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Philosophy and Goals

Why does the university require courses in reading and writing?

Whatever major a student chooses‑‑whether it's biology or history, hospitality management or music‑‑she can be sure that she will need advanced literacy skills in order to succeed in her courses and in the work she does after graduation. Just as "basic literacy" is more than decoding black marks on a page, "advanced literacy" is much more than the ability to organize and edit one's written expression. Though definitions differ and change over time, college‑level literacy skills include the following:

  • Being able to summarize complicated written ideas and describe one's responses to them
  • Moving beyond summary and response to analysis of written texts
  • Synthesizing facts and arguments from multiple written sources and using them to construct arguments that reflect one's own carefully‑considered judgment about an issue
  • Recognizing the relevance of one's own experiences for understanding how other people think about the world and their lives
  • Distinguishing between the languages that different academic disciplines‑‑sociology and education, for instance, or literature and political science‑‑use to talk about the same phenomena, and understanding why such differences might be meaningful for one's own academic work
  • Contributing to, or at least following, public conversations about community problems
  • Making choices about the best style, tone, and organizational strategies for particular writing tasks
  • Evaluating the quality and relevance of information available from newspapers, magazines, TV, and the Internet

The list could go on. While students practice different kinds of reading and writing in many of their university courses, the courses that make up the University Writing Requirement offer concentrated exposure to these important skills, as well as opportunities for students to reflect on their own progress as sophisticated producers and interpreters of texts.

Why complete the UWR at the beginning of Roosevelt coursework?

Because the skills students learn in their writing courses are the foundation for success in so many of their other courses, students can make the most of their time in college by completing their UWR as close as possible to the beginning of their enrollment at Roosevelt.

What kind of commitment do Roosevelt writing courses require from students?

In order to succeed in their writing coursework, students should be prepared to do the following:

  • Carefully read and re‑read all course assignments. In a college writing course, re‑reading (sometimes several times) is a necessity, not a sign of weakness.
  • Attend all class meetings. Because so much of the course's learning happens in the classroom, students cannot succeed without attending to their work in body, mind, and spirit. And, because writing is a social process, the whole class suffers when frequent absences deprive individual writers of peer feedback and throw the group off schedule.
  • Communicate frequently, clearly, and responsibly with the course instructor. While teachers try to make their expectations known to students, when those expectations are unclear to students, students need to ask promptly for clarification. Furthermore, when students encounter special difficulty with assignments or course concepts, they should ask for individual assistance, either outside of class time, or during workshop periods.
  • Listen to diverse viewpoints and be willing to explain, analyze, and re‑examine their own beliefs about issues. Students learn more in an environment of tolerance and rigorous reflection.