Overview of the Book
This textbook is designed specifically to meet the academic writing needs of international students studying at universities in the United States. The materials in the book can be covered within a 14-week semester, but each chapter or section may also be used independently.
Based on a series of needs analysis projects, this textbook provides an overview of major rhetorical patterns of writing that are commonly used in university settings in the United States.
These commonly required genres include descriptive and evaluative summaries, short essays, comparison and contrast assignments, literature reviews, descriptive reports, and proposals. The textbook includes chapters that address the structure and purpose of these more common genres, including an awareness of the ways that the target audience and situation should shape the writing of each.
A second important focus of the textbook is teaching students how to make effective use of sources within established academic integrity standards. Many international students come from academic environments in which intellectual property is viewed as common to the community rather than belonging to an individual. Their prior academic writing experience has generally not placed great emphasis on “giving credit” for ideas and words to a particular author. The result is confusion about exactly how to avoid plagiarism. In this textbook, we incorporate a treatment of these issues into the various chapters of the book. Using an iterative approach, we give students repeated exposure to standards and practices. This iteration improves the students’ ability to master these potentially unfamiliar practices.
The third focus of the book is on key grammatical forms and constructions that are important in each of the types of writing the students will practice. Although many other textbooks include grammar exercises, these are typically presented in relation to isolated sentences, rather than integrated into the complex context of a particular assignment. International composition students are often able to perform well on sentence-based exercises because these exercises do not capture the complex content or structures that create errors in their academic writing. By treating grammar integratively in context, we hope to address more effectively the aspects that cause difficulties in academic writing. These sections are also presented cyclically, so that students will have multiple opportunities to practice and integrate key grammatical features. To do so, the authors of the book have employed a usage-based approach, examining in detail the grammatical structures used in both published and student writing in each of the genres of writing we discuss. All examples used in the book come from authentic examples of university or professional academic writing.