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.

  2. Special Considerations for Graduate Programs

    1. Students entering post-baccalaureate education must gain specialized knowledge of their field which includes understanding academic and professional forms of communication within the discipline and an ability to communicate ideas purposefully and effectively within the norms of their discipline.

    2. Each Graduate Program determines the writing related requirements and outcomes for its students and prepares its students to write and communicate successfully in the discipline.

    3. Graduate Programs “shall normally require a minimum of one academic year of full-time graduate level study, or its equivalent in part-time study, with an accumulation of not less than 30 semester hours. Research or a comparable occupational or professional experience shall be a component of each master's degree program. The requirements for a master's degree shall normally include at least one of the following: passing a comprehensive test, writing a thesis based on independent research or completing an appropriate special project.” (New York State Commissioner’s Regulations, Part 52.2(c)(8)). This requirement includes discipline specific writing and is referred to here as a culminating experience.

    4. Through continuous self-assessment, which includes formative and evaluative assessment of student writing, graduate programs provide data regarding student needs and performance on writing outcomes and activities, and these data drive and shape the work of university-wide support programs whose mission is to advance excellence in written communication. Trends and needs for graduate student writing among and across graduate programs must be examined on a regular cycle to inform how university resources are deployed to advance graduate student writing.

II. Writing Across the Curriculum Program Requirement for Undergraduate Programs

  1. Student requirements

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

    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.

III. Writing Requirements for Graduate Programs

  1. Every graduate program shall have:

    1. At least one student learning outcome specifically related to written communication included within their Program Level Outcomes Assessment Plan (PLOAP), overseen by the Office of Educational Effectiveness Assessment, Academic Affairs.

    2. At least two formative feedback activities related to discipline-specific writing.

      1. These activities shall be distributed across the program.

      2. These activities shall be designed to assist students in achieving the writing-related student learning outcome and to prepare students for the required writing within their culminating experience.

  2. Every graduate program at RIT shall submit a report on students’ achievement of the writing related student learning outcome (III.A.1) to the Office of Educational Effectiveness Assessment (EEA) at least once every five years.  The report will include an attachment (Graduate Plan for Achievement in Writing) reflecting on the formative feedback activities (III.A.2). The Graduate Plan for Achievement in Writing will inform a yearly needs analysis reported to the Faculty Senate, the Office of Graduate Education, and the Office of the Provost.

Responsible Office:
Faculty Senate and the Office of the Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs. For inquiries, contact:
Faculty Senate - fsenate@rit.edu
Chair, University Writing Committee - https://www.rit.edu/facultysenate/university-writing-committee

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.
Revised March 26, 2020 to add graduate writing requirements - sections I.B and III

Edited January 29, 2024 to update responsible office