University of Vermont

Foundational Writing & Information Literacy

For Instructors

Goals and Minimum Competencies

The Four FWIL Learning Goals and Minimum Competencies*

Courses that fulfill the FWIL requirement should include assignments and activities to develop the four FWIL learning goals: rhetorical discernment, information literacy, critical reading, and substantive revision.

We hope that FWIL courses will meet the minimum competency for each of the goals, and go beyond the minimum competency for some of the goals.

Click on each goal to bring up full definition.

  1. Rhetorical discernment

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

    Minimum Competency for Foundational Level: Students have an awareness that there are many different ways of writing, and can make choices appropriate to an audience, context, and purpose.

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  2. 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.

    Minimum Competency for Foundational Level: Students understand that sources vary in terms of reliability and usefulness, and that different sources are useful for different contexts and purposes. Students understand the difference between peer-reviewed research and other types of publications. Students can locate information using library databases and other means as appropriate. Students understand that, like writing, research is an iterative process. Students can deploy citation conventions in at least one discipline.

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  4. 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.

    Minimum Competency for Foundational Level: Students can effectively summarize and evaluate the main ideas and supporting evidence in a text. Students understand that reading involves critical thinking strategies such as questioning, comparing, contrasting and vocabulary building.

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  5. Substantive revision

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

    Minimum Competency for Foundational Level: Students comprehend that writing is a process that requires multiple drafts to rethink ideas and structure, in addition to editing for clarity.

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    *Please note that these descriptions are the FWIL committee's attempt to use simple language to provide a wide audience a general understanding of the FWIL goals. Please click on each goal to find a more comprehensive discussion of these concepts.

    Last modified August 27 2017 08:39 PM