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Faculty Resources: OWEAC Outcomes (Adopted October 2016)

Library Resources for Chemeketa faculty

Contextualizing Document for Updated OWEAC Outcomes

The following Oregon Writing and English Advisory Committee (OWEAC) Outcomes Statement represents the collaborative endeavor of writing faculty at two- and four-year institutions across the state. The statement describes the knowledge, skills, abilities, and behaviors/attitudes that a student should demonstrate in and across the general education writing sequence that satisfies Oregon’s Associated Arts of Transfer Degree and, at the community college level, fulfills degree, program, and certificate requirements.

The outcomes are based on two key documents created by the Writing Program Administrators: The WPA Outcomes Statement(link is external) for First-Year Composition(link is external) (2014) and The Framework for Success in Postsecondary Writing(link is external) (2010); they also reflect the discussion of information literacy that is articulated in the Association of College and Research Libraries' Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education(link is external) (2016). We urge parties who use the OWEAC outcomes to also consult these other texts.

Unlike our source documents, which describe the knowledge, skills, behaviors/attitudes, and abilities that students will demonstrate at the end of a first-year writing sequence, of necessity, our document parses these outcomes into separate courses: WR 115, WR 121, and WR 222. We call out approximate stages of development that students will traverse as they recursively engage with process writing across the general education writing sequence.

As such, the OWEAC “outcomes” are sometimes written in process, rather than product language, reflecting what research in the teaching of writing tells us: student performance on written tasks (and improvement on given tasks), is messy, as is assessment of these processes, and dependent on multiple opportunities to compose, rethink, and revise, responding to and giving feedback.

The WPA Outcomes Statement describes the messiness in this way:

It [The WPA Outcomes Statement] intentionally defines only “outcomes,” or types of results, and not “standards,” or precise levels of achievement. The setting of standards to measure students' achievement of these Outcomes has deliberately been left to local writing programs and their institutions.

Thus, our documents do not supply thresholds for performance (what the WPA calls “standards”) the way that outcome language does in other fields; rather, the outcomes describe the skills and behaviors that the student will practice and develop. We leave it to individual college campuses to determine, based on a variety of contextualizing factors (text difficulty, assignment challenge and design, ratio of FT/PT faculty, supplemental instruction and other available support, such as a writing center) what level of writing proficiency students are expected to demonstrate. We assume that such a determination will be part of on-going assessment practices on a given college campus and, necessarily, include high school faculty involved in any dual credit programs sponsored by that institution.

Per the recommendations from the WPA on assessment, we argue that assessment work should examine a variety of student documents (perhaps a portfolio), attend to local culture and constraints, and involve local stakeholders in the process.

And, per the Framework for Success, we presume that faculty in other disciplines provide students with opportunities to compose in multiple contexts, for varied audiences, across genres and modalities. Oregon’s first-year writing sequence, while pivotal for the development of students’ composing, critical thinking, and deep reading practices, is not sufficient for the development of college students into competent writers and thinkers. The writing journey begun in first-year composition classes must, necessarily, continue in subsequent terms in disciplines outside of composition.