WAC Meets FTS: Expectations and Goals

FTS is central to our Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) program at Gustavus. After all, it's the College's most important and intensive introduction to academic writing for students. While we may already be familiar with WRIT course requirements (see packet), it's important to remember that our goals for the writing component of FTS extend and complicate the goals for other WRIT courses for several reasons:

  • FTS takes the place of a traditional "freshman composition" course at Gustavus. FTS is our students' most intensive writing experience during the first year of college. They depend on faculty members to provide them with a framework for thinking about writing that will be applicable across a variety of disciplines and writing experiences.

  • FTS is the first of three WRIT courses that students will take at Gustavus. Thus FTS should introduce students to the concepts that will be most important for them in future writing intensive courses. These concepts include: a process-based approach to writing; the concept of revision; thesis-based argumentative writing; summary, response, analysis, evaluation, and synthesis; writing as a means of learning, and self-editing skills.

  • Students enter FTS with a variety of strengths as writers. Some have taken challenging I.B. or A.P. courses; others have never been asked to write an essay-length text. Some students can produce prose that may be, frankly, more graceful than yours. Some students may be ESL students or second generation speakers/ writers of English (L2) who have much less control over their discourse.

  • Teaching writing in FTS means teaching revision. The feedback loop (first draft to professor and/ or peer response groups, time for revision and resubmission, evaluation, etc.) is essential for students.

Common Practices within FTS Sections

  • Students learn to write in drafts and submit revisions on two or more formal written assignments.

  • Students usually complete three or more formal, graded writing assignments. Again, they should have the chance to revise two or more of those assignments. (Think early on about when you'd like that revision process to take place.)

  • Students should work within several different genres as writers and/ or perform multiple writing tasks during the term. Most FTS instructors require a carefully chosen mix of summative, analytical, reflective, and evaluative writing.

  • Students receive feedback from real audiences, including their peers and their professor. Peer response and conferences with instructors are regular staples for many FTS classes.

  • Students need to develop fluency by engaging in personal/ expressive writing, articulating connections between their home literacy practices and academic literacy practices, and even imitating or approximating academic forms. These opportunities might best be realized through informal writing exercises and assignments (graded or ungraded).

  • Students typically approach research as ongoing inquiry that takes place in stages. They need to learn that writing is integral to the entire process of research--we don't simply "write up" results the night before the paper, annotated bibliography, inquiry essay, or other research assignment is due.

  • Students should learn about and practice the conventions of citing and documenting sources (via Lunsford's Everyday Writer and exercises completed in and out of class).

  • Students need to learn what's at stake if they plagiarize; students should learn concrete ways to avoid plagiarism. Again, Lunsford's Everyday Writer can be helpful here.