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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the Criteria for WI Courses?
The WI criteria for course designation and an explanation of the criteria are available on this site. The criteria can be met with some flexible means of syllabi and assignment design, as well as strategies for instruction and feedback. There is a checklist to guide you through course development and for you to include in your submission materials.

How much writing should students do in a WI course?
Length of assignments should coincide with routinely-produced professional documents. The IWC recommends a total of 2500 words be assigned in informal and formal writing over the course of the semester. Our former D16 Writing Policy required 3,000 words per quarter of student writing. National averages for the number of pages a student is assigned to write is 2,000 to 5,000. The IWC suggests the word count may include some informal writing and several formal writing opportunities. Writing might be distributed or sequenced across the semester.

How many credits should a WI course carry?
Courses submitted for WI designation should carry a minimum of 3 credit hours. The intent in the Writing Policy is for every student to take a minimum of nine to twelve credits of WI coursework to ensure the WI criteria can be fully met. While the Committee does not recommend submission of courses less than 3 credit hours, we are nevertheless eager to consider courses that approach all of these elements creatively. The IWC will review all courses to determine whether the outcomes are appropriate to the course content and the assessments meet the WI criteria.

Can a first-year course in a program be approved for a WI course in the program?
Courses submitted for WI designation in the program are considered required courses in the program for 2nd year students and above. The intention of the Writing Policy is that WI courses will be stacked so that WI courses in the program would be offered in the 2nd year and beyond, in the 3rd and 4th years. One guiding principle of this policy is that writing be assigned across the curriculum and through all four years. The IWC will review all courses to determine whether the outcomes are appropriate to the course content and the assessments meet the WI criteria.

Is it possible to offer a WI course in the first year as a replacement for Writing Seminar?
A WI course in the first year is a course that may be offered in place of the first-year writing course (and in addition to a WI course in the program and a WI course in General Education). Such a course must meet the outcomes of both first year writing and the criteria for WI courses. A WI course in the first year may be offered by faculty, departments, and programs, according to the approval process stated in the Policy. These courses will continue to be administered by the First-Year Writing Program.

Might a course in General Education that is required of the program count as the WI course in the program?
Courses offered through General Education will not count as program courses. WI courses in the programs should originate in the programs.

What about inter-department degrees, internal transfers, and dual majors?
A WI course in a program may be used to fulfill the WI requirement for inter-degrees, internal transfers, and dual degrees if the WI course is approved by both degrees and/or departments.

Does a WI course have to use informal and formal writing assignments?
The principle of Writing Across the Curriculum movement is that students write to learn AND learn to write in a curriculum. Informal writing is low stakes for both student and faculty and yet help students reflect and articulate concepts during the process of learning. WI courses should make use of this strategy. Easy informal writing assignments that can be embedded usefully will be available on the Faculty Resources page of this website.

Does the course grading need to be allocated so that the writing portion alone represents 20% of the course grade?
Yes. 20% of the overall course grade must be accounted for by the writing competency a student demonstrates throughout the course.