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Letter: Let’s all help UNG students learn to become better writers
UNG Gainesville

University of North Georgia enrollment keeps climbing. As we prepare for the start of the fall semester, we are looking at close to 20,000 students. The majority of our incoming students are required to take two writing classes. In my role as director of first-year composition, I oversee these required writing classes.

As a public university committed to serving our local community and preparing our students to contribute meaningfully to the community before and after graduation, UNG needs to continue being transparent in how and what we teach over 8,000 students a year. This transparency is even more necessary in a current climate that seems distrustful of higher education, a climate that offers a misleading narrative of the liberal university run amok.

So, here’s what we strive to teach the students who take first-year composition courses. The outcomes guiding these courses are grounded in documents authored by leading professional organizations dedicated to writing instruction from kindergarten all the way through graduate school. One of these documents is the Outcomes Statement for First-Year Composition authored by the Council of Writing Program Administrators.

The Outcomes Statement, revised in 2014 and found on the CWPA website, describes the writing knowledge, practices and attitudes that undergraduate students develop in first-year composition. For example, students are taught to develop a flexible writing process and hone critical writing and reading skills.

I encourage readers to scan over the first-year composition page on the English Departments website for our outcomes for working with student writers based on the Outcomes Statement. One of our outcomes is that students will analyze their own writing processes and understand how and why these processes change depending on the writers purpose and audience.

I invite community members to reach out to me via email or Twitter. As a public university we are preparing students for meaningful contributions to our community. All community members should have a voice in what students are taught, what writing skills should be honed. Send me an email, and let me know what I can do to better develop the writing skills of our students.

Dr. J. Michael Rifenburg

Gainesville

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