First-Year Writing Courses at UVA: Values & Practices

The Academic and Professional Writing Program at UVA supports writing courses that value student contributions to the ongoing inquiry at the heart of academic work. While our courses have nominal topics for study and analysis, the real subject is writing -- its revelations, challenges, and possibilities-- and our aim is to help students closely attend to their rhetorical choices as writers. In our classes:

I. Student writing is placed at the center of the course.

  • Students write every week and their writing gets discussed for at least part of most classes.
  • Readings are selected for the kinds of student writing (or discussions of student writing) they might help produce, not just for their subject matter.
  • Syllabi are structured around three student writing projects that include drafting, response, and revision.

II. Students engage in writing as a form of critical inquiry.

  • Students have regular opportunities to think on the page and use writing as a process of discovery.
  • Instructors design the course, its three units, and daily lesson plans to address substantial questions raised but not answered definitely by that inquiry.
  • Students participate in inquiry by representing what others have said, responding to their ideas, and revising the form and/or content of their response.

III. Students work collaboratively on their development as writers.

  • Students frequently read and respond to the writing of their peers.
  • Students are encouraged to refer to and quote from each other’s ideas and texts in their own writing.
  • Students consider how their texts might affect various readers within and beyond the classroom.

IV. Students engage in and reflect on contemporary rhetorical expression, which includes written, oral, and digital communication.

  • Students represent their own or others' ideas in speech as well as writing, with attention to the clarity and ethics of their representations.
  • Instructors devote class time to discussions of the differences between representing an inquiry in various media.
  • Students prepare digital portfolios of their writing for evaluation at the end of the term.