Changes to the Council of Writing Program Administrators (WPA) Outcomes Statement for First-Year Composition
The WPA adopted an overhauled version of their Outcomes Statement for FYC on July 17, 2014. This fact sheet, created by Bedford/St. Martin’s, explains the WPA, their Outcomes, and the major changes they’ve made. Here is the WPA Revised Statement from wpa.org.
What is WPA?
About the Council of Writing Program Adminstrators
|What are WPA Outcomes? |
The WPA Outcomes Statement for First-Year Composition represents the council’s position on what students should learn in the course and how instructors can support that learning. While the WPA Outcomes are not a mandate, the student learning outcomes (SLOs) for many composition programs and courses reflect, and are often based on, the WPA Outcomes Statement. WPA Outcomes can be thought of as the gold standard for the discipline, or as suggested best practices.
|What changes did the WPA make to their Outcomes? |
The biggest change is the shift toward composing in various genres and modes. There is also a greater emphasis on composing in and across disciplines. Technology is no longer a separate category, but is woven in as an aspect of composing that affects the composers, audiences, and texts. Here are the details:
|Changes to the introduction|
Specifically, there is a change from the word “skills” in favor of “practices”; a move away from “writing” toward “composing” (though “writing” still used in some spots); a statement that “composing activities” are shaped by technologyand that technology changes composers’ relationships to texts and audiences; an emphasis on composing in and across disciplines; a call for instructors to help students build on what they learn in FYC (and transfer it to other courses, but the term “transfer” is not used); and a statement that composing has purposes in disciplines and professions—and has “civic” purposes as well.
|Changes to the body of the document|
|Overall, there is a much more in-depth articulation of these 4 concepts:rhetorical knowledge; critical thinking, reading, & composing; composing processes; and conventions.|
➢ Rhetorical knowledge. Students gain this when they analyze contexts and audience and then use that analysis to understand and compose. Rhetorical knowledge deepens as they compose different kinds of texts in different situations. There is a greater focus on:
➢ Critical thinking. Students do this when they analyze, synthesize, interpret, and evaluate information, situations, and texts (data sets, visuals, videos, etc.). Students have to think critically about the materials they draw on to compose. They need to understand what is an assertion vs. what is evidence. They need to understand assumptions, make connections, evaluate chains of reasoning, and make sound claims. There is a greater focus on:
➢Composing processes are flexible, adaptable, and not linear. Writers use multiple strategies. They might research at multiple points in their processes. They need to adapt processes for different contexts. There is a greater focus on:
➢ Conventions, both formal and informal rules, shape mechanics—but also content, style, organization, visuals, design. Conventions vary across genres and disciplines; applying rhetorical knowledge helps. There is a greater focus on: