Syllabus Design and Sequencing

The typical UHM student takes six writing-intensive courses taught by different instructors, usually from different departments. Because the types of writing, interaction, and instructor expectations vary, students appreciate knowing what makes each course "writing-intensive" and what is expected of them. You can help by including the following items in your syllabus.

Clearly state that the course has been officially designated as a "WI" course. 

Students complete writing assignments in many courses, but they don't receive WI credit unless they enroll in a course that is officially listed as WI
(note: WI course offerings change every semester).

Some professors add a sentence to their syllabus after they receive confirmation that their course has been designated as a WI course: “This course has been approved as writing-intensive (WI) and you will receive a WI credit upon successful completion of the course requirements.” 

Describe how you will help students with their writing. 

Interaction between students and the professor (and interaction among students) is a hallmark of a WI course-and students report that interaction is the most effective way to improve their writing.

Tell students what activities they can expect that will help them with their writing: class discussion about sample pieces of writing, opportunities to revise after receiving comments, conferences, peer review, etc.

Describe the types and goals of the writing assignments.

Students will try to connect the types of writing assigned (e.g., case study, journal, lab report) with the writing they have done previously. Because writing a “case study” or “journal” in your class may differ from another class, give a brief description and the purpose of the assignment in the syllabus.

Include due dates for writing assignments and activities.

In addition to final due dates, you can note when rough drafts are due and when other writing activities (e.g., conferences, peer review, in-class writing) will take place. 

Consider including your policy on missed deadlines or missed activities such as peer review sessions.

List all writing assignments, amount of writing, and percentage of course grade (include “informal writing” such as journals, in-class writing, internet discussions, etc.).

Writing assignments are a significant portion of a student's course grade in WI courses.

(List all writing assignments and approximate page lengths so students can plan their schedules.) 

If your course has non-graded assignments such as drafts, learning logs, e-mail discussions, etc., let students know that although the assignments are not graded, students must complete them to pass the course. 

Some instructors define plagiarism and explain their policies on plagiarism.

Let students know where they can go for additional help. 

The Writing Workshop offers free consultation during the Fall and Spring semesters. Students call the English department (956-7619) to make an appointment.

Students can visit our Help for Writers page.