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

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In their article, Douglas Downs and Elizabeth Wardle discuss the problems they see with the “First-Year Composition” course and outline the changes they believe should be made in order to create an “Introduction to Writing Studies” course. They state early on in the article, “When we continues to pursue the goal of teaching students “how to write in college” in one or two semesters...we silently support the misconceptions that writing is not a real subject, that writing courses do not require expert instructors, and that rhetoric and composition are not genuine research areas or legitimate intellectual pursuits” (553). Throughout the article they outline a Writing Studies course that emphasizes reading about writing and reflection among many other things. They explain, “students are taught that writing is conventional and context-specific rather than governed by universal rules” (559). Downs and Wardle provide two case studies of varying students to illustrate how their Writing Studies course can work for any type of student. After a recount of benefits students gain from this type of writing course, the article closes with a discussion of challenges and critiques.

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