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First-Year Composition Outcomes

The Ohio University Composition Program holds that writing and reading are significantly interdependent and always emerge in reciprocal social interactions. These social interactions—and the conventions that enable and constrain them—vary among different communities of writers or disciplines and are always mediated by genres. We also hold that writing both influences and is influenced by identity, and that writing communities and their genres enable and constrain some identities while disallowing others, which requires writers to make choices to conform to or resist those identities. Finally, we affirm that writing occurs in many different modes (print, visual, audio, digital, etc.) and emerges through ongoing processes of invention, production, collaboration, and revision.

These outcomes support the habits of mind described in the “Framework for Success in Post-Secondary Writing,” a document co-written by the National Council of Teachers of English, The Council of Writing Program Administrators, and the National Writing Project. The habits of mind are curiosity, openness, engagement, creativity, persistence, responsibility, flexibility, and metacognition.

Based on this understanding of writing, all English 1510 courses should attempt to help students learn to successfully join ongoing conversations among communities of writers. To accomplish this, students should do the following

Enter Conversations and Communities of Writers

Be introduced to reading and writing as the active production of meaning in conversations through texts (including texts in different modes: audio, visual, digital). Students should begin to be able to

  • Analyze purpose, audience, and genre of complex texts as part of larger ongoing conversations.
  • Make important connections between multiple texts within conversations and identify gaps, contradictions, problems, inconsistencies, etc. that indicate possible writing topics.
  • Summarize the main purpose and reasoning of source texts, synthesize multiple texts as part of an ongoing conversation, and articulate a contribution to that conversation.

Be introduced to the ways writing emerges in writing communities. Students should begin to be able to

  • Analyze writing communities to discover their genres and conventions.
  • Analyze how conventions determine what readers expect regarding who is authorized to write, what topics are relevant, what types of evidence are considered valid, and how writers “should” write (genre, decorum, style, level of formality, grammar, punctuation).
  • Produce original texts that use conventions and genres in rhetorically effective ways.
  • Situate arguments within ongoing relevant conversations within specific writing communities.

Be introduced to research as an ongoing process of knowledge production through conversation. Students should begin to be able to

  • Discover a relevant and timely issue within a particular writing community.
  • Discover databases and other research tools for finding sources from that community relevant to an inquiry about a selected issue.
  • Analyze how knowledge is constructed by conversation among source texts.

Analyze and Use Genres

Be introduced to genres as descriptions of conventional social actions. Students should begin to be able to

  • Analyze genres to discover their relevant features and relate those features to rhetorical practices in specific writing communities.
  • Use and/or alter genre features to successfully negotiate writing situations.
  • Practice applying experience with one genre to composing in a different genre.

Reflect on Writing Technologies

Be introduced to how writing is always mediated by technologies. Students should be able to

  • Become more comfortable in the use of diverse media and technologies to compose texts
  • Read texts in various media and multiple modes to analyze how those modes enable and constrain meaning
  • Analyze the affordances of specific technologies and media to choose media appropriate for various audiences and purposes.

Practice Processes & Reflection

Be introduced to writing as a flexible process. Students should begin to be able to

  • Return to invention and re-thinking at various points in the process in order to revise texts.
  • Take selected writing projects through multiple drafts to create and complete an effective text.
  • Work collaboratively with peers to provide and use feedback for revision.
  • Develop strategies for generating, revising, editing, and proofreading and adapt them to a variety of writing situations.

Be introduced to reflection as a means to use knowledge about writing to analyze and improve writing and writing processes. Students should begin to be able to

  • Analyze and critique their own writing for effectiveness in particular writing situations.
  • Apply acquired knowledge about writing to improve writing and writing processes.
  • Write knowledgeably about writing practices and processes.

Explore Identity & Writing

Be introduced to how identity emerges through writing. Students should begin to be able to

  • Analyze texts in terms of how authors negotiate identity and difference within particular communities.
  • Analyze how certain conventions and genre features may mask, but not erase the performance of identity in writing and how conventions often privilege certain identities over others.
  • Use writing as a means of exploring and performing identities in the context of conversations within various communities.

Note: The strong focus on analyzing the genres and conventions of writing communities in these outcomes requires that students have opportunities to discuss how conventions vary among different communities. This might be most easily accomplished by selecting groups of readings from one or more writing communities and having students discuss how the conventions of communities are or might be different from others (including other communities to which they belong) as they read, analyze, and write about those texts.

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