Reading and Writing Philosophy

In our program, students write for multiple purposes and audiences. For themselves, they write to express, to learn, to discover and to record their thoughts and feelings. For others, they write to express, to inform and to persuade.

Students read for multiple purposes: to enjoy, to learn, to explore ideas and to recognize writers' purposes and intended audiences.

By reading and writing reflectively, students can develop the critical thinking skills essential to personal, social and intellectual growth as well as career and academic success.

Underlying our teaching is the assumption that reading and writing are not linear series of discrete skills, but complex, interactive, meaning-making processes developed through repeated experience with a variety of tasks. Our pedagogy and evaluative measures reflect this view of the writing process. In writing courses, students use invention, drafting and revision recursively. We constructively respond to student writing at various stages and establish grading criteria that reinforce for students the importance of the processes, as well as the outcomes, of writing.

Recognizing that adherence to the conventions of American Edited English is an important standard by which writing is judged — both in the academic world and beyond — we also help students learn strategies to copy edit their writing. As they read, students learn to predict, process and react to their own and others' texts and to incorporate information from others into their own work.

Our goal throughout the program is to help students learn to reflect on their aims and strategies whenever they read and write in order to become more confident and effective readers, writers and thinkers.

We also believe that to progress as readers and writers, students require a safe and supportive learning community in the classroom — one which ensures respect for student and instructor alike. This begins with valuing and building on the knowledge and the cultural and linguistic experiences each student brings to the class, as students and instructors together enter into a collaborative, reciprocal learning process. Further, we hope this atmosphere includes the voices of students, full- and part-time writing instructors and administrators.

Finally, we believe that a viable reading and writing program is not static but dynamic, evolving through ongoing dialogue and experimentation.