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Writing Across the Curriculum
Students must take one course at or above the 300-level in any part of the University that provides opportunities for formal and informal writing, with opportunities for revision. The course must be taken after the student has attained junior standing at the University.
Writing Across the Curriculum Courses (indicated as “W” courses in the schedule of classes) represent a significant aspect of an undergraduate’s program of study. The principles of Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) transcend concerns of “correctness” in student writing and connect writing to thinking and learning. WAC stems from the belief that:
a) Regular and frequent experiences with writing – including informal writing – promote critical thinking about, student engagement with, and transfer of course content when students are asked to:
- use writing as a tool for discovery, thinking, and problem-solving
- engage with complex disciplinary and/or social issues through writing
- understand the ways writing is situated within a field or specialization’s broader ways of knowing
b) Students improve as writers when they are asked to:
- examine the rhetorical conventions and discourse practices of writing in and across disciplines
- write for an array of audiences and a range of genres in and across disciplines
- revise their writing based on feedback from instructors and/or peers, particularly when that feedback focuses on issues other than simply “errors”
c) Responsibility for helping students succeed as writers is shared by faculty across the curriculum. Students learn best when writing instruction is not confined to a single course but is diffused throughout their undergraduate education.
Operating from a vertical instruction paradigm which assumes some prior writing instruction at the college level, Butler’s W courses are intended to be taken in the third or fourth year of undergraduate study and develop students’ prior writing skills by bringing those skills to bear on questions related to specific content courses. Ideally, a student will take a suitable W course within the major – indeed, some W courses are required with certain majors – but occasionally, students will take courses that satisfy the W requirement in non-major areas such as the academic minor.
To refine habits conducive to good writing developed at earlier stages in Core education and education in the major.
To use writing both as a tool for learning and as a means for communicating about ideas within a discipline or profession.
Learning Outcomes used for Assessment
Students will use writing as a way to learn in order to deepen their understanding of their chosen discipline.
Students will use types of writing common to the discipline as a step toward professionalization.
Corresponding University Outcomes
- Students will articulate and apply required content knowledge within their area(s) of study (Cognitive—“know”).
- Students will communicate clearly and effectively (Psychomotor—“do”).
Teaching Resources for WAC Instructors
The Butler Writers’ Studio also offers support and resources for student writers, through one-on-one individualized peer tutoring sessions.
Resources for Planning and Designing WAC Courses:
- Integrating Writing into Any Course
- Managing the Paper Load
- Designing Writing Assignments
- Sequencing Writing Assignments
- Using Writing in Large Classes
- Using Service-Learning in Writing Courses
Resources for Grading and Responding to Student Writing:
- Commenting on and Grading Student Writing
- Using Rubrics
- Dealing with Plagiarism
- Using Peer Review to Improve Student Writing
- Encouraging Revision
Resources for Teaching Specific Aspects of Writing:
- Helping Students Generate a Topic
- Helping Students Narrow a Topic
- Helping Students Summarize and Respond to Texts
- Helping Students Address Errors
- Teaching Rhetorical Terminology
- Managing Grammar
- Writing Lab Reports
- WAC and Second-Language Writing
For more WAC-related resources, visit the WAC Clearinghouse, a comprehensive source of books, journals, and online resources for teachers of writing in all disciplines.