Department of Writing and Rhetoric
O'Dowd Hall, Room 378
586 Pioneer Drive
Rochester, MI 48309-4482
(248) 370-2746
fax: (248) 370-2748

First-year Writing and Rhetoric

The Department of Writing and Rhetoric offers first-year writing classes that focus on helping students to develop the rhetorical skills, processes, and information literacies necessary for writing and composing in the 21st century. Our classes focus on community and civic engagement, new media composition, collaborative writing, and revision. 

In 2012, the first-year writing program at Oakland University was awarded a Certificate of Excellence by the Conference on College Composition and Communication, the national organization for college writing programs. 

To fulfill Oakland University’s general education writing foundations requirement, students must complete WRT 160 or its equivalent with a 2.0 or higher. Most students will complete the first year experience by taking Composition I (WRT 150) and Composition II (WRT 160). Some students may be required to take Basic Writing (WRT 102), and some students may be encouraged to take WRT 104 (Supervised Study) based on early writing samples in their classes.

Find out which first-year writing courses you need to take on the Course Placement page. 

First-year writing courses

WRT 102: Basic Writing 

Students will work with both a first-year writing instructor and an embedded writing fellow from the university’s Writing Center to develop their writing skills, including idea generation and invention, organizational strategies and conventional usage in expository prose. For students whose ACT English scores are 0-15. 

WRT 150: Composition I 

Students are introduced to the rhetorical and stylistic demands of college writing through a focus on experiential, analytical, and expressive writing. Students in Composition I learn to generate, organize and develop their ideas and to make choices as writers that are appropriate to the rhetorical situation. For students who have completed WRT 102 or whose ACT English scores are 16-27.

WRT 160: Composition II (Writing Foundations)

Students are exposed to the process of writing in increasingly complex rhetorical situations that will help college writers to focus on developing analytic thinking and problem-solving strategies in writing. Students in Composition II classes are also introduced to the methods of academic research including evaluation and documentation of sources and are expected to create at least one research paper. The successful completion of WRT 160, Composition II with a 2.0 or higher satisfies the university general education requirement in the writing knowledge foundation area. For students who have completed WRT 150, whose ACT English scores are 28 or above, or whose score on the AP Exam in Language and Composition is 3 or higher. 

Supplemental courses

WRT 104: Supervised Study

For students who want additional help with their writing in any of our introductory writing courses or in any of the university’s writing-intensive courses. This 1-2 credit course provides students with tutorial instruction from a WRT faculty member based on the areas that the student wishes to work on. Students who take WRT 104 value this course because of the one-on-one time the course provides and the assistance the course instructors offer for writing assignments in a variety of classes. For example, a WRT 104 student from fall 2011 praised his course instructor because she “thoroughly walked through every assignment with me,” and another applauded the instructor’s ability to teach “in different styles until we found the one best fit for my learning.”

WRT 140: College Reading

Students learn to analyze main ideas and organizational patterns used in academic texts, synthesize different passages for their own purposes, and evaluate written and digital materials, focusing on non-fiction prose. Emphasis on developing flexible reading skills for personal and professional use.

Transfer students

As with any other unfulfilled general education course, transferring juniors and seniors who have not completed writing foundations should do so immediately. However, students who complete the writing foundations requirement through transfer credits are encouraged to complete the following tutorials to prepare for writing intensive courses in general education:



University and Department Policies

Online Activities Policy

Online course content is an interactive and engaging part of students’ experiences in all of our introductory writing classes. These activities are listed in the course syllabus and calendar. Also, all courses listed as MWF are partially online with some days replaced with interactive assignments and /or activities (preferably graded). Participation in online activities counts as class attendance.

Occasionally, if an emergency arises and a professor has to cancel a class not scheduled as online in the course calendar, an online assignment will be substituted for the class. Such last minute substitutions will be kept to a minimum -- ideally, no more than 2 in a semester for MWF or TR classes; no more than 1 in an evening course.

Online activities include more than just solitary, non-interactive activities such as reading and reviewing course materials or participating in a reading or grammar quiz. Online activities that replace in-class time will include the following elements:

  • Interactions between students and their peers (such as peer review);
  • Interactions between students and their instructor;
  • Critical thinking, collaborative challenges, and textual productions that go beyond the simple summary or recitation of information.
  • Time on task approximately equal to the amount of time the replaced class would take.

Activities include engaging in online written discussions, chats, Voicethread conversations, Skype sessions, or Elluminate sessions; discussing a series of prompts using text in conjunction with visual, aural, or video mediums; completing group tasks entirely through online collaboration; completing peer reviews; or using Googledocs, Googlesites, Delicious, Pearltrees, wikis, or other online sites to compose texts or collect resources.

OU excused absence policy and department attendance policy

All WRT classes adhere to the OU Excused Absence Policy for OU events and activities.

For absences not covered by the university policy, students in writing and rhetoric courses are allowed a certain number of absences without penalty: 3 for MWF classes, 2 for TR classes, or 1 for evening classes. This includes absences due to illness, car trouble, or schedule conflict. Participation in online activities counts as class attendance. For each absence beyond those allowed, the student's final course grade will be lowered by 0.1 points on the 4.0 scale for MWF classes, .15 for TTh classes, or .3 for evening and Saturday classes. Students who miss more than three combined weeks of class are not eligible to receive a grade above 0.0.

Midterm progress reports

Students in all 100-level and 200-level WRT courses are given an indication of their progress sometime around the middle of the term and no later than a week prior to the last day to take an official Withdrawal (W grade), normally the ninth week of the term.


