Goals for a Writing Class?

Our Task Force on the First-Year Experience has begun meeting. We are a ways from sharing anything with the public, but that will come. Right now we are “blue sky” thinking. I’ve no idea what would come to replace Eng. 103 or Core (if that happens) or who would teach any new courses.

I’m also reflecting upon what I learned during my and Lee’s Stanford Trip. Stanford requires 6 quarters of courses that include writing, and two of them are in a writing program. PWR 1 and 2.  To encourage you to use this blog, I’m also attaching Julia Bleakney’s PWR 1 syllabus that she kindly provided us.  It’s a PDF file attached to this post. Syllabus from Julia Bleakney's Class

Here are some of their goals for the one-quarter (10 week) class:

  • make writing assignments in which students carry out increasingly sophisticated forms of rhetorical and contextual analysis, taking into account differences in audience, purpose, and genre.
  • engage students in conducting research drawing on the University's rich resources and in identifying, evaluating, and using a range of primary and secondary sources in support of their own research-based arguments.
  • offer students an opportunity to write for a range of audiences and in several genres.
  • offer students opportunities for substantive revision of their own work focusing on content, organization, and style as well as for frequent peer review of the work of their colleagues.
  • provide ample opportunity for individual conferences on writing and for reflection on writing and writing development.

Given that Richmond’s focus is on analytical, persuasive writing in academic contexts (rather than exploration of the self or engagement in contemporary issues), what should we do in something like Eng. 103?  Here are our current goals from the common syllabus for Eng. 103:

Goals for Students:

  • Understand principles common to analytical writing, with and without sources, at the university level, especially focusing writing on a purpose and supporting assertions with evidence
  • Discern the differences between personal writing and writing for academic and other audiences, and show awareness of and aptitude with voice and style appropriate for these audiences
  • Demonstrate a command of language, at the paragraph and sentence level, appropriate to survival in UR classrooms after Eng. 103
  • Develop good research skills that include the ability to evaluate the reliability and quality of source material, printed and electronic, especially the importance to all academic disciplines of refereed/peer reviewed journals.

Further Worthwhile and Optional Goals:

  • Understand the relationship of the visual to the textual; learn to “read” images
  • Prepare multi-genre projects that embrace academic thinking and prose, sources, personal writing, photography, and multimedia
  • Integrate technology in a rich and meaningful way into the research and writing process
  • Encourage students to write for a “real world” audience beyond the classroom, if possible for campus or local publication.