General Writing Policy
Writing is integral to the liberal arts curriculum at St. Norbert College. To write is to think, to learn, to discover, to create, to express. To write is to participate in the world- locally and globally.
St. Norbert College's writing-across-the-curriculum program is grounded in the following beliefs:
Since writing is essential to learning in the classroom and to communicating in the world at large, students need to master their writing skills and take responsibility for their written work. Students have an obligation to their academic community to perform their best on all written assignments. Consequently, every written assignment a student submits to an instructor must be guided by the following principles:
Respect for the subject
Students should engage the course material on an intellectual level, demonstrating a respect for the integrity of subject material. Thus written work must reflect that respect for the subject by displaying that the writer has honestly and sensitively explored the subject and presented it in an intelligent and well- organized form. Such respect also means that students will be careful not to plagiarize.
Respect for the reader
Students should demonstrate that they respect the values and concerns of their readers. Thus written work should address the needs of its audience, which include an intelligent, coherent, and grammatically correct presentation of information; a use of unbiased language to avoid sexist or other pejorative rhetoric; and an awareness, and tolerance of alternative viewpoints.
Respect for language
Students should join the discourse community of the course and present written work that reflects an understanding of and respect for the conventions of that community. Thus written work should use the proper language (or terminology) of the course, the proper format, and the proper documentation style.
Respect for fellow students
Students should respect their fellow students as writers. Thus students have an obligation to turn in their assignments on time (since instructors often respond to essays only after all are submitted), to keep library sources available to classmates, respond constructively to fellow students' written drafts when working collaboratively, and to turn in only original written work.
Respect for self
Students should take pride in and ownership of their writing. They will assume personal responsibility for all elements of their written work by recognizing that their writing is a reflection of their selves.
In order to address the above concerns, it becomes imperative that students devote energy to all stages of the writing process- planning, shaping, writing, revising, editing, and proofreading. The final written product is the natural reflection of the writing process and must follow standard writing conventions:
Higher order concerns: logical organization which reflects a clear focus and solid content as defined by the assignment; coherent, unified, and detailed paragraphs which support overall focus; appeal to specific audience.
Lower order concerns: grammar, mechanics, punctuation, and usage; varied sentence structure; deliberate diction; graceful and effective transitions; other elements of style.
Students who need further help refining their writing have an obligation to see their instructor for help, use the college writing guide-currently The Holt Handbook (latest edition)-and use the various support services at St. Norbert, especially The Writing Center, a free tutoring service available to all St. Norbert students.
Instructors have the right and the obligation not to accept written work that fails to meet adequately the above college writing conventions. Note: The above writing conventions apply to formal, revised writing, not necessarily to informal, writing-to-learn exercises (including journal writing).
Note on Plagiarism: All students must abide by the Academic Honor Code, which defines the obligations students and instructors have toward the academic community. Students are also responsible for understanding the parameters of the writing criteria defined by each course and instructor.
Lower Biennium Courses
All general education courses in the lower biennium will have a writing dimension, which includes writing-to-learn exercises, essay exams, and a formal out-of-class writing assignment. These writing requirements must be described in the course syllabus.
Courses should promote the concept of writing-to-learn and focus on the writing process as a means to understanding course content. Possible writing-to-learn exercises include:
Every exam should have at least one essay question that requires students to write a paragraph or more explaining concepts, making connections, synthesizing material, arguing a thesis, etc. Though instructors are urged to incorporate an essay component on every exam, they may modify this component to meet particular exam needs.
Formal Out-of-Class Writing Assignment
Every course should require students to write a minimum of two typed pages of formal writing that demonstrates their general writing ability: thesis development, organization, paragraphing, grammar, mechanics, etc. Instructors should guide students through the writing process, providing feedback as students work toward the finished product. Possible activities include collecting thesis statements, requiring formal or informal outlines, using peer review, requiring students to work with tutors in the Writing Center, using Writing Assistants in the classroom, providing feedback on drafts, conducting peer review workshops in class, conferencing with students about their writing, implementing a revision policy for essays. Possible writing assignments include:
Students will be expected to use the college writing guide-currently The Holt Handbook (latest edition)--as the writing guide for lower biennium courses.
Lower Biennium Writing-Intensive Courses
All lower biennium W courses will require students to compose a minimum of 3,000 words of polished writing for the semester. Instructors will provide systematic attention to the writing process by guiding students through the various stages of the process. Suggestions for integrating the writing process into courses include: requiring students to submit thesis statements, outlines, and other planning documents for review; providing written feedback on student drafts; conducting peer review in the classroom; using Writing Assistants in the classroom.
In addition, students should be guided in their writing by the following:
Students will be expected to use the college writing guide-currently The Holt Handbook (latest edition)-as the writing guide for the college, and they will be urged to use The Writing Center tutoring services and the Writing Assistants (if part of the class).
Upper Biennium Courses
All upper biennium general education courses will require students to compose a minimum of 2,000 words of polished writing for the semester. These requirements must be described in the course syllabus. Instructors will provide guidance throughout the course by following these guidelines:
Students will be expected to use the college writing guide-currently The Holt Handbook (latest edition)-as the writing guide for the upper biennium courses, particularly the sections "Writing with Sources" and "Writing in the Disciplines."
Though the General Education curriculum is designed to guide students through the writing process, each major and interdisciplinary major should address writing in that particular field of study, thus reinforcing the writing instruction given in the lower and upper biennium courses, and tailoring the writing instruction to majors.
Since writing is an essential skill in every academic field, and since each field has its own specific writing and researching conventions, it is vital that students be taught discipline-specific writing by experts in the field. Such a writing emphasis may be accomplished by a specific course or by a series of courses addressing writing within the major. Such a course (or courses) should do the following:
The discipline should meet as a group and determine the criteria for courses that address the writing needs of discipline majors. Disciplines are encouraged to consult the Writing Program Director as they design their writing-emphasis course(s).
Writing Support Services
The Writing Center
The Writing Center, located in the Todd Wehr Library, is a tutorial writing center available to all St. Norbert College students at no charge. Student peer tutors from across the disciplines, trained in the techniques of one-to-one tutoring of the writing process, can help students at every level of the writing process: discovering ideas, developing ideas and thesis statements, organizing, revising, and editing. Tutors can also work with students systematically on personal writing needs: paragraphing, sentence structure, style, grammar, mechanics, and usage. Note: The Writing Center tutors do not proofread essays. Drop-in and appointment hours are available.
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