Group differences For the first essay, the only statistically significant difference was between the mean score earned by AP students and that of students concurrently taking FYW.
Only two admitted to taking a pre-college writing course in order to "get FYW out of the way.
Many of these students admitted that college credit factored into their decisions--because it "saved time and money" and "knocked out" FYW once they came to college--but they were more interested in an academically rich experience in high school that would help them prepare for college.
Interestingly, four of the eleven students in our focus groups had either taken the FYW course at BYU or were taking it concurrently with their AH course.
survey data from a sample of 713 students from across the United States, 390 of whom, or nearly 55%, had taken some version of FYW in high school before coming to our campus;
scores on two essays written by 189 of those students enrolled in a first-year required American Heritage course, 112 of whom (59%) had taken AP or DC/CE before they came to BYU, and 77 of whom (41%) had either taken, were currently taking, or were planning to take our FYW course;
In order to focus on multiple variables influencing students' writing, in phase two of the study we randomly selected 33 of the survey respondents and invited them to submit their preliminary essay writing sample and first major paper produced for their FYW course, and to participate in 30 minute discourse-based interviews.
The data that follows give us a glimpse into the types of antecedent genre knowledge that students bring with them to FYW, and how students draw on these resources when presented with a new writing task.
In our interviews, we asked students about an ungraded preliminary essay they wrote at the beginning of their FYW course on the topic of Tracy Kidder's Mountains Beyond Mountains, the Common Book that all incoming students were asked to read before arriving at University of Washington.
Thus none of the students we interviewed recalled, on their own, that they drew from any prior extracurricular genre knowledge to help them write their first FYW essay.
Early results from our research study suggest an important role for FYW courses and programs in helping students develop not only writing skills, but also meta-cognitive knowledge that can enable them to reorient their relationship to what they already know, and learn how to use their incomes in order to more successfully meet the outcomes that faculty across the disciplines, administrators, and employers use to measure the value of writing programs.
Positioned as it is at a transition point for students entering the university, the FYW course is uniquely suited to engage, develop, and intervene in students' meta-cognitive processes.