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Writing Requirement

Writing Intensive course guidelines

Courses designated as Writing Intensive follow three guidelines:

WI Guideline 1. Students in the course should do substantial writing that enhances learning and demonstrates knowledge of the subject or the discipline. Writing should be an integral part of the course and should account for a significant part (approximately 50% or more) of the final grade.

Learning in any course includes learning the appropriate ways of reading, writing and thinking for that subject or discipline. Traditional writing assignments, such as senior theses, seminar papers, take-home and in-class essay exams, case studies, laboratory notebooks or reports, proposals, literature reviews, and field research should be considered as possible sources for satisfying the writing requirement. There is no single or universal formula for satisfying the WI requirement as courses naturally differ according to their level, form, and function. For example, General Education courses may emphasize writing-to-learn strategies, while major courses may incorporate an additional focus on discipline-specific writing. 

WI Guideline 2. Writing should be assigned in such a manner as to require students to write regularly throughout the course. Major assignments should integrate the process of writing (prewriting, drafting, revision, editing). Students should be able to receive constructive feedback of some kind (peer response, workshop, professor, TA, etc.) during the drafting/revising process to help improve their writing.

The quantity of the writing required is less important than how the writing is integrated into the course. For example, frequent short writing assignments (2-5 pages) for which the student receives comments and an opportunity to revise can sometimes be more effective than long research papers submitted at the end of the course which receive comment and evaluation only after the course is over. Longer assignments can be broken up into stages or components with feedback at critical points to allow for a more effective writing/researching process and, ultimately, a more satisfying product.

WI Guideline 3. The course should include both formal (graded) and informal (heuristic) writing.  There should be papers written outside of class which are handed in for formal evaluation as well as informal assignments designed to promote learning, such as invention activities, in-class essays, reaction papers, journals, reading summaries, or other appropriate exercises.

Assigning work in a variety of genres for a variety of audiences can help students synthesize and apply disciplinary and interdisciplinary knowledge effectively. It is important that evaluation of writing be conducted by people trained in the conventions of the genre being used and be appropriate to the nature of the assignment. New writing and assessment strategies, such as portfolio and student self-assessment, are encouraged.

(The preceding text is excerpted from the University Writing Requirement.)

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