English W131, Reading, Writing, And Inquiry I, is required of almost every Indiana University and Purdue University undergraduate student.
The course teaches skills of critical reading, thinking, and writing to help students meaningfully engage artifacts, events, and issues in our world. The course builds students’ abilities to read written and cultural texts critically, to analyze those texts in ways that engage both students’ own experiences and the perspectives of others; and to write about those texts for a range of audiences and purposes as a means of participating in broader conversations. Assignments emphasize the analysis and synthesis of sources in making and developing claims.
In the W131 standard curriculum, students write a series of papers, exploring various forms of prose writing. Generally, a nonfiction book provides an anchor around which students, in collaboration with their instructor, pursue a set of related ideas, each grounded in the overall thematic focus of the book. Paper assignments are based on these ideas and allow students to choose a topic within the common dialogue about the book.
In addition, because paper assignments promote experience with different kinds of writing for various audiences, students learn to develop important rhetorical skills, such as developing a purpose, identifying a viable audience, writing to appeal to that audience, and negotiating the language requirements for success with selected genres.
The first half of W131 encourages students to explore their responses to readings and to life experiences to understand how those responses can help them to participate in broader discussions of social concern. As they read texts of multiple writers, students also will be asked to consider what makes those texts successful, i.e., what decisions writers make about how to use writing to communicate effectively.
This work during the first half culminates in a midterm portfolio, a body of work that includes the pre-writing, drafts, and final version of one of the papers written to this point, plus a reflective paper. These documents demonstrate, among other things, the process a student is developing to bring a paper to completion and is evaluated based on how well a student is progressing on the six course goals. The grade for this portfolio is worth roughly 1/3 of the semester grade.
The second half of W131 focuses on developing more fully the skills learned in the first half. A key feature is learning to analyze and synthesize instructor-provided outside sources to produce more sophisticated writing that contributes substantively to a discussion of cultural significance. Students should show a range of abilities with different kinds of writing and present their work in a final portfolio that is typically comprised of two papers of the student’s choosing (one of which is from the second half), plus a reflective paper.
This final portfolio is evaluated based on how well the student has met the course goals and is worth roughly 2/3 of the semester grade.
• Develop strategies for reading rhetorically to understand and comprehend a variety of print/online texts
• Develop strategies for writing rhetorically to communicate with a variety of audiences for varying purposes
• Develop meaningful questions to engage in inquiry
• Identify yourself as a writer who controls your own processes for reading, writing, and inquiry
Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:
• Identify how writers use purpose, audience and genre to make writing effective
• Produce writing that employs suitable choices about purpose, audience, and genre
• Utilize analysis and synthesis to develop content
• Contribute and use feedback to reshape and revise texts
• Document references and citations to others’ words and ideas
• Produce writing that employs suitable choices in language and editing
• Develop meaningful and effective questions to interrogate reading and writing in order to move beyond familiar thinking
• Use writing to effect change
• Generate written reflections that use course concepts to assess your own reading, writing, and inquiry processes