Unit One: Responding to an Academic Context

Goals of Unit One:

  1. Introduce students to the importance of a text's purpose, audience, and context.
  2. Move students from more familiar, personal responses to more academic modes of discourse that are appropriate for an academic context.
  3. Teach principles of accurate and objective summarization of texts
  4. Develop skills in reading nonfiction texts critically.

This unit establishes the course's overall goal of having students recognize that writing is a response to a specific context - an attempt to achieve a specific purpose addressed to a specific audience. In this case, we'll be moving from a more personal context in Essay 1 to a more academic context in Essay 2. Each essay will highlight choices made regarding purpose, audience, focus, and use of evidence depending on the rhetorical situation surrounding the writing. Each student must define his/her goals for each paper, based not just on the assignment sheet provided, but on recognizing that assignment sheet as exemplifying and identifying a specific context for writing. (Refer to the "Primary Teaching Goals of CO150" for a larger discussion of this topic).

Writing Skills Emphasized: This unit highlights analyzing a rhetorical context to determine what approaches are available for producing a text. Students will be asked to define and analyze their purpose in writing, as well as consider their audience. Given the academic context, this unit emphasizes the introduction and development of academic writing skills - objectivity and accuracy in summary, the use of evidence in support of a response to a reading or set of ideas, conventions for organization and defining theses -- as well as developing critical reading skills. However, it's important that we emphasize these skills as responding to the context of academia. These skills, as we all know, are not as relevant to the contexts of business or personal writing. We do a disservice to students to teach them these "skills" without acknowledging that these "skills," themselves, function in response to a context.

Role of Reading: Critical and active reading skills are vital not just in this unit, but in most of the academic and professional texts they will encounter in the future, so it is important to help your students develop the skills to define a writer's purpose, position, and main ideas accurately and objectively. In this regard, it is more important to focus on the argument or main ideas of the texts rather than understanding and emphasizing each event or example or illustration, a way of reading which many students used to reading narrative fiction find particularly challenging.

Tips from Experience:

Some things to consider or anticipate in this unit: