Purpose of First-Year Composition

Notes from #fycchat. (You can join us on Wednesdays at 8 pm CST.)

What is the purpose of FYC? I wonder that sometimes. Especially when I get my students the next semester and they know nothing…

I tell my students the point is to introduce them to academic discourse, writing conventions for MLA, and make sure they can write.

Purpose of FYC: Make sure our students can write, at SLAC. Give students writing experience at CC.

For me, it’s as much about writing as it is about creating the habits of successful students/people. I wonder, though, if that’s what it should be, or if I should just focus on writing, letting them sink or swim.

We still hear complaints that a) students can’t write and b) still don’t “get it.”

Transfer of knowledge is a big deal. Students compartmentalize all their work. Don’t understand FYC applies to all they do.

Some conflicting goals for me: explode notion of what a text is, reinvigorate passion for reading and writing,scholarly conversation

Oh, I love the idea of exploding the notion of what a text is. But I was thinking of that for grad students!

The party line at my U is that FYC prepares students for their upper-level major-specific writing class.

I agonize over the reading/writing balance!

show students how texts can teach them to write whatever they want to write: get dressed, make film, or arrange Facebook

I like this idea. Texts do, in fact, teach me many things I want to know. But do they teach everything? I doubt it.

I agree with both of you. I also think looking at craft, not just content, is valuable for FYC students.

Example of text not being able to teach you to write? You mean in the working with language discovery portion of writing?

Opposite of what I’m saying is the political side of comp which seems to be dominant philosophy of where I teach @ St. John’s. Social politics: gender, race, corporate power…

The purpose of FYC to me is to teach students that writing is a social transaction that has a real purpose.

Purpose can/should be to show students the power in writing. I try to show where what they learn in class can be used later.

Writing can change the world, spread awareness, advocate change. Why should students not know that?

Possible purposes: intro to writing studies, prep for other classes, invigorate passion for knowledge, cause social revolution

I find that even some of my tech majors don’t know their way around Word, how to email a prof, etc.

Agreed. So should we introduce students to digital writing/narratives, as well as more trad acad writing?

I have one girl in comp tech who is hopeless, too.

I recently saw a CFP for digital literacy narratives. I can’t wait to read the journal.

Never enough time. We write, read, tech, play shrink to build confidence, convert to college students. No wonder.

Does anyone else end up treating FYC as a kind of “freshman homeroom”? Teaching study habits, etc

The class can be a “welcome to the university” sort of place. Make friends, get acclimated to university thinking life

Freshman homeroom, absolutely. Tell them it’s their job. Sometimes it’s not a priority, but it’s their job. Job speaks to my students. Tell them when they use writing in their jobs and they will perk up.

I’m still a grad student, & the profs I appreciate most are the ones who teach me scholarship as well as subject matter.

What is composition not for? Isn’t it very different from what they think it will be when they are h.s. seniors?

Where do we see FYC going moving forward?

More rhetorical analysis. Visual rhetoric. Document design? Of course, I remember thinking that 20 years ago too.

I think that online/digital writing means we have to teach good writing across many more discourse level

Are we moving towards FYC being about digital literacy(s)?

Document design seems key component and the document would “hold” most of what we’ve tweeted tonight?

If the direction is changing, how do we make sure we stay “up to date”. I’m just getting this whole rhetoric thing, and now…

I think learning to think about audience and your role as a writer/speaker is critical no matter what the technology.

I find myself always balancing my writing with learning tech stuff to be able to “speak” to where audience is.

Now I’m also learning digital, design, etc. It can be overwhelming, esp when my background isn’t in writing (well, rhetoric).

For me, conferences are key. Reading, yes, but takes so long to get to print.

What about FYC chat, facebook, blogs, in relation to conferences? I think/learn a lot here.

staying in the conversation (Twitter, conferences) a great way to stay current. I learn a lot from FYCchat.

Thinking through fyc here, yes. Like this. Helps. Quick, too. Good thoughts. Don’t have time to develop though.

Agreed. This chat really helps to distill it down to essence. I have a few fav blogs.

I think composition is about the way things are composed. Like a photographer, a good writer is aware of what’s in the frame.

I wish I had more $ to go to conferences. Hard to decide btw writing conf and lit conf.

Conferences based on importance to you. Although was doing ALL because desperately needed job. Got two so… Worked.

You could always turn some of these ideas into conference pieces later?

Are we moving towards FYC being about digital literacy(s)? #FYCchat It’s not either/or question yet, but must be included

I feel the same way, and I always fear that my desire for creative thinking leaves them struggling in other places.

So, there’s the question. I’ll toss it out there. Do we make a difference?

I think after what we heard today at the FYW Conference, the answer is definitely yes!

Yes, we make a difference. My students can write a thesis now. They know what a topic sentence is. They know how to cap and indent.

The purpose of FYC, to create literate, capable undergrads. Do the 10-15 weeks they spend with us make a difference?

Positive stories. Student who could not write sentence, got a C on research paper.

A student today said her teach made diff when her father read what she wrote in class and went to rehab.

I had one tell me today I made a difference. It made my day. My week, really.

more make a diff: student wrote about how to minimize error as pharmacist, another wrote about how to live Muslim faith

Never having written: beyond filling in forms and filling in blanks on tests. Some had written a sentence or two.

Yikes! I don’t think I have anyone who has had that experience in my class. At least, I hope not.

Students are primarily minorities, inner city, poverty level. Teachers forced to pass them even if not doing work

On one hand, I’m glad they made it to college. On the other hand, that’s really not acceptable.

Yes. They made it to college because they are desperate to provide for their families. Jugglers all of them.

One student’s daughter in ICU. Got on bus to hosp. Stayed 2 hrs. Got back on bus for school. Classes. Did hwk on bus. Saw baby. Still came to class. Still got work done. Still learned. SO PROUD. Hard work is worth it when they want to learn.

So, it’s hard, it’s overwhelming, it’s frustrating, but, ultimately, it’s totally worth it. 🙂

Purpose of FYC: Provide our students with the means to get the education to provide for their families

Too many never go back to school after that. One told me he liked jail, because it gave him a chance to read!

Transfer of knowledge:
I try to give them a “toolbox” to take with them to other classes/future jobs. We talk a lot about the toolbox

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