In exit surveys from the University of Idaho, recent graduates have said their writing courses were among those they valued most, and employers consistently list "good communication" as one of the most important skills an employee can have.
The Composition Program aims to give students the tools and knowledge they need to become strong, successful writers—not just for their university courses, but also for their lives beyond college. Perhaps more importantly, the program gives students the means to transform themselves into "rhetors"—people who are able to influence the thinking of others and bring about change in the world. In all levels of composition courses, students refine their abilities to discover, develop, organize, and present ideas. They also learn to identify and respond to various audiences and to recognize what types of writing are appropriate in any situation where communication is necessary.
The program consists of all the writing courses except those designated as "creative writing" courses. Most of these courses are included either as part of the core curriculum required of all undergraduates or for students in particular degree programs.
The Composition Program is comprised of the following courses:
Three courses that together comprise the first-year writing courses:
- English 095 Small-Group Writing Tutorial offered in conjunction with English 101
- English 101 Introduction to College Writing
- English 102 College Writing and Rhetoric
Three intermediate-level courses, required by certain majors, and offering more advanced instruction in certain types of academic writing:
- English 207 Persuasive Writing
- English 208 Personal and Exploratory Writing
- English 209 Inquiry-Based Writing
Three professional writing courses, which emphasize writing in the workplace or in preparation for specific careers:
- English 309 Advanced Prose Writing
- English 313 Business Writing
- English 317 Technical Writing
A senior-level course in studies in rhetoric for students in the Writing minor and for those who wish to have a more in-depth look at rhetorical issues (this course also counts as a 400-level course toward the English major). This course is usually offered in the spring of each year:
- English 440 Reading, Writing, and Rhetoric
There are occasionally special topics courses in other areas of composition and rhetoric.
Most of the first-year courses are taught by teaching assistants--graduate students in English who receive extensive training in the teaching of writing as part of their graduate studies. Most of the other courses are taught by senior instructors and lecturers, faculty members that specialize in the teaching of writing. In addition, two professors in the department who specialize in composition and rhetoric teach the graduate and some undergraduate courses. All of these courses are under the general supervision of the Director of Writing.