While first-year composition may be a service course in which the goal is to meet the needs of the academic community, we believe the best way to meet those needs is by teaching critical literacy, that is, teaching students to think, read (listen, view, watch, perceive), and write critically. Within this overarching goal are the following subordinate goals:
- Preparing students for their reading and writing projects in their university courses.
- Preparing students for critical citizenship beyond the classroom and the university.
We believe the goals of the larger academic community and, more importantly, our culture and democracy will be best served by our pursuit of these goals together. Our pursuit of said goals will be based on the rhetorical approach to composition and the development of skills of critical thinking, reading, and writing, that is, the development of critical literacy, including media and cultural literacy's. If literacy means the ability to read and write functionally, then media literacy and cultural literacy compromise the ability to read critically the range of messages transmitted by all of the vehicles of cultural production, particularly the news and entertainment media, and to clearly express in writing. In practice, writing projects will be based on real-world genres rather than genres manufactured specifically for the writing classroom. Writing, whether academic or public, comes from research. Both academic writing and the best public writing honor this principle, though in different genres. Therefore, it is essential to teach sound research techniques that will be supported by our focus on critical reading.