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Expectations for Entering College Writers at UTC

Note:  This document was written collaboratively by representatives of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Chattanooga State Technical Community College, Hamilton County Department of Education, and the Public Education Foundation of Chattanooga. It is based on the Council of Writing Program Administrators’ “Outcomes Statement for First-Year Composition,” available at <http://wpacouncil.org/positions/outcomes.html>.  The sample annotated papers that accompany these expectations should help students, parents, teachers, and administrators see more clearly how this expected knowledge of, attitudes about, and competence with writing might appear in actual student work. 

Entering college writers should meet expectations in five areas:  rhetorical knowledge; critical thinking, reading, and writing; the writing process; researched writing; and final draft concerns.

Rhetorical Knowledge Expectations

When students enter their first college-level writing class, they should be able to

  • Structure their writing to suit the assignment, purpose, and audience.  Examples of assignments that specify various purposes and audiences might include a letter written to a restaurant manager to complain about poor service, a proposal written to an employer to change the scheduling procedures for that workplace, or a short article for the student’s church newsletter.
  • Write essays to communicate ideas and to order their thoughts and experiences.

Critical Thinking, Reading, and Writing Expectations

When students enter their first college-level writing class, they should be able to

  • Identify the main concepts and locate supporting details in written texts, including non-literary texts such as essays, opinion pieces, and other non-fiction prose.
  • Read actively for thorough understanding.
  • Use reading to improve their writing by drawing ideas, information, and inspiration from written texts.
  • Use writing to improve their reading through private written responses and more public written reactions to reading.
  • Develop their writing with specific details, examples, and explanations.

Writing Process Expectations

When students enter their first college-level writing class, they should be able to

  • Practice various invention techniques.
  • Use prewriting to reflect on their experiences and to generate information and ideas.
  • Move easily from writing for self-expression to writing for readers.
  • Revise early drafts to re-think their purposes and to clarify presentation of ideas.
  • Identify and correct their own spelling, grammatical, and mechanical errors, especially during the final state of the writing process.
  • Use various organizing strategies (including narration, sequencing, classification, cause and effect, and comparison/contrast) to complete essays of at least 500 words.

Researched Writing Expectations

When students enter their first college-level writing class, they should be able to

  • Identify specific research questions for a clearly focused research argument.
  • Use print-based and electronic research tools to find sources.
  • Evaluate accuracy, credibility, and relevance of sources.
  • Summarize for purpose and argument of sources.
  • Paraphrase effectively.
  • Integrate quotations effectively into argument.
  • Be familiar with genres other than the researched argument including annotated bibliography.

Final Draft Expectations

When students enter their first college-level writing class, they should be able to

  • Compose thesis statements, topic sentences, and transitions.
  • Use active sentence style.
  • Compose effective and polished sentences and paragraphs with relevant and well-chosen details.
  • Understand academic conventions for standard written English.
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