Welcome to First-Year Writing

Welcome to First-Year Writing at MSU

The First-Year Writing (FYW) Program at MSU puts learners at the center of learning. Our mission is to help learners acquire the moves, strategies, and dispositions that will allow them to continue to develop as writers and producers of knowledge beyond first-year writing. This goal is realized through a shared curriculum of writing experiences that ask students to set their own learning goals by way of a variety of informed reflective writing activities.

The FYW Program seeks to contextualize students’ rhetorical acts of inquiry, discovery, and communication by way of the three primary rhetorical conditions articulated in the FYW Program Learning Goals: purpose, process, and culture.

  • Inquiry: a recursive process of posing, following, and pursuing answers to questions.
  • Discovery: making new knowledge by way of processes of inquiry.
  • Communication: purposeful engagement of one’s self and others by way of the processes and products of inquiry and discovery
  • Purpose: personal, practical, and culturally implicated motivations/goals for pursuing acts of inquiry, discovery, and communication
  • Process: the means by which students pursue acts of inquiry, discovery, and communication
  • Culture: social/communal forces that affect how we produce and assess the effectiveness of acts of inquiry, discovery, and communication

The First-Year Writing curriculum invites students to put their prior knowledge in relation to new understandings of rhetoric, literacy, and culture. Inquiry, discovery, and communication—actions: ways of doing—are central to the curriculum. Our approach to the FYW assignment sequence moves students from reflection on experience to analysis of cultural and institutional values and discourses to inquiry into rhetorical production and to informed goal setting. In short, our FYW learning goals articulate a host of things that FYW aims to help students come to know by ways of doing. 

The FYW curriculum gives students opportunities to learn from inquiries into cultural values, rhetorical production, and professional and institutional discourses. Whether or not it is named as an explicit topic in writing classes, culture is an idea that is surfaced, named, and referenced through writing and learning to write. A primary aim of the course is for students to develop productive understandings of their own goals as learners. FYW classes prepare students to reflect on their learning as they move through course projects in order to set informed goals for their ongoing development as writers, students, and professionals.

Our goal is to help each student develop transferable knowledge of rhetoric and writing practices. Consequently, our courses shift their emphasis from evaluating students’ mastery of producing genre-based writing (e.g, “the research paper”) or specific content knowledge to building and assessing capacities for continued growth and production.

We believe that the work of learning about writing is necessarily unfinished when FYW is completed, and that students will leave with transferable knowledge that will deliver continued learning throughout their college careers and beyond. The first-year writing experience at MSU does not strive to predict or replicate every possible writing task or genre that students may encounter in their educational or professional lives. Instead, FYW aims to develop each student’s capacity to understand and adapt to new writing situations. 

First-Year Writing Briefs

three photos of MSU students

Beginning in spring 2024, we’ve published regular information briefs designed to showcase some of the activities and highlights of the program:

We’re glad you’re here. Welcome to First-Year Writing at MSU!

Julie Lindquist, Director 
Joyce Meier, Associate Director 
Keaton Kirkpatrick, Graduate Assistant
Ethan Voss, Graduate Assistant
Roland Dumavor, WPA Fellow