What Students Should Learn

The following are the core skills and ideas students should gain from the Writing Studies course sequence:

Concepts of Writing

  • Students should understand that writing is a process, a series of choices, and not simply a product. 
  • Based on the idea that writing is a series of choices, students should learn how to make effective choices in their own writing. 
  • Since writing is a social act, students should learn how to give critical feedback to their peers’ writing and to receive critical feedback on their writing. 
  • In learning these concepts, students should begin to develop an awareness of themselves as writers.

Writing Process Skills

  • Students should understand and attend to the role of the audience in writing. 
  • Students should learn how to formulate an original thesis in their writing projects and to develop that thesis into a well-supported argument. 
  • Students should learn a range of research methods and how to incorporate source material into their writing so that it develops and supports their ideas. 
  • Students should learn effective organizational strategies for their writing. 
  • Students should learn to write in multiple genres (e.g. personal narrative, researched essay, textual critique, proposal, profile, timed-writing essay). 
  • Students should develop the ability to sustain an analytical essay for at least eight pages. 
  • Students should learn how to recognize and repair sentence-level errors.

Reading/Thinking Skills

  • Students should be challenged to develop critical thinking and reading skills, so that they can devise original ideas, rather than simply echo the ideas of others. 
  • Based on class discussion, class reading, writing assignments, and conferences, students should learn how to arrive at informed questions and opinions. 
  • Students should learn how to express themselves clearly as participants of the class, whether in discussion or more formal presentations. 
  • Students should learn how to analyze assignments from all disciplines. 
  • Through experience with the instructor’s commentary and workshops/peer review, students should learn how to interpret feedback on their writing.

Research Skills

  • Students should acquire research skills, including making full and meaningful use of the library’s resources, such as databases, catalog, stacks, periodicals, and media holdings, as well as non-textual sources (e.g., the larger DC community). 
  • Students should learn how to support ideas with persuasive research. 
  • Students should learn how to evaluate the credibility of a source (especially Internet sites), to use academic/scholarly resources, and to incorporate sources effectively. 
  • Students should learn the correct formatting for MLA citation, including the construction of an MLA-style Works Cited page. 
  • Students should learn the definitions of and consequences for plagiarism and other Academic Integrity Code violations, as well as techniques for avoiding unintentional violations.

Additional Resources

Top-notch, face-to-face writing help is available right here on campus at the AU Writing Center. However, Purdue's Online Writing Lab offers a grammar hotline and handouts to help with grammar and style. They will also answer one-time e-mail questions from non-Purdue students.

MLA Style Center gives you the official word on MLA citation from the Modern Language Association itself. While the Department of Literature and most of the College of Arts and Sciences use MLA, many departments use the American Psychological Association style manual.

For some traditional sources that have stood the test of time, check out William Strunk, Jr.'s Elements of Style and the Merriam-Webster dictionary and thesaurus on-line. College Writing students and others wrestling with writing and research questions will also find the official website for the program’s handbook, Keys for Writers, useful.