Beginning in Fall 2013, Queens College will offer a new college-wide writing course called “College Writing 2.” Along with our current “English 110: College Writing 1,” this course will satisfy our students’ Pathways English Composition requirement.
We hope College Writing 2 will strengthen our curriculum by linking writing instruction more closely with General Education. In that spirit, we envision College Writing 2 as the next logical step students take from the interdisciplinary work they do in College Writing 1. Thus, College Writing 2 will teach students how to identify and practice the scholarly conventions of writing in a particular discipline.
To ensure that this discipline-specific work benefits students in every major, College Writing 2 will be offered in departments and divisions across campus. Students will be encouraged to take their second writing course in the departments of their majors (or in departments whose methodologies are similar or complementary), so that they learn to gather and analyze evidence in the ways that their discipline values most. Thus, students might choose from a variety of College Writing 2 titles such as: Writing about History, Writing about Biology, Writing in the Social Sciences, or Writing about Literature.
Goals for College Writing 2
The primary goal for College Writing 2 is to help students transfer the interdisciplinary work that they do in English 110 to write effectively with the scholarly conventions of a particular discipline. With that in mind, College Writing 2 courses will meet a number of overlapping goals from three documents:
Main Goals from Queens College Goals for Student Writing
Students will learn to:
- Become fluent with the elements of academic writing, including thesis, motive, evidence, analysis, and style
- Practice the processes and methods commonly used by effective writers
- Take ownership of the language and rhetorical strategies they employ
- Develop a working knowledge of the grammar and mechanics of standard English
- Gain experience with the conventions of various genres, disciplines, and professions
Pathways Learning Outcomes for English Composition courses
Students will learn to:
- Read and listen critically and analytically, including identifying an argument’s major assumptions and assertions and evaluating its supporting evidence.
- Write clearly and coherently in varied, academic formats (such as formal essays, research papers, and reports) using standard English and appropriate technology to critique and improve one’s own and others’ texts.
- Demonstrate research skills using appropriate technology, including gathering, evaluating, and synthesizing primary and secondary sources.
- Support a thesis with well-reasoned arguments, and communicate persuasively across a variety of contexts, purposes, audiences, and media.
- Formulate original ideas and relate them to the ideas of others by employing the conventions of ethical attribution and citation.
Writing Intensive Course Criteria
- 10-15 pages of evaluated writing in three or more assignments (either separate papers or one term paper done in stages) so that students have the opportunity to develop and improve.
- Some attention to writing in class, in one or more of the following possible forms:
- discussion of papers before they are written and after they are returned.
- reading aloud of successful papers or models. o discussion of the rhetorical strategies or writerly qualities of course readings.
- the occasional use of informal, ungraded writing to stimulate class discussion
- peer editing: opportunities for students to give each other feedback on first drafts.
- discussion of goals for student writing and evaluation criteria.
- Exams [if given] that include essay questions.
- Maximum class-size of 25 students.
Guidelines for College Writing 2
In order to help students fulfill the goals articulated in Queens College’s Goals for Student Writing and the goals mandated by the Pathways Learning Outcomes for English Composition Courses, faculty should adopt the following practices in their courses wherever possible.
- Introduce a shared vocabulary for talking about elements of writing emphasized in the course (with argument, motive, evidence, and analysis as central elements). (See Harvey’s “Elements of the Academic Essay,” for an example of such a vocabulary.) This vocabulary should encompass general elements of writing and those particular to the discipline in question.
- Use this vocabulary to describe the learning goals for each writing assignment.
- When possible, discuss course readings as models for the writing students are doing, with a focus on their rhetorical strategies and the elements of writing and argument (again, using the vocabulary described above).
- Design writing assignments so that students complete them in stages, starting with informal and exploratory writing and moving toward a more formal draft. (Note: In composition studies, the early, informal writing is often called “pre-draft” writing or “scaffolding.”)
- Assign a significant amount of ungraded, informal writing (journals, blogs, reading responses, reflections on their own writing and the feedback they get on it). Note: Not all this writing has to be read by the instructor. Students need to write regularly in order to improve.
- Provide students with feedback on drafts–from peers and/or instructors. This feedback should use the shared vocabulary described above and be focused on the stated assignment goals.
- Provide assigned opportunities for students to reflect on their progress in writing, their strengths and weaknesses, and the feedback they’re getting. (In composition studies, this is often described as “meta-cognitive” work.)
- Assign opportunities for students to revise in response to feedback.