Credit. A grade of C or better fulfills GE A.1. (GE=A.1) (4 units)