Writing Intensive Courses
Guidelines for Murray State University Writing-Intensive Courses
Writing not only allows students to demonstrate what they learn through formal, revised, writing assignments, but also enables them to discover knowledge as they organize and articulate course material, their own ideas, and outside sources into cohesive academic arguments. The Writing-Intensive requirement recognizes that the development of writing ability does not begin and end in the first-year composition course, and acknowledges that different “ways of knowing” within each discipline influence how disciplinary knowledge is discovered, constructed, published, and disseminated. Upper-level Writing- Intensive courses that are discipline-driven offer students the opportunity to develop specific thinking and writing strategies that are appropriate and necessary for their field of study.
To assist you with thinking about what qualifies as a writing-intensive course, this definition, formulated by faculty at the University of Missouri/ Columbia, might be helpful:
“Classes that use writing as a vehicle for learning, classes that require students to express, reformulate, or apply the concepts of an academic discipline. The emphasis on writing is not intended primarily to give students additional practice in basic composition skills but to encourage students to think more clearly and express their thoughts more precisely . . .Writing Intensive courses . . . take a two-pronged approach to learning, with the students addressing the subject matter via written assignments and the professor attempting to improve the quality of students' performance by giving feedback and requiring revision. (http://cwp.missouri.edu/wi/guidelines.php)
Some specific guidelines might also be helpful: Program Guidelines
1. To the extent possible, a Writing-Intensive course (or series of courses) should be located in the department offering the degree, as a successful course will focus on critical thinking and communication within a particular discipline;
2. Students in these courses must have completed first-year-composition;
3. Courses should be at least at the 200-level;
4. In order to maximize the evaluation of and feedback on student work, the recommended class size for an effective Writing-Intensive course should not exceed 20 students;
5. Writing-Intensive courses should teach context-based writing in a particular discipline, focusing on teaching students how to think and write so they can communicate with professionals in their field;
6. Writing assignments should be fashioned and evaluated to reflect what students would be analyzing, developing, and creating in that profession, emphasizing the development of persuasive arguments/claims and logical construction of ideas;
7. At least one writing assignment should require students to explore a complex topic that doesn’t have pre-determined or superficial solutions, by which students can build from or add to existing ideas and perspectives;
8. Students should receive substantive feedback from the course instructor on writing assignments (i.e. not graded by an adjunct or graduate assistant), and the writing assignments should be a major part of the course grade; and
9. One important aspect of a Writing-Intensive course (or series of courses) is to require multiple writing assignments, not just one long paper. Therefore, while the quantity of written work is flexible and to be determined by academic or professional standards, the general consensus is 20 or more total pages of formal writing.
Schedule for 4-Year Assessment of Writing-Intensive Courses