Framing First Year Writing: The Conceptual Metaphor of Journey and the Advanced Placement Program
AuthorBoyd, Seth Francis
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Each year, over a tenth of the students entering an institution of higher education in the United States earn a score on an Advanced Placement English exam that could potentially exempt them from any FYW requirement. Despite the AP program's major role in introducing college students to the practice of academic writing, composition scholars largely ignore the topic. This study aims to fill this void by critically studying the AP English program and the way colleges and universities present the program to prospective students. The study begins with a review of scholarship concerning the AP English program, which is followed by an extended comparison of the objectives described in the AP English Program Goals with those listed in the WPA's Statement of Outcomes for First-Year Composition. With the difference between the objectives of the AP English Program and the WPA established, attention turns to the way colleges and universities present information regarding AP test scores to prospective students. Specifically, this study uses corpus-based discourse analysis methods and Lakoff and Johnson's theory of conceptual metaphor to examine patterns in the use of EDUCATION IS A JOURNEY metaphors in college and university policy statements regarding AP scores. The data shows that EDUCATION IS A JOURNEY metaphors are used in distinct forms that present introductory course-work, such as courses offered by FYW programs, as little more than obstacles to pass in pursuit of a degree. This data is then used to argue that in using such metaphorical language, colleges and universities promote this courses-as-obstacles perspective, and, in the process, embrace the objectives of the AP program while demeaning their own product, service, and mission.