Hallmarks of WI Courses

To evaluate W proposals, the Writing-Intensive Focus Board uses these Hallmarks:

  1. The course uses writing to promote the learning of course materials.  Instructors assign formal and informal writing, both in class and out, to increase students' understanding of course material as well as to improve writing skills.

  2. The course provides interaction between teacher and students while students do assigned writing; in effect, the instructor acts as an expert and the student as an apprentice in a community of writers.  Types of interaction will vary.  For example, a professor who requires the completion of one long essay may review sections of the essay, write comments on drafts, and be available for conferences.  The professor who requires several short papers may demonstrate techniques for drafting and revising in the classroom, give guidance during the composition of the papers, and consult with students after they complete their papers.

  3. Writing contributes significantly to each student's course grade. Writing assignments must make up at least 40% of each student's course grade. If not, the course syllabus must state that students must satisfactorily complete all writing assignments to pass the course with a "D" or better.

  4. The course requires students to do a substantial amount of writing--a minimum of 4000 words, or about 16 pages. This may include informal writing.  Depending on the course content, students may write analytic essays, critical reviews, journals, lab reports, research reports, or reaction papers, etc. In-class exams and drafts are not counted toward the 4000-word minimum.

  5. To allow for meaningful professor-student interaction on each student's writing, the class is restricted to 20 students. Professors who team teach or who are assisted by a teaching assistant may request that the enrollment be higher as long as a 20-to-1 student to faculty ratio is maintained.