Curriculum & Requirements
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:
• Note taking and reflection
• Journal writing
• Directed writing in class or outside of class
• Mini- or microthemes
• Informal writing to begin class; as transitions in class; to end class; as outside class activity
• Written quizzes
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:
• response essays
• book reviews
• case studies
• lab reports
Students will be expected to use the college writing guide – currently The Wadsworth 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 should be asked to write at least four out-of-class essays (totaling 3,000 words for the semester); one essay should be a documented research essay. Instructors should provide students with detailed written assignments defining due dates, audience for essay, format of essay, evaluation criteria, and other concerns.
- Assignments should be sequenced so students move from basic to more complex writing situations that demand increasingly complex rhetorical skills. Recommendation: sequence assignments to move from the personal (expressive writing close to the self), to the informational (writing concentrating on the subject or message), to the persuasive (writing emphasizing audience).
- Students should be given a general introduction to academic library research and writing and be required to incorporate secondary sources from the library (which may include journal and magazine articles, newspaper articles, book chapters, and government documents) in a documented essay using the appropriate documentation style for the course (as determined by the instructor). Instructors should address the purposes of academic research and the legitimate ways to use research materials.
- Instructors should concentrate in class on the higher order concerns about writing – content, organization, audience, research, etc. – and address lower order concerns – grammar and mechanics, for example – individually with students as these problems pertain to specific writing assignments. Instructors should refer students with basic writing problems to The Writing Center.
- Students should be allowed to revise at least one essay for a better grade at the discretion of the instructor. Recommendation: to ensure that students put effort in all stages of the draft, instructors should hold students accountable for the initial draft by requiring peer review, Writing Center review, use of writing assistant draft response, or by incorporating the performance of the first draft into final grade for the assignment. Only those students who have a quality draft should be allowed to revise.
- Students will be expected to use the college writing guide – currently The Wadsworth 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:
- Assignments should be sequenced and require students to advance to more complex thinking and writing skills as the semester progresses.
- If instructors require students to do primary and secondary research, then they should require students to use the methods and documentation style appropriate to the nature of the course.
- If instructors assign one research or term paper at the end of the semester, the following procedure should be followed: for longer projects, instructors should sequence shorter writing assignments that build up to the final research project, thus insuring that students received substantive feedback on their writing.
- Students will be expected to use the college writing guide – currently The Wadsworth 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:
- Teach students the discourse in the community by requiring them to write the kind of documents that professionals actually write for that discipline (whether academic writing, practical writing, or some combination). While the final written product is important, instructors should guide students through the writing process.
- Require students to become familiar with the materials professionals use in their field of study. Instructors should provide an overview of the specialized research methods, bibliographical research sources and materials, documentation style, and document formats appropriate to the major and field of study. Such materials include primary and secondary sources: students should be required to read primary works beyond textbook presentations; students should be required to work with secondary research sources appropriate to the field of study.
- Encourage students to work collaboratively whenever appropriate. Recommendations: students can work in peer review groups and/or research and write collaborative research reports.
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).