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College Writing at Elon University

Bridging First-Year Writing and Writing Across the Curriculum/Writing in the Disciplines

Philosophy of Teaching First-Year Writing at Elon

Process
The act of composing is sometimes thought to move in a linear process, from drafting to revising to editing. In reality, writers move back and forth between prewriting, drafting, and revision. Prewriting begins with the generation of ideas, brainstorming, freewriting or other prewriting heuristics. Also, during the discovery stage, students identify audience and purpose in order to satisfy audience expectations. Because drafting and revision often reflect uncertainty and tentativeness, Writing: Argument and Inquiry offers students classroom time for planning, prewriting, drafting, revising, and responding. Students are also given choices of topics and modes of writing which allow them to behave like real writers. 

Knowledge of Conventions
Writing: Argument and Inquiry focuses not only on thesis development, support, and organization, but also on usage and mechanics. When and how these skills are taught is paramount to students’ retention of them. According to writing research, students profit most from usage and mechanics lessons when they are taught in context of real writing experiences, and not in isolation. Also, editing skills are best taught when similar patterns of errors arise and as the final part of the process. Therefore, the English 110 faculty identifies students’ patterns of errors and helps them correct those within the piece on which they are working. They remind students to always revise for mechanics/editing as the final stage of the writing process.

Students are also made aware of writing demands, conventions, and documentation in other discourse communities and how they vary within and beyond the academic communities. While students learn that there are different systems of documentation such as MLA or APA, MLA is the documentation style used most frequently in English 110.
 
Types of Writing
The majority of graded assignments in Writing: Argument and Inquiry are argumentative and research-based. Argumentation serves first-year students well across the disciplines by teaching them to use their own ideas, debate and respect other points of view, and shape discourse to their audiences' need. Moreover, research in other disciplines reveals that writing is often persuasive across the curriculum. Students are also given opportunities to write for other purposes and write in other genres (letters, ethnographies, reports, brochures) and media (visual, electronic) than the argumentative essay. By doing so, students will, at least, be aware of various communicative expressions.
 
The Evaluation of Writing
Successful placement of students into an appropriate writing class is central to students’ progress. Students who come to Elon underprepared for some of the writing tasks in English 110 are placed in English 100, a supplemental writing workshop taken concurrently with English 110. In addition, the Writing Center provides help for all students regardless of writing placement.
 
Through self-evaluation, students gain proficiency in critiquing and evaluating their own work. As students take more responsibility for their writing, they become better at prewriting, revising and proofreading; therefore, their final products are stronger. Since we value attention to the process, we reflect it in students' course grades. Not more than one-third, however, of a student's final grade is given for process. We also give on-the-spot writing because we recognize that writing is not the content in every course; therefore, students will not always be able to revise their pieces before submitting them for a grade.
 
Intellectual Property
The position of the English Department is that all students should have an ethical awareness of appropriate and inappropriate use of electronic and intellectual property and an understanding of plagiarism in electronic and print contexts.
 
Moreover, we intervene during the composing process. We believe the intervention discourages the temptation to plagiarize. We also teach students to establish rhetorical situations which encourage individualized approaches to topic selection and help uphold academic integrity.

 

To learn about how faculty from across the curriculum can build on this foundation, please download our "Building on the Intended Student Outcomes of ENG 110: A Resource for Faculty Across the Disciplines" handout.