Writing Intensive Courses

Creating a Culture of Writing at RIT

Writing Across the Curriculum (or WAC) is a pedagogical movement that has flourished at colleges and universities across the US for more than 40 years. Throughout its history, WAC has shown that effective writing instruction does not reside just in first-year writing classes but instead extends throughout all years of a student's undergraduate education.  RIT's Writing Intensive structure attempts to embed courses rich in writing throughout the curriculum of each program, providing students with writing-to-learn opportunities within their disciplines and fields of endeavor.

The primary goal of the UWP's WAC program is to create and maintain a culture of writing practice and community in all colleges at all levels of the university. RIT's various WAC initiatives (i.e. workshops, teaching circles, online resources, partnerships, etc.) are developed to support faculty in all disciplines teaching writing-intensive (WI) courses as well as those who are simply looking to better integrate writing into their pedagogy.

Overview: Writing Intensive Courses at RIT

In order to ensure that students emerge from their years at RIT with competencies in writing that will serve them well in their work and in their lives as lifelong learners and global citizens, the University integrates substantial and sequenced instruction in writing across all colleges, and throughout their time here. This is accomplished by requiring students to take three “writing intensive” (WI) courses. Ideally, an RIT student will pass through First Year Writing, General Education WI, and Program WI in years 1-4. (Some programs provide two PR-WI courses or a sequence in their discipline vs GE-WI in the 2nd or 3rd year).  (if students have taken the AP: Lang and Composition course and gotten a 3 or better, or if they have articulated transfer credit, they will not need to take FYW).

What is a “Writing Intensive” Course?

  1. All WI courses have writing-related learning outcomes. Some general examples of outcomes include:
    • Use writing as a tool to discover ideas and build knowledge.
    • 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.
    • Show competency in written Englishes according to course and/or assigned disciplinary Style Guide(s).
  2. The course will have sequenced informal and formal writing assignments intended as "writing to learn" and "learning to write" experiences. Informal writing might include brainstorming, free writing, journals, and reaction-response essays. Formal "learning to write" assignments might include critiques, reviews, laboratory reports, case studies, observations, essays, proposals, and research papers.
  3. Students receive feedback from their instructor and will have an opportunity to use that feedback to complete substantive revision of written work. This feedback can be supplemented by peer mentors, writing fellows, and writing center instructors.
  4. Program WI courses include classroom modules dedicated to particular writing conventions—vocabulary, organization, use of evidence, citation—specific to a given discipline or profession.
  5. A minimum of 20% of the grade for a WI course is based formal writing.

First Year Writing Intensive Courses

First Year Writing plays an essential role in students' transition from secondary to post-secondary education. The first year experience is designed to develop students’ proficiency in writing-to-learn via analytical and rhetorical reading and writing, and critical thinking. Students will read, understand, and interpret a variety of non-fiction texts representing different cultural perspectives and/or academic disciplines. These texts are designed to challenge students intellectually and to stimulate their writing for a variety of contexts and purposes.  Through inquiry-based, scaffolded assignment sequences, students will develop academic research and literacy practices that will be further strengthened throughout their academic careers.  Particular attention will be given to the writing process, including an emphasis on teacher-student conferencing, critical self-assessment and reflection, class discussion, peer review, formal and informal writing, research, and revision. The course also emphasizes the principles of intellectual property and academic integrity for both current academic and future professional writing.

General Education Writing Intensive (GE-WI)

There are many General Education Writing Intensive (GE-WI) courses that may be integrated into course requirements for students at RIT. GE-WI courses are located throughout the curriculum and, building on the concepts introduced in the first year, use writing as a way to further engage students with content in a wide variety of academic discourses.  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. 

Program Writing Intensive (PR WI)

Program Writing Intensive (PR-WI) courses are intended to encourage students to think of writing as a way to learn, think, innovate, and communicate as they gain expertise in their respective fields of interest.  PR courses should also introduce students to the forms of writing (genres) specific to knowledge dissemination in their given discipline or profession. Program WI courses should reinforce and expand upon the threshold concepts and practices introduced in First Year Writing, and in the GE-WI classes students may elect to take. The UWP recommends that PR courses be taken in the third or fourth years.