Learning Outcomes

The Learning Outcomes statement describes the expected results of the Writing and Rhetoric course at the University of Notre Dame. Our statement is informed by recent research in the field of rhetoric and composition, especially the Learning Outcomes portion of the Writing Program Administrators Statement for First-Year Composition, by which we have been guided and from which we have borrowed freely.

Our statement also reflects our commitment to ethical argumentation, and in particular the idea that the practice of argument is an ethical, rhetorical, and practical activity.

The Learning Outcomes listed below apply to all the courses taught in the University Writing Program and represent our conception of what students should have learned after completing any one of these courses.

Ethical Knowledge

After completing a course in the University Writing Program, students should understand the ethical dimensions of argument. In practice, this means that students should be able to:

  • Define ethical argumentation, with reference to the virtues of honesty, accountability, tolerance, judgment, and others
  • Understand academic and popular arguments as ethical activities
  • Compose academic and popular arguments that are informed by the commitment to ethical communication

Rhetorical Knowledge

After completing one of the courses in the University Writing Program, students should understand the rhetorical dimensions of reading and composing arguments. In practice, this means that students should be able to:

  • Identify the purpose in an argument
  • Respond to the expectations of diverse audiences
  • Respond appropriately to different kinds of rhetorical situations
  • Make a cogent claim in writing and defend it with appropriate proofs
  • Understand how genres shape reading and writing
  • Write in several genres, including digital genres
  • Develop a rhetorical vocabulary for critiquing and composing written arguments
  • Adopt appropriate voice, tone, and level of formality in writing arguments

Practical Knowledge

By practical, we mean knowledge of the writing practices that are necessary for college writers. This means that students who have completed one of our courses should:

  • Understand writing as a process that usually takes multiple drafts to create and complete a successful text
  • Develop flexible strategies for generating, revising, editing, and proof-reading
  • Understand the collaborative and social aspects of the writing process
  • Learn to critique their own and others’ writing
  • Develop knowledge of genre conventions ranging from structure and paragraphing to tone and mechanics
  • Locate, evaluate, organize, and use research material collected from multiple sources, including scholarly library databases and other sources
  • Learn how to cite, quote, and paraphrase other sources
  • Understand plagiarism and know how to avoid it
  • Learn at least one citation style, such as MLA, APA, or others
  • Control such surface features as syntax, grammar, punctuation, and spelling