College of Arts and Sciences

Western Writing Program Outcomes

Welcome to Western’s Writing Program. We recognize writing as influenced by complex intuitive, cognitive, rhetorical, social, and ecological processes that develop through social acquisition, training, and reflective practice. Our curriculum is built around five Guiding Principles:

  • Language is social—and so is writing.
  • Writing is work that involves play.
  • Thinking, reading, and writing are intimately connected to each other and to identity.
  • Writing concepts and practices are transferrable.
  • Community is important to the process of writing.

To help students learn how to learn to write, we offer a sequence of three courses: ENG 100 (Introduction to Writing), ENG 180 (College Writing I), and ENG 280 (College Writing II). Each course is designed around five primary areas of study: 1) Writing Processes; 2) Discourse Communities; 3) Rhetorics; 4) Genres; and 5) Critical Thinking, Reading, and Research. Students engage each primary area of study with increasing sophistication as they move through our sequence of courses.

Our program objectives, based on the five areas of study, align closely with the objectives in the Council of Writing Program Administrators’ Outcomes Statement for First-Year Writing (language below that is taken directly from the Outcomes Statement is placed in quotation marks). A chart of the sequence of objectives follows to help students understand the writing course sequence.

Writing Processes:

Writers use multiple strategies, or processes, to engage in the conceptual and physical activities involved in composing texts. For example, writers discover ideas for writing through invention strategies such as handwriting notes or tossing around possible topics with friends; drafting can be done with pen and paper or on a computer or even while dreaming; revising may involve moving paragraphs around in a word processing program or literally cutting and pasting paper. Writing processes are recursive: that is, though we may describe writing as a step-by-step activity, we very rarely move in a straight line from idea to finished product. Because writing is a complex activity, students of writing benefit from examining their writing processes, adopting flexible strategies for writing, and engaging a variety of conceptual and physical tools to compose texts.

Discourse Communities:

Groups of people who share common values and methods of communication are called discourse communities. We may belong to multiple, often overlapping, discourse communities, each of which influences the way we view the world. Because of the social nature of writing, students of writing benefit from examining the role of discourse communities in shaping the contexts and conventions of the varieties of writing they will read and compose.

Rhetorics:

“Rhetorical knowledge is the ability to analyze contexts and audiences and then to act on that analysis” when composing texts. Because writers must negotiate “purpose, audience, context, and conventions” when producing texts, students of writing benefit from acquiring rhetorical knowledge that they practice by composing a variety of genres.

Genres:

While generally associated with conventions, or formal and informal rules that govern writing, genres are more than just those common features we associate with different types of writing (such as lab reports or literature reviews). Genres develop and change over time in response to the interactions between discourse communities and recurring rhetorical situations (Wardle and Downs 216). Because genres, and thus conventions, are not stable over time or across communities, students of writing benefit from examining the way genres develop as well as the relationships among genres.

Critical Thinking, Reading, and Research:

“Critical thinking is the ability to analyze, synthesize, interpret, and evaluate ideas, information, situations, and texts.” Because writing is used both to support these critical thinking activities and to compose new texts as a result of engaging in these critical thinking activities, students of writing benefit from considering the relationships among thinking, reading, and writing and how these activities are shaped by discourse communities and rhetorical situations.

Sequence of Objectives

(view as a graph)

Objective: Writing Processes
  • ENG 100: Students will consider the writing processes they have employed in the past and will identify and practice new invention, drafting, revision, and editing strategies.
  • ENG 180: Students will test and adapt writing processes (invention, drafting, revision, and editing strategies) to meet the demands of varying genres and rhetorical situations.
  • ENG 280: Students will adjust their writing processes to various research writing situations. Students will also acquire strategies for formulating and articulating research questions and several methods for conducting primary and secondary research.
Objective: Discourse Communities
  • ENG 100: Students will define community, with special emphasis on comparing and contrasting the role of reading and writing in past communities with communities they are now entering.
  • ENG 180: Students will define and identify different discourse communities, with emphasis on understanding how community shapes writing in civic contexts.
  • ENG 280: Students will identify and describe different discourse communities, with emphasis on analyzing how community shapes writing in disciplinary and professional contexts.
Objective: Rhetorics
  • ENG 100: Students will define and identify elements of the rhetorical situation (exigence, audience, and context) and learn strategies for analyzing rhetorical situations, with emphasis on audience analysis as a tool for invention.
  • ENG 180: Students will identify and analyze the elements of the rhetorical situation (exigence, audience, and context) and will apply knowledge of the rhetorical situation and rhetorical strategies to composing their own texts.
  • ENG 280: Students will analyze and interpret the rhetorical situation (exigence, audience, and context) as a social construct, with emphasis on assessing how discourse communities shape rhetoric.
Objective: Genres
  • ENG 100: Students will define genre as a typified response to a recurring situation with emphasis on acquiring flexible writing and revising processes for working with varying genres.
  • ENG 180: Students will understand how genre functions as a typified response to a recurring situation with emphasis on appropriate application of that genre knowledge.
  • ENG 280: Students will understand genre sets and systems and assess how they function in professional and disciplinary discourse communities.
Objective: Critical Thinking, Reading, and Research
  • ENG 100: Students will consider the reading and critical thinking processes they have employed in the past and will identify and practice new reading and critical thinking processes in order to explore a range of genres and to examine how writers use research as part of their writing.
  • ENG 180: Students will use critical thinking, reading, and research strategies to compose texts that participate in ongoing conversations, from both academic and extracurricular communities with emphasis on integrating the writer's ideas with field research and appropriate secondary sources.
  • ENG 280: Students will use critical thinking, reading, and research strategies to compose texts that participate in disciplinary and professional conversations with emphasis on conducting primary research, selecting secondary sources, and integrating information from these sources with the writer’s ideas.

Works Cited:

Council of Writing Program Administrators (CWPA). WPA Outcomes Statement for First-Year  Composition. 17 July 2014. Web. 14 July 2015. http://wpacouncil.org/positions/outcomes.html

Wardle, Elizabeth, and Douglas Downs. Writing About Writing: A College Reader. 2nd ed. New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2014. Print.

 

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