Faculty outside of the University Writing Program are often curious about the kind of work that students do in our program and how they might be able to build on it in their own classes as they ask their students to write. The most important thing for all faculty to know is that our students’ writing development is an on-going process, one that will continue for a lifetime. If we think about the multiple ways faculty write now--emails, grant proposals, texts, review materials, academic articles, textbook chapters, blog posts etc.--we know that our own literacy development is also spiral and ongoing.
Students learn best as writers when they can see themselves as novices at two distinct points in their university education in order to be open to new ways of writing (Yancey et al Writing Across Contexts, 2014). The first place to adapt this novice stance is in first-year writing, where students have to transition from the expectations of high school writing to that of college writing. The second place where students benefit from a novice stance is when students enter their major and have to learn how to write within a particular discipline. Knowing that students need continual support as writers as they navigate their way into college and then disciplinary writing is key.
The First-Year Writing program strives to support our students with the transfer of writing practice and knowledge from their introductory writing course, through their General Education curriculum, and into their major. This focus on Teaching for Transfer helps us to be intentional in assigning reading and writing assignments that help students know how to apply what they practice in First-Year Writing long after they leave our classes.
Embedded in the work is critical reflection, where students write before, during and after the assignment they are creating in order to practice talking about their writing and gaining greater understanding about how they work as writers.