Writing Program

Standards and Guidelines for First-Year Writing

About COM 100 (3 credits)

Fundamentals of Communication

Course focuses on the fundamental processes of reading and writing that are essential to communication. Students develop critical reading skills that can be applied to all content areas and review the fundamental principles of rhetoric, grammar, punctuation, capitalization and spelling. Course carries transcript credit only; the qualified student, however, may petition for graduation credits following completion of the course. This course cannot substitute for Com 101, nor can it fulfill the core requirement in Communication. It should be used as an elective only after consultation with the academic advisor and English/Communication chairperson.

Com 100 Guidelines:

1. Instructors will assign various types of writing assignments. Students are required to produce a minimum of 5,000 words (approximately 20 pages), of which at least 3,750 words (about 15 pages) constitute finished formal assignments, including one research paper. Other assignments might include a literacy narrative (or other autobiographical essay), a source summary, a heuristic response, an annotated bibliography, or a close-reading analysis.

Rationale: This course will introduce students to a number of writing genres so as to familiarize students with the type of thinking and writing they might encounter during their academic career. Incorporating assignments that are not thesis-driven can improve student comfort level with writing.

2. Instructors will offer multiple opportunities for the acquisition of reading and note-taking skills. Students will learn to identify audience, purpose, and genre while reading fiction and non-fiction texts. Students will become familiar with literary tropes when reading a novel assigned by the instructor.

Rationale: Quality writing is inherently linked to a student’s ability to read. Providing opportunities for guided reading allows students to recognize conventions while also learning to read as a means of acquiring information that will help them further their own arguments.

3. Instructors will partner with librarians to give the students the opportunity to integrate research skills throughout the course, including matching information needs and search strategies to appropriate search tools, critically evaluating sources, and demonstrating an understanding of the ethical and legal use of information .

Rationale: Writing courses should serve as a platform for students to participate in inquiry as a process and develop increasingly sophisticated information fluency skills.

4. Instructors will introduce the students to both APA and MLA citation styles. During the research writing process, students will use the citation method that will most likely be used in the profession of their choice.

Rationale: Many students are required to write research papers in their first semester of college, so it is imperative that they are introduced to both methods of citation. 

5. Instructors will assume a process-based approach to writing. Syllabus should indicate best practices of writing instruction. Scaffolding might include the submission of drafts in various stages of completion, revisions, peer workshops, conferencing with students, and portfolios. The process should be incorporated into the student’s final grade at the discretion of the instructor.

Rationale: If we want to ensure that students take writing and revision seriously, we must ensure that the writing process impacts the student’s final grade. 

About COM 101 (3 credits)


Composition and Research


Core writing requirement, reviews fundamental principles of rhetoric, grammar, punctuation and spelling. Requirements include a research paper using MLA or APA documentation guidelines and several expository papers. Course is available only after placement by departmental faculty. Students must achieve “C” or better to fulfill core requirements.

Com 101 Guidelines:

1. Instructors assign primarily thesis-driven essays. Students are required to produce a minimum of 7500 words (about 30 pages), of which at least 5000 words constitute finished formal assignments, including two research papers. Most instructors assign 4-5 essays as well as a mix of Informal writing such as journal writing, blogging, reflections and in-class writing.

Rationale: This word count allows for experimentation in genre and the opportunity to create meaningful argument. By requiring two research papers, we offer students more than one opportunity to master sources evaluation, information literacy, source integration and responsible documentation.

2. Instructors must devote classroom time to the instruction of both APA and MLA guidelines. APA will be assessed using the APA vs. MLA literacy module.

Rationale: Most of our students will need to use APA in future writing courses. Teaching both styles allows the students to acclimate to the need to learn the conventions for various disciplines. All students will be assessed in citation literacy with the APA vs. MLA module. The instructor may also choose to require essay(s) written in both citation styles for additional practice.

3. Instructors will partner with librarians to give the students the opportunity to integrate research skills throughout the course, including matching information needs and search strategies to appropriate search tools, critically evaluating sources, and demonstrating an understanding of the ethical and legal use of information .

Rationale: Writing courses should serve as a platform for students to participate in inquiry as a process and develop increasingly sophisticated information fluency skills.

4. Instructors will assume a process-based approach to writing. Syllabus should indicate best practices of writing instruction. Scaffolding might include the submission of drafts in various stages of completion, revisions, peer workshops, conferencing with students, and portfolios. The process should be incorporated into the student’s final grade, however the instructor deems appropriate.

Rationale: If we want to ensure that students take writing and revision seriously, we must ensure that the writing process impacts the student’s final grade. 




writing program

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