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D01.5 University Writing Policy

I. Rationale

  1. The Writing Policy is informed by these basic tenets:

    1. Writing practice and instruction fosters higher order thinking and cultivates critical intellectual processes such as analyzing ideas, solving problems, and evaluating claims.

    2. Writing is a complex activity that must be continually adapted to the particular needs of disciplinary and multi-disciplinary contexts.

    3. Writing competencies are essential for graduates to secure jobs, advance in their given professions, and participate in all forms of civic life.

    4. Students should have primary responsibility for the quality of their writing.

    5. If students are to improve their writing, they must be given opportunities to write in a variety of forms and to revise their writing in response to peer and faculty feedback.

    6. Faculty in the students' programs are best situated to help their students adapt writing competency to professional contexts.

II. Policy Statement - Writing Across the Curriculum Program Requirement

  1. Student requirements

    The Writing across the Curriculum Program requirement entails three writing intensive (WI) credit-bearing courses.

    1. One introductory WI course in the first year, "FYW: Writing Seminar" or other so-designated First Year Writing (FYW) course with approval of the First Year Writing Program Director.

    2. One course or sequence of courses in the student's degree program (PR-WI).

    3. A third WI course. Ideally this is a general education course (GE-WI), but it may also be a second PR-WI course.

    Ideally these courses would be distributed through the student's time at RIT (e.g. FYW in the first year, a second WI course in years 2-3, and a PR-WI course in year four).

    All undergraduate programs must provide and require at least one discipline-specific WI course (PR-WI). Students must be able to complete all WI requirements within the existing graduation requirements, and must successfully complete three WI courses before receiving a degree

  2. Criteria for Writing Intensive Courses

    The following criteria will be met in the designation of "Writing-Intensive" courses:

    1. Students must receive instruction in at least one writing-related learning outcome. First Year Writing courses will include a learning outcome related to awareness of the social and intellectual aspects of writing in the university. There are three writing-related learning outcomes described in General Education SLOs. Program WI courses should describe a writing-related learning outcome that is discipline specific.

    2. Students must complete informal and formal writing assignments sequenced during the course intended as "writing to learn" and "learning to write" assignments. Examples of informal writing assignments include brainstorming, free writing, journals, and reaction-response essays. Examples of formal writing include critiques, reviews, laboratory reports, case studies, observations, essays, proposals, and research papers.

    3. Students must receive feedback from instructors and have an opportunity to use that feedback to complete substantive revision of written work. The feedback should facilitate the composing process but give the primary responsibility for revision to the student. This feedback might be supplemented by peer mentors, writing fellows, and writing center instructors.

    4. The course must include classroom discussion of particular writing conventions and strategies specific to the discipline or profession. Examples of effective discussions include: revision strategies, peer review, vocabulary, organization, use of evidence, citation, concision and clarity, and removing ambiguity.

    5. A minimum of 20% of the grade for the course must be based on the extent to which students display program writing criteria (i.e., as evaluated by rubrics) in the revision and editing processes of formal writing.

Responsible Office:
Academic Senate and the Office of the Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs. For inquiries, contact:

Academic Senate - asenate@rit.edu
Director, University Writing Program -David.Martins@rit.edu

Effective Date:
Approved May 1978

Policy History:
Revised April 2002
Revised May 20, 2010
Revised March 24, 2011
Revised and renumbered May 8, 2014. Original policy number D16.0.

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