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Writing Matters: Writing Instruction at Landmark College

The value of written communication can’t be denied. Whether we are seeking answers to questions, exploring ideas, or providing information, the written word helps us connect with others, and clarify our thinking. It is because of this that we begin our instruction with the assumption that all students are capable of becoming better writers. We believe developing writers benefit from regular practice, from collaboration with and guided support from experienced writers and teachers. All writers have more to learn, and practice, feedback, revision, and reflection are all critical to writers’ development. Our goal is to help students become better writers, to develop abilities and practices that will transfer with them and allow them to be successful in new and varied writing contexts as they move through college and beyond. Writing is both an activity and a subject of study, and our curriculum promotes the development of writers’ abilities and the increase in their knowledge of the nature of writing and rhetoric. Writing is a physical and emotional and cognitive activity. We keep all these domains in mind as we work with diverse learners and provide multiple opportunities for students to receive instruction and to practice and demonstrate what they are learning.

Students enroll in a two course, required freshman composition and rhetoric sequence as part of their college requirements. They have the benefit of working with very experienced faculty, and additional support is offered in our Drake Center for Academic Support (DCAS). We understand that some writers benefit from assistive technology to increase their written output, and that some may need extra time to develop and implement a successful writing process. Whether students use assistive technology, office hours, DCAS, or assistance from librarians for support with research and documentation, we are here to help. Landmark College recognizes that developing strong writers is a priority in today’s world.

Landmark College writing faculty abide by the principles listed below as they prepare their lessons, select their materials, and create their assessments.
 

PRINCIPLES OF INSTRUCTION

  1. Writing is best taught as an individualized, strategic, recursive, flexible, multi-stage process.
     
  2. All writing exists within a rhetorical situation; attention should be paid to the interrelationships of writer, audience, message, purpose, and genre.
     
  3. Writing and reading are interrelated and complementary activities and abilities.
     
  4. We differentiate between low-stakes preliminary stage writing and high-stakes completed drafts ready for submission and evaluation.
     
  5. Writing generates thinking and allows for discovery while writing.  Writers do not have to have fully formed ideas before they begin writing.
     
  6. We appreciate the pedagogical role that formative evaluation and feedback play in a writer’s development, and we respond to students’ writing in ways that honor students’ strengths and are attuned to each student’s unique situation and abilities.
     
  7. Deadline policies should be clearly articulated and designed to encourage prompt work completion. These policies should also allow for appropriate flexibility to account for the different rates at which students develop effective writing habits and skills related to meeting deadlines.
     
  8. While we value correctness and teach editing skills, we believe that good writing has essential qualities that are more important, such as clarity, focus, support, and coherence. We also recognize that a large body of research supports the finding that de-contextualized grammar instruction has little effect on students’ abilities to write clear, correct prose.
     
  9. We understand that a student’s ability to write clear, error-free sentences is contextual and may decrease when encountering assignments and ideas that are complex and cognitively challenging. Too much concern for correctness in early stages of a writing process may also inhibit a student’s ability to articulate complex ideas. Editing is best left to later stages of a writing process.
     
  10. We do not edit or make corrections for students; instead we work with students to teach them how to become stronger editors of their own work.
     
  11. Writing does not have to be graded to serve as a tool for learning and for developing thinking skills.
     
  12. Summative evaluation is dependent on context and should be based on identified evaluation criteria and stated learning outcomes for any individual assignment. In other words, all possible elements of writing need not be assessed for all assignments.
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