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PWR Principles

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Lecturer working with students

PWR courses are courses on writing

We focus on argument, its research-based support and delivery, and its range of modes and media. We teach students to recognize, analyze, create, and use rhetorical elements of argument across a range of academic and professional genres and media. 

Writing abilities develop slowly and recursively

The college years are crucial to this development. Our job is to help students build on and improve the wide range of writing and speaking abilities they developed during high school. This improvement will deepen their intellectual experiences during their time in PWR courses, during their years at Stanford, and as professionals.

Writing develops best under the careful guidance of a skilled instructor

PWR classes remain small to foster substantial interactions between students and instructors. PWR instructors meet in conference with each student at least three times each term and offer substantial written feedback on drafts of each major assignment.

Instructors keep the focus on writing 

PWR instructors articulate each writing task clearly and support students’ work through classroom activities, at-home work, focused exercises addressing specific rhetorical and writing skills, and class discussions – all of which help students respond effectively to assignments. 

Writing is rewriting 

Students in PWR classes take each major assignment through preparatory exercises and assignments, a full draft, and, after peer reviews, intensive revision of the draft.

Students learn to write best by focusing on topics of interest to them

Well-selected topics are tools to aid instruction in writing and rhetoric. 

Students can choose PWR courses that match their interests, and they work with instructors and each other to develop appropriate topics for research connected to their chosen course theme.

These goals and principles are widely shared around the country and the globe. In the United States, two organizations, the Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC) and the Council of Writing Program Administrators (WPA) have worked to articulate a shared understanding of outcomes for first-year writing programs. PWR’s goals and principles draw heavily on the CCCC and WPA statements.

Related Information

The Council of Writing Program Administrators Outcomes Statement for First-Year Composition.

This Framework for Success in Postsecondary Writing has been developed by the National Council of Teachers of English, the Council of Writing Program Administrators, and the National Writing Project.