Posted in CCCC 2013, Digital Literacy, Relationship to First Year Comp, Social Media, Tech, What's New in Basic Writing

K.02: Revising the WPA Outcomes Statement for a Multimodal, Digitally Composed World

Although this session is not explicitly about basic writing, I think it’s important to add to the conversation. As we think about basic writing, its many forms, and its many different curricular definitions & iterations across the country, the WPA Outcomes for First Year Writing have become a national touchstone for what first year comp “should” do. Campuses often rely on this as a way to shape local conversations and the outcomes provide an important baseline for national conversations about writing curriculum.

There is no correlation for basic writing. In fact, as many of us regularly discuss at CCCC and CBW, there is not even a common definition of basic writing other than “not ready for college level writing.”

As the WPA takes  next step in thinking about the impact of technology on multimodal composition, it seems like this is a crucial consideration for the basic writing community.

Should we work communally to try to develop an outcomes statement, in collaboration with other groups, like TYCA? If so, what role would technology play in this statement?

Notes from this session are offered in the spirit of thinking about a future basic writing outcomes statement.

Chair: Beth Brunk-Chavez, University of Texas at El Paso

Respondent: Kathleen Blake Yancey, Florida State University
Speaker: Joe Bizup, Boston University
Speaker: Darsie Bowden, DePaul University
Speaker: Dylan Dryer, University of Maine
Speaker: Susanmarie Harrington, University of Vermont

The panel began with Susanmarie Harrington offering a history of the WPA Outcomes statement and its origin in 1996 with a post to WPA-L that resulted in more than 120 suggestions to an individual writing program director about a local outcomes statement. This kicked off a lengthy process in developing a statement that would be useful to campuses. The outcomes statement was made by hundreds of people to be used. The collective work created a policy document that was used to create change. It provided a scaffold for local programs that used the statement and adapted it to get local work done. It provided a frame for what writers do, what works for students, and what works for faculty and programs.

Darsie Bowden, chair of the task force, provided an overview of the task force’s work.

Task force members include: Darsie Bowden, Susanmarie Harrington, Kathleen Blake Yancey, Beth Brunk-Chavez, Lisa Mahle-Grisez, Doug Downs, Doug Hesse, Joe Bizup, Dylan Dryer, Bump Halbritter, and J. Elizabeth Clark.

Bowden next presented the results of a survey: 195 respondents from a four-year college, 21 respondents from two-year colleges, 3 from high schools, and 7 others.

61% of the respondents were very familiar with the WPA Outcomes Statement and an additional 27% were somewhat familiar.

The response to “What does ‘digital literacies’ mean” was very varied. 65% of respondents preferred that any revisions including digital literacy be added to the current WPA statement.

Bowden shared a rich set of written comments provided by respondents including suggestions for additional items (like basic writing and translingualism!) to be added to the WPA Outcomes Statement.

Dylan Dryer gave an overview of what the WPA statement does today and made a case for revising the current statement. He explored the differences between composing and writing. He argued that the WPA statement describes the common knowledge, skills, and attitudes sought by first year composition programs in U.S. post-secondary institutions. Today, that should include digital literacies.

Joe Bizup provided 3 concerns about revising the statement: teaching digital literacies are not central to teaching writing (a central concern), we lack a definition of digital literacies (a definitional concern), digital literacies are best addressed after first year composition (a not yet concern). Bizup enumerated and complicated each of these concerns as a way of thinking about how to deepen the work of the committee and the revision.

The session then moved to small group discussion and critique of the statement and the proposed revisions as a way to garner additional input from the CCCC community.

In the small group report out, people raised the following concerns/issues:

  • Issues of access: where will students do this work? What does it mean to bring technology into first year writing but not into the classroom (if you don’t have a computer lab/iPad program/etc.) ?
  • How can this document speak to people who teach in a program where there is only 1 required comp course? (versus 2)
  • What is the definition of digital literacy?
  • What is the difference between this and the “Composing in Electronic Environments” document?
  • Could this be more of a framework that part of the outcomes?
  • Modality, digital, on-line: what are we talking about? Are they the same? What are the boundaries of composition as a field? What do we acknowledge is not ours as a field? For example, what about audio included in a composition? Who here is an expert in speech and audio production?
  • The introduction to the original statement says that the WPA Outcomes Statement is NOT a required set of outcomes. They were meant to be adapted.
  • Could this document embody the multiple purposes and audiences more fluidly? What would happen if this document embodied multi-modal composition?
  • How can we make this document embody recursive practice?
  • The original document talks about “habits of mind” and “skills” that students should have. Why? Why do we want them to have this? The answer to this question leads us to why digital literacies are important in our curriculum.
  • If we’re going to teach them to be good critical consumers and good writers in the spaces they (students) inhabit, then we need to move into digital spaces.
  • Are our students writing and reading in digital spaces? Are we preparing our students for the workforce? We need to make sure that we have empirical numbers. Isn’t some of this happening off-line?
  • Digital technologies can already be included in many of the current outcomes as a form of writing. We don’t need to specifically address digital technologies.

