Guidelines for Teaching

Sections of first-year writing explore varied themes and ideas, but they share a common commitment to helping students develop the ability to make intentional rhetorical and strategic choices about how to respond to different writing situations. First-year writing courses are taught by full- and part-time faculty, trained in literary studies and in writing pedagogy. While every section engages with our four core ideas about writing, we do not require any particular texts or kinds of assignments. Instead, faculty work as a community to share ideas, design new assignments, and explore research in Writing Studies. We also look together at some of the work our students produce to learn about how they approach writing and consider how we can best help them develop as writers. 

A few practices are common across our courses:

  • Iterative projects that guide students through the process of developing ideas, deciding how to approach writing tasks, discussing their drafts, and refining and improving their writing
  • Opportunities for students to read and discuss each other’s drafts, not only to provide feedback to each other but equally to develop their ability to evaluate written texts and identify ways of improving them
  • Discussions of readings that consider not only their themes but also writers’ choices and readers’ responses
  • Analyses of genres and writing situations aimed at helping students develop rhetorical thinking habits, understand the range of options available to them as writers, and practice making intentional choices about how to write
  • Projects that engage students in inquiry and problem solving, research about humanities themes and social issues, explorations of discourse communities and practices, and proposals for addressing challenges of communication and education 
  • Opportunities to write in multiple genres, including both academic forms, public and professional modes, and multimedia forums
  • Projects that address real audiences, including many that give students opportunities to interact with the audiences for which they are writing
  • Assignments that ask students to reflect on their uses of writing, in school and beyond, as well as on the processes and choices they deploy in their writing