Criteria for Writing
Writing Across the Curriculum Committee (2001) specified that
courses designated as Writing Intensive courses must meet the
- They call for substantial writing.
- They offer multiple writing assignments.
- They expect revision of work.
- They provide students with learning
opportunities through critical feedback.
The criteria for writing intensive courses
were deliberately left flexible by the original Writing Across the
Curriculum committee, to provide maximum freedom for innovation and
experiment by individual faculty members teaching Writing Intensive
courses. Note, for example, that there is no fixed page count: the
exact definition of “substantial writing” depends on the instructor
and the conventions of the particular discipline.
The requirement of “multiple assignments” is
meant to preclude the type of course where a “term paper” is tacked
on to the end; a writing intensive course should integrate writing
into the heart of the course. Writing across the curriculum means
that “writing to learn” is just as important as “learning to write”:
the purpose of writing assignments is not just to give students
practice at writing, although that’s very important; well-designed
writing assignments can help students to master the course material
at a more detailed and dynamic level.
The requirement for “revision of work” is
meant to ensure that instructors pay attention to the students’
process of writing, not just the finished product. There is broad
consensus among researchers and teachers of writing that the most
effective writing instruction finds ways of intervening in the
incremental stages of students’ writing.
The requirement for “critical feedback” is
related both to this objective of improving the students’ writing
process, and to the objective of using writing as a tool for
mastering the course material. The instructor needs to complete the
feedback loop with the student several times during the semester.