APRIL 1998 Supersedes all previous printings
WRITING (FYW, WRI)
Writing: Five courses that develop writing competence and confidence. This requirement has two parts:
A. First Year Writing (FYW):
A course (GE 111), taken in the first year, that equips students for effective writing in the liberal arts and introduces writing as a means of learning.
- A first year writing course helps students write effective prose for the generally educated reader.
- A first year writing course gives sustained attention to writing as an ongoing process. Students must write and revise frequently, and must confer at least twice with the instructor during the course of the semester.
- A first year writing course introduces essential tools for research, including library and internet resources.
- A first year writing course may include a topical focus.
Comments: (Numbers correlate to numbered guidelines)
1. A first year writing course may be taught from any disciplinary perspective, or from an interdisciplinary or multi-disciplinary perspective. However, it must not be designed as a survey of a discipline or as an introduction to a major or a concentration. It does not emphasize disciplinary writing, which employs distinctive vocabulary, concepts, and intellectual frames of reference, and is based upon an assumption of specialized knowledge shared between writer and reader. Rather, it emphasizes writing addressed to the general reader, which employs no such distinctive language and makes no such assumptions about shared, specialized knowledge.
2. A first year writing course aims at the integration of learning and writing, in part through frequent writing and revision. However, not all of the writing need be of a finished or formal nature. The GEC recommends that instructors allow for a variety of different kinds of writing, both formal and informal-journals, response papers, reports, personal essays, analytic or argumentative papers, creative non-fiction, journalistic or op-ed pieces-whatever best enables the students to write frequently and engage the subject matter of the course most effectively. Though all of the writing might be read by the instructor, and much of it commented upon or discussed, not all of it need be graded. The GEC recommends that students complete at least six finished pieces of writing in a first year writing course.
Reading and other assignments set for a first year writing course must be consistent with the quantity of writing required, and should also be examples of good writing.
To meet the demands of reading students' writing and scheduling individual conferences, instructors should feel free to arrange their weekly class meetings in a way that best suits the purposes of the course. This might mean, for instance, occasionally not holding class in order to make time for individual conferences.
3. Among the ways writing can serve as a means of inquiry is through library research. This guideline requires that first year writing courses introduce students to the organization of knowledge and resources, assist them in formulating strategies for research, and lay the foundation for more advanced use of print and electronic research resources in later course work. First year writing courses should also introduce students to the differences between original and derivative knowledge, and to the conventions of distinguishing the two in their writing or discourse (footnotes or endnotes, acknowledgments, works cited, references, etc.). Instructors are encouraged to make use of the library's bibliographic instruction program in meeting these objectives.
4. The subject matter of a first year writing course may be a significant human issue deriving from the disciplinary interests of the instructor, or it may be the process and practice of writing itself. The College's first year writing program will be strongest if it includes instructors from a wide variety of disciplines engaging a wide variety of topics. Examples of previous GE 111 courses include: "Cases of Conscience," "What is the Good of Being Good?" "Life in Motion," "Authority and Freedom in Modern Russia," "Does Liberal Education Have to be Liberal?" "Self, Society, and Advertising," and "Writing the Truth About Ourselves."
Instructors wishing to teach a First Year Writing course are urged to take a faculty development workshop providing a practical introduction to the teaching of writing. These workshops deal with such matters as designing a course, using class time productively, developing a variety of writing assignments, responding to and assessing written assignments, and integrating reading, learning, and writing.
B. Writing in Context (WRI):
Four courses that enhance students' writing competence and confidence in a variety of knowledge domains. Courses may be taken in any field and at any level.
- A Writing in Context course helps students write effective prose in a particular community of knowledge.
- A Writing in Context course incorporates writing as a principal and integral part of learning.
- A Writing in Context course must provide instruction in writing and must require students to revise their work in response to instructor feedback.
Comments: (Comments correlate to numbered guidelines)
1. The authority to designate a course as a Writing in Context course lies with the instructor of the course, in consultation with the department chair. Department chairs should notify the Registrar in writing of all departmental courses to be offered for WRI credit, as part of the information they submit for publication in the Class and Lab Schedule. Chairs should also notify the Registrar when an instructor decides to discontinue WRI credit for a course previously designated a Writing in Context course. Chairs may add WRI credit to a course following the submission of Class and Lab Schedule information by notifying the Registrar in writing prior to the beginning of the semester in which a course will be offered. Instructors of Writing in Context courses should provide copies of their course syllabi and sample assignments to their department chairs and to the Director of Writing Across the College.
A Writing in Context course introduces students to the distinctive vocabulary, ways of knowing, writing conventions, etc. of the domain(s) of knowledge represented in the course. The context may be defined by a discipline, an interdisciplinary field of study, or a particular mode of inquiry. This is not to suggest that students should write only for academic audiences in these courses; they may write for one another, experts or professionals in related fields, practitioners, or lay persons with little knowledge of the discipline or subject matter of the course.
2. The writing in WRI courses must be central to student learning in the course. It may be in languages other than English. The GEC is not issuing quantitative or definitional guidelines concerning the amount or kind of writing in a Writing in Context course; rather, instructors themselves may determine the most appropriate writing for their courses. The writing might take one or more of many forms-a term paper, two or three briefer essays, book reviews, a mixture of formal and informal writing, and so forth. Whatever the quantity or mode, the writing should play an integral role in students' engagement with the subject of the course. It should be as much the active means through which learning takes place as it is the register of what has been learned.
3. A Writing in Context course provides explicit instruction in writing. This may take place in a wide variety of forms: through short readings or handouts on effective writing; in individual or small group conferences with students; through class discussion of student writing or the quality of writing in assigned readings; or through lecture. Students must receive instructor feedback on their writing, either orally or in writing, and must be given the opportunity to respond to that feedback through revision of their work. The GEC urges instructors wishing to offer Writing in Context courses to take advantage of faculty development opportunities to improve their skills as teachers of writing and to increase their knowledge of the field and pedagogy of writing instruction.
WRITING IN THE MAJOR
- All majors shall require writing of their students and shall be responsible for certifying completion of the requirement.
- Departments and programs offering majors shall draw up guidelines for their writing requirements and send copies to the GEC.
All aspects of this requirement shall be determined by departments and programs that offer majors. These matters include how much and what kinds of writing shall be required.
In considering the requirement it might be helpful if departments and programs asked themselves questions such as the following:
In what kind(s) of writing do we wish our majors to become skilled?
What are the objectives we wish them to attain in their writing?
How much writing do we wish them to complete?
Is there a distinction between the writing we would expect from those enrolled in GE courses we teach and those enrolled in courses in our major?
What of the writing in courses that meet requirements in both General Education and the major?
The GEC will receive individual department and program plans; it will review their implementation and outcome when it comes time to review the GE curriculum in its entirety in several years time.