Critical Writing, Reading, and Researching


Affiliated with Millikin’s sequenced University Studies program, the Critical Writing, Reading, and Research program at Millikin University is a two-course sequence required of all students. This two-course sequence reflects Millikin’s commitment to writing excellence—a commitment that is reinforced through the sequenced University Studies program.

English Department faculty typically teaches our first-year writing courses. We are pleased that our faculty continually looks for creative, innovative, and effective pedagogies to help facilitate our students’ growth that students grow as critical writers, readers, researchers, and thinkers. Additionally, we are committed to offering small class sizes to promote intensive, high-quality learning engagements between faculty and students, as our first-year writing courses are capped at 20 students. To enhance students' educational experiences, we also coordinate instruction and resources with a variety of other programs and departments, including the Staley Library, the University Seminar and the Writing Center.

If you have questions about this program, please do not hesitate to contact Dr. Julie Bates (, the first-year writing coordinator.

Course Descriptions

Critical Writing, Reading & Research I (IN 150) is designed to develop students as critical writers, readers, and researchers. Emphasis is placed on writing and reading as the path to critical thinking. Students are asked read and critique texts actively, deliberately, and carefully, to write polished, informed essays for personal, public, and/or specialized audiences, and to reflect on the uses of reading and writing in their public and personal lives to better understand themselves, their communities, and the world. Library research component is introduced and integrated into the course.

Critical Writing, Reading & Research II (IN 151) is designed to position students as successful writers, readers and researchers as they move into advanced coursework. In addition to continuing to develop reading and writing skills introduced in the first semester course, students will be asked to conduct research to participate in academic inquiry. Each student will write a research paper that demonstrates the ability to incorporate resources and contribute to academic discourse and communities. An extended and intensive library research component is integrated into the course.

Critical Writing, Reading, and Research Student Outcome Learning Goals

Students who complete IN150 and IN151 should be able to:

  • Read critically to comprehend, analyze and evaluate texts;
  • Demonstrate a theoretical understanding of rhetorical context;
  • Establish a voice appropriate to the topic selected and the rhetorical situation;
  • Use various invention, drafting, and revising/editing strategies to write polished, informed essays for personal, public and/or specialized audiences, with recognition of the different conventions and forms required in different discourse communities;
  • Conduct research to participate in academic inquiry; and
  • Reflect formally on engagements with critical reading, writing and research to acquire, examine and present self-awareness about those engagements.

Performance Based Learning in Critical Writing, Reading, and Research Courses

The Critical Writing, Reading, and Research (CWRR) program at Millikin University is committed to the university-wide Performance Based Learning initiative. One of our newest endeavors that supports Performance Based Learning is the Millikin Premier Writing Contest. This program, established in 2013-2014, rewards and celebrates first-year student achievement through publishing exceptional work produced by first year writers in our IN 151 classroom. A team of student-editors (usually comprised of Junior or Senior English majors—all of whom undergo an application process) rigorously reviews all submissions from the first-year writers; the student-editors then use a rubric to determine the best pieces for this publication. Winning authors closely work with the student-editors to refine and revise their piece. All the polished writings are published in an annual collection, produced by Bronze Man Books. The publication is one that can be used in the first-year writing classroom, as it is analogous to the sample essays found in traditional first year writing textbooks. This not only celebrates first-year writers, but it also gives our CWRR students an opportunity to experience Performance Based Learning in a meaningful way—the editing, revising, and publishing process very much so enacts the core principals of Performance Based Learning, as does writing for an audience beyond their instructor.

Additionally, many of our CWRR students present their work produced in the first-year writing classroom at Millikin’s Celebration of Scholarship. This not only gives students valuable presentation experience, it also helps students think about their writing in terms of audience and context; simply put, they must consider ways to make a piece written in the classroom a meaningful, engaging presentation that appeals to a wide audience. By making a private piece of writing public, students again engage in performance-based learning.

Lastly, the CWRR faculty is committed to having students “learn by doing”: our classrooms are often characterized as writing workshops, where students garner feedback from not only faculty, but from their peers.