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Basic Information:

  • Course title (WRT 188 and your theme title)
  • Correct semester and year of course
  • Course number and section number
  • Instructor’s name, office location, office phone number, and email contact information
  • Office hours: days and times

Department and Program Information/Requirements:

  • UWO English Department web address (or link) and WRT homepage address (or link)
  • Statement of the First-Year Writing Program Goals (or link) and explicit evidence of these goals in learning outcomes, assessments, and assignments
  • List of required book purchases
  • Attendance policy, late work policy, and any other policies affecting grades
  • Academic honesty and plagiarism policies
  • Course expectations for student work (number and type of essays (include length), reading assignments, other written and in-class work)
  • Grading scale and explanation of how final grade is determined (At least 70% of the course grade must be based on writing assignments.)
  • WRT 188 word-count requirements and how your assignments will fulfill those requirements
  • List of due dates for major assignments (essays and readings)
  • Date(s) of your library session(s) (Courses must include an introduction to the print and electronic resources and services available through Polk Library.)

USP Information/Requirements:

  • Information about the USP and how your course fits in
  • Information about a liberal education and how your course contributes
  • Explanation of your Signature Question and how your course will address it (Make sure to include specific requirements for each SQ, available on the USP Teaching Resources website:
  • Assessable student learning outcomes
  • Explicit evidence of SQ content in learning outcomes, assignments, and assessments
  • Explicit evidence of Information Literacy in learning outcomes, assignments, and assessments
  • Explanation of Early Alert and inclusion of a graded assignment prior to Early Alert reporting date
  • Inclusion of relevant academic resources, especially Polk Library and the Writing Center
  • Reference to the Information Literacy Librarian

Example of USP Syllabus Elements

(excerpted from Sam’s Quest I Workshop syllabus) 

WRT 188, the USP, and the Intercultural SQ [from the “About This Class” section]

Quite the list of letters, huh? Let’s break it down.

First-Year College Writing (WRT 188), a course intended to refine your writing skills and your ability to use writing and reading to seek and communicate the answers to thought-provoking questions (that’s the inquiry part).

WRT 188 fulfills the first writing requirement for UW Oshkosh’s University Studies Program (USP). The USP is intended to provide a liberal education—in this context, “liberal” means broad and varied—so that you leave this campus with knowledge of the whole world, not just your major. A liberal education gives you a foundation for success in any major or career path by helping you build important skills like communication and problem solving.

This particular section of WRT 188, like the Quest course paired with it, is associated with the Intercultural Knowledge Signature Question: How do people understand and bridge cultural differences? The USP defines Intercultural Knowledge as

the understanding of one’s own culture as well as cultures beyond one’s own; the recognition of the cultural values and history, language, traditions, arts, and social institutions of a group of people; the ability to negotiate and bridge cultural differences in ways that allow for broader perspectives to emerge; and the skill to investigate a wide range of world views, beliefs, practices, and values.

Intercultural knowledge is an essential part of a liberal education because it makes us aware of diverse perspectives, helping us to understand and communicate with others. This class will provide a supportive environment where you can experience and explore cultures—both your own and others’—and have an opportunity to process what you’re learning through discussion and writing. More about how the SQ applies to our class is in the next section.

Class goals

As a result of taking this class, you can expect to Grow in your writing strategies, writing experience, and information literacy—these are key features of the First-Year Writing program, as explained in the WRT 188 goals and objectives. This means you will:

  • See yourself as part of a community of academic writers, knowing that your writing is responding to ongoing conversations among scholars, and that you can take part in conversations in the classroom and outside of it that will prepare and refine your ideas and your writing.
  • Have strategies for reading sources carefully and brainstorming ideas so that you are well prepared to write.
  • Have a set of strategies for revising your writing, reworking everything from the overall argument to the details of grammar, and ample practice with using them.
  • Have practice with evaluating writing, including both writing in progress, like yours and your peers’, and published writing. Evaluating can go far beyond “Is this good?” to questions like “Is this convincing?” “Is this reliable?” or “Why did the writer do this and not that?”
  • Be familiar and comfortable with the research resources provided by UWO’s Polk Library and with ways of integrating ideas from source material with your own ideas. (This ability to explore, select, and use source material is called information literacy.)
  • Feel confident that you can represent sources accurately and ethically through paraphrase, quotation, and citation.

Know more about how we use and think about language in society. This means you will:

  • Understand how people’s language use varies in different contexts.
  • Understand how our language varieties relate to identities (who we are and want to be), social interactions (who we want to identify ourselves with and what groups we want to be part of or distinct from), and contexts (where we are and what we’re trying to accomplish).
  • Learn about why people consider some varieties of language “better” or more “proper” than others.
  • Understand how these ideas connect with writing, and with what it means to write in an “educated” or “academic” way.

Increase your intercultural knowledge, particularly in relation to language. This means you will:

  • Become more aware of your own cultural background when it comes to language, including how you picked up your ways of speaking and writing and why you think about your and others’ language in the way you do.
  • Increase your understanding of other cultures’ ways of using language and communicating both verbally and nonverbally.
  • Increase your understanding of other cultures’ attitudes, customs, and history around language.
  • Build your empathy toward people of different cultures, so that you gain experience seeing the world through others’ eyes and exploring why they might see or do things differently from you.
  • Build your curiosity about different cultures, so that you have practice in asking interesting questions and understanding how the answers might vary by culture.
  • Build your openness toward other cultures, so that you are more practiced at listening nonjudgmentally to others’ perspectives and more comfortable interacting with people different from yourself.

A note on early assessment [from the “Grading and Assessment” section]: In the Quest phase of the USP, we consider it vital that you receive feedback and one-on-one attention early on in the semester. In the first week of class, you’ll write an in-class essay, which I’ll use to get a sense of who you are as a writer coming into this class. Then, I’ll ask you to meet with me one-on-one in office hours (I’ll have extra ones the first two weeks) to discuss that essay and any concerns or questions you have about the class. You’ll just get credit for doing these first two things, no grades. Your first graded assignments will be D2L reflections, followed by your first essay, which will be due in Week 4. Because your first  D2L reflections are building blocks for your first essay, I’ll have a good sense of where you’re at before I have to submit evaluations for Early Alert. You’ll receive Early Alert notifications from all your instructors by email in Week 5. Through Early Alert, I’ll be able to let you know if I have any major concerns about your attendance or academic performance that might jeopardize your grade, while you still have plenty of time to turn things around.

[from the “Resources for Students” section]

Writing Center: The Writing Center offers free, confidential, one-to-one tutoring designed to help beginning and advanced writers work through assignments and gain additional writing skills. Trained peer consultants can assist writers at any stage of the composition process, from brainstorming for topics before writing to fine-tuning a final draft. Writers can make an appointment or drop in to see if anyone is available. The Writing Center is located in Suite 102 of the Student Success Center, across from Reeve and Polk on Elmwood Avenue. Learn more at

Information Literacy Librarian: Polk Library offers many professional librarians who can help you find library resources for your research. Specifically, Ted Mulvey, the Information Literacy Librarian, is available to assist you as you access, evaluate, and use information in University Studies Program classes. Phone: 920-424-7329; email: We will be working with Ted starting in Week 3 of our class and visiting Polk as a class later in the semester. You may also set up a research advisory session with a librarian at


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