First Year Writing Program (FYW)

The FYW Program coordinates English 101 and 102 courses. These courses are essential to the mission of the university, fulfilling the university’s core goals for written communication. The administrators of the FYW program provide support to the students enrolled in these courses and to the instructors teaching these courses. They set course goals, create curriculum, supervise policies, and manage professional development for instructors.
Students in classroom seated at desks in pairs reading from books
Teacher receives award, shaking hands with presenter, while other teachers watch at tables in background
Students in classroom seated at desks in pairs reading from books


In general, English 101 and 102 are central to the core curriculum of the University and are designed to help students to build on their core skills of written communication. English 101 and 102 fulfill this learning outcome for the KU Core, which reads as follows:

Upon reaching this goal, students will be able to generate, explore, organize, and convey ideas in writing, using language, presentation skills and other media (for example, digital texts, images, and graphs) to present those ideas clearly, confidently, and in a manner appropriate to specific communication situations.

Course Goals

For Students

Everyone in the FYW Program and at KU wants you to succeed! That’s why our university offers a wealth of resources to support you through your writing, academic plans and habits, language needs, and mental health.

Find answers to frequently asked questions, as well as a video from one of our Writer's Faire events, below.

Student FAQs

Have other questions about first year English? Email us at

First, you should check the Transferring Credit page to see if the course should automatically transfer as an equivalent KU course. If the course is on the list and should have transferred, you need to contact the Admissions Office at (785) 864-3911 or If the course is not on the list or is on the list as not transferring, and you think the course is the equivalent of a KU course, you should follow the Transfer Credit Review and Appeals Process.

Students admitted to the Honors Program can enroll in ENGL 105, unless they meet additional criteria that would place them in English 205: AP score of 4 or 5, or IB score of 5 or above. Please contact Honors or Director or Associate Director of Undergraduate Studies for further information.

English 105

The following scores will qualify you for completion of the first three hours of the written communication outcome. Students who receive these scores can enroll in English 105.

  • ACT English Scores 31-36
  • SAT Evidence-Based Reading and Writing Scores 650 or above
  • AP Literature and Composition or AP Language and Composition Score of 3 or above
  • International Baccalaureate (IB) HL Score of 4

*Additionally, students with eligible AP or IB scores will earn credit for ENGL 101.

English 102

The following scores will qualify you for completion of the first three hours of the written communication outcome. Students who receive these scores should enroll in ENGL 102. 

  • ACT English Scores 27-30
  • SAT Evidence-Based Reading and Writing Scores 630-649
  • AP Literature and Composition or AP Language and Composition Score of 3 or above
  • International Baccalaureate (IB) HL Score of 4

*Additionally, students with eligible AP or IB scores will earn credit for ENGL 101.

English 101

The following scores require that completion of the 6-hour written communication learning outcome. Students who have received these scores should enroll in English 101.

  • ACT English Scores 0-26
  • SAT Evidence-Based Reading and Writing Scores 0-629
  • AP Literature and Composition or AP Language and Composition Score of 2 or below
  • International Baccalaureate (IB) HL score of 3 or below

If the requirement you want the course to fulfill is a written communication requirement (the equivalent of ENGL 101 or 102), you should contact Dr. Lancaster,, the Director of First Year Writing. If you want the course to fulfill a humanities requirement or to be the equivalent of a 200-level-or-above English course, you should contact Dr. Mary Klayder,, Associate Director of Undergraduate Studies for the Department of English.

As a general rule, students perform best in classes they attend regularly. This guideline is especially relevant for first-year writing courses because of the writing workshops, discussions, and activities done in class to prepare students to successfully write their projects. Students are expected to attend all regularly scheduled meetings of their class, including those directly before and after vacation periods. According to University Senate Rules and Regulations, students may be exempt from required class activities for the following reasons:

  • Religious observance,
  • Required military service,
  • Illness or injury,
  • Personal verifiable mental health or medical crisis or that of a relative or friend
  • Unforeseen life event or compelling circumstances beyond the student’s control (e.g., divorce, birth or adoption of a child, death, loss of employment, sexual assault, domestic violence),
  • Academic field trips,
  • Participation in university activities at the request of university authorities (e.g., an approved concert or athletic event),
  • Jury duty or officially mandated court appearances, and
  • Professional association or conference participation.

