WAC and TFT

I started teaching a FYW course at CofC keyed to WAC today; the course is called Interdisciplinary Composition. In the course, students examine how disciplines across the curriculum write to make and share knowledge.

The TFT curriculum seemed like a natural way of meeting the outcome of the course by helping students become familiar with vital writing concepts like genre.

In developing the course, I wanted to employ the TFT curriculum outlined by Yancey, Robertson, and Taczak as closely as possible. That decision was informed–in part–by conversations with my colleagues at FSU who are actively working to develop the curriculum as faculty at different institutions adopt TFT.

Although I used the reading lists and assignments provided in Writing Across Contexts, I did make some adaptations.

  • Rather than a research project (the second project in the TFT project sequence), students in Interdisciplinary Composition write a review of a journal article and interview a tenure-stream or tenured faculty member. In both cases, students focus on the writing and knowledge-making of a single discipline with particular attention to genre: the genre of the journal article in the article review project and the other genres faculty members compose as part of their work in the discipline.

Because there is an ongoing to develop Writing across the Curriculum on this campus, I’m hoping that the faculty members in different disciplines can talk about their writing in terms of genre, but I anticipate that some will not have that term in their vocabulary. To mitigate the use/presence of that term, I am going to work with students to develop a shared set of interview questions.

  • Because there’s no research project, students cannot remediate or revise a research paper for the Composition-in-Three Genres assignment. Thus, students will complete the C-in-T-G project by remediating the journal article they reviewed for a different audience with at least one being non-scholarly.

Today was our first meeting, and as an activity for our first meeting, I had students answer the following set of questions:

  1. What do you know about writing? About what people do in/with writing?
  2. What are the qualities of a good piece of writing?
  3. What are the features of an effective writing process?

After answering those questions for themselves, we develop a shared list of features of good writing.

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  • Captivate Audience
  • Evidence
  • Brevity/Conceise
  • For audience w/ audience in mind
  • Organized Message
  • Good gramma
  • Flow
  • Structure
  • Direct (clarity, purposed)
  • Understanding (Shared vocabulary, Meaningful)
  • Counter-arguments
  • Central idea

Two observations: First, it’s not surprising that this list implies that writing is exclusively about producing essays for school. Second, (and somewhat ironically) what is surprising is some attention to audience and purpose despite the almost-monolithic sense of writing this list suggests: one context (classroom), one audience (teacher), one purpose (assessment/grading).

I’m interested to see how this list changes and refocuses when concepts like genre and the rhetorical situation are added.

I’m also interested to see whether or not/how the theories of writing they will develop as the semester progresses will differ along disciplinary lines: if an Elementary Ed major’s theory will differ greatly from an Engineering major.

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