Answer Sheet by Annie Spratt

Beyond First-Year Composition Disciplines




First-year composition outlines are interesting. They meet the basic criteria for all the writing milestones nearly every time. I wonder what it takes for an outline to be approved. In the WPA Council’s 2014 Approved Statement for First-Year Composition, they have the basic list of writing pedagogy subjects and milestones. For Rhetorical Knowledge, they expect first-year students to learn and use rhetorical concepts, gain experience reading reading and composing in various genres, and develop skills to understand different contexts calling for purposeful shifts in voice, tone, level of formality, design, medium, and/or structure.

They expect the students to develop critical reading, thinking and composing skills. They expect the process to be informative and skill evolving. Nothing from this composition pedagogy outline is anything new. I have always read these expected class outcomes before. From english classes, to literature and composition classes, I have learned these same writing disciplines over and over again. My question is; What is new about these outlines? What more can we glean from them?

And my answer to that question; A lot. We can still learn a lot more from these outlines. First-Year composition outlines like this one is actually important for keeping students on track. It reminds them of their main agendas. In one of my previous blog posts I talked about not learning memorable lessons about genre. Teachers never taught me about the specific distinctions between genres. In this First-Year Composition Outline the Rhetorical Knowledge section expects students to learn to “Gain experience reading and composing in several genres to understand how genre conventions shape and are shaped by readers’ and writers’ practices and purposes”. This shows that these outlines are important for students to have. It reminds them of the things they still have to continue learning about.


One response to “Beyond First-Year Composition Disciplines”

  1. […] Another important issue is that philosophies change throughout the learning process. The philosophies of the class are expected to be consistent and fair. Yet, most of the room for change and growth is mostly absent from current curriculums. When writing within institutions, you have to stick to strict syllabus roots. Sometimes the things that student writers learn need to teach things outside of the norm. Most students don’t even learn memorable lessons about genre that they can apply outside of th… […]

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