Downs, Douglas and Elizabeth Wardle “Teaching About Writing, Righting Misconceptions: (Re)Envisioning 'First Year Composition' as 'Introduction to Writing Studies'”

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In “Teaching about Writing, Righting Misconceptions: (Re)Envisioning ‘First-Year Composition’ as ‘Introduction to Writing Studies,’” Douglas Downs and Elizabeth Wardle argue for a complete overhaul of first-year composition (FYC) courses. The two maintain that FYC pedagogy reinforces writing stereotypes by forwarding the unsupported claim that writing can be taught divorced from its context and field. Such pedagogies, under Downs and Warble, propel the idea that writing is not a true area of academic interest. By shifting the focus of FYC from the false promise of teaching students how to write for college, Downs and Wardle believe composition curricula need to teach students about the nuances and complexities of writing itself. Beyond self-effacement, current FYC programs fail to prepare students for the contingent nature of academic writing. Since writing is almost always field-specific, a pedagogy striving to outline the commonalities of writing is not only a waste of time, but also misleading. Downs and Wardle propose a FYC program that examines writing contexts. The two believe that shifting the focus from universal instruction toward writing theory, the student gleans an understanding of the writing process in general; thus, allowing him to identify approaches to various writing situations. Through implementing a writing studies curriculum in their own classrooms, the two have noted an increased confidence students, which is related to a greater understand of how writing works.

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