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Writing to Learn: A Framework

Taking Inventory

Experience tells us that students’ attitudes about writing play a major role in their success and experience in writing classes. Some students arrive to their writing classes excited to get started, while others approach the subject with a bit less enthusiasm. No matter where you fall on this spectrum, everyone has a history as a writer, good experiences and bad, successes and struggles. We believe that reflecting on this history is a good way to take stock of your current attitudes about writing, and also, to set goals for where you’d like your experience as a writer to go from here.

Let's prepare for the work to come by thinking and talking about the writing experiences we bring with us. As we begin our course, acknowledge that you are a writer. To gain some clarity, take stock of your experience by completing the Writer's Inventory assigment.

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Habits of Mind

Taking an inventory of your strengths and weaknesses is a great beginning; but, in order to measure and assess your development as a writer, all New College Writing Program courses will support the “Habits of Mind” as described in The Framework for Success in Post-Secondary Writing. This document lists “Habits of Mind” your course is designed to promote and the “reading, writing, and critical analysis experiences” that will help you get there.

Let’s take some time now to read over the “Habits of Mind” section that appears in the  Executive Summary. As you look over this information, reflect on your responses to the Writer’s Inventory assignment – did you identify any of these “Habits of Mind”?

Now open the Exercise Tab and work through the "Habits of Mind" exercises. 

Inquiry: Habits of a Curious Mind

Whether taken individually or collectively, the “Habits of Mind” we have been discussing are strong indicators that students will need to take an active role in their learning process. We touched upon this dynamic when we shared the definition of inquiry taken from the Oxford English Dictionary:

The action of seeking, esp. (now always) for truth, knowledge, or information concerning something; search, research, investigation, examination.

Notice how the definition from the Oxford English Dictionary foregrounds “action.” We like this definition because it suggests that inquiry is an active and necessary step in the learning process. Passive behavior won’t bring us to knowledge or truth, in other words.

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An Interdisciplinary Approach

If we think of inquiry, then, as the ongoing pursuit of knowledge, an interdisciplinary approach to that kind of process involves seeking information from across academic disciplines, that is, from multiple perspectives. 

Most universities, Arizona State University included, are made up of colleges. A college within a university is typically home for separate academic departments or degree programs. The New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, for instance, is made up of Schools, each of which contains separate academic programs or disciplines in which students can pursue majors. 

For instance, go to the New College website to see the range of different degree programs offered by the New College. Do you see anything that interests you? What about a degree in Life Sciences? Peace Studies? History? Sociology? Psychology? Communications? Applied Mathematics or Applied Computing? English? Maybe a double major?

Whatever discipline most interests you, an interdisciplinary approach can enrich your learning because of its emphasis on using multiple fields of ideas, inquiry, and methods of research. For researchers and writers serious about addressing important questions and issues, one set of methods to analyzing and understanding is probably not sufficient on its own. Chances are your chosen major is already richly interdisciplinary.

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Framework for Success

All New College Writing Program courses support the learning outcomes described in The Framework for Success in Post-Secondary Writing. Developed collaboratively by scholars and teachers across the country, this statement lists the “habits of mind” your course is designed to promote and the “reading, writing, and critical analysis experiences” that will help you get there.

Read the Framework for Success

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