Comp Resources: ENGL 095

Cal State L.A. logo and University Seal - Link back to main page

Department of English

& Technology A604

Contact us: (323) 343-4140

ENGL 095

Catalog Description

Learning Objectives


Recommended Textbooks

ENGL 095/096 Portfolios

ENGL 095 Scoring Guide

Catalog Description (back to top)

Prerequisite: English Placement Test (placement determined by student's score). Instruction in basic writing and reading. Focus on writing processes such as invention, revision, and editing. Use of personal experience and/or observation in writing narrative and expository essays. Graded CR/NC.

Learning Objectives (back to top)

  • Develop the ability to focus an essay upon a single assertion triggered by a writing prompt

  • Use effective writing process strategies in invention, drafting, revising, and editing

  • Develop critical reading strategies for both narrative and expository prose

  • Use both narrative and expository structures to organize essays

  • Demonstrate fluency by developing essays with sufficient specific detail

  • Revise writing based on criteria articulated in the rubric and feedback from peers and the instructor

  • Edit writing to eliminate major errors in English sentence structure, punctuation, and usage

Requirements (back to top)

Students are expected to

  • Write 5-7 first draft essays 

  • Substantially revise two of these essays into 2-3 page typed essays for inclusion in the final portfolio

  • Write an in-class essay at the end of the quarter for inclusion in the portfolio

  • Attend a minimum of 80% of the scheduled class sessions

  • Actively participate in prewriting and revision activities during class

  • Read critically and respond informally in writing to assigned readings

Recommended Textbooks (back to top)


If you assign or recommend a handbook, it is helpful if you use the following, so that students do not have to buy different ones over the course of several quarters in the composition program.

A Pocket Style Manual (4th ed.), edited by Diana Hacker (Bedford/St. Martin’s): Small, cheap, and easy to use, with MLA, APA, and Chicago Style documentation formats.


No recommended textbooks.

ENGL 095/096 Portfolios (back to top)

Grading and Portfolio Evaluation

English 095 and 096 are graded Credit or No Credit (CR/NC). Students are evaluated on a portfolio consisting of three writing samples: two essays written during the quarter (revised and edited, with the rough drafts and the original writing prompt attached beneath the final presentation draft), plus a final in-class essay which is administered during the tenth week of classes, usually at the final class meeting. Generally, instructors develop their own prompt for the in-class essay, drawing on topics or themes that they have considered during the quarter.

English 095 and 096 instructors attend a mid-term socialization, usually held on Friday of the fifth week of classes, to read sample portfolios from previous quarters and to develop an understanding of the holistic scoring rubric and portfolio evaluation standards. During the fall quarter, instructors grade portfolios on Friday (English 095) and Saturday (English 096) of the tenth week of classes during an all-day holistic grading session held on campus. During winter and spring quarters, portfolios for both 095 and 096 are read on Friday of the tenth week. Portfolio grades are based upon the entirety of the portfolio and graded holistically, according to rubrics established for each course. (See the Appendices.) End-of-quarter procedures and directions for the portfolios are distributed by the eighth week of the quarter.

Responding to Papers

Instructors are expected to give adequate and specific feedback on student essays through conferences and/or comments on papers. Some instructors do not grade individual essays, but rather guide students in choosing essays and revising them to create a successful portfolio, making it clear that requests for further revision indicate that the essay is not yet ready for the portfolio. By the middle of the quarter, instructors should begin giving students more specific information about the quality of their writing, so students who are not doing passing work are aware of their status. Some instructors use the CR/NC distinction since that is the ultimate decision. Others give a numerical grade based upon the portfolio scoring guide for that course. Whatever their method, most instructors strive to strike a balance between encouraging students and giving them an honest assessment of their work. Students are understandably upset when they believe they have been doing passing work, but then receive a NC grade on their portfolio.

Peer response groups are also recommended as a way of helping students develop their ability to critique essays, of increasing the feedback that students receive, and providing an audience other than the instructor. Many students will benefit from additional tutorial instruction available in the University Writing Center.

English 095 Scoring Guide (back to top)


The "6" portfolio shows a very good level of writing in response to assignments, including the final writing prompt. Papers reveal a clear understanding of the assignments, and at least one revised essay demonstrates very good ability to write an expository thesis/support essay in which narration and description are used as support rather than as the means of organizing the essay. The writer thoughtfully selects details and illustrates or explains her or his ideas appropriately and thoroughly. While there is a basic command of sentence structure and paragraph division, there may be some errors of spelling, idiom and verb forms, as well as the occasional non-standard structure. Class essays show significant improvement over successive drafts, revealing the writer's ability to respond to instruction. Overall, this writer communicates a strong sense of purpose through focused, vivid detail and generally fluent language.



The "5" portfolio shows a good level of writing in response to assignments. Development is less thorough than in a "6" portfolio, and at times some details may not entirely focus on the central idea, or may do so only implicitly. Papers reveal an understanding of the assignments, and at least one revised essay demonstrates good ability to write an expository thesis/support essay in which narration and description are used as support rather than as the means of organizing the essay. Flaws in sentence structure, mechanics, grammar, paragraph division, and usage are not frequent or severe enough to distract the reader or obscure the writer's overall purpose. While essays improve in focus and fluency over successive drafts, that improvement is less marked than in essays in a "very good" portfolio.



The "4" portfolio adequately responds to the assignments. The essays, for the most part, remain focused throughout. At least one revised essay demonstrates an adequate ability to write an expository thesis/support essay in which narration and description are used as support rather than as the means of organizing the essay, and development is sufficient to communicate the writer's purpose. Errors at the sentence level, including non-standard usage, may occasionally distract the reader or briefly obscure the writer's intentions, and paragraph division may sometimes falter. However, this writer clearly understands the assignments and shows an increasing ability to handle them through the process of revision. This student's writing skills are adequate to begin English 096.



The "3" portfolio will exhibit one or more of the following flaws to a degree that indicates the writer is not yet ready for English 096. Essays may not show an adequate understanding of and response to the writing assignments. The essays may not be adequately developed, may lack a consistent focus and may confuse the reader or the writer does not demonstrate adequate control of expository thesis/support essay structure in at least one revised essay. Surface errors and sentence structure problems may be serious and consistent enough to obscure the writer's purpose. Revisions may not show sufficient improvement over earlier versions. Overall, this student will benefit from retaking English 095.



The "2" portfolio is incomplete in significant ways (e.g., does not contain drafts of essays or other required materials or is missing one or more essays).



The "1" grade is assigned when a student fails to submit a portfolio but has completed some course work during the term.