Reading and writing well is essential at a university and throughout professional life.

At Quinnipiac University, we believe to write well is to think well. Our graduates communicate effectively because they have learned to make new knowledge, as they think critically about what they read and experience.

That's why all freshmen are required to participate in the First-Year Writing Program, which includes two writing courses designed to help you learn to participate in academic discourse.

You will learn, hands-on, how to meet professional standards in small classrooms recreating the collaborative settings and work processes used by professional researchers.

You'll employ a range of technology and participate in vigorous discussion in small classrooms organized as student-centered learning communities, some of them located in residence hall classrooms. And you'll be expected to proceed with integrity.

It's challenging. It's an approach to reading, writing and thinking that differs in many ways from what you likely applied in high school. But it's central to the process of making new knowledge that defines active learning at the University.

In the two freshman writing courses, English 101 and English 102, you will learn how to balance your own ideas with those of academic theorists and researchers.

In addition to extensive reading, you will be required to produce a focused academic project, then revise it. The project will challenge you to rethink some feature of our shared experience.

Computer technology, including routine use of laptops, will help you produce, revise, store and share documents, as well as communicate with your learning community in a professional manner.

And as long as you're a student at Quinnipiac, you can rely on our innovative Learning Center for peer tutoring and other educational support services.
At Quinnipiac, you will question and revise prior knowledge to create fresh insight, just like the faculty researchers with whom you'll work side by side, building on the work of others. By participating in the rigorous academic process of critical reading, writing, revision and discussion, you will learn how to do the kind of work that counts as "knowledge" in the University and the world of professionals.

It will be vastly different from from the kinds of writing assignments you likely produced in high school.

For example, let's say your high school teacher asked you to write an essay about Abraham Lincoln. You probably would have used history books, articles by experts and the Internet to support a personal opinion such as "Abraham Lincoln was the nation's greatest president."
 
For a high school paper, that was probably fine. But at a university, you're expected to do more. By participating in academic discourse, you'll take responsibility for your own learning. You'll explore what remains unknown or still unquestioned about a topic, then write about it not only as a student, but as a peer of your professor and of the experts you consulted.
Forget that archaic image of the scientist or scholar working alone until he yells "Eureka!" Modern knowledge-making requires teamwork. It builds on the work of others through ongoing conversation, debate and revision.

Professional scholars often reread existing texts numerous times, while annotating, drafting and revising extensive notes. In English 101 and English 102, you will develop your version of this scholarly process and use writing to construct new readings of texts you may initially find too difficult.

You will also learn to use the revision process not simply to make your essays well organized and clear but to help you become a more powerful and insightful thinker, as your conversation with scholars leads you to fresh insight, analysis and argument.

Rereading and revision, in this work process, is the place where creativity and originality emerge, because you learn to rethink and question what has come before or has been widely assumed.

Your goal as a reader and writer is not simply to write good papers that are clearer and better organized than your first attempt but to learn how to revise, at the conceptual level, and produce the very best paper you can.
"Academic discourse" is the general name for the five elements that make up most university writing:

Purpose: The general purpose of most popular argument is to persuade people to do something, such as to vote for a specific candidate, buy a particular brand or quit smoking. The general purpose of academic argument, on the other hand, is to make new knowledge.

Audience: The audience for popular argument is usually citizens or consumers, while the audience for academic discourse is usually scholars and university researchers.

Argument: Popular argument often draws on what is widely accepted or already known. Academic argument often creates new knowledge by questioning widely accepted beliefs and revising our understanding of the world.

Style: The style of popular argument is often familiar and personal, where academic style often includes elements that are technical, specialized or impersonal. Academic style does not require you to omit all signs of your own voice, but it does require you to consider more consciously where and how your particular voice fits in when you write an academic argument.

The First-Year Writing program works in collaboration with the Writing Across the Curriculum program to teach and develop the connection between writing well and thinking well.

By using "writing to learn" techniques to teach course material, faculty across the curriculum teach students how writing can clarify their thinking, connect and distinguish between technical terms and ideas, or sharpen their insight.

Professional researchers often use "writing to learn" for the same purposes, in journals, notes and rough drafts that are part of the revision process that makes new knowledge.

Scholars "write to communicate" when they prepare articles for publication. Faculty across the curriculum teach students the research methods, conventional modes of argument and style of documentation necessary to create finished documents necessary to support the culture of trust and integrity necessary to knowledge-making in the modern world.

Scholars write highly formal documents when they publish research because they need to show the method and procedures used to make knowledge. If it isn't clear how knowledge is made, it cannot be evaluated.

The First-Year Writing Program at Quinnipiac is organized around "constructivist" approaches to how people learn.

In this view, learning requires a dialog between what we already know and what we experience as new or different. Learning is not simply an addition to what we already know; it frequently requires a revision of models and assumptions that have organized our familiar experience of the world.

Learning requires a generosity of spirit as well as criticism; an openness to what is new as well as the rigor that follows from analytical power and precision. Learning is also highly social, requiring on-going interaction, discussion and practical experience in learning communities organized by a culture of respect, trust and integrity that makes new knowledge possible.

Through dialog between the known and the new in cooperation with other learners, people create what counts, in their community, for new knowledge. In this approach, people learn by doing.

A learning community is enriched and made powerful by promoting participation and engagement. Learners need repeated opportunities to do authentic, challenging work in a social environment that is faithful to the ideals of a professional learning community.

Program History (Adobe PDF)