21W.015 | Fall 2013 | Undergraduate

Writing and Rhetoric: Writing about Sports

Instructor Insights

Course Overview

This page focuses on the course 21W.015 Writing and Rhetoric: Writing About Sports as it was taught by Dr. Karen Boiko in Fall 2013.

This course was one in a suite of introductory writing subjects, aimed primarily at freshmen. The course aimed to improve students’ communication skills by having them continually write and rewrite pieces, along with editing their peers’ writing. The curriculum focused on reading, discussing, writing, and giving oral presentations on issues related to sports and their role as a significant part of American culture.

Course Outcomes

Course Goals for Students

  • Develop clarity and efficacy in writing and speaking.
  • Demonstrate awareness of audience.
  • Find, evaluate, and integrate sources of information into essays.
  • Improve essay structure.

Instructor Interview

Below, Karen Boiko describes various aspects of how she taught 21W.015 Writing and Rhetoric: Writing About Sports.

I developed this course as a new “flavor” in the Writing and Rhetoric series, because I thought the topic would interest undergraduates. Students seem to respond well to the course, as they seem to enjoy being able to write about a topic that is important to them and relevant to their daily lives.

The main challenge for this class was preventing the class from turning into simple “sports writing.” To prevent this, I ensured the selected readings all engaged with ideas and issues instead of merely being description and narration.

Curriculum Information



Requirements Satisfied

  • CI-HW
  • HASS
  • HASS-H


Every fall semester.


The students’ grades were based on the following activities:

  • 15% Essay 1
  • 25% Essay 2
  • 35% Investigative essay
  • 10% Oral presentation
  • 10% Class participation (inlcuding workshopping)


A rubric was used to assess students’ oral presentations.

Student Information


15 students

Breakdown by Year

Mostly freshmen, with a few upperclassmen.

Typical Student Background

Most students had a previous interest in sports and had either played sports in high school or at MIT.

Enrollment Cap


Ideal Class Size

Limiting the class to 12-15 students is ideal because responding to student writing is intensive. It is difficult to give students sufficient time in class to have their writing discussed if the class size is large.

How Student Time Was Spent

During an average week, students were expected to spend 12 hours on the course, roughly divided as follows:

In Class

  • Met 2 times a week for 1.5 hours per session; 26 sessions total; mandatory attendance.
  • Sessions primarily consisted of discussions of readings, workshops for writing pieces, and peer review of pieces. Lectures were minimal and rare.

Out of Class

  • Students completed readings outside of class. The readings were meant to exemplify good writing on sports-related topics, to serve as inspiration to the students.
  • Students completed a series of writing assignments themed around sports to introduce them to writing and reviewing as subjects.
  • Students prepared oral presentations in the form of book reviews on books chosen from a given list.

Course Info

As Taught In
Fall 2013
Learning Resource Types
Written Assignments
Instructor Insights