Program Learning Objectives

The following is taken verbatim from St. John’s University’s First Year Writing department’s page on Program Learning Objectives:

Program Learning Objectives (PLOs) for First-Year Writing

After taking first year writing, students will be able to:

1. Recognize that writing is a mode of communication and a social activity, a matter of negotiating the expectations of different audiences and rhetorical conventions of different genres.

Writers achieve their purposes more successfully when they consider the needs and expectations of their audiences. Writing has a long history. We often choose to use the conventions of pre-existing forms, called genres, that have arisen during this history. Knowing the conventions of these genres lets writers either accept or reject them based on what they are trying to achieve.

2. Know that writing is a recursive process.

Writing is a complex process that involves a great deal of thinking, drafting, reconstructing, rethinking, and revising. Revision isn’t simply top-down, but often requires the radical reworking of our drafts. For the sake of convenience, we speak of pre-writing (preparation), “writing”, and “revising”. However, it is important to realize that these stages intermingle, that when we are pre-writing, we are also writing and revising; when we are writing, we are also pre-writing and revising; and when we are revising, we are also pre-writing and writing.

3. Make inferences, take mental risks, and develop complex ideas through abstract and critical thinking, reading, and writing.

Writers understand that the language they use to express themselves shapes what they know and how they know. How does the language we use shape our reality? What does it mean to use our own voices? To take mental risks in our writing means to push the boundaries of what we know. It is to move out of our comfort zone so that we can find deeper meaning in our experience of the world.

4. Analyze and produce texts from a variety of contexts and media.

Writers are influenced by a variety of oral, written, and visual media (pictures, photographs, and multimodal texts like blogs, webpages, or social networks sites). We explain connections or ideas across the variety of such texts and understand how those connections can lead us to more complex and multiple points of view. We integrate varied modes of communication and expression to enhance and transform the meaning of our work.

5. Use the basic elements of effective arguments (claims, defining terms, evidence, counter-arguments) and demonstrate how logical fallacies can undermine positions.

Writers do not simply accept propositions as valid, we critically evaluate them. We listen respectfully and critically to other people’s ideas in order to examine our own and others’ positions carefully. We state our thoughts clearly, accurately, and honestly when we make claims in our work and we support those claims.

6. When conducting research, summarize complex readings and ideas gathered succinctly in order to show audiences that they understand the context of such source material and are working to place themselves in conversation with those other perspectives.

All research arises out of the need for writers to answer questions. Research requires that we think about the questions we have and use reading and writing in an attempt to answer these questions. Since our questions are large and complex, we may not find “simple” answers. That is, the result of our research is not to find THE answer but to acknowledge and engage audience(s) in an attempt to discuss the complexities of a given issue.

7. Understand the need to negotiate, analyze and problem-solve technological interfaces for a variety of disciplinary, rhetorical, and writing needs.

Writers acquire information and present concepts in many ways: we compose at computer screens, using word processing for print and varied formatting conventions; we participate in online discussions; we create compositions with presentation software; we also create and view webpages, digital portfolios, audio and video files. As writers, we use these digital technologies to create new genres and solve problems common to our academic, professional, civic, and/or personal lives.

8. Expand and experiment with writing style through variation of rhythm, syntax, sentence length, punctuation, and vocabulary.

Writers explore their relationships to language (rhyme, emotion, habits, and meaning) in order to develop a distinct writing style. Through close reading of scholarly and lyrical texts, we strategize ways to bridge our own specific speech communities and the demands of academic writing.


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