The session ended with Kathleen Blake Yancey, offering a response to the session, the task force’s work, and the small group discussion.

1. Yancey argues that the document needs some kind of updating.

2. The current WPA Outcomes Statement was meant to be a boundary document (setting out definitions and constructs). We do not want to lose that utility.

3. The 6 areas we need to examine are:

  • Representativeness (the other areas that have been identified like reading & translingualism) & consensus about the national landscape of first year writing
  • The idea of cross talk between this document and other documents (should that be an implicit or explicit part of the process?)
  • The construct of writing: what is the difference between writing and composing?
  • The distinction between digital literacy and visual rhetoric is odd: they are not synonyms; what about digital rhetoric? Visual literacy? Now we have 4 terms, not 2.
  • Can outcomes sponsor conversations? Yes.  (see Pamela Moss’ work) Can outcomes support students? These are both useful and important components of a flexible articulation of writing.
  • There are other issues that need to be addressed such as how students who are enrolled and supported in first year writing programs are successful in college.

4. The WPA Outcomes Statement is a living document. It will be revised.





Session Materials:

Posted in CCCC 2013, Scholarship of Basic Writing, Social Media, Tech, What's New in Basic Writing

On “We are Borg: Composing Processes and Identities”

The session “We are Borg: Composing Processes and Identities” dealt with using multimodal composing to break students out of “genre knowledge” that might not be serving them in composition classrooms. The first talk was by Angela Laflen. Her talk was entitled “Charting the New World between Whiteboards and Slides: Composing Online with Prezi.” She demonstrated the ways that Prezi can be used to help students become more aware of the performative aspects of composition as they explore their online identities.

In her talk entitled “Negotiating Metacognition in a Digital Landscape: Multimodal Reflection in the 21st Century Classroom, “Anna Knutson demonstrated the ways that students use video in her classes to make more meaningful reflections about their compositions. The results, and the sample student reflections she shared, seemed really insightful.

Finally, Sara Hillin detailed two assignments that she uses in her writing course: the technoliteracy memoir and the text-to-webtext literacy project. Hillin described the ways that she used Donna Haraway’s “Cyborg Manfesto” and Katherine Hayles (I think) to frame the assignments. In the text-to-webtext assignment, students repurpose traditional essays into online texts in really interesting ways. In the technoliteracy memoir, students use “infinite canvas style” programs like Prezi to create literacy narratives.

The big take away from this session was that I now have some ideas for how I to integrate some of these assignments into my own writing classroom (or change some of my existing assignments). I’m also motivated to help students think more about identity as a crucial aspect of composing online and everywhere else. ~ Sheri Rysdam, UVU

Posted in CCCC 2013, Social Media, Who is Basic Writing?

There’s Nothing About Basic Writing Session Tomorrow, 3/14 at 10:30 a.m. Pacific Time: Log In Details!

Hi Everyone.

We apologize again for those of you who tried to follow the live stream today.

For tomorrow’s session, we will be using Adobe Connect, which we’ve tested on site this afternoon & is working (fingers crossed for tomorrow!!!!). That session, “There’s Nothing Basic About Basic Writing” will be Thursday, 14 March 2013 @ 10:30 am Pacific Time.

You’ll be logging in, you’ll be able to hear us, and you’ll be able to participate via the Live Chat option. We will not, after this morning’s technology glitch, be video streaming it.

The session will be on-line tomorrow at 10:30 am Pacific Time:

You’ll log into room cccc13 as a guest.

Meanwhile, we continue to blog and tweet basic writing at C’s! So, you can follow session posts & reflections by our bloggers here at

You can follow basic writing & CCCC on twitter: #cbw, #4C13.

