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When the preferences window opens for your assigned quarter, review the available PWR courses and submit your top 7 choices. With so many students in any given quarter, not every student will end up in their highest choice, but the system will put you in the highest ranked section possible.

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

  • 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

All PWR 1 classes follow the same assignment sequence, designed to move students from analysis into conversation with sources, and finally to creating their own research-based argument.

  • Rhetorical Analysis. In 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 Conversation. The 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 Argument. This 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.