Engaging in a University Curriculum Involving Sustainability Themes
A Two-Year Case Study of a First-year Writing Course
Keywords:FIRST-YEAR COMPOSITION, WRITING PROGRAM ADMINISTRATION, ASSESSMENT, ECOCOMPOSITION, ENVIRONMENTALLY THEMED COMPOSITION, PLACE-BASED COMPOSITION, SUSTAINABILITY, INTERDISCIPLINARY COURSEWORK, PROGRAM DESIGN, RETENTION
Writing about environmental and sustainability issues has grown in popularity, especially in lower-division writing courses. Yet, for teachers and writing program administrators, what are the benefits and drawbacks in asking students to interact with place-based discourses? How does implementing an ecocomposition curriculum and sustainability topics in first-year composition affect students’ writing outcomes? This article discusses a two-year, case study at a comprehensive research university of an experimental course-design model involving 1,421 students and 63 teachers. Students engaged with the university’s sustainability theme in Composition I, as well as other courses. This article includes a description of Composition I’s framework and its assessment practices, and raters measure the writing outcomes for the class’s major essay, a literature review. Overall, teachers utilizing ecocomposition practices presented students with a cohesive, relevant curriculum and assisted them in developing and organizing the literature review; writing and thinking about diverse spaces related to their experiences, majors, and futures; and forging and documenting campus and local ties, including through community-based learning. The study’s results have implications for teaching ecocomposition and sustainability themes in first-year composition.
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