Kairos 17.3

WRIT1001 – Writing & Rhetoric 1: Academic Essays

WRIT1001: Writing and Rhetoric One—Academic Essays is the Writing Hub’s flagship course. While the bulk of students who enroll in the course have recently finished high school, WRIT1001 also attracts mature-age and international students who are seeking support with academic writing. WRIT1001 guides students through the rhetorical canons with opportunities for reflection, feedback, and revision at each step, introducing many students to the concepts of rhetoric for the first time so that they begin to appreciate writing as a process, not a product.

Students choose one topic to focus on for the entire semester and complete assessment tasks on invention, arrangement, memory, and style that culminate in a complete essay. Through these tasks, students learn the value of discovery, academic honesty, and reflection. There are four short writing tasks in WRIT1001 that build up to the final essay. In the first task, students brainstorm their essay topic through freewriting. Many students have never submitted rough ideas or a brainstorm for assessment and have never thought of arrangement as a craft. To learn how arrangement is crucial to good writing, students submit a second writing task aimed at outlining the possible structure of their final essay. Some students have not yet made the connection between research and their social values and do not value redrafting as an important part of the writing process, often due to time constraints. The third short writing task encourages students to read against the grain to develop their ideas through source identification. In this task, students use a double-entry notebook to (1) accurately record a quote from a source, and (2) demonstrate their understanding of George Pullman's (2012) reading against the grain principles by listing counterarguments and rebuttals to the claims and evidence used in the quote. In the fourth short writing task, students develop one paragraph for their final essay and then reflect on the stylistic choices they have made. These four short writing tasks prepare students to take on the final essay, which brings together argumentative writing, rhetorical analysis, and academic research.

Recent changes to WRIT1001 have been aimed at encouraging students to engage in conversations about writing outside of the course context. One class activity requires students to interview peers and teachers in their home discipline and to bring the results to class. Each class then makes a disciplinary map of different conceptions of writing across the Faculty, applying what they have learned about rhetoric to develop their understanding of audience and contexts when adapting their academic writing for various disciplines. Students also participate in peer review and collaborative writing, which encourages them to take their rhetorical expertise into other learning contexts and to work with students outside of the course. Teaching students about the rhetorical process encourages them to alter their old processes and move towards more desirable habits of mind that will help them achieve success at university.