Writing Courses

Teaching

Department chairs are central in encouraging faculty to offer writing courses at all levels of the curriculum and supporting faculty in the process of course development and approval. Department chairs are responsible for ensuring that existing writing courses meet the stated criteria and for overseeing the process of creating new writing courses in their departments. All approved writing courses are listed on the Registrar's Web site.

The process for approving writing courses is as follows:

Already approved writing courses

  • As departments plan/schedule course offerings each semester, department chairs should confirm that courses in their department already designated as writing courses meet the guidelines, or help faculty revise them so that they do. Chairs must ensure that exisiting writing courses meet the guidelines. This is especially important in cases in which new faculty are hired to teach previously approved writing courses or faculty have significantly revised a course.

New writing courses

  • Department chairs should oversee the development and approval of new writing courses within their departments.
  • Department chairs should share the guidelines below with all faculty who would like to develop writing courses and work with them, as needed, to address the criteria. Chairs can suggest that faculty make use of resources — other faculty, Jill Gladstein in the Writing Program — that can be helpful in developing a writing course.
  • Department chairs must submit requests for new writing courses to the Curriculum Committee by the Friday before October break for spring courses and by the Friday before spring break for fall courses. The request should include a syllabus and answers to the questions provided in the "Request for approval of a writing course" information provided below. Only chairs can submit requests for approval to the Curriculum Committee.
  • The Curriculum Committee will review requests immediately after fall and spring break to ensure that approved courses are designated writing on the course lists available to students at the time of registration.

Criteria for Writing Courses

The criteria listed below provide guidelines to faculty that will help them design writing courses that meet stated goals for writing at the college and, in particular, in writing courses. These criteria will be used by the Curriculum Committee in the process of approving writing courses.

  1. Courses designated as writing must require multiple writing assignments that total at least twenty pages of analytic writing during the semester. Raw laboratory notes or journal observations do not qualify, nor does one term paper at the end of the semester.
  2. Courses designated as writing must pay explicit attention to helping students develop, compose, organize, revise and edit analytic prose appropriate to the discipline. This includes providing opportunities for students to learn how to identify and define a thesis; organize, construct and develop an argument; collect, organize, analyze and present evidence and documentation; and use grammar, mechanics, and citations effectively.
  3. Courses designated as writing must have students use feedback to revise their writing. Feedback may include responses to both content and writing.

Additional Policy Guidelines for Writing Courses

  1. Writing courses will have priority in the allocation of Writing Associates, although being a writing course will not guarantee assignment of a WA.
  2. W courses may be limited to 15 students, with departmental approval. Those willing to work with larger numbers are welcome to do so.
  3. Writing may be in English or in a foreign language.
  4. Creative writing does not fulfill the requirement.
  5. English 1A does fulfill the requirement, counting in the Humanities division.

Request for Approval of a Writing Course

Faculty requesting that a course be approved as a writing should provide the Department Chair with a syllabus and answers to the following questions, which parallel the criteria approved by the faculty for writing courses. Department Chairs will submit this material to the Curriculum Committee for approval.

  1. What are your writing goals for this course?
  2. What writing assignments are included in the course? Does your course include at least 20 pages of writing? Include number of assignments, approximate page numbers for each assignment, and the kind of assignment (response paper, lab report, analytic essay, etc.).
  3. In what ways does this course pay explicit attention to helping students develop, compose, organize, revise and edit analytic prose appropriate to the discipline? (This includes providing opportunities for students to learn how to identify and define a thesis; organize, construct and develop an argument; collect, organize, analyze and present evidence and documentation; and use grammar, mechanics, and citations effectively.)
  4. Writing courses must require revision. What opportunities are provided for students to receive feedback on and revise their writing? What assignments will be revised?