Writing Across the Curriculum
University of Wisconsin-Superior
Belknap and Catlin
P.O. Box 2000
Superior, WI 54880
Writing Across the Curriculum
Because writing is an important means of learning and of communicating, the mission of the UW-Superior Writing across the Curriculum Program is to foster a culture of writing at UW-Superior. In other words, the Program uses an infusion model of Writing across the Curriculum wherein writing is to be infused throughout the curriculum and recognized and celebrated university-wide.
A university with such a writing-infused culture is characterized by the following:
·Many instructors use student writing as an integral part of many of their courses (resulting in both writing-intensive and writing-inclusive courses)
·These instructors engage in the best practices of the field of Writing across the Curriculum, discovered and implemented with the assistance of the WAC Coordinator, as needed
·These instructors embed appropriate assessment all along the way as they create, coach, and comment on student writing
·Instructors look to the Writing Center to assist their students as appropriate
·Instructors and students alike see writing as both a means of learning AND as a communication skill
·Students actively pursue a process of writing and revision, seeking help as needed from the Writing Center, their instructors, and other appropriate sources of support
·Students expect writing to be a key part of the curriculum, no matter the discipline
·The entire campus celebrates writing at special events highlighting writing excellence
Writing across the Curriculum: According to scholars Susan McLeod and Margot Soven, editors of Writing across the Curriculum: A Guide to Developing Programs (Newbury Park, CA: Sage, 1992), "Writing across the curriculum may be defined . . . as a comprehensive program that transforms the curriculum, encouraging writing to learn and learning to write in all disciplines. . . . The basic assumptions of WAC . . . [are] that writing and thinking are closely allied, that learning to write well involves learning particular discourse conventions, and that, therefore, writing belongs in the entire curriculum, not just in a course offered by the English department. There is also an implicit assumption that WAC is a faculty-driven phenomenon, involving changes in teaching methods; WAC assumes that students learn better in an active rather than a passive (lecture) mode, that learning is not only solitary but also a collaborative social phenomenon, that writing improves when critiqued by peers and then rewritten" (4).
Writing-infused curriculum: a writing-infused curriculum focuses on using student writing to help achieve the learning goals of the major, minor, or other curricular unit. Within a writing-infused curriculum as defined here, at least 60% of the courses are either writing-intensive or writing-inclusive. At least one required course will be writing-intensive.
Writing-intensive course: In a writing-intensive course, student writing plays a central role, accounting for a sizable proportion (at least 40%) of the course grade.Writing-intensive courses will include both informal, ungraded writing assignments and formal, graded writing assignments.
Writing-inclusive course: In a writing-inclusive course, some student writing is part of the course, but not so extensively as in a writing-intensive course. Writing-inclusive courses may have some combination of formal and informal writing assignments or may have just one or the other. The writing assignments in such a course are worth from 10 to under 40% of the course grade.
Some Key WAC Best Practices for Instructors:
·Assigning and responding effectively to informal or short (minimally graded) pieces of writing that help students do the formal, revised, major writing projects of the course
·Assigning and responding effectively to informal or short (minimally) graded) pieces of writing that help students learn course content
·Giving well-designed directions for writing assignments
·Giving students clear explanations of learning goals for writing assignments
·Developing and giving evaluation criteria for writing assignments
·Giving effective written and/or oral feedback on drafts of writing projects
·Encouraging students to seek appropriate assistance outside the classroom (such as from the campus Writing Center)
·Assessing one's practices and making adjustments accordingly
For resources designed to help instructors discover and use WAC best practices, visit the Faculty and Staff Resources page.
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