The current writing curriculum at Saint Leo University uses an approach to writing instruction that fell out of favor in the rhetoric and composition discipline decades ago. It emphasizes modes (such as compare/contrast, cause/effect, narrative, and process analysis) rather than an awareness of rhetorical situations and audience awareness. My task was to update this curriculum to meet the needs of the institution and the students.
The first-year writing (FYW) curriculum I designed needed to meet the expectations of a literature-focused English department, an interdisciplinary-minded general-education curriculum committee, a vertical-alignment-focused university curriculum committee, and rhetoric-focused national standards.
This one does.
I designed a three-course sequence — remedial writing, first-semester rhetoric, and second-semester research — that meets the needs of students at various levels. I also started a student-authored textbook project (still in the unpolished early stages of development) to accompany the rhetoric and research courses.
In addition to the proposal included above, I created generic syllabi for the non-remedial courses, assignment sheets and grading rubrics for all major writing tasks, and peer-review guides for all appropriate assignments. The documents follow a uniform design and rely on document styling to provide consistency and simplicity.
Each assignment builds on previous work, and the second course applies the skills students learn in the first. All three courses have exactly seven student-learning outcomes, which correspond to seven out of eight weeks in an online semester, allowing one buffer week for introductions or extra time on complex assignments. Those outcomes incorporated NCTE and CWPA standards for FYW programs plus the general-education requirements of Saint Leo University.
This tightly integrated FYW program balances a variety of needs and expectations in a package that gives students writing skills for college and beyond.
This curriculum received approvals from the English department, the general-education program curriculum committee, and the university-wide curriculum committee. In fact, the general-education committee spontaneously applauded three times during my program proposal because the curriculum anticipated their needs and concerns, addressing them through coordinated design.