General Education

Writing Intensive Course

Guidelines for Writing-Intensive Course Sections

Students should be expected to write approximately 15-20 pages of proofread, typed work that is turned in to the instructor for grading. In 100- and 200-level courses this writing might consist of shorter assignments (e.g., eight to ten 2-page papers, four 4-page papers, etc.). In advanced 200- and 300-level courses, longer papers might be more appropriate (e.g., two 10-page papers, one 10- and two 5-page papers, etc.). Except in rare cases, one 20-page paper should not be sufficient for a "W" section.

If longer papers or research papers are assigned, they should be developed in stages, so that students have time to benefit from instructors' comments, direction, and feedback. A major paper that students complete primarily on their own, and that is due at the end of the semester, is not appropriate for a "W" section.

  • There should be opportunities for students to revise their written work and/or focus on responding to instructors' comments.
  • Writing should be integrated into the course throughout the semester. Short assignments (e.g., letters, 1-2 page responses to readings, responses to other students, double-entry and/or dialogue journals) may be used. Such assignments may be read but not graded, or graded simply as completed/not completed. Such assignments might form the basis of later graded assignments.
  • Informal writing-to-learn activities (e.g., logs, journals, freewrites, reflections) should take place throughout the semester. Such writings often are done quickly at the beginning or end of class; are not graded; and, may be handed in as a quick way for the instructor to see what students are beginning to understand, where confusion lies, what needs to be addressed in upcoming classes, etc. Or, such writings may remain private, as a way for students to 'think on paper' and to record their thoughts about classroom lectures and conversations or about assigned readings.
  • All writing-intensive course sections will have a class-size limit of twenty-two. Under no circumstances will more than twenty-five students be admitted to any writing-intensive section.

Last modified: Oct 13, 2011

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