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FY Writing Outcomes

These are the learning outcomes developed by the First-Year Composition Assessment Committee during the fall of 2014. This committee was composed of English graduate students and FYC instructors at Emory. The outcomes are adapted from the Outcomes Statement for First-Year Composition developed by the Council of Writing Program Administrators.

Each course in the first-year program should be designed to help students achieve and reflect explicitly about how they’ve achieved these outcomes. You can add other outcomes to your syllabus, especially ones that address what you hope students will learn with respect to the line of inquiry they’ll pursue in a themed course. Usually, 4-6 goals/outcomes are sufficient for a course. Notice that outcome language uses active verbs and implies observable student performance. 

Outcome 1: Rhetorical Composition. Students compose texts in multiple genres, using multiple modes with attention to rhetorical situations.

Through composing a variety of texts and using a number of composing technologies, students demonstrate understanding of audience, purpose, and constraints. They use and adapt generic conventions, including organization, development, and style.

Outcome 2: Critical Thinking and Reading Resulting in Writing. As they undertake scholarly inquiry and produce their own arguments, students summarize, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate the ideas of others.

Students may encounter the ideas of others in a variety of texts generated both inside and outside the classroom: print, visual, aural, oral, spatial. Students learn accepted and ethical ways to integrate other texts into their work, rightly handling citation and adaptation. Students use writing as a critical thinking tool.

Outcome 3: Writing as Process. Students understand and practice writing as a process, recursively implementing strategies of research, drafting, revision, editing, and reflection.

In learning about their own writing process and doing guided reflective writing about that process, students learn to critique their own and others’ works. They also become aware that it usually takes multiple drafts to create and complete a successful text.

Thinking about those in advance of course planning helps you create a unified course with a clear arch of learning upon which to place readings, assignments, activities, group work, reflection, and feedback activities. By having clear outcomes, everything placed in the course becomes part of the driving force toward student success.

Designing a course with the outcomes in mind is often called “Backwards Course Design.” Sometimes teachers want to jump immediately to lesson and activity ideas in planning before clarifying the performance goals for the student. Designing “backward” with the outcomes first creates real learning. By thinking through the assessments and outcomes upfront, you can ensure greater alignment of your goals and means, assuring that your teaching is focused on desired results. It helps keep the course tight and targeted.