What Students Learn in UWS

Every first-year student, as part of the First Year Experience at Brandeis, takes a University Writing Seminar (UWS). This course is designed to introduce students to college-level writing and to prepare them for writing in their courses across the disciplines. While it is impossible to teach students everything about all writing in one semester, we strive to approach writing from an interdisciplinary perspective. 

Writing Intensive (WI) instructors may benefit from understanding what students have learned in UWS. Your students are entering your WI courses with a strong writing foundation.

All UWS students:

  • Write two essays: a comparative analysis paper and a research paper. For each essay, students write both a draft and a revision and meet in a 1:1 conference with the instructor to discuss their writing process.
  • Use a consistent set of Terminology (Elements of the Academic Essay) when discussing elements of academic writing, e.g., thesis, evidence, motive, etc. 
  • Engage in peer review with their classmates. They are familiar with assessing the work of their peers in a collegial, supportive way.
  • Have multiple sessions with a librarian to introduce them to using the Brandeis library system and databases to identify and locate sources.
  • Learn to use Zotero to manage their sources.
  • Participate in discussions about proper source use and plagiarism avoidance.
  • Engage in Comparative Genre Analysis (CGA) This 2-3 class sequence asks students to do the work of observing similarities and differences in writing across disciplines, and includes explicit discussion of why these differences exist.

For more details on what students learn in UWS, see the Student Takeaways handout, which all students receive at the end of the course.