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: Thought and Writing and ENGL 1000: The Writing Process.

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, over 1200 students are enrolled in some 60 sections of ENGL 1050 and some 100 additional students are enrolled in seven sections of ENGL 1000. A staff of 55 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: Thought and Writing or ENGL 1000: The Writing Process. 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, their standardized test scores, and their conversations with campus academic advising staff.

Learn about Writing Placement


ENGL 1000: The Writing Process

A writing course designed to introduce students to a variety of genres, including narrative, personal, creative, analytic, and argumentative. Focus is on development and improvement in writing process skills that can be applied in all disciplines including grammar and usage, sentence and paragraph development, and organization/focus.

ENGL 1050: Thought and Writing

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 "Thought and Writing" 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 "Thought and Writing." A required $20 course fee covers the price of an online writing review platform and copy costs. These materials and their purchasing options are detailed below.

Foundations in Written Communication: Strategies, Behaviors, Success. Gogan, Brian, with Samantha Atkins, Ireland Atkinson, Kate Mitchell, Elisabeth Spinner, and Savannah Xaver. Plymouth, MI: Macmillan, 2020.

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 $20 required course fee covers the cost of course copies and 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.

ENGL 1050-I: Thought and Writing Intensive Sections

English 1050-I sections provide one-on-one instruction to students who desire to learn and be successful but are experiencing addressable academic challenges in their regular first-year-writing classrooms.

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 Workshops

If you want to receive more guidance and support on the inquiry and information-seeking processes that accompany the writing in this course, consider attending one of the following three University Libraries workshops:

  • Searching for Found Messages—a workshop on how to come up with good keywords and how to use your search results to refine your search
  • Evaluating Found Messages—a workshop on how to determine which found messages best address the needs of your inquiry question, including where the message fits in the information cycle model and the impact of message source on message value
  • Using Found Messages Ethically—a workshop that reinforces how citing sources is part of engaging a scholarly conversation by covering when and how to cite

Register for a Library Workshop