University of Vermont

Foundational Writing & Information Literacy

classroom listening scene

The 4 FWIL Learning Goals

Courses that fulfill the FWIL requirement include a variety of course assignments and activities through which students practice and develop their abilities with these 4 FWIL Learning Goals:

Rhetorical discernment

Rhetorical discernment is the ability to write appropriately for different audiences, contexts, and purposes.

Writers with strongly developed rhetorical discernment ask and answer questions such as: who is my audience? What is my purpose? How much evidence and detail do I need to provide my audience to achieve my purpose? What technologies do I need to employ for that genre? How can I best circulate my message? What organization is most effective in this situation? What tone and style should I use to be most effective? What can I learn from thinking through the perspective of my audience? Have I paid enough attention to detail, including punctuation and correctness?

Information literacy

Information literacy is the ability to pose appropriate questions and find reliable, relevant, and useful information to answer them. Information literacy also includes the ability to integrate sources into writing and to document sources correctly.

Writers with strongly developed abilities in information literacy ask and answer questions such as: how can I ask a good research question? How can I find the information I need? How can I refine my searches as my research question changes? How do I know the right kinds of sources to use? How do I judge whether a source is credible enough to be effective? How do I keep track of all this information? How do I use research sources in my writing? How do I balance my own voice with the research I've gathered? How do I show that I have done ethical work, by managing and documenting my sources?

Critical reading

Critical reading is the ability to identify, understand, and communicate the main ideas of a text and evaluate the evidence or strategies used to support those ideas.

Writers who have developed their critical reading abilities ask and answer questions such as: what is this text saying? How is this text saying it? What is this text not saying? How might I best summarize or paraphrase this text to capture the author's main point? What do I think of this writer's main point? Where do I agree and where do I disagree? What is the basis of my agreement and/or disagreement? Where is there middle ground? What other texts are like this one? What other texts are saying something similar, or are proposing an alternative? In what larger conversation is this text participating?

Substantive revision

Substantive revision requires approaching writing as a process that includes rethinking ideas and organization, not merely copyediting and correcting mistakes.

Writers who are substantive revisers (which many professional authors will tell you is the key to being an effective writer) tend to ask and answer questions such as: how do I need to change this text to be more effective? Is it appropriate to my audience? My purpose? Now that I have learned more about this subject, my ideas have changed, so how do I revise this text to better reflect my new understanding? What signposts do my readers need? If any element of the rhetorical situation changes, how do I need to rethink or adjust this text? What have my instructors and classmates said about the places in my text that they want me to develop more, or those places where they stumble through my thinking? How can I make those sections work better?

Last modified August 24 2017 11:00 AM