Writing courses

Rhetoric and composition desk makes writing classes more inclusive and effective at U of A

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Students coming to U of A in the fall will find themselves faced with a much more inviting and rigorous freshman composition class.

In the new academic year, Compositions 1 and 2 (ENGL 1013 and 1023, respectively) will move to a portfolio system supported by a rating contract. For students, this means that their instructors will focus more on what they write and how their texts work rather than the style they use to write it.

Students should feel comfortable being, writing and existing as themselves in Compositions 1 and 2, and this policy aims to make this possible consistently.

Starting in the fall, students will be free to write in whatever style and dialect they find comfortable in their Composition 1 and 2 classes, giving them more space to develop their writing skills. as researchers, writers and reviewers of the written word.

This writing-centric approach also allows instructors to focus on helping students research, draft, structure, and revise their writing effectively instead of focusing on how well the first drafts of an assignment are edited. complex. Under the contract rating system, the focus is on the completeness of the homework and the amount of meaningful revision that has been applied to a document.

Adam R. Pope, Acting Director of Rhetoric and Composition Program in the English Department, explained, “The notation contract removes much of the stress of looking like an academic that students bring to Composition 1 and 2. Many students come to college worried about their writing skills and dive in in composition by trying to focus on really advanced topics like the style in which they write without having a solid foundation that allows them to be effective researchers and writers. “

“With this new approach, we hope to create a space for students to acquire the foundational skills they will need to learn to find their own voice in academia and work in the coming years at U of A and beyond. beyond, ”Pope said. . “Compositions 1 and 2 are not the beginning and the end of a student’s writing journey; they are just the first two steps in a lifelong journey.”

According to Katherine Lam-Bellacero, a specialist in programs and education in the Rhetoric and Composition Program, “Before we start writing, we must plan, research, evaluate our sources, take notes, summarize them and synthesize them into a cohesive argument, and learn when and how to quote correctly.”

“Yet traditional writing assessments neglect all that work in favor of well-edited writing that may not have the substance required for first-year writing. The rating contract seeks to recognize this commitment of time and effort. ‘efforts,’ she said. .

While it may seem like this approach makes songwriting lessons easier, the opposite is true. A grading contract ensures that all students will write a lot and write consistently throughout the semester.

“We have chosen textbooks, programs and homework that teach and reinforce effective writing skills for a variety of contexts,” said LewEllyn Hallett, deputy director of the Rhetoric and Composition Program. “This continues to be our goal and our standard. It is unfair to penalize a student who works hard and improve but is not yet a capable writer and to reward another student who has the knowledge to write effectively. from the start of the semester. Using a grading contract evens out but will not sacrifice the rigor of teaching writing. “

These changes by the Rhetoric and Composition Program will allow the first year writing experience at U of A to better align with best practices in the wider field.

As Pope explained, “None of this is new or unique to the University of Arkansas. This project is informed by the work of Dr. Asao B. Inoue on the assessment of anti-racist writing in particular and supported by countless other projects that work to make classroom writing a more diverse, inclusive and effective space.

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