Division of Arts and Letters

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I write to understand as much as  to be understood.
- Elie Wiesel

The First Year Writing Program at Benedictine University at Springfield prepares students for participation in the academic and professional discourses that they will encounter in their undergraduate studies and beyond. To that end, the program develops students' abilities to read and think critically and to write effectively in response to what they read. Writing processes are viewed as ways for students to develop their ideas, to create meaning, and to construct texts that address personal, public, and professional issues.

Our Mission

The mission of the Writing Program, at Benedictine University at Springfield, is to engage students in the process of learning through writing as a way of life and transformation.

We believe that engaging in conversations about writing enables students to gain confidence and authority in the presentation of ideas, to sharpen their skills as writers, and to manage the rhetorical terrain of academic writing. Conversations about writing processes and choices we make as writers construct a learning environment conducive for personal expression, persuasion and critical thinking, all of which are vital to academic and professional success.

Writing Program Outcomes

The goal of the First Year Writing Program is to help students learn to read and write critically within the context of the University and beyond.  As a result of successful completion of WRIT 101 and 102, students will have demonstrated the following outcomes which are based on the outcomes from the Council of Writing Program Administrators (WPA).

  • Students will learn to identify and apply genre specific rhetorical strategies based on purpose and audience.
  • Students will learn to use critical reading and writing as a mode of inquiry and communication through generating their own voices and ideas and appropriately integrating them with others.
  • Students will demonstrate information literacy including the ability to locate, evaluate, organize, use, and appropriately document collected research material.
  • Students will practice technological literacy skills in designing multimodal projects.
  • Students will develop flexible revision strategies and multiple processes, including working collaboratively, to develop and revise written products.
  • Students will develop the ability to recognize and utilize genre and context specific conventions including organization, use of resources, and grammar and punctuation.
  • Students will learn to critically reflect on their writing and processes of writing.

Specific Outcomes

Upon successful completion of WRIT 101 and WRIT 102 students should be able to demonstrate the following:

 

Rhetorical Knowledge

 

  • Write with a purpose and identify that purpose clearly
  • Interpret and respond to different audiences
  • Respond appropriately to different kinds of rhetorical situations
  • Apply conventions of format and structure appropriate to the rhetorical situation
  • Apply appropriate tone, diction, and level of formality
  • Demonstrate how genres shape reading and writing
  • Write in several genres

 

Critical Thinking, Reading and Writing


  • Employ writing and reading for inquiry, thinking, and communicating
  • Respond and evaluate texts in multiple genres and media
  • Demonstrate that an academic writing assignment is a series of tasks that include finding, analyzing, and synthesizing appropriate primary and secondary sources
  • Integrate their own ideas with those of others
  • Interpret and deliberate the relationships among language, knowledge, and power

Processes

  • Recognize and articulate the value of multiple drafts to create and complete a successful text
  • Exhibit flexible strategies for generating, revising, editing, and proofreading
  • Collaborate and appreciate the social aspects of writing processes
  • Critique their own and others' work
  • Apply a variety of technologies to address a range of audience

 

Knowledge of Conventions

 

  • Demonstrate competency in using common formats for different kinds of texts
  • Apply a variety of genre conventions ranging from structure and paragraphing to tone and mechanics
  • Appropriately apply in their writing features of syntax, grammar, punctuation, and spelling
  • Properly document their work

 

Composing in Electronic /Digital Environments


  • Manage 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
  • Compose in multiple modes with intended rhetorical effects and articulate the steps taken to achieve those effects
  • Contextualize meaning-making capabilities of multimodality for academic, professional, and community audiences

Our Writing Courses

As part of the General Education Inquiry Curriculum all students are required to take six credit hours of written communication courses, including WRIT 101 and WRIT 102.

The first-year writing program at Benedictine University at Springfield offers the following written communication options for students:

WRIT 101-S | WRIT 102-S (standard) sequence

Students enrolled in the standard sequence of first year writing courses are expected to enter with knowledge of basic writing skills and college readiness.

WRIT 101-S | Writing Colloquium. The first course in the two-course composition sequence addresses techniques for idea generation, planning, drafting, revising, editing, and proofreading. Emphasis is on rhetorical strategies for writing and revising argumentative essays, basic research skills, and textual analysis. Specific assignments may vary from class to class. Teaching strategies include one-on-one conferencing, small and whole class workshops, and a multi-draft approach to the invention of meaningful and effective written communication.

