FYC Results

Preliminary Results

We surveyed genres included in undergraduate composition courses across the country, identifying the genres most commonly taught based on syllabi available over the web.

Preliminary findings are that:

  • Students are assigned primarily literary, journalistic, and expressive genres: Essays, analyses, personal narratives, arguments
  • Genres are removed from disciplinary context and rhetorical situation (as in a description, exposition, “research essay” or “research paper”)
  • Teachers assign genres most familiar to them (most are trained in humanities, and especially literature)
  • Syllabi include broad genre types, not specific genres–e.g. “analysis,” not “literary analysis,” “scene analysis,” “film analysis,” “content analysis” (exception:  rhetorical analysis)
  • Modes and aims-based approaches to first year composition persists, especially at two-year colleges (e.g. “description essay,” “persuasive essay”)
We also surveyed genres included in top first year composition textbooks that claim to take a genre-based approach. Our findings were similar to what we found for first year composition syllabi:
  • Textbooks include  primarily literary, journalistic, and expressive genres: Essays, analyses, personal narratives, arguments
  • Textbooks teach remove genres from disciplinary context and rhetorical situation (as in a “research essay” or “research paper”)
  • Textbooks include genres most familiar to composition instructors (most are trained in humanities, and especially literature)
  • Textbooks include broad genre types, not specific genres–e.g. “analysis,” not “literary analysis,” “scene analysis,” “film analysis,” “content analysis” (exception:  rhetorical analysis)