INQUIRY-BASED INSTRUCTION IN ENGLISH 1 and 2

English 1 and 2 are revised periodically to keep the course content current and responsive to the needs of West Virginia University students. In a recent West Virginia University report entitled, "Strengthening Success through Undergraduate Expectations," the Academic Standards Commission encouraged all faculty and administrators to develop further their commitment to inquiry-based learning. The Commission defined "inquiry-based" learning as "a process that develops students’ abilities to learn and solve problems independently" (p. 15). The English department has drawn upon other definitions* to identify the specific ways in which English 1 and 2, the writing courses required of all students, practice a problem-solving approach to writing.

The problem-solving approach to writing:

This expanded definition of inquiry-based learning informs the updated descriptions and goals for English 1 and 2.
 

ENGLISH 1: Description and Goals

English 1 provides the foundation for inquiry-based learning by:

  1. Emphasizing writing as a problem-solving process that fosters the discovery, analysis, and synthesis of new ideas
  2. Providing extensive writing practice (a minimum of 5,000 words) to help students discover and develop effective strategies for analysis and communication
  3. Providing frequent response to written work to foster substantive and stylistic revisions that address problems in communication
  4. Providing interdisciplinary and multicultural venues for students to address contemporary issues and to analyze how contemporary inquiries are being pursued by others
  5. Emphasizing summary, explanation, and analysis as part of the process of inquiry and learning
  6. Emphasizing principles of clarity and concision and how they depend on upon critical understanding
  7. Preparing students to meet the intellectual challenges of a degree program at a research university by fostering the discovery of new ideas and communication strategies
  8. Encouraging collaborative efforts such as joint writing projects and peer critiques of written work, which help students recognize that there are multiple methods of inquiry and response
ENGLISH 2: Description and Goals

English 2 reinforces and extends inquiry-based learning by:

  1. Continuing to emphasize writing as a problem-solving process that fosters the discovery, analysis, and synthesis of new ideas
  2. Continuing to provide extensive writing practice (a minimum of 5,000 words) to help students discover the structure of their own thinking and develop effective strategies for analysis and communication
  3. Continuing to provide frequent response to written work to foster substantive and stylistic revisions that address problems in communication
  4. Introducing students to formal research strategies, library resources, and the Internet for gathering information
  5. Helping students learn to assess the quality of information sources
  6. Developing writers’ abilities to summarize and synthesize material from varied sources to aid their understanding of claims, evidence, differing perspectives, conclusions, alternatives, questions, assumptions, implications, consequences, etc.
  7. Addressing multiple audiences and varied rhetorical contexts for researched, analytic writing
  8. Practicing methods for organizing and developing persuasive writing
  9. Continuing to teach and apply principles of clarity and concision
  10. Continuing to encourage learning through collaborative efforts to prepare students for team/group situations, communication in the workplace, and lifelong learning
Teaching Problem-Solving Strategies in English 1 and 2

Commitment to a strong writing program and responsibility to the changing needs of the West Virginia University community prompted the English department to submit its writing program to a voluntary external review. In discussions following the evaluation, the department produced the above descriptions and goals for English 1 and 2 to emphasize continued commitment to inquiry-based learning. By Fall 2001, the department will be piloting course models that will explore innovative methods for achieving their common course goals. The department recognizes that a problem-solving approach to teaching writing necessarily requires instructors to:




For information on English 108: Advanced Composition for English Education majors, please click here: English 108

For other information, please contact the English Department's Center for Writing Excellence at 304-293-3107