ENGL001 Study Guide

Unit 1: What is College-Level Writing?

1a. Identify the elements of the rhetorical situation and rhetorical appeals

  • What does it mean to say that all writing is argumentative?
  • What is the difference between explicit arguments and implicit arguments?
  • What are the three most important elements of the rhetorical situation? How is the relationship between these components described?
  • Why is understanding rhetoric important to your own writing?
  • How do Aristotle, Plato, and the Sophists view rhetoric?
  • What are the main purposes of writing?
  • What are the key principles to understanding your audience?
  • What does it mean to understand the occasion of your writing?
  • What are the rhetorical appeals? How is the relationship between these components described?

Understanding rhetoric, the art of persuasion, helps writers create effective arguments. The Ancient Greeks shaped how we think about rhetoric, especially in terms of argumentation. Writing in college is rhetorical, which makes it argumentative. Implicit arguments are arguments that weave together facts and narratives, logic and emotion. Explicit arguments are arguments that have a noticeable and definable thesis statement followed by specific proofs, or evidence.

Aristotle's definition of rhetoric, that its primary purpose is persuasion, built on Plato's ideas of rhetoric as discovering truth through discussion. The Sophists, though, saw rhetoric merely as a means to teach speaking and writing skills.

The most important components of the rhetorical situation – purpose, audience, and context – and the rhetorical appeals – ethos, pathos, and logos – all work in a dynamic relationship to each other to communicate a message. 

Knowing the elements of the rhetorical situation will help you create an effective message. The main purposes for writing are to teach, persuade, and analyze. And when thinking about your audience, you should understand their previous experiences, knowledge, and expectations. Added to this is the occasion of your writing, which entails the context and conditions in which texts are created.

Ethos is the appeal to a writer's character or credibility. Pathos is the writer's appeal to the audience's emotions. Logos is the appeal to logic and reason. Kairos is the writer's appeal to their argument's timeliness.



1b. Practice techniques for identifying and writing for specific audiences and purposes

  • Why is it important to have a clear sense of who your audience is for a writing project?
  • How is your use of rhetorical appeals influenced by your audience
  • What are the four different types of audience for whom you are likely to write?
  • What questions should you ask when analyzing your audience?
  • What are the three primary purposes for writing?
  • What questions should you ask when identifying your purpose for writing?

Knowing and writing to your audience is the most important element of the rhetorical situation. Knowing what your audience needs and values will shape your tone and determine what rhetorical appeals you will emphasize.

Audience influences rhetorical appeals by shaping how you establish trust with them, determining which emotions pertain to them, and the kinds of evidence you use to support your reasons.

The four different audiences you are likely to write to are instructors, users, decision-makers, and internet skimmers. When analyzing audiences you should ask who the primary audience is, what factors impinge on how your audience will feel about the subject, and how knowledgeable they are about your subject.

The three primary purposes for writing are to teach, persuade, and analyze. When determining your purpose for writing, you should ask what your primary purpose is, if you have competing or conflicting purposes, what information you should emphasize, and how to organize the document.



1c. Describe writing as a process and explain how that process influences thinking

  • What is the difference between thinking of writing as a process versus writing as a product?
  • What are the key principles of process-based writing?
  • How does the process approach affect your writing? 
  • What are the main stages of the writing process?
  • What are the believing and doubting games? 

While the point of product-based writing is to produce texts quickly and typically without feedback, process-based writing expects writers to write multiple drafts that evolve based on feedback. Process-based writing empowers writers to think about their writing strategies and techniques and their own thinking simultaneously.

Process-based writing encourages writers to investigate their subjects, questioning their pre-existing beliefs, in order to create new meaning.

The main stages of the writing process are drafting, revising, researching, and editing.

The believing and doubting games can help you become a more productive writer. The believing game asks you to have faith in the writing process and stay positive, whereas the doubting game asks you to examine your ideas in a critical manner.



1d. Identify and avoid logical fallacies in persuasive writing

  • What is a logical fallacy?
  • What does it mean for an argument to be valid?
  • What are strategies to identify logical fallacies in your writing?

