Student Learning Outcomes for First-Year, Writing-Intensive Courses (W1s)

As a reflection of the College’s commitment to writing across the curriculum, all Colby students have a first-year writing requirement. These courses give students the opportunity to cultivate their writing, critical analysis, and research skills in small, themed courses offered by faculty in many departments and programs. First-year writing courses, designated W1 in the catalogue, will introduce students to a variety of written forms and Colby’s rigorous culture of writing. Some courses may also satisfy major or other distribution requirements.

Please click here for a .pdf version of the W1 Student Learning Outcomes.

Colby Student Learning Outcomes for W1 Courses

The following learning outcomes (or goals) for W1 students outline Colby faculty’s expectations in three categories important to college-level writing. Sometimes, not all of these outcomes will apply to a particular writing project. Taken together, however, they are a guide to the writing-related skills, abilities, and practices you should develop through your W1 course and in your first year at Colby.

Argument and Evidence

As evidence of strength in this area, your writing should:

  • demonstrate your understanding of key concepts and terms from the course and subject at hand
  • demonstrate your awareness of the scholarly, popular, or professional conversations on the topic
  • have a clear thesis and–if appropriate to the assignment–an original, interpretive claim
  • develop your ideas and analysis beyond initial claims, supported by citations as appropriate
  • address implications of your argument. (If what you say is true, why does it matter? To whom?)
  • be free of factual errors

If your assignment requires you to use evidence from research, your writing should also:

  • support all claims with evidence from germane, authoritative, and timely sources
  • smoothly integrate outside sources into your arguments (e.g. with signal phrases and context)
  • acknowledge and respond to counter arguments and conflicting claims in the sources

Organization and Structure

As evidence of strength in this area, your writing should:

  • employ a discernable organizational structure appropriate to the task and subject at hand
  • have an engaging introduction and a synthetic conclusion that goes beyond just stating or restating your subject and main findings/arguments
  • use transitional phrases and topic sentences to guide your reader
  • use paragraphing effectively to partition claims and ideas for readers

Language and Conventions

As evidence of strength in this area, your writing should:

  • show control of standardized written English (grammar, syntax, punctuation, and word choice)
  • use an appropriate tone, vocabulary, format, and/or design for the assignment
  • represent your authorial voice
  • accurately and consistently document research sources in a format appropriate to the assignment

These outcomes are, of necessity, guidelines that will be regularly revisited, measured (as appropriate and applicable), and revised to best reflect Colby students’ needs and faculty goals for first-year writing experiences.