Building Better Writers

What is WAC

Writing Across the Curriculum grows out of the belief that learning to write is an ongoing experience, deeply rooted in context, and nurtured by frequent practice, revision, and reflection. It takes a entire curriculum to build strong writers.

Writing to Learn

Writing helps us to understand and is, thus, a cognitive activity. Because of this quality, teachers can use writing in their classrooms to help students master course material. Writing to learn is typically a low-stakes writing assignment, sometimes composed during class, with goals to help students reflect on reading material, to articulate questions, to make informal arguments, or to compose early drafts of their ideas. These assignments are most productive when they allow for experimentation and eliminate students' fears about being graded on correctness. In addition to helping students master course knowledge, these assignments can help teachers see where their students are struggling.

Writing in the Disciplines

Writing is among the most complex of cognitive tasks. It is, consequently, difficult to transfer from one situation to another. What a writer learns in one class is challenging to apply in the next class, or even in the next assignment. This challenge is one reason writing needs to be taught across the curriculum, integrated into the vertical curriculum.

In addition, because it is so situation dependent, it's impossible to define "good" writing in specific ways. Instead, we learn what good writing is and how to produce it when we more fully understand the rhetorical context within which it is written and will be eventually read.

Emphasizing writing in appropriate disciplinary courses, intentionally teaching students about the genres and values of the discipline, and scaffolding assignments address both aspects of writing in the disciplines.

Writing Fellows Program

Teaching writing is hard work, and it is time consuming. Our Writing Fellows Program is an embedded peer tutoring approach that aims to support your students. The program trains Fellows, both undergraduate and graduate students from English and other disciplines, to work with you in order to support your students' writing. Fellows attend your classes, meet with you in conferences, and meet with students one-to-one and in small groups. They excel at helping students with revision, reading drafts and providing students with feedback about how to better achieve the assignment's goals. They also conduct in-class and out-of-class workshops, crafting material and activities to meet your specific goals. 

If you are interested in having a Fellow, contact Kerri Morris. We'll need the name of your course, the number of students in the course, and the meeting times of the course. We'd also like to see an example of a syllabus and/or assignment that demonstrates how you're already using revision in your classroom. Courses designated as writing intensive have priority.