First-Year Writing Program

The first-year writing program at Western Michigan University consists of two courses that are designed to provide students with important academic writing skills and, more generally, to contribute to student success in and beyond university coursework. These courses are ENGL 1050: Foundations in Written Communication and ENGL 1040: Writing Studies Lab.

Nearly 70% of all Western Michigan University first-year students will enroll in one or both of the first-year writing program's courses. This fall, nearly 1000 students will enroll in some 40 sections of ENGL 1050 and some 100 additional students are enrolled in five sections of ENGL 1040. A staff of 30 individuals (faculty, staff, graduate assistants, and instructors) teach these courses.


The mission of Western Michigan University’s first-year writing program is to:

  • encourage, instruct, assess, and respond to undergraduate students as they develop competencies in written communication;
  • support, credential, and grow a dynamic group of professional educators as they develop, maintain, and apply expertise in writing instruction; and,
  • connect with the university community and beyond on conversations and initiatives involving writing, rhetoric, and literacy practices

Student Placement

The first-year writing program believes that students should have a voice in the decision made to place them in either ENGL 1050: Foundations in Written Communication or the linked sections of ENGL 1050: Foundations in Written Communication and ENGL 1040: Writing Studies Lab. Accordingly, the program has adopted a self-direct placement process that lets students determine the most appropriate writing class for them given their personal experiences writing and their conversations with campus academic advising staff.

Learn about Writing Placement


ENGL 1040: Writing Studies Lab

A writing course designed as a companion to specifically-designated ENGL 1050 sections for students identified as needing additional college-level writing support. Provides hands-on experience in college-level writing including additional instruction in writing process, research, revision, editing, and other writing-related topics.

ENGL 1050: Foundations in Written Communication

A foundational writing course offering you practice and guidance in the strategies and behaviors that contribute to success in written communication and information literacy. Emphasis on the production, reception, and revision of writing for varied audiences, situations, and information needs.

Your successful completion of English 1050 should enable you to:

  • Compose texts using a variety of invention, development, organization, style, editing, revision, reading, and research strategies
  • Understand effective writing and rhetoric as a fitting response to an audience, situation, and information need
  • Refine topics and develop findings through inquiry and writing
  • Use drafting and revising strategies to produce appropriate, relevant, and compelling content and knowledge
  • Use messages, information, and knowledge to make connections, draw conclusions, and fulfill information needs
  • Employ stylistic elements and discourse conventions expected by target audiences

Course materials

Students enrolled in ENGL 1050: Foundations in Written Communication must purchase one textbook for the course. This textbook has been customized especially for students enrolled in English 1050 will be used across all sections of Foundations in Written Communication. A required $20 course fee covers the price of an online writing review platform and other course costs. These materials and their purchasing options are detailed below.

Foundations in Written Communication: Strategies, Behaviors, Success. Gogan, Brian, with Eman Sari Al-Drous, Joshua Scheidler, and Savannah Xaver. Plymouth, MI: Macmillan, 2021.


Note: Each textbook comes with a unique access code that will enable students to subscribe to a digital research tool. Use of this tool is a required part of the course, and codes cannot be used twice.  

A required course fee covers the cost of a subscription to the Eli Review online writing review and feedback platform that will be used across all English 1050 sections.  


Student Writer Success Resources

In addition to the first-year writing program's instructional staff, a number of writing-related instructional and support resources are available to promote the success of Western Michigan University student writers.

Writing Center

The Writing Center helps writers at all levels and of all abilities determine strategies for effective communication and to make academically responsible choices at any stage in the writing process and in any genre of writing. The center's hope is to empower each writer with the skills to better understand his or her own work and to more deeply engage with other writers' works as well.

Schedule a Writing Center Appointment

University Libraries

If you want to receive more guidance and support on the inquiry and information-seeking processes that accompany the writing in this course, consider contacting University Libraries:

Contact Libraries for SUPPORT