Outcomes Statement for the Writing Seminar

The Writing Seminars are designed to help students achieve goals in three broad categories:

  • Strengthening Practices for Critical Thinking, Reading, and Writing
  • Cultivating Scholarly Habits of Mind
  • Raising Meta-Disciplinary Awareness

Working towards these goals provides students a foundation for continued growth as critical writers.   

Strengthening Practices for Critical Thinking, Reading, and Writing

With the goal of crafting ethical, persuasive, and elegantly composed texts, by the end of their Writing Seminar students will have practiced how to:

  • Define a compelling and viable problem, question, or project on which to build an arguable thesis.
  • Substantiate and develop ideas through the analysis of evidence and critical use of sources in support of an argument that drives a clear and progressive structure.
  • Actively engage sources in an intellectual dialogue, always making clear how their own ideas relate to—and are distinct from—those of others.
  • Use university libraries and other research tools to locate sources and manage searches both efficiently and ethically.
  • Cultivate a writerly ethos through recognizing and contending with counter-arguments and other possible objections.
  • Revise for clarity and cogency—from the argument level to the sentence level—based on self-critique and critique from others.

Cultivating Scholarly Habits of Mind

Writing Seminars encourage students to cultivate the habits of mind that allow them to approach writing as genuine intellectual engagement on the page and to treat both their readers and sources with integrity and generosity. By the end of their Writing Seminar, students should be able to:

  • Regard their development as writers as an ongoing process, and not the accomplishment of a single semester or even an entire undergraduate career.
  • Practice writing as a recursive process that involves drafting, revising, and getting feedback at any and every point along the way.
  • Cultivate other beneficial practices and habits of research, reading, and writing, such as planning the steps or stages of a writing project, taking careful notes, and keeping track of source citations.
  • Understand writing to be a complex social interaction between writer and reader, exchanging rigorous, insightful, and compassionate feedback with fellow writers.
  • Recognize and value the curiosity, creativity, independent thinking, and intellectual risk-taking involved in strong academic writing.

Raising Meta-Disciplinary Awareness

Through their multi-disciplinary design, the Writing Seminars teach students to recognize the patterns of similarity and difference that characterize academic writing across disciplines and fields of study. Students then draw on this meta-disciplinary awareness as they navigate critical inquiry, argument, and research methods in new contexts across the University. By the end of their Writing Seminar, students should be able to:

  • Anticipate learning new expectations, conventions, and ways of structuring an argument when researching and writing in a new discipline. (E.g., What kinds of evidence does the discipline examine? What kinds of questions does it ask?)
  • Draw on the shared language of the Lexicon in order to learn how to participate persuasively in diverse scholarly and scientific debates.
  • Respect the opportunities and constraints of operating within particular disciplines, understanding that there are discrete epistemological, methodological, and rhetorical choices at stake in the work of each.