The University Writing Committee

The University Writing Committee (UWC) is a standing committee of the RIT Academic Senate, charged to review and approve Writing Intensive Courses and to make recommendations regarding a Writing Across the Curriculum program that supports the RIT Writing Policy. (Policy D01.5)  


The UWC encourages the RIT community to engage with it in the practice, teaching, and study of writing. Let us know how students in your classes and programs learn to write for academic and professional purposes. From that starting point we can all improve RIT students' professional literacies and their excellence in writing.

Current Committee Membership

Writing at RIT

Writing Across the Curriculum

Writing Across the Curriculum (or WAC) has a 30+ year history in US higher education. Throughout its history, WAC has shown that effective writing instruction extends throughout all years of a student's undergraduate education, and spreads out across general education and in all the major programs.

Learning from this history, we believe that:

  • Writing is a knowledge-making activity that fosters critical thinking.
  • Writing is a complex, social, rhetorical activity (a “conversation”) that needs to be adapted to the particular needs of a variety of contexts.
  • Writing addresses social situations through recognizable forms, or genres.
  • Language and literacy cannot be separated from identity.
  • Revision is central to developing writing.

RIT's Writing Intensive Curriculum follows this approach to WAC by embedding Writing Intensive courses throughout the curriculum of each program and designing these courses to provide students opportunities to learn to write substantive content within their discipline. A comprehensive WAC program enhances student learning as well as competency in writing.

Types of Writing Intensive Courses

In Writing Intensive Courses students:     

  • are introduced to, practice, and ultimately gain mastery in producing written forms commonly found in the academic disciplines and professional contexts of RIT,
  • practice reading, writing, and revising these common forms, and
  • learn to express their ideas effectively with attention to audience expectations, context, and conventions.

There are, however, three different types of WI courses. 

First Year Writing (FYW) - First Year Writing is a course that plays an essential role in students' transition from secondary to post-secondary education. What distinguishes FYW from the other WI course is that students learn about the social and intellectual aspects of writing in the university, and develop critical reading, writing, research and reflection practices required for academic success. 

General Education Writing Intensive (WI-GE) - General Education Writing Intensive courses are located throughout the curriculum and use writing to engage students in course content. General Education WI courses reinforce the knowledge and practices introduced in First Year Writing. In General Education Writing Intensive courses, students are introduced to and practice reading, writing, and revising written forms common to the various disciplinary contexts of General Education "Perspective," "Immersion" and elective courses. Students ideally take these courses in their second and third years.

Program Writing Intensive (WI-PR) - Program Writing Intensive courses are located in disciplinary contexts and apprentice students in specific forms of writing. In Program WI courses, students gain mastery of written forms specific to the student’s major area of study at RIT.

Propose a Writing-Intensive (WI) Course

What is a Writing-Intensive Course?

The criteria to be met for a course to receive a designation of "Writing-Intensive" are specified in Policy D01.5 and elaborated below. (These are the criteria used by the UWC in the approval process for granting WI designation)

  1. Your course must have at least one writing-related learning outcome. Outcomes should state what the student will be able to do (i.e. writing skills learned in the course), rather than what students will do in the course (i.e. activities performed in the course). Some general examples of outcomes include:
    • Use writing as a tool to discover ideas.
    • Demonstrate the ability to use writing as a way of communicating ideas.
    • Identify discipline-specific ways of writing.
    • Demonstrate proficiency in disciplinary writing conventions appropriate to the course.
    • Demonstrate a degree of mastery in writing a paper in the format of a journal.
    • Show competency in written English according to an assigned disciplinary Style Guide(s).
  2. Your course must have informal and formal writing assignments sequenced during the course intended as "writing to learn" and "learning to write" assignments.

    Examples of informal "writing-to-learn" writing assignments include brainstorming, free writing, journals, and reaction- response essays. Examples of formal "learning to write" assignments include critiques, reviews, laboratory reports, case studies, observations, essays, proposals, and research papers.
  3. Students must receive feedback from you and have an opportunity to use that feedback to complete substantive revision of written work. This feedback might be supplemented by peer mentors, writing fellows, and writing center instructors.

    The feedback should facilitate the composing process but give the primary responsibility for revision to the student. This feedback might provide comments rather than markings and use sequencing to facilitate invention and pre-writing, drafting and revision, substantive editing and proofreading.
  4. The course must include classroom modules dedicated to particular writing conventions—vocabulary, organization, use of evidence, citation—specific to the discipline or profession.
  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.

How do I Propose a WI Course?

First step: Use the Appendix B on the Course Outline Form (Current Revision) to propose a new or modify an existing course as writing intensive. The course outline, in conjunction with Appendix B should provide the information necessary to demonstrate that the course is consistent with the University Writing Policy and the Writing Intensive criteria. A course may request both WI-GE and WI-PR designation. Examples of each of the sections in Appendix B excerpted from approved WI courses are provided HERE.

Second Step: Once you have completed the CCC form, your college and department curriculum committees will examine the proposed course. After a course has been approved by the CCC of the college in which it will be offered, the course outline, including the completed Appendix B, is be forwarded to the college’s UWC member. They will bring the course outline to the UWC for review.

Third Step: The UWC will review submitted courses to determine if they meet the WI criteria. The WI designation is then either: 1) approved; 2) approved pending minor revision; or 3) not recommended.  This status is reported by the UWC representative back to the requesting CCC. In the case where a WI designation is not recommended, the UWC will provide suggested modifications to the appropriate CCC, at which point the college representative will work with the author and submit a revised form to the UWC, if so desired.

Courses will be reviewed by the UWC to determine if they meet the WI criteria as stated above.

  • The course outline contains at least one topic related to the classroom discussion of particular writing conventions specific to the discipline or profession, presented in Section 4.0 of the course outline and elaborated on in Section II.b. of Appendix B.
  • The course outline contains at least one writing related learning outcome, presented in Section 6.0 of the course outline and repeated in Section II.a. of Appendix B.
  • Sufficient details related to informal and formal writing assignments are provided in Section II.c. of Appendix B.
  • The kinds of feedback provided to students by the instructor and the opportunities for students to improve their writing based on the feedback are sufficiently explained in Section II.d. of Appendix B.

Fourth Step: The UWC chair will inform the ICC, the Registrar's Office, the college’s UWC committee member, and the college’s scheduling officer when a course has been newly approved as writing intensive. A copy of the approved course outline will be sent to the Registrar and to the college in which the course will be taught. 

A flowchart of the submission and review process has been developed to capture the responsibilities of those involved in the WI approval process.

If you have any questions about how to complete Appendix B, please consult with your college representative (UWC Membership ), or contact University Writing Program Director, Pamela Kincheloe

Writing-Intensive FAQs

For the most up-to-date WI-course offerings, please search for the "WRTG" attribute in SIS. For a dated list of approved WI courses, please see this document (link).

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.

Length of assignments should coincide with routinely-produced professional documents. The UWC 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 UWC suggests the word count may include some informal writing and several formal writing opportunities. Writing might be distributed or sequenced across the semester. (link to UWP page to be added)

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 UWC will review all courses to determine whether the outcomes are appropriate to the course content and the assessments meet the WI criteria.

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 UWC will review all courses to determine whether the outcomes are appropriate to the course content and the assessments meet the WI criteria.

Courses offered through General Education will not count as program courses. WI courses in the programs should originate in the programs. The purpose of WI-PR is to impart specialized writing knowledge in a particular field or discipline.

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.

Yes. 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.

Yes. 20% of the overall course grade must be accounted for by the writing competency a student demonstrates throughout the course.