The above link will take you to the Fall 2014 version of the syllabus for my First-year writing course for students in the Global Engineering (GE) learning community. Fall 2014 was my first, and only, semester teaching in the GE learning community, as learning community sections are only offered in the fall, and I left Purdue in August of 2015.
In creating the learning community specific version of first-year composition, teachers are given lots of freedom in course design. As long as the overall syllabus meets department goals, means, and outcomes, the actual assignments and ways of teaching are up to the instructor. To that end, I designed this course to introduce students to three things. First, I wanted them to understand that even as engineers they will write, and they will write often. Many students think that engineering is just about analytic skills and maths, but it’s not. Research has shown time and again that engineers must also be effective communicators. And, that means learning to speak (and write) in ways that other engineers and the public value and can understand. Being an engineer isn’t just about doing engineering work, it’s an act of becoming that is facilitated through language. Second, I wanted them to familiarize themselves with the major genres that appear in engineering. So, this course gets rid of things like the literacy narrative and replaces them with writing technical descriptions and analytic reports. Third, I wanted to prepare them for the writing they would do in future engineering courses. Before I taught this course, I was a rater with Purdue’s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. In that position, I would rate student writing for their senior design course. Being a rater gave me an intimate knowledge of the kinds of writing that they would be graded on later in their student lives at Purdue.