Why Shared Language Matters

Students need a shared language to grow as writers. That is why Writing Across the Curriculum developed POINT (purpose, organization, information, necessary steps, technical details). Remember that each letter of POINT refers to one of the Student Writing Outcomes and a larger aspect of writing. As a result, POINTS’ categories can apply to

  1. Discussing the “how-to” elements of a writing assignment or
  2. Analyzing any text (e.g., course reading) to explore its design and writing choices

As a result, faculty can use this teaching tool to support critical thinking about any text.

No matter how much students learn about writing, they are unlikely to transfer most of that learning without some “theory” about how writing works that makes connections between contexts (See Yancey, Robertson, and Taczak). In other words, the language students use to talk about their writing impacts their ability to keep growing, from class-to-class.

A shared language to discuss writing need not replace other ways of talking about texts (exegetical analysis, argument, rhetoric, literary analysis, etc.). However, a shared language like POINT can provide an “umbrella” framework that applies in all courses.

Using POINT as a shared language for discussing writing offers several advantages:

  • Connects with the Student Writing Outcomes. This means the language used to talk about writing (POINT) mirrors what faculty want students to learn how to do.
  • Addresses both the final product and the less obvious process needed to create it
  • Focuses on how the assignment relates to students’ long-term growth as writers
  • Helps students ask thoughtful questions to make sure they understand assignments
  • Helps students learn from examples instead of simply replicating them
  • Makes connections between course expectations and thinking like a professional

Writing-specialist courses like College Writing and Research Writing can introduce students to POINT. Faculty in all other disciplines can build on this foundation by continuing to use the POINT acronym when talking about writing in their course and drawing on POINT-based resources and lesson plans. The sections below provide examples.