Students should contact teachers in advance of any absences. If you miss any in-class work, make-up work will be provided to help you recover the points for the given assignments. Individual teachers determine their own policies about unexcused absences, and students should refer to the course syllabus for these policies.

First, it is extremely important that you discuss this problem with your teacher as soon as possible: either stop by during your teacher’s office hours or, if those times are not convenient for you, make an appointment with your teacher to see them at another time. During that meeting, explain your problem or concern to the teacher and ask them for feedback on the situation. Frequently, students and teachers find that they can resolve problems in this way.

If you’ve already met with your teacher and the two of you have not managed to generate a workable solution to the situation, you may make an appointment with Dr. Lancaster (, the Director of First Year Writing, or Dr. Reiff (, the Director of Composition, to further discuss the situation. At that meeting, you will present your understanding of the situation and describe what steps you’ve taken to resolve it (such as meeting with the teacher). They will talk with you about what next steps might be taken.

According to University Policy, the only grounds for appeal of a grade is “improper application of the grading procedure announced for the course by the instructor” (U.S.R.R. 2.3.5). Grade appeals can only be made after the course grade has been assigned, based on the grounds articulated above.


Students who feel that a teacher has not assigned a course grade fairly should appeal to Dr. Sonya Lancaster (, the Director of First Year Writing, or Dr Mary Jo Reiff (, the Director of Composition, who will mediate the case.

The student must try to resolve semester grade conflicts with the instructor first. If the student and the teacher cannot resolve the conflict, the student may appeal to one of the Directors with the following materials:

  1. All written work for the semester along with the original assignments.
  2. A statement in writing describing in what way the instructor deviated from announced or published standards.

When you have compiled your materials, please email them to one of the Directors above at her address.

If a student decides to go forward with the appeal after talking to the Director, the Chair of the English Department will appoint a three-person committee to hear it. If the Department hearing sustains the student’s appeal, the three-person committee will review the student’s work, consult with the instructor, and assign a course grade. The instructor and the student will be informed of their right to appeal to the Judicial Board.

If the hearing sustains the instructor’s original grade, the student may then appeal to the Judicial Board. If the Judicial Board sustains the student’s appeal, the three-person committee will, in accordance with University Senate Rules and Regulations, assign the course grade for the student.

Celebration of Writing

This year, the KU English Department and First Year Writing program are resuming the Writers Faire under a new name: Celebration of Writing. The first since the Covid 19 pandemic, the Celebration of Writing embraces both its history and a new beginning. Learn more about this event and how to participate at the link below.


For Instructors

Current Instructors can find more information, policies, and resources in the Manual for Teachers, as well as the shared instructor Canvas sites.


Graduate Teaching Assistants in English teach twelve credit hours (four sections) per academic year. GTAs usually teach English 101 and 102, first year composition courses. After their first two years of teaching, GTAs may have the opportunity to teach more advanced classes.

During their first year of teaching in the Department, all new GTAs are required to attend a pre-semester orientation and to take “English 801: Study and Teaching of Writing” (2 credit hours in Fall; 1 hour credit in Spring).

The Department sets the maximum size of classes that new teachers instruct in their first semester at 20. In their first semester, new teachers will work from a common syllabus and will have the opportunity to discuss writing assignments and best practices in English 801, as well as receiving guidance and feedback from the Teaching Mentor, an experienced teacher in the program.

