First-Year Composition

Academic Writing I

Student Learning Outcomes

The principal goal of Academic Writing I (WRTG 10600) is to help students develop or refine the writing and reading abilities that they will need to function within the academic community. To achieve that goal, we have established course student learning outcomes in four of the areas identified by the Council of Writing Program Administrators as central to first year composition:

SLO #1: Rhetorical Knowledge -- By the end of first-year composition, students should analyze the social contexts that create occasions for writing and consider the needs of different audiences.

SLO #2: Critical Thinking, Reading, and Writing -- By the end of first-year composition, students should analyze and synthesize multiple viewpoints presented in sources and develop cogent arguments to articulate and support their own claims.

SLO #3: Processes -- By the end of first-year composition, students should utilize a process approach to writing that involves critical thinking, drafting, and revising.

SLO #4: Knowledge of Conventions -- By the end of first-year composition, students should observe standard academic writing conventions as they compose and revise, including responsible use of support material as well as correct grammar and usage.

The following explanations of our course student learning borrow heavily from the Web site of the Council of Writing Program Administrators.

Rhetorical Knowledge: Writers who are “rhetorically aware” analyze the social contexts that create occasions for writing and consider the needs of potential audiences. We encourage our students to see their writing as contributions to ongoing discussions that are taking place in academic literature or public discourse rather than merely responses to the demands of particular instructors or assignments. Students who are rhetorically aware can function independently as writers and make wise choices about content, format, and style. They are able to focus on a purpose and then use conventions of format and structure appropriate to the rhetorical situation as well as appropriate voice, tone, and level of formality. They understand how genres shape reading and writing and can write in several genres.

Faculty in all programs and departments can build on this preparation in rhetorical awareness by helping students learn

· the main features of writing in their fields
· the main uses of writing in their fields
· the expectations of readers in their fields.

Critical Thinking, Reading, and Writing: Our reading and writing assignments challenge students to work with complex ideas presented in academic literature and public discourse and to use reading and writing for inquiry, learning, thinking, and communicating. Sources for papers are typically college-level texts that will stretch students’ reading and thinking abilities. Through class discussions and writing projects, our students analyze and synthesize multiple viewpoints presented in sources and develop cogent arguments to articulate and support their own claims. They come to understand a writing assignment as a series of tasks, including finding, evaluating, analyzing, and synthesizing appropriate primary and secondary sources. We also encourage our students to draw on their prior knowledge and personal experience as they read and write and to integrate their own ideas with those of others. By developing their critical thinking, reading and writing abilities, students will come to understand the relationships among language, knowledge, and power.

Faculty in all programs and departments can build on this preparation in critical thinking, reading, and writing by helping students learn

· the uses of writing as a critical thinking method
· the interactions among critical thinking, critical reading, and writing
· the relationships among language, knowledge, and power in their fields

Processes: Academic Writing I teaches a process approach to writing that involves critical thinking, drafting, and revising. We emphasize that writing takes time, that hard work pays off more than flashes of inspiration, and that it usually takes multiple drafts to create and complete a successful text. Our students develop flexible strategies for generating, revising, editing, and proof-reading. In the weeks preceding a full draft due date, students typically produce a range of preliminary writing pieces that may include summaries of or responses to readings, freewriting exercises, audience analysis exercises, and journal entries; thus students are encouraged to view writing as an open process that permits writers to use later invention and re-thinking to revise their work. Full essay drafts are critiqued and revised with the help of peer review and/or individual conferences with instructors, and students learn to critique their own and others' works. These activities help students to appreciate the collaborative and social aspects of writing processes and to learn to balance the advantages of relying on others with the responsibility of doing their part. The Ithaca College Writing Center may provide additional support to students at the revising and editing stages.

Faculty in all programs and departments can build on this preparation in writing processes by helping students learn

· to build final results in stages
· to review work-in-progress in collaborative peer groups for purposes other than editing
· to save extensive editing for later parts of the writing process
· to apply the technologies commonly used to research and communicate within their fields

Knowledge of Conventions: We stress to our students that they must observe standard academic writing conventions as they compose and revise, and we emphasize responsible documentation of source material as well as correct grammar and usage. Students learn to control such surface features as syntax, grammar, punctuation, and spelling and practice appropriate means of documenting their work. They also develop knowledge of genre conventions ranging from format and paragraphing to tone and mechanics. Since our students will eventually write in courses across campus, we point out that conventions vary according to genre and context. Although many of those discipline-specific conventions can only be presented in courses taught by disciplinary experts, we help our students to identify the points at which they will need to make conscious decisions as they approach each new occasion for writing.

Faculty in all programs and departments can build on this preparation by helping students learn

· the conventions of usage, specialized vocabulary, format, and documentation in their fields
· strategies through which better control of conventions can be achieved

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