English Composition I: Achieving Expertise

“English Composition I” provides an introduction to and foundation for the academic reading and writing characteristic of college. Attending explicitly to disciplinary context, students learn to read critically, write effective arguments, understand the writing process, and craft powerful prose that meets readers’ expectations.

Since personal investment yields better writing, students select an area of expertise meaningful to them (a hobby, trade, profession, discipline, etc.) for the major writing projects, which are drafted and revised in sequenced stages: a critical review to an argument about expertise (600-800 words); an explication of a visual image (600-800 words); a case study of an expert (1000-1250 words) and public writing such as an op-ed or blog post (500-750 words). Student writing is central to the course, as is learning to provide useful feedback on peers’  writing.


  • Received two grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, one to determine whether a MOOC could effectively help students learn to write and one to analyze peer-to-peer interactions in MOOCs (in collaboration with Dorian Canelas).
  • Comer went on to develop a Duke, for-credit, online summer seminar on social media writing that Duke students took while doing internships in locations away from campus (WRITING 270: Composing the Internship Experience: Digital Rhetoric and Social Media Discourse).
  • Comer also developed the DukeWrites Enrichment Suite for International Students, an online suite of videos and quizzes to help international, multilingual, and multicultural students better understand U.S. academic writing.
  • Part of a series of Duke courses on Reasoning, Data Analysis and Writing, one of Coursera’s first ten Specializations.

Media & Publications



  • Thompson Writing Program

Project Use:


Launch Date:

  • April 2013

View the project