Writing in African American & African Studies is characterized by its emphasis on critical analysis of interpretive problems, such as the "matrix of domination" evidenced in connections between and among race, ethnicity, gender, and class. Students are expected to demonstrate agility in metadiscursive thinking by, for example, making use of "code switching to help reshape academic discourse." Given that a typical AA&AS class may have seniors enrolled as well as freshmen, and will include advanced English speakers and writers, as well as those who require developmental attention (such as some English Language Learners) there exists a wide variance in students' communicative proficiencies. Therefore, the department participated in the university's Writing-Enriched Curriculum project to develop an undergraduate writing plan to help us better address student writing.
Our writing plan is centered on a "toolkit" of diagnostic assignments that reveal where the students in each class are in terms of our articulated writing abilities, and procedures that instructors could use to address gaps. The toolkit is a set of diagnostic assignments that assess/identify to what extent student performance is matching the department's articulated writing abilities, and accompanying procedures that instructors use to address identified gaps. The department believes that more widely and explicitly sharing writing expectations with students and employing devices to become more intentional in writing instruction will create efficiencies based on the instructor's goals for the course. Such a class-by-class approach fits with the department's philosophy of meeting students where they are.
The African American & African Studies Toolkit is also available as a pdf file.