ENGLISH 101: INTRODUCTION TO COLLEGE WRITINGSTATEMENT OF MISSION AND COURSE GOALS
Recent research into the role of first-year writing reveals that first-year writing courses are best used to encourage meta-awareness of the genres, contexts, and audiences that writers encounter in college (see Anne Beaufort, Writing in College and Beyond). English 101, which the great majority of incoming students take their first or second semester in college, serves as an important introduction to the culture of the academy—its habits of mind, conventions, and responsibilities. Its central purpose is to immerse students in the writing, reading, and thinking practices of their most immediate community: the university. Students explore how literacy works, both within the academic and without, through extensive inquiry-based writing.
English 101 focuses on engaging students as writers and building the reflective awareness needed for success in a wide range of writing experiences within the university. In English 101, students write consistently, receive feedback on their writing and give feedback to others, are introduced to academic writing conventions (including using the library, integrating sources, and using a citation system), engage with challenging readings, and begin putting others’ ideas in conversation with their own. Because writing in the 21st century means composing in a wide variety of print-based and digital environments, the 101 curriculum encourages students and instructors to work in online environments as is appropriate.
The overall goals, outcomes, and curricular components for English 101 and 102 have been developed locally through discussion and collaboration among instructors in the First-Year Writing Program. They are directly informed by our annual student assessment process, and they have been written within the framework of nationally accepted outcomes for first-year composition. The yearly assessment reports are available at the First-Year Writing Program website; the Council of Writing Program Administrators Outcomes for First-Year Writingare available at their site.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT THIS COURSE
Rhetorical KnowledgeWriting effectively involves making a multitude of choices. Many of these choices are determined by the rhetorical situation—the writer’s purpose, the writer’s audience, the nature of the writer’s subject matter, and the writer’s relationship to the subject. English 101 is intended to increase students’ awareness of rhetorical situations—within each writing project at the university, and beyond. Students learn that language has consequences and writers must take responsibility for what they write.
In English 101, students to take responsibility for the ideas they discover as writers—ideas that occur through engaging with a range of materials in independent research and considering how one’s own perspectives add to those of an ongoing conversation. The course frequently puts students at the center of their own discourse, challenging them to discover and express their own ideas and to make their ideas convincing or compelling to others.
Critical Thinking, Reading, and Writing In English 101, students work with readings that stretch them intellectually; readings may be challenging, or may be in genres with which they are less familiar. Generally, readings in English 101 center on intellectual challenges and questions—that is, they are written to respond to and extend the conversations in academic communities of various kinds. However, instructors sometimes also provide a wider range of nonfiction texts as they guide students toward becoming more flexible readers. While English 101 is a primarily a writing course, it is also a course in rhetorical reading. Students learn how to engage with a variety of texts, how to understand a writer’s argument, and how to actively critique and respond to the ideas of others.
Knowledge of Process and ConventionsPart of helping students to embrace writing as a lifelong practice is to emphasize that writing itself is a kind of inquiry, a way to think and learn. It is not simply a means of recording what one already knows. English 101 creates the conditions that allow students to gain confidence as they discover what they think through writing, helping them see that this process can be used in any subject, any discipline, and almost any situation that demands thought.
How students view themselves as learners and what motivates them to acquire a particular body of knowledge strongly influences students’ learning. As instructors of an entry-level writing course, we believe that students’ experience with language and language use in the course should be a positive one, and this will provide the basis for the development of writing strategies and practices. As a consequence, English 101 focuses, in part, on the affective dimension of writing and thinking processes; the course encourages students to believe that reading and writing are meaning-making activities that are relevant to their lives, within school and without.
A Final Note about the Activity of WritingIn English 101 students work within a community of writers in which they understand that membership implies engagement with each others’ struggles to make meaning. They experience writing as a social interaction for a particular purpose, for knowledge is not created in isolation but through dialogue and writing shared with a real audience. The writing classroom functions as an intellectual community in which students are encouraged to think freely and deeply, where difference is not only accepted but is also seen as an opportunity for learning.
ENGLISH 101 STUDENT OUTCOMES
By the end of English 101, students will be able to
The curricular components listed here only begin to capture the energy and commitment necessary for student success in a first-year writing course. Individual instructors work within these outcomes and curricular expectations in a variety of ways.