College Writing Courses: What Were You S’posed to Learn?

Did you take Freshman Writing or First Year Composition, or some kind of writing course when you first went to college? Was it a great experience? Too easy? Too hard?

Was it even clear to you what you were supposed to be getting out of that class?

As I am getting ready to teach another group of first year students in a Freshman Writing Seminar, I’ve been looking at the national guidelines for what this kind of course is supposed to offer. I’ve posted the guidelines below.

So here is what I want to know: Did you actually learn this stuff on this list in your first year writing class, however long ago that might have been? Was it taught well? Are there things here that you still wonder about and wish you understood?

Council of Writing Program Administrators: 

Outcomes (National) for First Year Writing Courses

 At the end of the Freshman Writing course, first year students should be expected to demonstrate ability in 4 areas. 

By the end of first year composition, students should
            Focus on a purpose
            Respond to the needs of different audiences
            Respond appropriately to different kinds of rhetorical situations
            Use conventions of format and structure appropriate to the rhetorical situation
            Adopt appropriate voice, tone, and level of formality
            Understand how genres shape reading and writing
            Write in several genres

Critical Thinking, Reading, and Writing
By the end of first year composition, students should
            Use writing and reading for inquiry, learning, thinking, and communicating.
            Understand a writing assignment as a series of tasks, including finding, evaluating, analyzing, and synthesizing appropriate primary and secondary sources.
            Integrate their own ideas with those of others.
            Understand the relationships among language, knowledge, and power.

By the end of first year composition, students should
            Be aware that it usually takes multiple drafts to create and complete a successful text.
            Develop flexible strategies for generating, revising, editing, and proof-reading.
            Understand writing as an open process that permits writers to use later invention and re-thinking to revise their work.
            Understand the collaborative and social aspects of writing processes.
            Learn to critique their own and others’ works.
            Learn to balance the advantages of relying on others with the responsibility of doing their part.
            Use a variety of technologies to address a range of audiences.

Knowledge of Conventions
By the end of first year composition, students should
            Learn common formats for different kinds of texts.
            Develop knowledge of genre conventions ranging from structure and paragraphing to tone and mechanics.
            Practice appropriate means of documenting their work.
            Control such surface features as syntax, grammar, punctuation, and spelling.


 Thanks to Dr. Thomas Allbaugh for compiling this information and sending to his faculty.









Complied by Thomas Allbaugh 2/04

1 thought on “College Writing Courses: What Were You S’posed to Learn?”

  1. Hi Dr. Glyer! You may (or may not) remember me, but I took your Comparative Authors: C. S. Lewis & J. R. R. Tolkien course @ APU in the Spring of 2003. We were the guinea pigs of that class and it was the objective of the course to ultimately publish a book, with each member or group-of-2 contributing a chapter. In the end we did not pursue the publication of an entire book, but rather we elected a few of the papers to be submitted to Myth for review. I remember my chapter was a comparison/contrast of Gandalf and Aslan. Now, 6 years later, as I think back about it, I have to say that was probably my favorite class. I really enjoyed the enthusiasm it engendered as we pored over the popular works (Narnia & LOTR) as well as lesser known titles (Faerie and An Experiment in Criticism). I can honestly say that this class has perpetuated a lifetime of interest and scholasticism towards these great authors that I am all too proud to bestow upon my 5-year old son and next child (who is on the way!). Every now and then I flip through our ‘book’ that you provided at the end of semester and reminisce about the projects we worked on along the way: the ungainly folders we generated as we searched out all possible websites related, however remotely, to CSL and JRRT; the weekly quizzes that tested our abilities to wade through pages and pages of reading; the seriously rough drafts we created at the start of our journey through the worlds of Lewis & Tolkien. I think I left that class a better writer. I hope APU has continued this course to the present, thereby allowing you to reach generations of APU students and helping them garner a deeper appreciation for some of the most popular works of fiction this world has enjoyed. Hope to hear from you soon!

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