(from the syllabus)

World Views Course Description: The World Views first-year seminar is a program unique to Willamette University. The primary motivation of the faculty who developed the course in 1987 was to provide a common experience for all first-year students that would serve as an introduction to the goals, the purposes and the rigors of the liberal arts tradition in which Willamette University is firmly rooted. The course is built around the skills of critical reading, informed discussion, and cogent writing, the same skills that are the foundation for most academic programs on campus.

In order to encourage students to read carefully, think critically, discuss effectively, and write coherently, we have assembled a set of interesting and demanding readings on war and its alternatives. It is our belief that such readings provide an excellent introduction to the critical skills that students will draw upon during their years at Willamette, and a coherent framework in which to exercise these skills. Moreover, by engaging these materials, we hope that we will all come to a better understanding of ourselves and our place in society, and to achieve a deeper appreciation of the diversity and the rich cultural differences which characterize our world.

Goals for writing in World Views (drawn from faculty assignments, responses to questionnaire, and outcomes portion of the Writing Program assessment plan, and guided by the WPA outcomes statement)

As writers, students in World Views are principally engaged in writing reasoned analyses of texts, in which their primary purpose is to advance and support a thesis. They are learning to speak, read, and write within a community of scholars, that is, to understand and adopt discursive practices for forming questions, gathering and evaluating responses to those questions, acknowledging the perspectives, research, reasoning, and words of other scholars, and controlling the conventions of grammar, punctuation, and usage honored by academic communities. (over)

Students understand that diverse purposes call on diverse processes for writing and they become flexible in choosing processes appropriate to the purpose. They recognize a variety of purposes for writing:

  • as a means of learning and discovery,
  • as a means of communicating what one has learned and discovered,
  • as a means of expression and artistic creation.
  • In WV, they learn to use writing informally to help their own reading and thinking.
  • In WV, they learn to formulate and refine a thesis.

Students recognize the demands of a variety of readers and develop ways to adapt their writing to meet the needs and expectations of diverse readers. They learn to accommodate the needs of readers:

  • to address readers at a level appropriate to their expertise,
  • to explain their reasoning, and
  • to provide transitions between sentences and other units of discourse, for example.

Students gain comfort and facility in writing in a variety of forms. They learn that organizational patterns vary with purpose, readers, and materials, that some forms are clear and relatively inflexible while others are quite loose.

  • In WV, they learn to organize a thesis-driven essay and to move beyond the five-paragraph theme (intro-3 points-one-paragraph-per-point, conclusion) to think in arguments and chunks of arguments.
  • They may also learn to make an argument in other forms (dialogues, plays, speeches, etc.)

Students respect their readers’ expectations for evidence, explanation, and argumentation:

  • they support their claims in writing with appropriate data especially drawing on primary texts;
  • they employ logic and good reasoning;
  • especially in writing for academic readers, they acknowledge the larger conversations to which they contribute by documenting their work.
  • In WV, students learn the conventions of one citation style, and understand that they may be asked to use others in other disciplines.
  • In WV, students learn to signal quotations appropriately and, to integrate quotations into their own sentence syntax
  • They learn to work with quotations (rather than to drop them in as proof per se).
  • They learn when to quote directly, when to paraphrase, and when to refer more generally to sources.

Students write in fluent, precise, competent, English in their formal writing; when writing in a foreign language class, they learn the conventions and standards for writing in that language:

  • they observe the conventions of standard edited English (or other language) in grammar, usage, punctuation, spelling, and mechanics;
  • they begin to develop a sense of their own writing voice, or voices,
  • they appreciate, or at least tolerate the variety of English prose styles,
  • they identify styles that they admire, · they match their own style to purpose and readers.
Willamette University

Writing Center

900 State Street
Salem Oregon 97301 U.S.A.

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