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Course Descriptions

This course focuses on writing and critical thinking by using an approach that teaches rhetorical strategies for reading and composing arguments in both print and digital environments. Students will learn to read texts critically and to recognize the different purposes and audiences for arguments. Students will compose five writing projects based on issues and research raised in the reading assignments and class discussions during the semester. The writing assignments will give students extensive practice in thinking critically and writing according to the rhetorical conventions of an argumentative essay using the full range of writing processes—invention, arrangement, drafting, revising, editing, and proofreading—for multiple assignments. We will explore the uses of rhetoric as a tool of persuasion in written, visual, and multimodal texts.  We will learn how rhetoric works through attention to persona, audience, and persuasive appeals (such as pathos, logos, ethos, kairos).  Rhetoric teaches us how we might persuade others, and whether to be persuaded ourselves. To these ends, we will pay particular attention to cultural and individual assumptions, and how rhetoric and language work to provide effective arguments. These approaches build a foundation for learning strategies of writing about the world in which we all work and live. 

During this course, there will be five key learning outcomes that will guide our learning (established by the Council of Writing Program Administrators):

Rhetorical Knowledge
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

Processes of Composing
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.

Composing in Electronic Environments
By the end of first-year composition, students should:

  • Use electronic environments for drafting, reviewing, revising, editing, and sharing texts
  • Locate, evaluate, organize, and use research material collected from electronic sources, including scholarly library databases; other official databases (e.g., federal government databases); and informal electronic     networks and internet sources
  • Understand and exploit the differences in the rhetorical strategies and in the affordances available for both print and electronic composing processes and texts