The Culture of Writing

W1. First Year Seminar

Critical Inquiry

The W1 introduces all students to the essential thinking activities of liberal arts education, including inquiry, critical thinking, discussion, writing, and argument. While mentoring students in specific strategies and skills that inform effective writing at the college level, the W1 introduces students to the integration of writing with learning and thinking that is valued across the disciplines and prominent in the academic culture of Washington College. In aligning the First Year Seminar program’s focus on inquiry with an introduction to the writing program learning goals, the W1 gives particular emphasis to Critical Thinking: the ability to raise questions and identify problems related to particular subjects or situations and to make thoughtful decisions based on that analysis, through writing, reading, and research. 

All students fulfill the W1 in their first year by completing a First Year Seminar (FYS). For further information about the FYS program and a description of its courses, see First Year Seminars.

Learning Goals (for Students)

  • Critical Thinking: the ability to raise questions and identify problems related to particular subjects or situations and to make thoughtful decisions based on that analysis, through writing, reading, and research;
  • Writing Process: the ability to use appropriate strategies for generating, developing, composing, and revising writing and research;
  • Rhetorical Knowledge: the ability to analyze and act on understandings of audiences, purposes, and disciplinary contexts in creating and comprehending texts;
  • Knowledge of Conventions: an awareness of the formal guidelines, ranging from matters of grammar and style to conventions of research and documentation that define what is considered to be correct and appropriate to writing in a particular discipline or context.

 

Requirements (for Faculty)

Each W1 (First Year Seminar) will include the following core requirements:

Have at least three distinct, formal writing experiences spaced throughout the course. In addition to essays, these experiences might be forms or genres of writing specific to a discipline or research process relevant to the seminar. Since the revision of writing is a key element of the W1, essay responses on tests should not count for these experiences.

Offer opportunities for response and review of writing, through conferencing with the instructor and/or peer review sessions organized with students.

Have no more than 15 students in the class (if advising is formally attached to this course, then we would recommend a cap of 12).

Have a designated resource (print or electronic) to which students are referred for guidance with style and conventions.