Writing 1000 is designed to help students develop skills in critical reading and academic writing at the university level. In broad terms, students will learn rhetorical strategies for summary, analysis, and persuasion, with particular emphasis placed on writing research papers. There will also be a grammar unit, which addresses typical sentence-level and punctuation problems for students who write in academic contexts.
Often feared by apprentice academic writers, the grammar unit is particualrly helpful, as many of our students discover. It is conducted according to pragmatic principles: that is, we consider what elements of punctuation like commas or semicolons or what structures like compound sentences “do” in a text, as opposed to prescriptive models for learning grammar, which usually present complex and often confusing “rules” that must be memorized and that imply there is only one “right” way (and more often many “wrong” ways!) to use language. Perhaps even worse, prescriptive approaches to grammar tend to imply that writers who might not know these rules and conventions, for whatever reason, are in need of remedial instruction--that there is something “wrong” with them, something that needs to be “cured.”
Such prescriptive approaches, it seems fair to say, can alienate and frustrate inexperienced language users who might not know what kind of writing is considered appropriate and effective in a scholarly situation.
A more pragmatic approach to writing instruction recognizes that each of us belongs to different language-using groups in which we speak and write in many different ways every day, both scholarly and non-scholarly. We use numerous different genres without thinking twice about them. For example, think about how a text message is perfectly clear and effective (and usually arranged grammatically) in the informal context in which it is sent and received; in contrast, a research paper, pragmatically speaking, is merely a different, more formal kind of text, one in which an appropriate (scholarly) style is expected by readers, which includes things such as university-level grammar, tone, vocabulary, spelling, and so on.
It makes sense, then, that one would not submit a research paper using the same language and style that one would use in a text message (i.e., abbreviations, emoticons, slang, hashtags, etc.); similarly, one would not send a text message to a friend using the forms that are typical in a research paper at a university (i.e., with a title page, an introductory frame, citation, documentation, etc.). The differences are meaningful, and they produce the different genres in which each kind of reading and writing is done.
In addition to studying grammar, students in Writing 1000 will be instructed in the theory and practice of summary, of analysis, of persuasion, of information literacy, and research paper writing.
Please feel welcome to stop by the Academic Writing Program or the Writing Centre to discuss Writing 1000 and how it might be helpful to you in your course of study.
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