Digital Composition Cookbook

Same Rhetoric; Different Composition

In the digital composition cookbook, you will find recipes (assignments) for writing courses that include aspects of composing in digital environments. The goal of this site is to provide accessible, approachable resources for teachers looking to incorporate digital composing in their classroom. As such, I have organized the site’s design using a metaphor of the cookbook.

Each assignment includes: time considerations for class time or curricular time; a list of components and assets you/your students will need for the assignment; preparation for you or your students before composing the assignment (including scaffolding of critical reading and writing exercises); the level of difficulty which helps you gauge the steepness of your/your students’ learning curve; and equipment required which will list software and hardware needed to complete the assignment.

How to Navigate the Cookbook

As Cindy Selfe has said, the priorities for teaching with technology must begin with people and their individual needs and then move to include learning objectives and technologies as tools to achieve them. As you prepare assignments for your students/draft a curriculum for your organization, consider these priorities in the order listed:

  1.  People/Needs (What informs your principles of community? Equality? Accessibility? Inclusivity? Reflexivity?)
  2.  Teaching (In what ways would you like students to refine their composing processes and products?)
  3.  Technology (How do we encounter new technologies, not just digital technologies, as windows for meaning making?)

As you peruse this site’s resources, consider not only these priorities, but also your knowledge level, your learning curve, and those of your students. To help you approach resources in this way, I have chosen to organize this site’s resources by the outcomes published by the Council of Writing Program Administrators. This organization strategy allows you to browse the resources with learning objectives in the forefront of your mind.

WPA Outcomes:

Rhetorical Knowledge

By the end of first year composition, students should

 

  • Focus on a purpose
  • Respond to the needs of different audiences
  • Respond appropriately to different kinds of rhetorical situations
  • Use conventions of format and structure appropriate to the rhetorical situation
  • Adopt appropriate voice, tone, and level of formality
  • Understand how genres shape reading and writing
  • Write in several genres

Faculty in all programs and departments can build on this preparation by helping students learn

  • The main features of writing in their fields
  • The main uses of writing in their fields
  • The expectations of readers in their fields

Critical Thinking, Reading, and Writing

By the end of first year composition, students should

  • Use writing and reading for inquiry, learning, thinking, and communicating
  • Understand a writing assignment as a series of tasks, including finding, evaluating, analyzing, and synthesizing appropriate primary and secondary sources
  • Integrate their own ideas with those of others
  • Understand the relationships among language, knowledge, and power

Faculty in all programs and departments can build on this preparation by helping students learn

  • The uses of writing as a critical thinking method
  • The interactions among critical thinking, critical reading, and writing
  • The relationships among language, knowledge, and power in their fields

Processes

By the end of first year composition, students should

  • Be aware that it usually takes multiple drafts to create and complete a successful text
  • Develop flexible strategies for generating, revising, editing, and proof-reading
  • Understand writing as an open process that permits writers to use later invention and re-thinking to revise their work
  • Understand the collaborative and social aspects of writing processes
  • Learn to critique their own and others’ works
  • Learn to balance the advantages of relying on others with the responsibility of doing their part
  • Use a variety of technologies to address a range of audiences

Faculty in all programs and departments can build on this preparation by helping students learn

  • To build final results in stages
  • To review work-in-progress in collaborative peer groups for purposes other than editing
  • To save extensive editing for later parts of the writing process
  • To apply the technologies commonly used to research and communicate within their fields

Knowledge of Conventions

By the end of first year composition, students should

  • Learn common formats for different kinds of texts
  • Develop knowledge of genre conventions ranging from structure and paragraphing to tone and mechanics
  • Practice appropriate means of documenting their work
  • Control such surface features as syntax, grammar, punctuation, and spelling.

Faculty in all programs and departments can build on this preparation by helping students learn

  • The conventions of usage, specialized vocabulary, format, and documentation in their fields
  • Strategies through which better control of conventions can be achieved

Composing in Electronic Environments

As has become clear over the last twenty years, writing in the 21st-century involves the use of digital technologies for several purposes, from drafting to peer reviewing to editing. Therefore, although the kinds of composing processes and texts expected from students vary across programs and institutions, there are nonetheless common expectations.

By the end of first-year composition, students should:

  • Use electronic environments for drafting, reviewing, revising, editing, and sharing texts
  • Locate, evaluate, organize, and use research material collected from electronic sources, including scholarly library databases; other official databases (e.g., federal government databases); and informal electronic networks and internet sources
  • Understand and exploit the differences in the rhetorical strategies and in the affordances available for both print and electronic composing processes and texts

Faculty in all programs and departments can build on this preparation by helping students learn

  • How to engage in the electronic research and composing processes common in their fields
  • How to disseminate texts in both print and electronic forms in their fields