Thanks to our tweeters: Sara Webb-Sunderhaus, Marisa Klages, Leigh Jonaitis, Abby Nance, & Trent Kays.

Thanks to our bloggers: Sheri Rysdam, Anthony Warnke & Sara Webb-Sunderhaus.

Posted in CBW 2013, CCCC 2013, Social Media

Meet the 2013 CCCC Bloggers!

Meet the folks who will be working hard to keep you informed about CCCC 2013! Our team will be live blogging, tweeting, and providing commentary on basic writing related sessions!

Sheri Rysdam

Hi all! My name is Sheri Rysdam and I am an Assistant Professor of Basic Composition at Utah Valley University. My research interests are everything related to teaching writing, as well as political economy, contingent labor issues, social class, and methods for responding to student writing.

Sara Webb-Sunderhaus

I’m Sara Webb-Sunderhaus, an assistant (hopefully soon-to-be associate!) professor of English at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW), where I coordinate the basic writing program and teach courses in writing, theories of writing, and folklore. My research broadly focuses on issues surrounding literacy, identity, and access; more specifically, I study the literacy practices and beliefs of Appalachians and the literacies and education of basic writers. My work has appeared in The Norton Book of Composition Studies, The Journal of Basic Writing, Community Literacy Journal, Open Words: Access and English Studies, and Reclaiming the Rural: Essays on Literacy, Rhetoric, and Pedagogy. With Kim Donehower, I am developing a new collection entitled Re-reading Appalachia: Literacies of Resistance.

Anthony Warnke

Anthony Warnke is in his first year as a tenure-track English instructor at Green River Community College in Auburn, Washington. Empowering basic writers drives his research interests. He is focused on developing curriculum that engages the literacies that basic writers already bring to the classroom, such as multimedia literacies; creating disciplinary-based basic writing courses; and addressing the needs of non-native English language learners. In his own basic writing pedagogy, he constantly struggles to balance higher-order critical-thinking and analytical skills with sentence-level and structural “correctness.”  Along with teaching basic writing, Anthony is a poet and teaches creative writing.

J. Elizabeth Clark

Hi folks! I’m your regular CBW blogger and current co-chair of CBW. I’ve been a passionate advocate for basic writing and its place in higher education since graduate school where I cut my teeth on teaching in intensive basic writing learning communities. Today, I am privileged to teach at LaGuardia Community College, CUNY where I am a professor of English. I teach basic writing, composition, creative writing, and the liberal arts capstone course. I write and research about the role of technology, social media, and digital rhetoric in higher education, particularly as it is shaping composition curriculums, pedagogy, and assessment. I have worked extensively with LaGuardia’s award winning ePortfolio program since 2002 and use ePortfolio as a signature pedagogy in my courses. I’m looking forward to blogging CCCC and extending the conversation about basic writing!

Posted in Basic Writing Projects & Initiatives, CCCC 2013, Politics of Remediation, Professional Developmwnt, Publishing, Resources, Scholarship of Basic Writing, Social Media, Tech, What's New in Basic Writing, Who is Basic Writing?

Join Us In A Conversation About Basic Writing

Hi, everyone!

You are invited to join us in a conversation about Basic Writing! We’d love to hear your thoughts, ideas, experiences, and pedagogical approaches in teaching Basic Writing!

We hope you will join us to share resources, best practices, and to engage as a national community helping members respond to local issues.

This discussion follows up on last year’s roundtable at CCCC. As we did last year, we invite you to join both the asynchronous and synchronous conversations.

Join the conversation online: February 12, 2013 to March 13, 2013. Online conversations will be held on the Council on Basic Writing Facebook Page (

Then, join us in person to continue the conversation at CCCC 2013: Session A.17, Thursday 3/14 10:30 AM – 11:45 a.m. There will also be an online option to join this session if you are not attending CCCC 2013.


Facilitated by Elaine Jolayemi, Ivy Tech and & Leigh Jonaitis, Bergen Community College

Facilitated by Ilene Rubenstein, College of the Desert

Facilitated by J. Elizabeth Clark, LaGuardia Community College–CUNY

Co-Facilitated by Debra Berry, College of Southern Nevada & Marisa Klages, LaGuardia Community College–CUNY

Facilitated by Carla Maroudas, Mt. San Jacinto Community College

Facilitated by Amy Edwards Patterson, Moraine Park Technical College

Hope to see you online or in person!

There’s Nothing Basic About Basic Writing!