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Recommended "Best Practices" for Writing Intensive (WI) Courses

Recommended "Best Practices" for Writing Intensive (WI) Courses

Instructors of WI courses are encouraged to clarify the writing process by discussing and modeling good writing practices within their discipline.  Students will realize that writing requires time; even an experienced writer must consider the writing task, analyze the rhetorical situation, often draft multiple versions, and get feedback from potential readers.  Also, while the WI Program does not impose a set number of writing assignment or require a set number of pages that students must write, writing should comprise a significant part of the course and be reflected in the course grade. No matter what portion of the course grades is earned through written assignments, student must be told that they cannot earn credit for a Writing Intensive course unless they pass the writing component for that class.

To ensure the most effective writing instruction across the disciplines, instructors of WI courses should

  • Discuss and model good writing practices in their discipline
  • Encourage students to take the time to
  1. analyze and adjust writing style based on the rhetorical situation  (i.e., the document’s audience, the writer’s purpose, and the conventions that generally govern the document type, or genre)
  2. draft multiple versions
  3. consider feedback from potential readers or peers
  4. edit and revise
  • Use a variety of writing experiences such as essay exams, journals, book reviews, literature reviews, critical and research writing, reports, and collaborative writing.

The following best practices are strongly encouraged for WI courses:

  • Provide feedback on writing efforts, preferably writing-in-progress
  • Provide opportunities to practice writing
  • Provide opportunities for in-class writing and peer review
  • Provide opportunities to revise and edit (both inside and outside class)
  • Create assignments that encourage critical thinking (higher-order thinking skills  such as analysis, synthesis, and evaluation) and solving complex problems
  • Craft assignments that help students learn about professional writing and academic writing
  • Maintain class ratio conducive to providing quality feedback (faculty/student teaching ratios limited to 1-25 which may mean smaller sections or teaching assistants)

The number of assignments and the length of writing assignments should be sufficient to achieve the objectives listed above. The syllabus for a writing intensive course should announce to students that they cannot earn credit for the course unless they pass the writing component.