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 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). Specific learning outcomes for each course are listed at the end of this document.

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 thinkingis 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.

Course Learning Outcomes

English 100

In English 100, students will be introduced to writing as a social activity with the goal of providing them with the knowledge and strategies that will help them develop as writers. Specifically focusing on Writing Processes, students in English 100 will:

  • Practice a range of writing processes
    • Learn about invention, drafting, and revision strategies 
    • Learn to give and receive feedback for revision
    • Learn the differences among revision, editing, and proofreading
    • Learn about grammar, mechanics, and usage conventions 
    • Identify audience, purpose, and context for different writing tasks
    • Analyze how writing process choices impact a writer’s development
    • Practice invention, drafting, and revision strategies 
    • Practice working with others during invention, drafting, and revision
    • Practice writing to different audiences, for different purposes, and in different contexts 
    • Practice grammar, mechanics, and usage conventions
  • Read and respond to diverse texts
    • Inquire into the writing processes for creating different texts 
    • Analyze readings to identify audience, purpose, and context
    • Learn to recognize patterns in grammar, mechanics, and usage conventions 
    • Critically read and ask questions about texts in order to generate ideas for writing
    • Practice active reading and annotation skills
    • Respond to texts from multiple viewpoints
    • Paraphrase and summarize texts and put two or more texts in conversation with each other and with the student’s own ideas

 

English 180

In English 180, students will be introduced to writing as a social activity with the goal of providing them with the knowledge and strategies that will help them succeed as college writers. Specifically focusing on Rhetorics and Genres, students in English 180 will:

  • Practice writing for a variety of rhetorical situations
    • Learn about how the rhetorical situation (writer, audience, purpose, and context) impacts and informs the decisions writers make
    • Identify rhetorical appeals and rhetorical strategies used by writers in a range of genres, including nontraditional and multimedia texts
    • Analyze and reflect on the rhetorical choices they, and others, make as writers of different genres, especially on how writers modify their writing for different audiences 
    • Utilize the rhetorical situation as a part of writing processes
    • Produce written texts that respond to different rhetorical situations and that use appropriate rhetorical appeals and rhetorical strategies
    • Produce rhetorical texts in collaboration with others
  • Practice writing in a variety of genres
    • Learn about genres as typified practices that influence writing choices
    • Identify global elements of genre, including content, tone, style, organization, type and use of evidence, and medium  
    • Identify sentence-level elements of genre, including grammar, mechanics, and usage
    • Analyze how writer, context, purpose, and audience help account for genre differences
    • Analyze how different rhetorical situations call for different genres
    • Analyze how different genres call for different writing processes
    • Choose writing processes and genres appropriate for given rhetorical situations
    • Practice reading, analyzing, evaluating, and properly incorporating appropriate secondary sources
    • Practice conducting and incorporating primary research

 

English 280

In English 280, students will continue to learn about writing as a social activity with the goal of providing them with the knowledge and strategies that will help them succeed as researchers and writers. Specifically focusing on genres and discourse communities, students in English 280 will:

  • Practice writing for different discourse communities 
    • Learn the role discourse communities play in shaping writing and genres
    • Identify elements of discourse community, including genre conventions and specialized vocabulary
    • Understand why different grammar, mechanics, usage, and citation standards exist in different discourse communities
    • Identify differences between errors and intentional variations from expected conventions
    • Practice different grammar, mechanics, usage, and citation standards
    • Participate in an ongoing academic conversation through writing, choosing appropriate genre and medium for discourse community and rhetorical situation.
  • Practice reading and writing texts grounded in research
    • Read and analyze a diverse range of texts, attending to relationships between assertion and evidence, patterns of organization, the interplay between verbal and nonverbal elements, and how these features function for different discourse communities
    • Acquire strategies for formulating and articulating research questions and several methods for primary and secondary research
    • Conduct primary and secondary research, including the use of library resources
    • Evaluate research for credibility, reliability, and relevance
    • Practice synthesizing, integrating, and citing multiple different sources according to various discourse community conventions
    • Choose writing processes and genres appropriate for research-based writing

 

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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