Writing-Based Inquiry Seminar (WBIS)

Welcome to First-Year Writing at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. We, along with the other teachers in this program, are eager to help you grow into a confident college-level writer. Our classes aim to teach you habits of mind, such as critical thinking, responsible research, and rhetorical flexibility, that you will need to succeed as a writer in a range of classes. You can expect your First-Year Writing instructor to be a source of feedback, encouragement, and challenge as we work with you to build your writing skills.

In the FAQ for students, you’ll find answers to many of the questions you might have about WBIS 188 and other First-Year Writing classes. If you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us at the links below.

Happy writing!

, Director of First-Year Writing

, Developmental Writing Coordinator

FAQ for Students

What is WBIS 188?

Here at UW Oshkosh, like at most U.S. universities, our general education program requires that you take an introductory writing class within your first year. WBIS (Writing-Based Inquiry Seminar) 188 is our main offering that most students take to complete that requirement. WBIS 188 is a one-semester, three-credit class with a maximum of 25 students and a teacher who is an expert in English and writing. In the class, you can expect to write formal essays, complete informal writing assignments, read a variety of texts, engage in class discussion on a daily or near-daily basis, and learn how to do academic library research to find scholarly sources.

What is English 110?

English 110 meets the same requirements as WBIS 188 but is reserved for students in the Honors program or students with high English placement scores. English 110 provides an intellectually stimulating environment for students who may already have some basics of college-level writing down but want to push themselves to excel in this area. 

What is English 100, and why do I need to take it?

English 100 is intended as a “boost” for students whose English placement test scores indicate that they might benefit from a bit more guidance as they transition to college-level writing. If you have placed into English 100, you will need to take this class along with the WBIS 99 tutorial, and pass both with a C or better, before you take WBIS 188. It will introduce you to the skills and habits you will need to succeed in WBIS through classroom discussion, meetings with your instructor, and plenty of writing practice. It will also provide you a regular weekly meeting with a tutor at the Writing Center. Students who successfully complete English 100 have noted that they enter WBIS 188 feeling confident and prepared, and that they often have a leg up on their classmates!

What is WBIS 99?

WBIS 99 is a weekly Writing Center tutorial. It is required of two groups of students:

  • Students in English 100 register for two credits of in-class English 100 instruction alongside the WBIS 99 tutorial. 
  • Students who have placed into the WBIS 188/WBIS 99 combination register for the three-credit WBIS 188 class alongside the WBIS 99 tutorial. If you have this placement, your score puts you between English 100 and WBIS 188. Because we feel confident that you can succeed in WBIS 188 with a little extra support, this tutorial allows you to move right into WBIS without taking English 100 first. If you place into the WBIS 188/WBIS 99 combo, please note that your WBIS 99 tutorials are a required class for you. You must pass both WBIS 188 and WBIS 99 in order to fulfill your first-year writing requirement; if you fail WBIS 99, you will need to take both WBIS 188 and WBIS 99 over.

How do I register for a first-year writing class?

  • English 110 or WBIS 188 without Quest I: Simply select an available class in TitanWeb and you’re good to go.
  • WBIS 188, registering for a Quest I class in the same semester as WBIS: You’ll need to select a Quest I and WBIS pairing. See the USP website for more information.
  • WBIS 188/WBIS 99 combination: Select a WBIS 99 section that fits your schedule. This will be the time of your required Writing Center meeting every week. Once WBIS 99 is in your cart, you’ll be able to select any WBIS 188 section, following the directions above. 
  • English 100: Put both an English 100 section and a WBIS 99 section in your cart. English 100 will be the times you meet with your full class, and WBIS 99 will be the time of your individual writing center tutorial.

I have questions or concerns about my placement. What should I do?

We recommend talking to an academic adviser first, as they can help you understand your placement. The Wisconsin English Placement Test is specially created by professors to sort students into the classes where they are most likely to succeed, so we recommend trusting your placement. However, if you feel that your placement score isn’t accurate, you may retake the English Placement Test by contacting the Testing Center. If you are right on the border of the next highest placement and feel strongly that a boost up is warranted, you may contact the Director of First-Year Writing or the Developmental Writing Coordinator. We may decide, on a case-by-case basis, to interview students and read additional samples of their writing, and we may change a student’s placement based on this additional information. 

I am a transfer student. Do I need to take a First-Year Writing class?

It depends! If you transferred in credits for a class that meets the first-year composition requirement, then no. If you did not take a writing class at your previous school, or if you only took a remedial writing class, then yes, you will need to take First-Year Writing here. If you took a writing class at your previous school that you think should count for First-Year Writing but it didn’t transfer, talk to the admissions office or the Director of First-Year Writing.

I’ve heard that WBIS classes have “themes.” What does that mean?

Our primary goal in WBIS is to help you grow as a writer, but it is necessary that you write about something. To this end, we have designed our classes so that each class focuses on one topic all semester. This allows you to develop some expertise in the topic and to have a realistic academic writing experience, since professional academic writers write about things they have already been reading and talking about for awhile. Each instructor chooses a theme for his/her course that they have extensive knowledge and interest in, so you also have the benefit of an instructor who will be truly excited about what you’re writing about!

How does WBIS fit into the University Studies Program (USP)?

You take WBIS as part of the Quest phase of the USP. If you take it paired with your Quest I disciplinary class, the same 25 students who are in your WBIS class will also be in the other class, and both classes will align with the same Signature Question. If you take WBIS with your Quest II disciplinary class, the classes are not paired but instead are co-requisites (you must register for both in the same semester).

What resources are available to help me in my First-Year Writing class?

Many of our most successful First-Year Writing students are frequent users of campus resources! A few that may be especially helpful for your work in these classes include:


WBIS Program Goals

The mission of WBIS is to equip students with critical writing, reading, and thinking skills as a foundation for their liberal education and their meaningful participation in academic and public communities. We aim to achieve this mission through:

Written Communication
Students will learn strategies for effectively transmitting their ideas through the written word. They will learn to organize and connect their ideas clearly in writing. They will build their awareness of conventions of genre, style, mechanics, and grammar, remaining conscious of how these conventions may vary depending on context.

Writing Process Strategies
Students will receive guidance throughout their writing process. They will practice generating productive research questions and effective thesis statements. As they compose, revise, and edit their drafts, they will engage in critical reflections on their work and their own writing process.

Critical Thinking
Students will build strategies for understanding and interpreting written texts, as well as for critically evaluating these texts’ clarity, form, reliability, and rhetorical effectiveness. In the process, they will build awareness of how audience, genre, content, and purpose affect writing decisions. They will apply critical analysis to class readings and to their own and their peers’ in-progress writing.

Collaborative Work
Students will engage in productive discussions and collaborative activities that allow them to practice critical thinking and problem solving. Students may collaborate on a variety of tasks, such as discussions of class readings or potential paper topics, activities for learning documentation and writing skills, or reviews of one another’s paper plans or drafts.

Source Use and Information Literacy
Students will develop skills in retrieving, evaluating, and utilizing sources appropriately and ethically in college-level writing. They will practice incorporating effective and correctly documented summary, paraphrase, and quotation into their writing. They will build their ability to synthesize multiple viewpoints and enhance their understanding of how writers use citation practices to engage in academic conversation.

Contact Us 

Office: Radford Hall Room 216 
Phone: (920) 424-2205
Hours: 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Email: english@uwosh.edu