New needs: Revising first-year composition curriculum with email instruction
Do students need to be taught how to email? Is the first-year composition (FYC) course an effective site for instruction of this online writing genre? In her influential 1984 article "Genre as Social Action," Carolyn R. Miller discusses how genres of communication emerge, becoming distinguished from other genres based on rhetorical constructs otherwise known as conventions. Teaching students to use genre conventions can empower them to communicate more effectively within those genres and in a variety of academic, civic, and professional contexts. This research reports the results of testing an instructional unit on teaching email communication in FYC courses. The instruction was implemented across eight sections of ISUComm Foundation Courses at Iowa State University (ISU) in Fall 2012. Quantitative data were collected and analyzed to see whether two days' worth of instruction could benefit students' email composing abilities; qualitative data was analyzed in tandem to investigate student knowledge and assumptions related to email writing. Ultimately, this study produced data supporting the conclusion that instruction does benefit students and can improve overall scores while furthering the mission of FYC programs.