The Writing Process
The Literature and Language Department endorses a process-oriented philosophy of writing: the belief that the point of writing - sometimes the most important part - is the process itself and what it does to the human spirit. A focus on the acts of creation rather than the outcome allows us to help develop in our students an understanding that brainstorming, free-writing, drafting, receiving feedback, and revising ultimately allow us to indulge in the luxury of discovery. Finding what is in our minds and hearts is a treasure that is often released only in writing.
As students become aware of the richness of the process itself, they should learn to look at revision as a creative act, an opportunity to creatively “re-see” the topic and re-form their ideas about it as they write. That writing is revising should be emphasized from the beginning of the course. Understanding that writing is a recursive process enables students to revisit earlier stages such as research, brainstorming, and re-drafting without thinking they are simply doing more work. Instructors encourage the process by incorporating such pedagogies as group brainstorming, peer reviewing, whole-class critique, guided revision, conferences, workshops, written comments, and other methodologies that engage writing as an iterative process of review and revision.
While no two teachers of writing will conduct their classes in precisely the same way, the first year writing course must reflect responsible pedagogy grounded in current research in the field of composition and rhetoric. For that reason, all instructors are encouraged to read some of the recent books intended to assist teachers of writing, as well as the journals available in or electronically from Ramsey Library, especially College Composition and Communication. "A Rhetoric for Writing Teachers," by Erika Lindemann, and Donald M. Murray’s "A Writer Teaches Writing" are not recent, but both are excellent overviews with many practical suggestions. Thoughtful articles such as Toby Fulwiler's "Provocative Revision" are available online, while James A. Reither's "Writing and Knowing: Toward Redefining the Writing Process" and M. Elizabeth Sargent Wallace's "How Composition Studies Changed the Way I Ask for and Respond to Student Writing," are available from JSTOR at Ramsey Library. Many helpful texts are available in Ramsey Library, in the University Writing Center, and on the resource shelf of the Common Room in Karpen Hall, room 207.
Textbooks and Handbooks
Instructors are free to choose any appropriate text(s) for their own classes. It’s a good idea to consult with other faculty to see what they recommend or browse the resources available in the Common Room and the University Writing Center. The secretary will order desk copies of recent texts for consideration by Composition teachers.
Textbook order forms will be available as the deadline approaches each semester. Books must be ordered by the deadline in order to ensure availability and keep student costs reasonable. It is a good idea to visit the bookstore, located in Highsmith Center, or check its stock online to ascertain that the correct texts for the class are listed and have arrived.
Though the Department of Literature and Language does not want to impose a single text, approach or methodology, teachers of Language 120 are united by philosophy and the common goals of the course.
The most effective composition assignments clearly state the instructor's detailed expectations. Identifing the purpose, audience, rhetorical mode, and other specific factors that will shape the criteria for evaluation allows the student to focus with more clarity on the writing task. Including the due dates for drafts, reviews, and revisions reinforces the recursive writing process. All students will not read and understand a written assignment, however, so assignments benefit from announcement and discussion in class.
Support for Language 120 Instructors
Each semester begins and concludes with a general meeting of all Language 120 instructors to share plans for and reflections on the semester, reinforce the shared course goals, and confer about strategies, results, and insights into teaching composition.
Each Language 120 teacher is assigned to a Pod, a small group of colleagues who attend each others’ classes and meet informally to discuss issues of composition theory as well as the practical challenges and successes of teaching Language 120. Pods are reorganized by semester in order to include all those teaching Language 120.
The University Writing Center, under the direction of Deaver Traywick, is located on the main floor of Ramsey Library, in Room 136. At the heart of UNC Asheville's writing life, the UWC sustains the liberal arts mission of the University. Staffed by composition professionals and trained student consultants, the UWC provides support to all student, staff, and faculty writers in an accessible and comfortable environment. It serves students through one-to-one consultations and collaborates with faculty about writing practice and theory. Student writing consultants offer friendly, informed attention at any point of the writing process. The University Writing Center is an integral part of UNC Asheville's academic support services, works closely with the library, and maintains contact with an international network of writing centers.
Language 120 instructors often take their classes to the Writing Center early in the semester for an orientation; a group visit often promotes individual students’ willingness to take advantage of the Center’s service. Alternatively, instructors can contact the Writing Center (828.251.6596) to arrange a classroom visit early in the semester from a peer consultant or faculty member who will explain the UWC’s services.
Each Language 120 teacher is assigned a library liaison to facilitate the introduction and development of Information Literacy, beginning with strategies for researching the various resources of the Western North Carolina Library Network.
Several composition teaching resources, including sample texts, are available on shelves in the Common Room (KH207) as well as the University Writing Center.
Instructors may wish students to keep journals. Research and experience support their use as effective tools for teaching writing. Students learn to write by writing, and no place offers the freedom to explore ideas in writing like a journal. Pre-writing assignments may be given to encourage students in their exploration. Composition specialists differ on whether or not teachers should collect and read students’ journals. Instrcutors who choose to do so have learned to treat the material they contain with discretion and confidentiality.
- Privacy: Student work belongs to them. Their written permission is required in order to use their writing for purposes of assessment, class practice, or presentations.
First term instructors’ classes will be visited at least once, perhaps more often, by the Department Chair, the Director of First Year Writing, or by a full-time member of the Composition Faculty. Visits will always be coordinated with instructors in advance; there will be no surprises. An end-of-term written evaluation will be required, as it is of all full-and part-time teachers through the university. Pod members are also encouraged to visit and observe each others’ classes and then meet to discuss their observations. If instructors have any questions concerning evaluation, or are having problems, they are encouraged to consult the Director of the Program or the Chair of the Department.