Writing-Intensive Courses

Download Writing-Intensive Course List (PDF)

Download Writing-Intensive Course Application (PDF)


Below you will find guidelines for determining courses in your major that qualify as a writing-intensive course. Please keep in mind that, with the exception of number 1, these are guidelines. They have been developed based on the current Best Practices identified by experts in the field of interdisciplinary writing and writing pedagogy. We realize that there will be situations in which some of these guidelines may not reflect accurately either a department's sense of what is best for students in individual majors or be feasible due to resource issues or staffing concerns. We offer them in the interest of providing some direction for departments whose area of expertise might not be writing or the teaching of writing. We offer them, also, to provide some parameters within which a department can assess the current course identified as Writing Intensive (WI), and make a determination as to how well that course or another course might qualify as Writing Intensive. Except for the first one, that is, they should be considered guidelines, not dictum to be followed uncritically.

The nine guidelines include the following: 

  1. Students in these courses must have passed ENG 105 or the equivalent;

  2. Courses should be at the 300-level or above (there will be exceptions and as long as a department can explain why a 200-level course best satisfies the needs of its students the University Studies Committee will consider those exceptions);

  3. Writing-Intensive courses 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;

  4. To ensure success in critical thinking and communication within a particular discipline, a Writing-Intensive course (or series of courses) should be, to the extent possible, located in the department offering the degree (here, too, there may be exceptions, and here too, an explanation of why the course identified best fits into a student's degree program will be considered); 

  5. 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;

  6. Students should receive substantive feedback from the course instructor on writing assignments (i.e. not graded by a separate grader or graduate assistant), and the writing assignments should be a major part of the course grade;

  7. A Writing-Intensive course (or series of courses) requires multiple writing assignments, both formal and informal. Therefore, while the quantity of written work is flexible and to be determined by academic or professional standards, we recommend students in WI courses produce 20-25 pages of writing. This amount can consist of multiple assignments or one, long, research paper;

  8. At least one writing assignment in WI courses require students to explore a complex topic that does not have pre-determined or superficial solutions; and

  9. 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. (We realize this may not be practicable based on limited resources or other considerations. Twenty students in a course is the ideal. It is not, therefore, a requirement. We would like to move in that direction, however.)

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