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.