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Rhetorical Knowledge

Rhetorical knowledge is the ability to identify and apply strategies across a range of texts and writing
situations. Using their own writing processes and approaches, writers compose with intention,
understanding how genre, audience, purpose, and context impact writing choices.
By the end of FYW, students should be able to:
Use rhetorical concepts to analyze and compose a variety of texts using a range of technologies
adapted according to audience, context, and purpose
Assess how genres shape and are shaped by readers' and writers' experimentation with
conventions, including mechanics, structure, and style
Develop the flexibility that enables writers to shift voice, tone, formality, design, medium, and layout
intentionally to accommodate varying situations and contexts
You've already done work around rhetorical analysis, genre, and audience.
Go through your daybook and other work you've done for this class. Find a few examples of
"rhetorical knowledge." Mark the pages with sticky notes or take screenshots. Be sure to label the
pages as Rhetorical Knowledge.
Last modified: Tuesday, 30 June 2015, 12:30 PM

Critical Reading
Reading critically is the ability to analyze, synthesize, interpret, and evaluate ideas, information and
texts. When writers think critically about the materials they use, they separate assertion from
evidence, evaluate sources and evidence, recognize and assess underlying assumptions, read
across texts for connections and patterns, and identify and evaluate chains of reasoning. These
practices are foundational for advanced academic writing.
By the end of FYW, students should be able to:

Use reading for inquiry, learning, and discovery

Analyze their own work and the work of others critically, including examining diverse texts
and articulating the value of various rhetorical choices of writers

Locate and evaluate (for credibility, sufficiency, accuracy, timeliness, bias) primary and
secondary research materials, including journal articles and essays, books, scholarly and

professionally established and maintained databases or archives, and informal electronic

networks and internet sources

Use a diverse range of texts, attending especially to relationships between assertion and
evidence, to patterns of organization, to the interplay between verbal and nonverbal elements,
and to how these features function for different audiences and situations

Extending Ideas:
Peter Elbow (1973) articulates two useful ways of reading texts critically: the doubting game and the
believing game. When you play the doubting game, you intentionally look for the problems in a text;
you read as a skeptic. Elbow contends that is type of reading is much more common and accepted
by academics, including students. When you play the believing game, you accept the assertions of
the text and allow them to play as you read; the reader tries to see from the writer's point of view. For
Elbow, there is use in this type of reading, instead of always relying on an adversarial reading
method. If you would like to read his arguments for yourself, here is a link to the ebook.
I will contend that there is value in both kinds of reading; it is useful for us to "believe" texts as we try
to understand them. But it is still important to engage in the doubting game as we evaluate readings
and ideas.
Go through your daybook or other assignments you've prepared for this class. Find examples of your
"critical reading." Mark the pages with sticky notes or take screenshots. Be sure to label these pages
or files as Critical Reading.
Resources Cited:
Elbow, P. (1973). Writing Without Teachers. New York: Oxford University Press.

Composing Processes
Writers use multiple strategies, or composing processes, to conceptualize, develop, and finalize
projects. Composing processes are seldom linear: a writer may research a topic before drafting then
conduct additional research while revising or after consulting a colleague. Composing processes are
also flexible: successful writers can adapt their composing processes to different contexts and
By the end of FYW, students should be able to:

Demonstrate flexible strategies for drafting, reviewing, collaborating, revising, rewriting,

rereading, and editing

Recognize and employ the social interactions entailed in writing processes: brainstorming,
response to others' writing; interpretation and evaluation of received responses

Use their writing process in order to deepen engagement with source material, their own
ideas, and the ideas of others and as a means of strengthening claims and solidifying logical

Extending Ideas:
In this video, writers talk about their composing processes:
Go though your daybook and other assignments you have prepared for this class. Find examples
that demonstrate your composing processes. Mark these artifacts with sticky notes or take
screenshots. Be sure to label as Composing Processes.

Knowledge of Conventions
Conventions are the formal rules and informal guidelines that define genres, and in so doing, shape
readers' and writers' expectations of correctness or appropriateness. Most obviously, conventions
govern such things as mechanics, usage, spelling, and citation practices. But they also influence
content, style, organization, graphics, and document design.
By the end of FYW, students should be able to:
Demonstrate how to negotiate variations in conventions by genre, from print-based compositions to
multi-modal compositions
Investigate why genre conventions for structure, paragraphing, design, formatting, tone, and
mechanics vary
Use the concepts of intellectual property (such as fair use and copyright) that motivate
documentation conventions to practice applying citation conventions systematically in their own work.
Develop knowledge of linguistic structures, including grammar, punctuation, and spelling, through
practice in composing and revising

Image courtesy of: Imgur

Extending Ideas:
It is crucial to remember that conventions and genre are interconnected ideas. Conventions vary
from genre to genre, depending on the norms for that audience and context. Here is an article that
details the connections between genre and conventions, to help you learn to talk about conventions
in your own writing:
Go through your daybook and other assignments you have prepared for this class. Identify examples
of your knowledge of conventions (with particular attention to the genres in which you are working).
Mark these pages with sticky notes or take screenshots. Be sure to identify these pages or files
as Knowledge of Conventions.

Critical Reflection
Critical reflection is a writer's ability to articulate what s/he is thinking and why. For example, to
explain the choices made in a composition, to contextualize a composition, to address revisions
made in response to reader feedback etc.

By the end of FYW, students should be able to:

Demonstrate reflecting on their writing in various rhetorical situations
Use writing as a means for reflection
Demonstrate their rhetorical awareness, their writing process, and their knowledge of conventions
with regard to their own writing
Illustrate that reflection is a necessary part of learning, thinking and communicating
In fact, throughout this course, you have been asked to reflect; you have been asked to think about
the decisions you are making about your writing, how particular genres suit your needs, how
multimodality impacts your work, etc.
Now, let's dig a little deeper into the concept of "critical reflection."
Drawing on Flavell (1979), Negretti (2012) defines metacognition as "the unique human ability
to reflect on, monitor, and control one's knowledge and thoughts. (The emphasis is mine.)
Here, reflection draws on the conscious process of writing about your thinking and considering how
your processes might transfer to other situations.
To monitor yourself means to engage in self-assessment of your learning.
Control refers to your capacity for self-learning and the ability to transfer your learning to other
For additional help understanding these concepts, see this
Practicing Reflection:
Go through your daybook (or comb your brain) for time you learned something about writing in this
course. Find an artifact or multiple connected artifacts that demonstrate this learning. Take pictures
or screenshots of these artifacts. Then write a reflection in which you articulate what you learned,
how you learned it, and how you see this concept transferring to other situations. Post both the
picture and the reflection to the Critical Reflections forum in this project.
Resources Cited:
Flavell, J.H. (1979). "Metacognition and cognitive monitoring: A new area of cognitive-developmental
inquiry." American Psychologist, Vol 34(10), Oct 1979, 906-911.

Nagretti, R. (2012). "Metacognition in Student Academic Writing. Written Communication, Vol 29

(2), April 2012, 142-179.