Staff Development Sessions

These sessions provide teachers with a forum for discussing assessment and standards with colleagues. These meetings may discuss grading criteria and examine graded papers, or they may focus on issues of assessment and improving course materials to achieve better student learning outcomes. Staff development seminars each year, as well as training in the first year of teaching at KU, help teachers understand the grading expectations in the FYW program.

Professional Development Opportunities

Visiting Scholars

The FYW Program proudly hosts annual Visiting Scholars to deliver workshops and talks as a professional development opportunity for our instructors and the university at large. Some of our recent visiting scholars include:

Jodi Shipka, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

  • “Re-Imagining the Possibilities of Material Objects and Multimodal Composing”

Khirsten Scott and Louis Maraj, University of Pittsburgh and University of British Columbia

  • “Engaging Antiracist and Abolitionist Pedagogy”

Anis Bawarshi, University of Washington

  • “Genre, Transfer, and Academic Writing”
  • “In Between Genres: Uptake, Memory, and Rhetorics of Israel-Palestine”

Anne Curzan, University of Michigan

  • “Navigating ‘Error’: Usage Questions in the Writing Classroom”
  • “Going Grammando: A Linguist’s Look at Language Peeves”

Asao Inoue, University of Washington-Tacoma

  • “A Conversation on Race and Writing Assessment”

Andrea Lunsford, Standford University

  • Author of FYW common textbook, Everyone’s An Author

Beverly Moss, The Ohio State University

  • “Community-Based Research and Black Literate Lives in the Composition Classroom”


Teaching Community Meetings

Led by Assistant Director of FYW, Sarah Ngoh, these informal meetings offer spaces, especially for new GTAs, to discuss practical issues of assignment design, to address any classroom issues, and to work on brainstorming and sharing ideas for class activities.


DEIJB Workshops

These are interactive workshops where teachers discuss best practices in utilizing and supporting diversity, equity, inclusion, justice, and belonging in the writing classroom.


2C’s (Composition and Conversation) Discussion Group:

This is a discussion group that meets several times during the year to discuss composition and the teaching of writing.

In addition to innovative training and development, FYW Graduate Instructors may also take advantage of opportunities like summer teaching positions, FYW projects, and scholarly travel funds.

Summer Teaching Positions

Part-time teachers applying for summer teaching positions will be appointed according to a numerical system based on a ten-point scale based on factors like whether the applicant has previous taught in the summer, if the applicant is a first-year teacher, if the applicant has made reasonable progress towards the degree, and if the applicant has passed comprehensive exams. Most English classes in the summer are taught online. GTAs are usually eligible to teach in the summer once during their degree. A second opportunity sometimes becomes available if a teacher is needed for an advanced class in the GTAs discipline.

FYW Projects

The FYW Projects provide teachers with funding to develop innovative teaching materials relevant to courses taught in the FYW curriculum that will be shared with other teachers in the program. These Projects can help the program stay current with scholarly knowledge about teaching writing, with best practices, and with changing trends and technologies of writing.

Proposals for Projects that would contribute substantially to the FSE program are solicited in the spring from current GTAs and Lecturers and those Projects selected and funded are typically completed during the summer, with the results shared on the FYW Canvas site and in other relevant forums.

Some recent FYW Project Descriptions:

English 101:

Rachel Andreini created a full semester English 101 course inspired by tabletop roleplaying mechanics to frame student learning with the metaphor of being “meaning detectives.” The course emphasizes the role of metaphor and the transferability of rhetorical skills and knowledge to help students make connections both inside and outside the classroom. Materials include an assignment sequence, an annotated syllabus with a corresponding storyboard, and additional readings.

Abby Breyer has created a full semester schedule for English 101 with an emphasis on social justice. The course uses social justice as a recurring framework to establish a meaningful connection between the writing classroom and the world outside it. Materials include a major assignment sequence which includes a linguistic autobiography, a rhetorical analysis, a social justice campaign, and a revision. It also includes daily activities with links to additional outside sources.