Incompletes can only be given if circumstances beyond the control of the student occur after the official withdrawal date and preclude timely completion of the work for a course. Student and instructor should agree on the terms under which the work will be completed and evaluated and should complete and sign the University Registrar's form available for this purpose. The form is available from the Writing and Rhetoric Department office (378 O'Dowd Hall) and from the Office of the Registrar.


All WRT classes adhere to the university policy on adds, drops, and withdrawals. It is the student’s responsibility to be aware of the University deadline dates for dropping the course.

Students may add or drop WRT classes using SAIL during open enrollment periods. Students are responsible for knowing registration deadlines and understanding the implications of schedule changes on their financial aid. The department is not responsible for a student's loss of financial aid due to schedule changes

Students may not over-enroll into full sections. Twenty-two students (18 for WRT 102) is the maximum number of students allowed in a section. The Conference on College Composition and Communication recommends, “No more than 20 students should be permitted in any writing class. Ideally, classes should be limited to 15. Remedial or developmental sections should be limited to a maximum of 15 students.”

Students may not add into WRT classes after SAIL registration closes. Because of the length of time that SAIL registration is available to students, instructors are advised not to sign add slips. The first two weeks of class cover important material and often include graded assignments. Enrollment after that cutoff would be unfair both to the student and to the rest of the class.

Students are responsible for dropping classes that they decide not to complete. No-shows will be submitted to The Tutoring Center’s Early Alert program.

Academic Conduct Policy

Cheating on examinations, plagiarism, falsifying reports/records, and unauthorized collaboration, access, or modifying of computer programs are considered serious breaches of academic conduct. The Oakland University policy on academic conduct will be strictly followed with no exceptions. See catalog under Academic Policies and Procedures.

If upon reviewing a student project, an instructor suspects that a student has engaged in plagiarism, the instructor will issue an incomplete on the assignment and forward the matter with a letter of explanation and supporting documentation to the Office of the Dean of Students, 114 Oakland Center. The instructor will indicate clearly the passages that are plagiarized and their original source. Once the matter is resolved by the Academic Conduct Committee, the faculty member will issue the appropriate grade on the assignment. If an Incomplete has been issued for the final grade, the instructor will complete a change of grade form as appropriate, and under the reason for change of grade, note, "Final grade due to resolution of academic conduct matter."

Student Grade Grievance Policy

The purpose of this statement is to set forth a procedure that will permit resolution of student complaints immediately after they arise and in the spirit of cooperation. All complaints must be initiated within sixty (60) days after the student is aware of the circumstances leading to the complaint. This policy complies with the time limits set forth in the University Grievance Procedure.

A student who has a complaint about a classroom situation involving an instructor teaching under the WRT rubric has, first, recourse to that instructor. Any member of the Department to whom the student makes his/her complaint must send that student directly to the instructor involved.

If the student and instructor are unable to resolve differences themselves, or if the student finds it impossible to meet with the instructor directly, the student should take his/her written complaint to the Chair of the department. The criteria for the grounds of a grievance shall include evidence of:


  • Systematic and demonstrable unfairness based on ethnicity, race, or gender (complaints of discrimination will be forwarded to the Dean of Students office);
  • Inconsistent application of instructor’s grading policy (i.e. how the final grade is derived);
  • Inconsistent application of standards established by the instructor (i.e. clearly differing evaluation criteria brought into play from student to student in the same assignment); 
  • Inconsistent course procedures relative to those laid out in the syllabus. 
Complaints of grading harshness or professional evaluation by instructors of classroom presentations or written essays do not constitute sufficient grounds unless clear evidence of above criteria is present.

Upon receipt of the formal written grievance, the Department Chair or the Chair of the Grievance Committee will hold an informal meeting with the student and instructor (individually or together as deemed appropriate) in an effort to reach a mutually agreeable solution to the grievance.

If the informal arbitration between the Department Chair or Chair of the Grievance Committee (CGC), student and instructor does not resolve the issue, the CGC and the WRT Chair or designated full-time WRT faculty member will review the complaint to determine whether or not it meets the criteria stated above. If it does not, the WRT Chair will inform the student and the process will conclude.

If it is determined the complaint meets the criteria, CGC will form an arbitration panel consisting of three (3) people from the university community including: the CGC, one chosen by the student, one by the instructor.
The mediation panel will hold a hearing in the presence of both parties. After the meeting the panel will confer in closed session to discuss potential remedies, if deemed appropriate. The panel will provide the instructor with recommendations for addressing the grievance or will inform the student that the grievance was without merit. If the Chair deems there are not grounds for the grievance based on the criteria above, the student will be informed and the process will be concluded.

If the student is not satisfied by the arbitration process, she/he may then contact the office of the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences to pursue a grievance at the College level.

In the case of grading complaints, the panel can suggest the instructor reevaluate the student’s work (which might result in raising or lowering the grade), but the panel does not have the power to change grades. Although collegial recommendation carries positive weight, ultimately the teacher of record decides the final grade. For other classroom situations, the panel can likewise recommend a resolution, but, ultimately, the instructor of record controls his/her classroom. The suggestion of the panel shall be the final stage of the departmental action.

Faculty members are also to be guided by the statements on faculty conduct and professionalism contained in the Faculty Agreement. In addition, it should be noted that non-academic concerns, discrimination, and harassment complaints are governed by the Oakland University Procedure for the Resolution of Student Complaints.
Exemption Portfolio
As with any other unfulfilled general education course, transferring juniors and seniors who have not completed writing foundations should do so immediately. However, students who complete the writing foundations requirement through transfer credits are encouraged to complete the following tutorials to prepare for writing intensive courses in general education:

Transfer students who feel they should be exempt from Writing Foundations (WRT 160) because of prior coursework may submit an exemption portfolio