CO150--College Composition--is a common experience for most CSU students. The course or its equivalent is required by the All-University Core Curriculum to satisfy Category 1 a., Basic Competency in Written Communication (see this page). In addition to meeting this CSU core requirement, CO150 credit will satisfy a core requirement for communication (CO 2) at any Colorado public higher education college or university. That is due to its inclusion in the state's guaranteed transfer (gtPathways) program (see this page). To address these core curriculum requirements as well as the CSU composition program's goals for first-year writing, CO150 focuses on initiating students into academic discourse and developing composing practices that will prepare students for success as university students and as citizens. Therefore, the course focuses on critical reading and inquiry, writing for a variety of rhetorical situations, and enabling effective writing processes. Its key objectives include the following:
Developing a repertoire of strategies for addressing a variety of specific rhetorical situations, i.e. different purposes, audience, and contexts;
Learning important elements of academic discourse , such as posing and critically investigating questions, using sources effectively and ethically, and writing effective summaries, analyses, and arguments;
Increasing information literacy through strategies for locating, selecting and evaluating sources for inquiry;
As we work toward these objectives, we rely on the metaphor of writing as a conversation. Like a conversation, writing involves exchanges of ideas that help us shape our own ideas and opinions. Students realize that they would be foolish to open their mouths the moment they join a group of people engaged in conversation—instead, they’d listen for a few moments to understand what’s being discussed. Then, if they found they had something to offer, they would wait until an appropriate moment to contribute. Our students understand what happens to people who make off-topic, insensitive, inappropriate, or otherwise ill-considered remarks in a conversation. In CO150, we build on this understanding by suggesting that, prior to contributing to the debate about an issue, they should read, discuss, and inquire further about what other writers have written. Then, when they’ve gained an understanding of the conversation, they can offer their own contribution to it. By using this metaphor, we can help students build on their understanding of discourse as situated within larger social and cultural contexts.
With that notion in mind, we've structured the course in three phases.
In Phase 1, students hone critical reading skills as they listen to the conversation on this question-at-issue: how should we respond to climate change?
In Phase 2, they inquire into questions raised during the first phase, and then add their voices to the conversation by writing an argument.
In Phase 3, they begin new conversations about local sites of interest to new CSU students by investigating campus and community resources and writing an argument for a public audience.
Each phase builds on the previous one to further develop the inquiry and composing competencies needed to achieve the course goals
There are many approaches to teaching first-year writing. You may have experienced other approaches as a student or teacher. Therefore, it may be helpful to consider what CO150 is not. It does not focus on writing about literature, creative writing, or personal narratives. Nor is CO150 a course that teaches students how to write particular modes of discourse such as description, narration, or term papers. And while the course attends to editing and style concerns in the context of students' writing, it is not a grammar course. Rather, CO150 gives students experience with responding to various writing situations, making choices to address a variety of purposes and audiences, and developing strategies for successful communication.