"Writing as Inquiry" defined

Inquiry-based first-year writing programs teach writing as part of the larger process of academic inquiry: asking questions, looking for answers, engaging with different viewpoints, and reflecting on what one has learned.

Contact Us

First-Year Writing Program
English Department
201 Liberal Arts
The University of New Orleans
2000 Lakeshore Drive
New Orleans, LA 70148

Phone: 504-280-6275

In an inquiry-based program, instructors lead students to recognize and practice the habits of mind essential to inquiry:

  1. Questioning
  2. Looking for answers
  3. Suspending judgment
  4. Seeking and valuing complexity
  5. Understanding that academic writing is a conversation
  6. Understanding that writing is a process

Inquiry-based programs engage students as active participants in their own education, promote intellectual curiosity and open-mindedness, and encourage students to value writing as a way to learn, to communicate, and to reflect.

Our program

  • Focuses on outcomes/strategies advocated by research into undergraduate education at research universities.
  • Fosters best practices as outlined in current composition scholarship.
  • Coheres with the University's overall mission.
  • Shares traits of writing programs at many of the University's peer institutions.
  • Emphasizes transferrable skills and strategies.
  • Helps students see first-year writing courses as relevant to other areas of academic study, and to their lives.

The inquiry-based classroom

The inquiry-based course encourages students to be intellectually curious, to ask questions not only about themselves as writers but also about the nature of writing. To help foster this curiosity, students read and communicate in a variety of genres, learn and hone research methods, and apply a variety of rhetorical strategies. Student texts are developed through scaffolded assignments, consisting of interlinked low- and high-stakes assignments, as well as long and short compositions. These sequential assignments, including self-directed compositions and instructor-guided revisions, stimulate exploring, explaining, evaluating, and reflecting. They all work together to help students develop, test, and refine their own researchable questions and engage in self-discovery of the writing process.

The inquiry-based classroom

A program identity is the unifying concept that defines the first-year writing program.  It provides a clear, succinct description of the focus we believe is best suited for providing our students with the knowledge and resources they need to produce successful writing, not only in our courses, but in the academy, their professions, and their public lives.

A program identity has the following benefits:

  1. Makes public a concise description of our approach to teaching writing
  2. Informs new faculty and teaching assistants of our focus
  3. Keeps us conscious and mindful of what informs our teaching and assessments
  4. Reveals what we value and what we believe is of value for our students
  5. Gives faculty a common purpose, which encourages a sense of community and facilitates the sharing of ideas, methods, and materials
  6. Encourages the development and use of a common, shared vocabulary of writing
  7. Provides direction for program and faculty development
  8. Underscores for students the relationship between the writing courses they are required to complete and their work in other courses
  9. Indicates what students can expect to gain from completing the First-Year Writing Program
  10. Serves as a reminder for students and the university that writing requires much more than standard grammar, usage, spelling, and punctuation
  11. Presents our program as we want it to be perceived