The First-Year Writing Curriculum at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte is inquiry-driven, process-based, and grounded in the understanding that writing is always socially situated (and writers are, too). This means that writing doesn’t exist in a vacuum. The way we write is influenced by context and purpose. Therefore, we recognize that there is no universal context for writing, academic or otherwise. What constitutes “good” writing in one situation or discipline is different from another one. We know that writing is not a basic skill independent of content or context. Similarly, literacy development does not begin or end with the completion of first-year writing, but is spiral and on-going. The FYW curriculum also recognizes the broad array of composing that 21st century students are required to practice, especially digital and multimodal work that pays attention to audiences that reach far beyond the classroom.
Because we know the impossibility of preparing students for every possible writing task they may encounter in their educational careers, the FYW curriculum strives to help students become adaptive writers, ones who know the questions that effective writers ask each time they compose and ones who can draw on what they already know about composing in order to complete the task:
- What is the purpose of this composition?
- What is the larger context?
- Who is my audience, and what are their needs and expectations?
- What kind of language is appropriate for the work this composition must do?
- What type of documentation style is expected?
- What do I already know, what do I still need to know, and where can I find useful resources?
All fIrst-year writing courses culminate in the creation of a Digital Portfolio. The purpose of the portfolio is to provide a place for students to curate selected coursework that demonstrates engaged inquiry, rhetorical flexibility, rigorous reflection, and awareness of visual design and digital composition. Students analyze their reading and writing processes, reflect upon their learning from the course, and articulate their understanding and application of the department's first-year writing student learning outcomes.