PWR 1 is a 4 unit course taken by students in their first year that fulfills Stanford's WR 1 requirement. It engages students in the serious practice of academic analysis, college level research, and argument.

The PWR 1 classroom is an active, dynamic place, in which students work to solve rhetorical challenges in their own writing and the writing of their peers. Because PWR 1 is a project-based course (rather than a reading- or discussion-based course), students use class time to advance the research and writing projects they've designed.

PWR 1 assignments are designed to teach students how to gather, evaluate, analyze, and integrate a range of sources (both primary and secondary) into their own writing. These assignment descriptions provide the basis for all PWR 1 syllabi.

Learning Objectives

Students can expect to achieve the following learning objectives after completing PWR 1:

  • Students will develop experience with invention, drafting, rethinking based on feedback, revision, and reflection as they work through the writing process.
  • Students will develop the ability to read and analyze texts rhetorically, taking into account relationships between writer, audience, cultural context, purpose, and argumentative strategies and appeals.
  • Students will develop the ability to compose well-reasoned arguments and write persuasively with audience, purpose, and genre in mind.
  • Students will develop research skills, including the ability to craft a focused research question and to locate, analyze, and evaluate relevant sources, including both print-based and digital sources.
  • Students will develop the ability, in research and writing, to engage a range of sources and perspectives that illuminate a wider conversation about the topic.

Assignment Sequence

The assignment sequence is as follows:

  • Rhetorical AnalysisIn this assignment, students use rhetorical principles to analyze how a particular text makes an argument.  It is designed to introduce students to basic rhetorical concepts, types of appeals and situations. (1500-1800 words) 
  • Texts in ConversationThe Texts in Conversation assignment sets the stage for the Research-Based Argument, helping students develop a focus for their research project and to move toward crafting their own source-based argument. It asks students to put texts in dialogue with each other, incorporating different perspectives on key issues. Students examine how different writers define and frame these issues, and scrutinize where the writers connect and where they conflict. (1800-2400 words)
  • Research-Based ArgumentThis assignment asks students to produce a well-supported, focused argument drawing on library and web-based research. Many students also undertake primary research. (3600-4500 words)

Additional Writing

In addition to the three major writing assignments, students may be asked to do a significant amount of informal writing, including blogs, journals, online discussions, outlines, parts of drafts, and reflective memos.

Total Writing Required

Overall, the total amount of polished, final-draft writing each student should expect to complete per quarter is between 7,500 words (25 pages at 300 words per page) and 9,000 words (30 pages at 300 words per page). Each major writing assignment includes a draft and revision stage.

Note for the 2020-2021 Academic Year

PWR has recommended that instructors make some adjustments to the usual assignment sequence to accommodate the compressed time-frame and shorter class meeting times of quarters during the pandemic and to acknowledge the challenges both students and instructors will face with all instruction conducted online. Different instructors have chosen different routes to making these adjustments, so the assignments for this class may look slightly different from the assignments in another. Please be assured that care has been taken to ensure that the overall workloads are comparable across all PWR classes.

See Award-winning BOOTHE PRIZE essays from PWR1 classes

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