OBJECTIVES

1) Develop proficiency in rhetorical modes (comparison/contrast, exposition, cause/effect, description, analysis, argumentation, definition).

2) Teach critical thinking, i.e., evaluating sources of information, audience analysis, hypothesizing, drawing inferences, synthesis, interpretation (of data and other forms), refutation, drawing on past learning, and recognizing logical fallacies.

3) Teach critical reading.

4) Develop student's voice.

5) Prepare students for writing in varying styles or levels of discourse.

6) Introduce research skills. (Some would go further and require a research assignment and/or using research for course assignments.)

 

STANDARDS

First Year Seminar has among its principal objectives: improving reading skills, bibliographic and research skills, and general writing skills.

The qualities indicative of skill in reading an essay, whether the writer's own or a model essay include the ability to analyze various kinds of writing and to recognize the elements of good writing.

The qualities indicative of bibliographic and research skills include competence in the subject choice, investigation, note-taking, thesis construction, paper organization and the process and form of documentation.

The qualities indicative of skill in writing an essay include the following:

I. Essay as a Whole

1. The writer has limited. topic to something she can do justice to in the assigned length. (Focus)

2. The writer has a clearly stated thesis which is adequately developed. (Thesis)

3. Everything in the paper contributes in some way to the development of the central idea. (Unity)

4. The content falls into clearly distinguishable parts. (Organization)

5. The writer has provided transitions within over-all structural pattern. (Coherence)

6. Paper shows effective use of detail. (Development)

7. The student has demonstrated perceptiveness in dealing with the topic. (Insight)

II. Paragraphs

1. Each paragraph fully develops one main point. (Paragraph Unity and Development)

2. Each paragraph is coherent within itself. (Paragraph coherence)

III. Sentences

1. By utilizing coordination and subordination, the writer has structured sentences for the greatest clarity. (Emphasis)

2. The writer has employed subordination to eliminate wordiness and needless repetition. (Economy)

3. Sentence patterns are varied enough to avoid monotony. (Variety)

4. Paper is free of the following errors: (Grammatical correctness)

a. Fragments (To return to school or to stay out.)
b. Run-on (Fused) Sentences (The little girl dashed into the street and an on-coming truck swerved abruptly to avoid hitting her as a result it side-swiped a utility pole but fortunately nobody was hurt.)
c. Comma splices (He is discouraged about doing the work, therefore I think he will drop out of school.)
d. Faulty parallelism (He arrived in a sports car and wearing a straw hat.)
e. Shifts of tense, mood, number (We wondered what they think of it all.)
f. Pronoun shifts (When one gets through with a three hour exam, you are exhausted.)
g. Dangling and misplaced modifiers (Walking downtown, a streetcar jumped the tracks.)
h. Faulty subject-verb agreement (Cutting classes are against university regulations.)
l. Faulty pronoun antecedent agreement (Either of these woman may lose their temper.)
j. Indefinite use of this, that, which, it. (John married right after graduation, which changed his life entirely.)

5. The writer has avoided weakness resulting from excessive use of the passive voice (Travelling across the country, the grim reality of poverty can be experienced) and the expletive (There are two papers due today.)

IV. Diction

1. The writer has chosen words from the level of usage appropriate to the subject matter and the intended audience. (Level)

2. Wording of the paper communicates meaning. (Clarity)

3. The writer has avoided the following:

a. Cliches (hook, line and sinker; ugly as sin; to add insult to injury)
b. Hackneyed terms (very, great, nice; organization, situation; viable alternative; contrary to popular opinion)
c. Jargon (Schizophrenia is a maturational lag at the embryonic level characterized by a primitive plasticity in all levels.)
d. Overinflated Words (Although I cannot truthfully say that I was acclaimed during my high school career as a prodigy, being what is generally known as an average student, yet I was able to survive the rigors of academic pursuits and to achieve graduation.)
e. Use of ambiguous words and phrases (Souls in this context refers to the inner deepness that lies inside the mind.)
f. Redundancy (These are traditions we share in common.)
9. Deadwood (I believe; I consider; it is my personal opinion that.)
h. Wrong words (I was adapted when I was three years old.)
i. Non-idiomatic expressions (He jumped off of the table.)
j. Mixed metaphors (The crux of the matter hinges on the pedestal of beauty.)

V. Spelling and Punctuation.

No rhetoric teacher can ignore poor spelling and faulty punctuation since such errors mark a writer as incompetent and uneducated. An instructor in a writing course cannot tolerate inferior work on the grounds that “some people can't spell” or that “it's the thought that counts.” Elementary errors should be eliminated immediately. Their continued occurence will inevitably lower the grade of papers which contain them.