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Advanced Writing Program Goals

Advanced writing will help students become effective, persuasive, and ethical writers. Not only will they study the forms of discourse that are used by writers to describe knowledge and theories in various disciplines (including expressive, informational, scientific, literary, and persuasive forms of written prose), they will be aware of the consequences of using those forms for an audience (the ethics of discourse). Process and revision are essential components of every advanced writing course; students will incorporate feedback from their instructors and peers in order to produce final papers from earlier drafts. Essays should achieve a level of sophistication, creativity, and audience awareness well beyond that produced by students enrolled in first-year writing courses.

Rhetorical Awareness

Advanced composition teaches students to approach the writing situation from the perspective of audience, purpose, and style. Students will learn to vary and adapt their language to meet the rhetorical and ethical demands of diverse situations, perspectives, and audiences.

Analytical Reading

Readings from a variety of genres and disciplines (professional journals, research papers, articles, essays, etc.) enable students to analyze, evaluate, and respond to another writer’s arguments or ideas.

Synthesis and Judgment

Students will take a position on a given issue and advance that position into a coherent written product. Students will synthesize and organize ideas and information from various sources into new, more complex interpretations and relationships. They will judge the value of information, arguments, and methods.  They will learn to craft a thesis that positions the writer’s point of view within previous work on a topic. They will understand that arguments entail evaluating evidence and reasoning and analyzing the relationships between an essay and its intended audience.

Study of Craft

Students should understand that the writing process includes an understanding of grammar and mechanics and an ability to manipulate prose styles for the writing situation. They should recognize that their position as a writer further depends on adhering to professional standards of documentation and the ethical use of information (such as familiarity with MLA or APA formats).


Students will identify a significant issue to research; analyze a variety of print, electronic, visual, and/or oral materials that enable them to answer questions and solve problems; and present their findings in at least one research-based paper. Advanced Writing endorses the criteria for Integrative Learning established by the AAC&U which include:

  • connecting relevant experience and academic knowledge;
  • connecting across disciplines and perspectives;
  • adapting and applying information gained in one situation to a new situation;
  • integrating modes of communication to make clear the interdependence of language and meaning; and
  • reflecting on and assessing the relationship between prior experience and new contexts.



Marguerite Helmers, Advanced Writing Director,

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