What is Thinking and Writing?

Thinking and Writing 101 is one of two foundational courses in Keene State College’s Integrative Studies Program. The Integrative Studies Program is at the core of the College’s commitment to a liberal arts education. The program’s focus on broad questions, and the integration of knowledge and skills, complements student work in a chosen major. Drawing on disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives, the program offers students intellectual concepts and skills for understanding themselves and their place in the world, including the values that contribute to personal growth and social responsibility.

The Integrative Studies Program begins with the idea that teaching and learning is a process that builds connections across courses and disciplines, and between campus and community life. Integrative learning gives students the opportunity to draw on multiple perspectives, develop connections between those perspectives, and formulate new ways of knowing. Students experience integrative learning as a challenging process that emphasizes adaptability in diverse personal, professional and civic contexts. Though not required as part of the Program, students are encouraged to consider as part of their integrative education developing competence in a second language, participating in a study abroad program, and engaging in experiential learning opportunities.

Core Principles for Thinking and Writing 101:

  • That students’ writing ability is largely a function of their thinking ability. Generally, the better students are as thinkers, the better they are as writers. This premise is supported by years of studies on student writing development.
  • That the heart of academic writing is developing and supporting a complex claim or stance. In other words, it is not enough to provide information on a topic or craft a one-sided argument—academic writing requires the student to make a commitment to a stance or position while demonstrating an awareness of multiple perspectives on the issue.
  • That in order to learn how to write well, students need to write about a subject in depth, over time, with consistent feedback and opportunities to revise.

Core Practices for Thinking and Writing 101 include: 

  • A clear focus or series of open-ended questions based on a course theme. From “Why We Create” to “Encountering Adulthood” to “What is Nature?,” students in ITW read books, not just textbooks, that provide a context for their own writing projects.
  • A sustained research and writing project. This project asks students to develop open-ended research questions, to develop a complex claim/thesis, and to gather, synthesize, question, and incorporate research gathered from multiple perspectives to support and complicate this claim/thesis in a longer researched essay.
  • Opportunities for students to think for themselves. Students in ITW generate their own topics, claims, or research questions and engage in independent research. Students must demonstrate that they understand more than one perspective on the issue they select for their long project.
  • At least three drafts of the sustained research and writing project. Students are given substantial instructor and peer feedback on each draft.
  • Opportunities to collaborate with the Mason Library and with the Center for Writing. The library offers useful handouts and online resources on information literacy skills, such as locating and evaluating good sources, and opportunities to work with faculty and Research and Technology Fellows. The tutors at the Center for Writing work with students’ writing-in-process, and offer opportunities for further collaboration through the ITW Partnership Program.
  • Discussions about academic honesty. Students learn the Keene State College Academic Honesty Policy and they practice citing sources in text and in a works cited or reference page.

In ITW 101, students discover that learning how to write for college takes time, effort, and thought. ITW begins this process, but it does not complete it. After ITW, students will not necessarily have “mastered” the list above, but they will be prepared to continue developing as writers and thinkers.

Does Keene State College’s Thinking and Writing 101 = “English 101” or “First-Year Writing” at other colleges/universities?

Yes! Keene State College’s ITW 101 course is indeed a writing-intensive, inquiry-based course, similar to those housed in English Departments at other colleges and universities. As one of two foundational courses in the Integrative Studies (or “general education”) Program at KSC, ITW 101 focuses on helping students further develop their critical reading, critical thinking, writing and research processes, like first-year writing courses at other colleges and universities. The primary difference is that the course does not have an English (or ENG) prefix because it is part of the Integrative Studies Program, rather than the English Department. 

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