Logical fallacies are numerous and everywhere. Fallacies occur when a writer's reasoning breaks down. In order for your writing to be effective, it must have a valid argument, which is to be free of fallacies.

Some strategies to identify logical fallacies are to study the different kinds of logical fallacies and to highlight your claims to make sure they are not fallacious.



1e. Identify and practice the stages of the PWR writing process

  • What are the stages of the PWR model of writing?
  • What are the principles of effective prewriting?
  • What is freewriting and what are its benefits?
  • What is the three perspectives technique?
  • What are other prewriting techniques?
  • How can you use your knowledge of the rhetorical situation to help brainstorm?
  • What should you ask when generating topic ideas?
  • Why is revision important for effective writing?
  • What are some revision strategies?
  • What are the principles of peer response?
  • What are some different editing and proofreading techniques?

The PWR (Prewrite, Write, and Revise) model of writing emphasizes writing as a process. The prewriting (or invention) stage consists of freewriting and other brainstorming strategies that are intended to spark creativity and ideas. The revision process is intended to assess the strengths and weaknesses of what a writer has written so far.

The principles of effective prewriting are to be flexible, collaborate, and be organized. You can see this in freewriting, which describes writing without stopping, and helps you avoid writer's block and find your voice. Other prewriting techniques are mapping, clustering, listing, cubing, and asking the six journalistic questions.

Knowing the rhetorical situation helps you brainstorm according to your purpose and occasion, and helps you determine information and strategies that target your intended audience. Questions to ask when generating topic ideas include "Why do I care?", "What do I already know?", "What do I want to find out?", and "Who else cares about the subject?". 

Revision is important because it helps you assess the strengths and weaknesses of what you've written so far. Strategies to help you revise include asking focused questions, cut and paste activity, seeking feedback from others, and research. The principles of effective peer response are: Do not take on too much, do not worry about grammar and spelling, comment in writing, be polite, and balance praise and criticism.

Proofreading techniques can involve reading the paper backwards and reading the paper out loud.



1f. Practice critical thinking and reading skills essential to college writing

  • What are the elements of an effective reading strategy?
  • What are the elements of an effective writing-while-reading strategy?
  • What are the elements of an effective post-reading strategy?
  • What should you do when you get a paper back from an instructor?
  • Why should you practice literary criticism? What is the objective of literary criticism?
  • What are the popular schools of literary criticism?
  • What is critical thinking and why is it important?
  • What are key questions to ask when thinking critically about something you've read?

Reading, writing, and thinking go hand-in-hand, so the more effective strategies you have to strengthen them, the more effective your writing will be. Reading, writing, and thinking strategies require you to be an active thinker, ask specific questions relative to the task, and record your reactions and responses while you are reading. Post-reading, you should also record your reactions to the whole reading, plan your research, reread the writing assignment, and plot a timeline for producing the paper.

When you get feedback from an instructor, you should read all of their comments, assess your strengths and weaknesses, and plan what adjustments you need to make.

Literary criticism is a genre of writing where an author critiques a literary text, and is important to sharpen your critical faculties. Popular schools of literary criticism include New Criticism, Reader-Response, Post-Structuralism, and Archetypal Criticism, among several others.

Critical thinking is thinking clearly about your thoughts and forming a judgment, and it is important to help you understand arguments, judge information, and make inferences. Questions like "What is the argument that the writer is making?", "What evidence does the writer use?", "How does the writer present their ideas?", and "How is the writer connecting their ideas?" can help you think critically about something you've read.



Unit 1 Vocabulary

This vocabulary list includes the terms that you will need to know to successfully complete the final exam.

  • audience
  • critical thinking
  • ethos
  • explicit arguments
  • freewriting
  • implicit arguments
  • kairos
  • literary criticism 
  • logical fallacy
  • logos
  • occasion
  • pathos
  • prewriting
  • process-based writing
  • PWR model
  • purpose
  • revision
  • rhetoric
  • rhetorical
  • rhetorical appeals
  • rhetorical situation
  • valid argument