Western Washington University’s First-Year Writing (FYW) program administers approximately 80 sections of English 100 and English 101 each year. The Director of Composition and Assistant Director of Composition, each of whom serves a three-year term, administers the program. Graduate student instructors, enrolled as MA or MFA students in Western’s English Department, staff the program alongside a small number of full-time faculty on and off the tenure track. Student instructors receive prior and ongoing training and professional development as a key function of the FYW program’s dedication to innovations in learning practices.
The FYW program is committed to providing all Western students with the experiences and knowledge needed to develop as writers throughout their college career and beyond. FYW does not teach an established set of rules for “correct writing.” Instead, students learn that writing is a multi-stage process of meaning-making and a means of achieving rhetorical exchange between writers and audiences. FYW curriculum is continually revised and re-designed to reflect innovations in pedagogical research as well as the continually evolving needs of Western’s student body.
Our program operates under the shared values that:
- Our students continually develop strategies to grow as writers throughout their entire career at Western; FYW seeks to provide students with the knowledge to approach future coursework in their majors, so they feel comfortable researching and writing across unfamiliar genres and audiences;
- Writing is not merely a tool for reporting knowledge; writing is a meaning-making activity by which students can invent new knowledge; further, that meaning-making activities cannot be understood as correct or effective outside the context of their production, reception, and circulation;
- First-year students are capable of learning the techniques necessary to produce original research that can have real-world value; student writing can really matter;
- Writing instruction in the 21st century must allow students to read texts in both print and digital media, to compose in traditional and multimedia formats, and to study a wide range of genres relevant to contemporary academic and professional life.
In addition to our continuing commitment to curricular innovation in English 100 and English 101, the FYW program at Western aims to achieve three goals:
- To serve as pedagogical leaders at Western, promoting innovative teaching practices to faculty from all disciplines;
- To provide graduate teaching instructors in our program with the theoretical understanding and practical expertise they need to be exemplary teachers both at Western and once they graduate;
- To raise the profile of undergraduate research at Western by promoting student writing of high scholarly value and pursuing public venues to share that research.
* n.b. The statements on this page are pending revision and approval by the English Department Composition Committee. Drafted by Andrew Lucchesi, August 5th 2018.