The Expository Writing Program is the Johns Hopkins undergraduate program in academic writing. Expos courses are designed to meet our primary goal of teaching students the elements of academic argument shared by all the disciplines and of guiding their practice as they learn to embody those elements in their writing. All courses teach students how to make use of the “Fundamental Structure of Academic Argument” to identify problems and pose questions, to analyze and evaluate sources, and to develop their thinking with evidence as they reason clearly and logically toward their own conclusions. This problem-based approach to academic argument teaches students to understand writing not as a static recitation of what they already know but as a means of thinking about what they do not know—a means of inquiry.
Classes are small, no more than 15 students, and operate as student-centered seminars based on discussions of readings and workshops of student writing. Students read or write for nearly every class, and instructors respond in writing or in person, or both, to all writing assignments. This ongoing dialogue about students’ writing is grounded in the shared vocabulary of the program and includes one-to-one tutorials with the instructor to discuss students’ drafts and provide guidance for revision. Thus a student’s own writing becomes a central text in every Expos course. Each course also teaches students how to incorporate, cite, and document sources.
Finally the aim of every Expos course is to offer students the opportunity to engage a meaningful topic in writing and, based on their analysis, to argue their own view of the problem—their thesis—and contribute to an ongoing scholarly conversation. A course in Expository Writing thus introduces students to the process by which scholarship takes place and prepares them to participate in that enterprise by moving the conversation ahead. This approach to the teaching of academic argument is unique to Johns Hopkins and its mission as a research university.
We hope you’ll join us.
All courses in the Program in Expository Writing help fulfill the university’s writing-intensive, or “W,” requirement.
The Learning Outcomes Statement for Expository Writing explains the knowledge, practices, and skills that courses in Expository Writing help students develop.