The CO150 Fall 2007 Common Syllabus is designed to achieve the following course goals, which are aligned with gtPathways and AUCC guidelines:
Teach writing as a rhetorical practice
Initiate students into academic discourses
Encourage effective writing processes
Develop critical reading and thinking practices
Develop information literacy practices
Write for a variety of purposes and audiences
The syllabus writers also hope this curriculum moves students toward these broader educational goals:
Engaging as active members of the CSU community
Engaging students as active and interested learners
Developing student identities as world citizens responding to significant global challenges.
Phase 1: Reading for Critical Inquiry
In the first phase of the course, we're studying the work of an accomplished writer who addresses the question-at-issue: What should we eat? Michael Pollan is a professional writer and journalism professor whose writing for The New York Times exemplifies the thorough research, critical thinking and clear communication we ask our students to strive for. By looking at the strategies used by a writer who is trying to answer a significant question-at-issue as he approaches varying rhetorical situations, we hope to demonstrate critical inquiry-in-context that shares values and strategies with academic discourse. To this end, Unit 1 focuses on close and critical reading. We'll ask students to read several articles for various purposes, employing a variety of reading strategies. Our primary goal for this unit is to establish critical reading practices that will enable effective inquiry and support an understanding of writing as rhetorical practice. To assess students' close reading practices, we will ask them to write summaries of the readings. We'll assess students' critical reading practices with a review/letter at the end of this phase.
Phase 2: Expanding Critical Inquiry through Investigation and Argument
In the second phase of the course, we expand our inquiry into the question of what we should eat by identifying related issues, developing and refining questions, and investigating those questions. The goals for this phase include not only increasing our understanding of the issues, but also engaging in the conversations about them. In the first phase, we learned how one writer investigated the "ominvore's dilemma," considered some of the answers he found to "what should we eat?" and began posing further questions that Pollan's work raised for us. Now, we will refine some of those questions and investigate them. In the process of doing so, we will build information literacy as we find and select sources that offer a variety of perspectives on the questions we pose as well as credible and authoritative information. Students will work collaboratively to investigate one question and explain their findings to the class. These explanations can serve as initial inquiry for students who wish to pursue these questions further or as an impetus for initiating other lines of inquiry. Students will then join the conversation on a question-at-issue by writing an argument.
Phase 3: Sharing Local Inquiry with Public Audiences
In the final phase of the course, students will apply the inquiry and writing practices and strategies they have been using in the course as well as learn and develop additional research methods and writing skills. So far, we have focused our inquiry on questions related to “the omnivore's dilemma.” At this point, we hope students have begun to understand how critical inquiry into significant questions crosses disciplinary boundaries. As students investigate their issue across a variety of disciplines, we expect that they will learn to develop a repertoire of strategies for considering purpose and audience is a variety of academic writing situations. In Phase 2, students had a chance to see how conversations about significant issues occur in layered contexts that are interrelated, much like an ecosystem. Phase 3 asks students to explore the local ecosystem of the CSU campus and surrounding community, focusing on sites of academic, social, cultural, recreational, political, or personal interest to new students at the university. In this unit, we ask students to investigate a site of interest--a course, an academic program, a service, an activity, an organization—and explain the results to inform new students about it. Based on their investigation of the site and evaluation of its value to students, students will then write an argument to promote the site to other students, to address a problem with the site, or to effect change.