Office of Assessment and Accreditation

General Education Council

Guidelines for a Writing-Intensive Course

Revised September 2012

In keeping with UNCG’s ongoing commitment to “infuse critical thinking, communication, and information literacy throughout the undergraduate curriculum,” the following Guidelines provide assistance for UNCG departments, programs, and faculty members who seek a Writing-Intensive (WI) marker for specific courses. The WI marker signifies that a course clearly fosters students’ abilities to write clearly, coherently, and effectively as well as to adapt modes of communication to one’s audience.

The term “Intensive” does not necessarily mean “a lot of writing.” It means that students should experience distinct kinds of writing and distinct contexts for writing during class and in homework assignments. Writing assignments should be appropriate to the subject being taught, and there should be informal/ungraded and formal/graded writing assignments in every WI course. It is up to teachers to determine the length of assignments, and not all WI courses must include a research paper. What is important is that students regularly use writing to formulate, analyze, interpret, evaluate, process content, and engage with multiple perspectives on important questions and problems related to a particular subject or field of work.

A key aim in any WI course is for students to learn to use multiple drafts of a paper to investigate and organize ideas, consider diverse points of view, and apply feedback from other readers in shaping the form and content of a final draft. Strong writing is understood to be the consequence of thoughtful re-writing. Therefore, a course that provides students merely with “an opportunity” to revise papers, or in which papers “may be resubmitted” for a higher grade, does not qualify as a WI course. The course must include at least one substantive assignment in which all students submit at least one draft for comments from the teacher and then revise the draft to take account of those comments. Grades for revised writing assignments should reflect an assessment of both quality and improvement in students’ writing.

A second key aim in any WI course is for students to receive instruction in writing processes and hands-on coaching in learning to write. This means that some class time must be spent working on writing as distinct from working on the primary subject matter of the course. In working on writing, teachers address issues of clarity, organization, and effectiveness of written expression. Because of the personal attention and guidance that students will receive in WI courses, class size should not exceed 25 unless additional resources (teaching assistants, release from other duties, etc.) are available to the instructor. Students looking for feedback on a writing project during any stage of the writing process can find a trained, engaged reader at University Writing Center.

Finally, for a course to be assigned the WI marker, the following student learning outcome (SLO) must be included on the course syllabus as among those students will strive to achieve, and for which the teacher will provide instruction and assessment: Students will be able to write in genres appropriate to the discipline(s) of the primary subject matter of the course.

Note: Include the following SLOs verbatim on the course syllabus distributed to students. Please group SLOs under the heading “General Education Writing Intensive Student Learning Outcome.”

General Education Writing Intensive Student Learning Outcome:

Students will be able to write in genres appropriate to the discipline(s) of the primary subject matter of the course.