Guidelines and Course Review

Before a course may carry the writing-intensive designation, the department must submit a proposal to the Writing-Intensive Course Committee. The purpose of the proposal is to demonstrate how the course will meet each of the seven w-course guidelines listed below. Once a course is approved, it must then be recertified every four years, to ensure that it continues to meet the w-course guidelines.

The following links provide detailed instructions and resources for proposing a new w-course, and for recertifying an existing w-course.

Guidelines for writing-intensive courses

1. The course must instruct students in the kinds of writing that are practiced by and valued by members of the field.
The course syllabus should state or describe the kinds of written genres that students will be working on in the course (research papers, client visit reports, lesson plans, press releases, etc.) and should explain why these genres are important for students in this discipline/profession to learn.

2. The course syllabus must state clear writing-related goals.
The course syllabus should articulate what students can expect to learn about writing in the course. The writing-related goals should be specific enough that students meet them in the course of the semester. There should be a logical connection between the writing-related goals and the writing assignments and activities that students will complete in the course.

3. The course must require students to engage in substantial revision of their writing based on feedback from the instructor.
During the semester, all students must engage in an iterative writing process, in which they write a draft of something, get feedback from the instructor, and then revise the draft based on the feedback. All three parts of this process (write, get feedback, revise) must be required for all students; revision cannot be optional, nor can it be reserved only for students whose first drafts are judged to be weak.

4. Writing assignments that include required revision must count significantly toward the students’ final grade in the course.
Writing assignments that include required revision must comprise at least 40% of the students’ final grade for the course. If separate points/grades are given to different parts of an assignment, all of the “pieces” count toward the 40% total. For example, an assignment that requires a proposal (10%), a first draft (10%), an in-class presentation (5%), and a revised final paper (15%), would meet the 40% guideline. Note that assignments for which revisions are optional (ie. not required for all students) do not count toward the 40%.

5. The course must promote students’ development of information literacy skills.
Students must be required to search for relevant and appropriate sources during the semester. Additionally, students should receive instruction on finding, evaluating, or using sources. The instruction could come in the form of in-class activities, like a librarian-led workshop or an instructor-led discussion; or it could come in the form of individualized feedback about how students used sources in their papers.

6. The ratio of students-to-instructors must not be greater than 20:1.
Most w-courses have a single instructor-of-record and twenty students. However, other staffing arrangements are possible. A course with an instructor-of-record, a teaching Assistant and 40 students would meet the guidelines. Note that the course syllabus should identify all of the individuals (instructors of record, TAs, others) who will be providing instruction in the course.

7. The instructor must be knowledgeable about writing in the discipline and/or profession.
The Writing Intensive Course Committee relies on department chairs to determine which faculty members are knowledgeable about writing in the discipline/profession. Departments may appoint instructors of any rank (tenured and tenure-line faculty; full-time non-tenure-line faculty; adjunct faculty; and teaching assistants) to teach writing-intensive courses. However, undergraduates cannot serve in an instructional capacity.