WRIT 102-S | Research Writing. This course builds on the writing and rhetorical skills practiced in WRIT 101 by shifting the focus from general rhetorical strategies to specific rhetorical strategies that shape academic inquiry and research processes. Students will further develop information and technological literacy skills necessary for basic research projects. Emphasis is on textual research traditions and strategies for shaping research into substantive academic arguments with attention to the ethical consequences of rhetorical choices. Students will consider cross-disciplinary modes of inquiry through multiple genres with attention to revising for rhetorical effectiveness and conventional accuracy.

WRIT 101-E | WRIT 102-E (enhanced) sequence

In enhanced writing courses, students cover similar material as the standard sections, and students benefit from one-on-one writing consultation sessions, a smaller class size, and a studio component. Enhanced courses meet 4 times a week for 50 minutes each session. The studio session is held in one of the computer classrooms on campus.

WRIT 101-E | Writing Colloquium. The first course in the two-course composition sequence addresses techniques for idea generation, planning, drafting, revising, editing, and proofreading. Emphasis is on rhetorical strategies for writing and revising argumentative essays, basic research skills, and textual analysis. Specific assignments may vary from class to class. Teaching strategies include one-on-one conferencing, small and whole class workshops, and a multi-draft approach to the invention of meaningful and effective written communication. As an enhanced course, students benefit from one-on-one writing consultation, smaller class size, and a studio component.

WRIT 102-E | Research Writing. This course builds on the writing and rhetorical skills practiced in WRIT 101 by shifting the focus from general rhetorical strategies to specific rhetorical strategies that shape academic inquiry and research processes. Students will further develop information and technological literacy skills necessary for basic research projects. Emphasis is on textual research traditions and strategies for shaping research into substantive academic arguments with attention to the ethical consequences of rhetorical choices. Students will consider cross-disciplinary modes of inquiry through multiple genres with attention to revising for rhetorical effectiveness and conventional accuracy. As an enhanced course, students benefit from one-on-one writing consultation, smaller class size, and a studio component.

WRIT 101-L and WRIT 095 (linked courses)

This entry level writing course is designed for students who require a review of grammar and sentence structure in addition to composition instruction. The course is similar to the "enhanced" course.  As a "linked" course, students benefit from an additional 4 hours of writing instruction and practice. WRIT 101-L is "linked" to WRIT 095—which means that any student who registers for WRIT 101-L must also register for WRIT 095 during the same semester.

WRIT 101-L | Writing Colloquium

This course is designed for students whose high school experience did not adequately prepare them for the demands of first year college writing or students whose diagnostic assessment scores indicate the need for intensive writing instruction. As a "linked" section of WRIT 101, this course provides an environment in which students can develop and improve the writing skills necessary for success at the college level. The "linked" sections of WRIT 101 are paired with WRIT 095, an intensive four day week sentence and paragraph skills course that provides students with concentrated writing instruction, supplemental one-on-one instruction with a trained writing studio consultant.

WRIT 095 | Sentence and Paragraph Skills. This course introduces students to writing processes that enable most students to produce clear, meaningful, and intellectually valuable prose.  This course is linked with WRIT 101-L and taken together in the same semester—a model that offers students a writing-intensive experience for developing academic writing skills and critical thinking abilities through frequent writing assignments that encourage free writing, brainstorming, receiving and giving feedback to peers, revising through writing multiple drafts, and editing. NOTE: Students who successfully complete WRIT 101-Linked and 095 during their first semester will take WRIT 102-E (enhanced) during the second semester.

WRIT 101-H | WRIT 101-H (honors) sequence

Students enrolled in the honors writing sequence must be invited into the courses. Invitations are limited to students who have been accepted into the Benedictine University Honors Program which will begin in the fall of 2015. Students in honors writing courses benefit from a smaller class size, individual and small group sessions with trained writing consultants, and the development of an electronic portfolio of their work.

WRIT 101-H | Writing Colloquium. This first course in the honors two-course composition sequence emphasizes rhetorical strategies for writing and revising texts in various genres, including literary analysis essays, creative writing pieces, argumentative essays, reflective writing, and researched proposal writing. Teaching strategies include one-on-one conferencing, small and whole class workshops, and a multi-draft approach to producing effective written and oral texts. Students will develop an electronic portfolio of their work throughout the semester.

WRIT 102-H | Research Writing. This second course in the honors composition sequence narrows the breadth of writing and rhetorical skills practiced in WRIT 101 to a specific and complex question that warrants the consideration of multiple perspectives. Students develop several drafts during the research process as they work toward producing a final 15-20 page polished interdisciplinary researched essay with a multi-media or web-based component. Students will continue to develop the electronic portfolio, keep a research blog, and participate in an end-of-semester research symposium where students will share their discoveries with the larger academic community.

