The rhetoric courses at Rockford University are made up of a three-course sequence:
  • Rhetoric 101 – Introduction to Writing and Rhetoric
  • Rhetoric 102 – Rhetoric and Research Writing
  • Rhetoric 351 – Applied Rhetoric

All students take each course in the sequence, or, in some cases, may enter into RHET 102 or RHET 351 by testing in or transferring credit from an equivalent course (see the section on Placement below). 

Rhetoric Sequence Philosophy

The rhetoric sequence as Rockford University (RU) is committed to helping all students develop rhetorical knowledge and experience that will allow them to be successful in their future educational, personal, and civic lives. We define rhetoric, generally, as the study and practice of effective and ethical communication; this emphasis on ethics reinforces the understanding that all writing requires making choices—and that those choices impact our relationships and the responsibility we have to others. In this light, composing thoughtfully and well is not only a practical or pragmatic skill but instead the very means in which we construct our knowledge and experience of the world and the people we share it with. 

Relatedly, the rhetoric sequence recognizes, teaches, and models linguistic diversity in writing. Valuing such inclusion helps expand students’ range of success in reading and communicating within our diverse and interconnected social world. (See, for instance, “This Ain’t Another Statement! This is a DEMAND for Black Linguistic Justice!” and “Statement on Second Language Writing and Multilingual Writers.”) 

And while there will be ample opportunities to learn productive and effective academic reading and writing practices throughout the sequence (i.e., academic literacy practice), at RU we also acknowledge that reading and writing well does not always mean writing in size 12 font on a white page. Thus, students are also invited to practice navigating, reading, and producing with 21st-century reading and composing technologies. 

On a final note, our instructors are committed to continual self-assessment and professional development in order to make improvements in our methods, practices, and philosophy. As such, we invite students to communicate throughout the semester with each other and in classes with us to let us know what you think about the rhetoric classes and what you think about the writing you are doing here at RU. 

Rhetoric Sequence Course Goals

Students in the Rhetoric Sequence at Rockford University share a set of common goals:

  • Rhetorical knowledge, including proficiency with key rhetorical concepts
  • Critical engagement through reading and composing practices
  • Application of appropriate genre conventions given the purpose for writing
  • Adaptive and process-based composing strategies
  • Awareness of self-positionality developed through sustained reflection

The course goals above are designed as a recursive tool for all RHET courses in the sequence. Although goals remain the same for each course, expectations for their achievement shift as students gain more composing experience through the RHET Sequence.


While all students are encouraged and welcomed to move through the standard, three-course rhetoric sequence, there are some exceptions that will place you into RHET 102 or RHET 351. 

Advanced Placement (AP) English Language and Composition Exam

If you received a 3 or above in the AP exam, you will place out of RHET 101, though you’re still welcome to take RHET 101 at RU if you’d like extra practice in spoken and written communication. 

Transfer Courses 

You may transfer courses to fulfill the RHET 101 and/or RHET 102 courses. All students, however, must take RHET 351 or another Writing Intensive (WI) course at Rockford University, since there is no testing or transfer equivalent. 

If you are a new transfer student, registering for the first time at Rockford University, your transcript will be reviewed to determine whether or not you have fulfilled the requirements for RHET 101 and/or RHET 102.

If you are a continuing student at Rockford University and want to take a course at another school to satisfy the RHET 101 or 102 requirement here, you must have approval on file with SAS before you take the course. To secure approval, pick up a “Transfer of Credit” form at SAS and return the completed form with the appropriate authorizing signatures to SAS before you take the course. 

Community-Based Learning

Some rhetoric classes include community-based learning projects that contribute to an environment in which students consider how their skills may be applied to resolving issues arising within the context of the workplace and to problems affecting their communities.

Interdisciplinary reading, writing, and speaking assignments will help students discover connections among disciplines and will encourage them to develop strategies for synthesizing the knowledge they have acquired during their study at Rockford University.

Policy on Machine-Generated / Automated Writing Programs

If you’ve ever accepted a spelling or grammar correction from your phone, used Gmail’s “Smart Compose” option,” or used a language translation program, you know our technology is capable of making suggestions and helping us write. At the same time, you’ve likely also had instances when Microsoft Word made a grammatical suggestion or your phone’s autocorrect changed a word to something that was completely (and sometimes humorously) wrong. Similarly, automated writing programs or machine-generated writing (often referred to as Writing AI) can be helpful, but they are also limited and usually obvious when they are mistaken. 

In our class, our assignment prompts will require making (often) personal and thoughtful connections with concepts and readings as well as incorporating quotes and other forms of research. We will work through the writing process together, and you will receive feedback along the way that will help you hone your future writing skills. Moreover, RU’s Rhetoric Sequence is structured in a way that strives for developing authentic connections with your readers based on your individual experiences and knowledges, rather than that of an automated program inventing them!

If you are struggling with an assignment, feel stressed about our class, or perhaps are feeling overwhelmed by life and believe automated writing may offer a quick solution, it would be best to first reach out to your instructor or to schedule an appointment with RU’s friendly Writing Center tutors or with the Professional Writing tutor at CLS. If you are interested in a CLS tutoring appointment, you may contact Charlene Scamihorn at CScamihorn@rockford.edu or schedule an appointment with Nancy Gebhardt through https://rockford.mywconline.com/

While we may have opportunities in class to explore the affordances automated writing programs offer, if you use an automated writing program, you must do so in ways that attend to the ethical goals of rhetoric, as described in our Rhetoric Sequence Philosophy. More specifically, you must create a citation for the program and specifically detail what words the program produced at the end of your essay. Instructions for this kind of software citation may be found for MLA, APA (under computer software), and Chicago formatting. Responsible use of these programs means ensuring you include such a citation in your sources at the end of your essay. 

Failure to cite software or over-relying on a program to construct an essay can result in violation of RU’s Academic Integrity Policy (see syllabus statement on the Academic Integrity Policy for further details).  

In short, while technology may be useful in some capacities, it will serve you well to ask questions to the people around you who are more than happy to help and have specific knowledge about the writing requirements in RU’s Rhetoric Sequence.

Additional Resources

Scarborough Hall
5050 E. State St.
Rockford, IL 61108

Kyle Stedman, Ph.D.

Chair, Department of English