First-Year Writing Threshold Concepts and Student Learning Outcomes

As writing faculty, we recognize that all of the following student learning outcomes (SLOs) are interwoven, and often happen simultaneously. We also recognize that rhetorical awareness and critical thinking happen throughout all of composing and that it’s artificial to try to separate these acts from the highly complex work of composition. We have done so to help a variety of audiences—students, colleagues in other departments, for example—to better understand concepts introduced and reinforced in First-Year Writing (FYW) so that they will continue to be practiced and developed throughout a student’s lifetime of literacy development.

THRESHOLD 1:  Writing is a process of deliberation that involves composing with the intention of appealing to an audience to articulate a clear purpose.

SLO 1: Students will enact rhetorical choices, moves, and strategies for effective composing in print and online contexts. 

By the end of FYW, students will be able to:

  • Use research-based views of writing to explain how texts work and what readers and writers are doing;

  • Theorize about the work that language does in the world;

  • Demonstrate the ability to meet readers’ expectations by being adaptive, flexible writers;

  • Demonstrate the ability to shift voice, tone, formality, design, medium, and layout to achieve a specific purpose.
     

THRESHOLD 2: Writers engage in literate practices and composing processes to conceptualize, develop, and finalize projects.

SLO 2: Students will develop the ability to navigate the stages of writing through a variety of composing processes. 

By the end of FYW, students will be able to:

  • Use multiple strategies to conceptualize, develop, and finalize projects;

  • Develop composing processes for different tasks and occasions;

  • Create new composing habits for unfamiliar tasks in both print and multimodal projects;

  • Respond to feedback by instructor and peers for effective revision.

THRESHOLD 3: Writers understand that the meaning and effects of writing are contingent on readers and on a text’s purposes and uses.

SLO 3: Students will demonstrate the ability to think critically through diverse reading and writing tasks.

By the end of FYW, students will be able to:

  • Locate and use a diverse range of digital and print texts as resources for writing;

  • Understand the purpose and process of inquiry; 

  • Engage critically with a variety of source material to analyze, synthesize, interpret, and evaluate ideas, information, and texts.

THRESHOLD 4: Writers interpret multiple literacies by evaluating historical, cultural, institutional, and technological contexts.

SLO 4: Students will identify and navigate new and diverse reading and writing situations and tasks that require their adaptation to shifting expectations and genres.

By the end of FYW, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate understanding that meaning is shaped by readers’ and writers' understanding of context and genre;

  • Analyze how genres are constructed through various discourse communities;

  • Apply the tone, style, organization, graphics, and document design that meets the expectations of the genre;

  • Use citation practices consistent with the genre and demonstrate an understanding of fair-use.

THRESHOLD 5: Writers use reflective practices to learn about their own writing.

SLO 5: Students will use reflective writing to improve their writing. 

By the end of FYW, students will be able to:

  • Reflect on deliberate choices made in a piece of writing;  

  • Learn and apply the language of writing studies and rhetoric by employing key words in their reflective writing;

  • Synthesize and integrate insights from one project into another through reflective learning;

  • Reflect on how approaches learned in the course may apply to future writing situations.