The Five Core Values of the First-Year Writing Program

The Five Core Values of the First-Year Writing Program

The Five Core Values of the First-Year Writing Program

The core values of the Rowan University First-Year Writing Program (FYWP) represent specific learning goals for FYWP as a whole, with each individual course having its own set of learning outcomes that align with each of those core values. Students present portfolios at the end of each semester, and these allow us to evaluate student progress in relation to these overall learning goals and the outcomes for individual courses. Upon completion of the FYWP course sequence, students will fully understand the five core values. A master list containing the learning outcomes for each course can be found here.

Core Value I. Writing is a practice that involves a multi-stage, recursive, and social process.

Writing is a process that involves multiple stages and that does not always follow a linear path.  In other words, we don’t read, write, and revise once and in that exact order; rather, we engage in a variety of activities at multiple points as we compose a text. These activities include but are not limited to reading, generating and discussing ideas, researching, drafting, reviewing and sharing our work, reflecting, and revising, and they can take place through a variety of technologies and tools. Many of these activities require you to discuss your work with others—your peers, your instructor, and potentially people outside the class—to both give and receive feedback. In this way, writing is a social experience, one that depends on open-minded collaboration that respects identity and language differences and how these shape the way we write and read.

Core Value II. Close and critical reading/analysis is necessary for listening to and questioning texts, arriving at a thoughtful understanding of those texts, and joining the academic and/or public conversations represented by those texts.

Writers create texts to communicate ideas, and they make specific compositional choices in their writing to achieve their goals. These choices are in terms of language, materials/mediums (physical and/or digital), and other compositional elements, including typography, layout, design, images, sound, editing, and more.  As readers, we must analyze these elements to determine the authors’ meanings, as well as the ideologies that have shaped the ideas and how they are expressed/presented through texts.  Readers engage with texts not only to understand their meanings and listen to other authors but also to question them.  By engaging with multiple authors during the reading and writing processes, and by constructing relationships among texts, you will discover and create “conversations” to join by working with and adding to those authors’ ideas.

Core Value III. Writing is shaped by audience, purpose, genre, and context.

Writing is an act of communication that involves an author writing for a purpose and using a genre to reach an audience in a specific context--these elements constitute the rhetorical situation. Taking the rhetorical situation into account helps you to analyze the choices and strategies of other authors, as well as to create effective texts of your own. Effective writers assess audience expectations and the textual conventions associated with a situation or genre as they create a text for a specific purpose; they then make strategic decisions about how they want to meet or challenge those expectations in terms of mode, content, structure, rhetorical appeals, presentation/design, language, and style. Thoughtful writers recognize the historical and political contexts of genre conventions and audience expectations, and how their own choices related to conventions/expectations have the power to uphold or challenge the status quo; this includes responses to the historical academic call for “standard written English” (white middle-class English), which has contributed to the language oppression of people of color and failed to recognize the rich linguistic resources that writers of all backgrounds bring to the table. 

Core Value IV: Information literacy is essential to the practice of writing.

Academic and intellectual writing is informed writing, which means contextualizing our ideas within pre-existing conversations and providing evidence beyond our personal experiences or opinions.  Conversely, it also means recognizing the limitations of existing conversations, including how dominant venues/platforms have privileged the voices of the powerful, failed to include and represent the lived experiences of the full spectrum of humanity, and undervalued personal experience as evidence. To produce informed writing, you will need to develop the skills necessary to locate information in a digital environment; to evaluate authorship, expertise, and quality, particularly toward including the underrepresented perspectives of people of color, LGBTQ+ folks, people with disabilities, people who are neurodivergent, women, and people of all socioeconomic backgrounds; to determine which information to incorporate into your own writing depending on the rhetorical situation; and to document your sources appropriately. 

Core Value V. Writing has power and comes with ethical responsibilities.

Because writing is not only personal but also public and social, there are ethical concerns that we must take into account. The most obvious component of ethical writing is crediting others for their ideas through proper citation, which is also an act of sharing research with others. Just as important, ethical writing involves conscientiously listening to other authors, doing the work of navigating linguistic differences, understanding their ideas and how they have arrived at their perspectives, and accurately representing them in your own writing. Through this process of critical and conscientious reading/listening, you will understand that there can be a variety of valid perspectives on an issue/topic and that ethical writing represents the complexity of an issue by respectfully acknowledging multiple perspectives.