I&E is a one semester course designed to introduce AQ freshmen to the writing, reading, speaking, critical thinking, and research skills necessary to ensure success not just at the college level, but for the rest of their lives. The "Inquiry" portion involves developing strategies for conducting an investigation to seek information, knowledge, and truth. The "Expression" portion involves developing the skills necessary to explain to others the results of one's inquiry both in writing and in speaking.

The Aquinas College General Education curriculum addresses the student learning outcomes listed below: 

  1. Exhibit competence in disciplines across the liberal arts

  2. Read critically and formulate relevant conclusions (critical thinking)

  3. Demonstrate proficiency in communication (writing, speaking, reading, listening, presentation skills)

  4. Acquire research and analysis skills

  5. Integrate knowledge of diverse perspectives and cultural traditions

  6. Understand the application of theological and ethical concepts in daily life


Inquiry and Expression (GE 101) is an integrated collegiate skills course that introduces students to academic discourse, including writing, reading, research, oral communication, and critical thinking. These skills are developed by examining contemporary American issues such as race, class, popular culture, and gender. Library and electronic research skills are directly applied as students conclude the course with a research paper. Students must successfully complete this course with a minimum of a C- or better in order to take GE 201.
Inquiry and Expression will seek to meet these goals through the development of specific skill related goals. These goals are in line with the WPA Outcomes Statement for First-Year Composition.

  1. The study, practice, and development of specific writing (rhetorical) skills

  2. Critical thinking skills

  3. Critical reading skills

  4. Competence in finding and using source materials in order to write interesting and thoughtful research papers

  5. Confidence in speaking before a group

  6. Confidence in one's ability to think, read, speak, and write critically.

Course Objectives

In order to achieve these goals, students in this course will:

  1. Write to discover and learn

  2. Understand and apply a process approach to writing that involves inventing, drafting, revising, editing, and proofreading

  3. Select, integrate, and document appropriate research materials

  4. Adapt an appropriate voice for a variety of audiences and purposes in writing and speaking

  5. Exhibit critical thinking in writing and speaking

  6. Identify and use elements of effective writing


See instructor for textbook(s) for your section

Attendance Policy

Students are expected to come to each class with their text(s), having read all assigned material and being prepared for intelligent classroom participation. Students who miss a class meeting must take responsibility for all material covered.
In case of absence from class or special events, the following policy will be implemented:

  • With four (4) absences, your final grade for the course will fall a full letter grade.

  • With seven (7) absences, your final grade will fall a second full letter grade.

  • Beyond that, you will receive an automatic no credit for the course.

If there is a compelling reason why you cannot attend your class, please contact your instructor in advance.
Students will occasionally be required to attend workshops or presentations outside of class. Attendance at these co-curricular activities is required and failure to attend will be counted as an absence. This year, the major co-curricular activity will be the Contemporary Writers Series. You are expected to attend one of the presentations in the series during this semester.


Evaluation will be at the discretion of the instructor and will address the goals and objectives of the course. This may include a portfolio of four major essay assignments. Other writing and speaking assignments as well as class participation may also serve as modes of evaluation.

Standards Statement

The goals and learning outcomes for the course are derived from the standards and guidelines of the National Council of Teachers of English, The Council of Writing Program Administrators (WPA), and the Conference on College Composition and Communication (www.ncte.org). These goals and learning outcomes are also in accordance with the goals and objectives of the Aquinas College General Education Program.
Academic Dishonesty

Plagiarism and other forms of academic dishonesty are not tolerated. See the "Academic Dishonesty" statement in the College Catalog for a full description of the College's policy .

In addition to holdings in the Grace Hauenstein Library, Inquiry and Expression maintains a Resource Room (Lower Wege). The Grace Hauenstein Library also subscribes to numerous databases (including ProQuest, First Search, InfoTrac, and others) to support academic research and learning.
Course Schedule

Determined by instructor

How has the Inquiry and Expression course benefited AQ students' college experience?

"I&E was a great experience for me coming into college. My professor stressed the importance of reading and writing to our class. I had never been interested in reading much but was encouraged to read during the semester. My professor, Dr. Rumohr-Voskuil, went out of her way to find books that would be interesting to me. She challenged me to get outside of my comfort zone and start reading. Even after the class was finished my professor would still email me titles of books that I should read and would check in to see if I had read them and to get my thoughts on them.  Along with the reading we learned how to use the different resources on campus when writing a research paper. This became an important asset for me to use in other classes. I would recommend all students take advantage of the I&E program as it is a good springboard for what to expect from other college classes." - Aiden Anderson, Class of 2017

"Coming from high school English classes that didn’t prepare me enough for college, Inquiry & Expression definitely saved my life when it comes to college writing. In the class, I was taught the proper way on how to write four major types of papers that I would encounter throughout college. I&E assisted me in becoming more confident in my writing, and to not be scared of writing-intensive classes. Taking the skills I learned from I&E, I now work in the Writing Center on campus and I always spread the word on how beneficial I&E was for me." - Noah Kellogg, Class of 2018

"When I entered Inquiry & Expression for the very first time as a first-year, I was quite intimidated by the name.  First, Inquiry meant I had to question and analyze something; what it was, well, I did not know yet.  Next, I had to create Expression--make meaning by using a pen, and paper, and my voice.  Nevertheless, this new I&E class was going to involve thinking.  My professor, Dr. Melissa Coll-Smith, made an everlasting impact on my critical thinking and writing skills during my I&E experience.  She reduced an otherwise scary class to an opportunity to explore thinking through endless forms.  Even with our large class size, we had constructive, discussion-based class sessions, talking about topics such as politics, the Native American struggle in a predominantly white society, and even conspiracy theories.  Dr. Coll-Smith assisted in developing every student's writing skills throughout the semester.  By the end, I was able to produce a 15-page about the Beatles, something I wouldn't have been able to do without I&E.  The skills acquired through this course are applicable to all majors and fields of study because 'Inquiry' and 'Expression' are two components everyone uses to explore being human."  - Charles Blackmore, Class of 2017


“Looking back on my first year of college I am very glad I chose to take Inquiry and Expression my first semester.  It gave me the confidence that I needed to improve my ability as a writer.  As I write papers for classes for this semester I realize how valuable I&E was for my writing confidence as well as giving me the tools to enable me to connect with places like the Writing Center.” - Jared Downing, Class of 2018


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