Bridging First-Year Writing and WAC
Philosophy of Teaching First-Year Writing at Elon
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.
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.
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.