Tiffany Fritz created a unit based on the 2023-24 KU Common Book, Parable of the Sower (Octavia Butler). The unit corresponds to the unit on rhetorical analysis and frames questions that ask students to consider the rhetorical situation of the text, to analyze rhetorical strategies, and to roleplay characters in the book or respond from the positionality of one of the characters. Materials include a daily schedule, multiple activities, and writing assignments.

English 102:

Sarah Kugler created a full 102 course centered on food, grounded in culturally sustaining pedagogy. Personal food stories, cultures, and experiences serve as sources of authority and jumping off points for class activities and projects, emphasizing that students enter the classroom with lots of existing knowledge on the food theme. It reframes common 102 projects of the inquiry essay, genre analysis, and genre production/synthesis.

Lydia Noland created resources to scaffold and support the English 102 sequence of assignments, with a focus on encouraging students to be present in their writing. An emphasis was placed on designing activities that scaffold each assignment and that that strengthen students’ abilities write “braided” essays that combine academic analysis and personal experience/narrative. An innovative final project (a group ethnography focused on the classroom community) is included, along with an overview of assignments, writing prompts, and multiple activities and suggested readings.

Zach Smith created a full 102 course that employs community-engaged research methods and rhetorics of place and space to help students explore Lawrence. Combining identity- and socially-driven components of the academic track, this iteration of 102 asks students to create: a zine or collage, a braided essay, a collaborative digital archive, and a community-targeted event. Through field observations, archival research, database inquiry, and ethnographic study, course participants are challenged to move beyond seeing themselves as “student,” but also as “citizen,” “community member,” and “researcher.”

Scholarly Travel Funds

There are three opportunities for graduate students to receive travel funding for conferences or other scholarly work:


English Department Graduate Student Travel Fund Award

The English Department Graduate Student Travel Fund Award provides funding for scholarships of up to $500 to support the scholarly development of graduate students in the English Department. To apply for travel funding for conferences, research trips, or other professional development opportunities, please fill out this survey.

Travel Awards – Students Association of Graduates in English

Each year, SAGE is able to offer limited travel funds to its members to help cover registration and travel to scholarly conferences. The amount of funds varies from year to year Exhaustion of resources and SAGE involvement are the primary criteria. Find more information about SAGE here.

The First Year Writing program has a lending library of major titles dealing with composition teaching and research. We would like to especially thank alumna Pat McQueeney for donating her collection to these holdings.

You may check out material from the FYW Library for a two-week period; see the FYW Administrative Intern for more information.


The FYW Program is pleased to celebrate the exemplary work of our student writers and instructors by showcasing our yearly award winners!

The Department of English recognizes excellence in writing with certificates of achievement and cash rewards to as many as three students each year for papers written in fulfillment of assignments in English 101 and 102.

The Department of English also recognizes outstanding instructors who show dedication to their students and innovation in their teaching. Additionally, the English department nominates two outstanding GTAs to the Office of Graduate Studies for University Teaching Awards, and our Department GTAs often win these awards, as well.

For the 2022-2023 Academic Year


English 101

Micki (Michelle) Shrout “Visual (selfie moment!) – Instagram Post: A Social Media Awareness Project,” Instructor: Lydia Noland


English 102

Isabel Loney “The Iconic Soundscape of Ace Attorney,” Instructor: Stephen Johnson

Adam Schnurr “Overpopulation: Not the End-of-the-World Concern We Think It Is,” Instructor: Phil Wedge


English 203

Emilia Gibbs “The False Promise of Professional Sports, Instructor: Phil Wedge

Sophie Sanders “Analyzing The Song of Achilles Through an Affective Lens,” Instructor: Abby Breyer

The Department of English recognizes excellence in writing with certificates of achievement and cash awards to as many as three students each year for papers written in fulfillment of assignments in English 101 and 102. The work of student winners is also considered for publication in the First Year Writer's Companion (FYWC).