WRIT 101-ESLS | WRIT 102-ESLS (English as a Second Language) sequence

ESLS versions of WRIT 101 and WRIT 102 are designed for the student whose first language is not English. These sections cover similar material as the standards sections, and students benefit from intensive writing instruction, smaller class size and regular one-on-on consultation.

Key Similarities among WRIT 101courss

Because of our shared commitment to our course goals and practices, all WRIT 101 courses share several components, including the following:

Each section of WRIT 101 features extensive writing and revising.

Each section is process-oriented and workshop-based. This means you can expect to write several drafts of your projects, to reflect on your writing as it develops, and to receive feedback both from peers and your instructors. You can count on being asked to write on a weekly basis in one form or another—a response to a text, a first draft of an essay, a revision, or a final edit of a project. WRIT 101 instructors focus on the craft of intellectual writing, working closely with you to hone your arguments, discover and frame your evidence, and situate your writing within the larger intellectual community.

Each section of WRIT 101 includes substantial, challenging texts.

Occasions for engaged reading emerge from published articles, books, and documents, and also through your colleagues' texts as you help one another move arguments forward. Reading is not done solely for the collection of facts and contextual information, but rather as a mode of analysis employed in the service of creating your own position on a complicated issue.

Each section of WRIT 101 creates a community of learners.

Standard WRIT 101 courses are capped at twenty students per section (enhanced, honors, and ESLS sections are capped at fifteen) and classroom discussions are rich and engaging events. You will be asked not simply to agree or disagree with one another, but to evaluate alternative claims and meanings as you weigh in on others' positions and extend analyses in new-perhaps unexpected-directions.

Areas of Differences between WRIT 101courses

WRIT 101 courses are taught by a faculty who bring to the course diverse professional experiences and personal curiosities. Some key differences between sections may include the following:

Each section of WRIT 101 may pursue a unique area of inquiry or a particular theme.

WRIT 101 instructors draw on their own professional expertise and training to design curriculum that reflect particular areas of inquiry or themes that are relevant and intentional for incoming college students.  Some instructors may collaborate is designing course projects or shared readings, but discussions and collaborative activities are unique to each section.

Each section of WRIT 101 may foreground particular kinds of academic writing.

The broad concept of 'academic writing' means that there will be considerable diversity in the kinds of academic writing students produce. Possible kinds of assignments may include basic argumentative essays, literary criticism, formal proposals, ecological case studies, mini-ethnographies, film reviews, memoir essays, or creative writing pieces.  Specific writing assignments may vary across sections. All sections emphasize writing processes, revision, rhetorical strategies, and discourse or conventional accuracy.

Each section of WRIT 101 may rely on a distinct structure.

While all WRIT 101 courses include extensive writing and revising, the structure within that work varies across sections. Some courses incorporate three or four short writing projects over the semester, others feature one longer writing project for the term. All students will gain experience conducting independent research and presenting work to a group of peers. In some sections, students may work with digital texts, create web pages or participate in online discussion groups. Often instructors who are teaching the similar sections of WRIT 101 will work together on a shared syllabus.

Evaluating Student Writing

As the field of composition and rhetoric has evolved over the past couple decades, so have the assessment tools for evaluating student writing. A common approach is to for instructors to share with students a set of criteria or a rubric that accompanies each writing assignment. The following general categories are common elements in most rubrics. The descriptions reflect expectations for an "A" paper in first-year writing.

Rhetorical Knowledge and Structure: the writing offers a clear purpose and intention; writing engages audience and demonstrates keen rhetorical awareness; transitions and rhetorical moves and appeals demonstrate mastery over the content and structure; the writer makes bold and effective choices in language, tone, form, and genre.

Critical Skills: the writing clearly benefits from insightful rhetorical observations and analysis; the writer demonstrates an understanding of how to use various kinds of evidence to support claims; writing offers a new and intriguing way of seeing an issue/topic.

Writing Processes: the writer produces multiple drafts of the project that shows inventiveness and fine-tuning of ideas; writer invests productively in peer-review workshop sessions, group work, invention work, and conferences with instructor or studio consultant.

Style and Grammar/Mechanics: In addition to being clear and appropriate, style enhances the persuasive purpose of the project; sentence structure is varied and highly readable—free from cliché, wordiness, or vague language choices; word choice is fresh, energetic and inventive making ideas compelling and powerful; writing has virtually no surface level errors in grammar and mechanics; writing demonstrates a mature command of the appropriate discourse and conventions for the project.