Papers may be submitted by students or instructors to any time prior to the deadline. Papers written during the summer will be eligible for consideration the following year. Instructors should consider encouraging students to submit any paper to which they give a full A as well as any other excellent work, but only one paper per student is allowed. Each paper must contain the following information:

  • Student’s name
  • Student’s local address and phone number
  • Student ID number
  • Instructor’s name
  • Course number and line number

Members of the First Year Writing Committee will read and rank the papers independently.

These awards are given only once, in the spring semester, so that they can be a part of the Department’s Honors and Awards ceremony. The final deadline for papers will be announced in a memo, but it is usually the second week of April. Submissions will not be returned to authors.

Office of Graduate Studies Teaching Awards

  • 2023 - Whit Knapp (Carlin Award) and Sarah Kugler (Carlin Award)
  • 2022 - Brynn Fitzsimmons (Carlin Award) and Ayah Wakkad (Carlin Award)
  • 2021 - Arnab Chakraborty (GTA Award) and Dana Comi (Carlin Award)
  • 2020 - Silvan Spicer (Chancellor's Award) and Kali Jo Wacker (Carlin Award)
  • 2018 - 2019 Alisa Russell (GTA Award)
  • 2017 - 2018 Rachel L. Brown (Chancellor’s Award)
  • 2016 - 2017 Jonathan Tim Lantz (GTA Award)
  • 2015 - 2016 Martha Baldwin (Carlin) and Rebekah Taussing (Carlin)
  • 2014 - 2015 Matthew Smalley (GTA Award)
  • 2012 - 2013 Amy Ash (Chancellor's Award) and Jana Tigchelaar (Honorable mention)

English Department Teaching Awards


Outstanding Instructor Award

  • Divya Bhalla
  • Jens Evers
  • Sarah Kugler
  • Zachary Smith

Stephen F. Evans Excellence in Course Development Award

  • Cassidy Locke

Outstanding Instructor Award

  • Divya Bhalla
  • Abby Breyer
  • Brynn Fitzsimmons
  • Charlesia McKinney

Stephen F. Evans Excellence in Course Development Award

  • Iain Ellis
  • Sarah Kugler
  • Ayah Wakkad

Outstanding Instructor Award

  • Amy Billings
  • Kristin Emanuel
  • Marcus Hoehne
  • Faith Scheidemantle

Stephen F. Evans Excellence in Course Development Award

  • Susan Duba
  • Emma Kostopolus
  • Faith Scheidemantle

Outstanding Instructor Award

  • Derek Graf
  • Gibette Encarnacion
  • Emma Kostopolus
  • Ayah Wakkad

Stephen F. Evans Excellence in Course Development Award

  • Dana Comi
  • Iain Ellis
  • Kristin Emanuel
  • Kali Jo Wacker

    Outstanding Instructor Award

  • Dana Comi
  • Alisa Russell
  • Mikaela Warner
  • Hannah Warren

Stephen F. Evans Excellence in Course Development Award

  • Leighann Thone
  • Rachel Brown
  • Charlesia McKinney
  • Kali Jo Wolkow
  • Shane Wood
2016 - 2017
  • Martha Baldwin
  • Iain Ellis
  • Garrett Fiddler
  • Jacob Herrmann
2015 - 2016
  • Joshua Canipe
  • Iain Ellis
  • Chelsea Murdock
  • Amanda Sladek
2014 - 2015
  • Iain Ellis
  • Amanda Sladek
2013 - 2014
  • Callista Buchen
  • Jennifer Colatosti
  • Iain Ellis
  • Jana Tigchelaar
2012 - 2013
  • Ann Martinez
  • Colleen Morrissey
  • Jana Tigchelaar


Sarah Ngoh
  • Assistant Director of First Year Writing
  • 2022-2023 Mellon DEI Teaching Scholar
  • 2023-2025 Center for Teaching Excellence Faculty Fellow