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Requirements & Practices

The requirements and recommendations for WI courses are intended to provide a flexible framework that will promote writing that fits into and emerges from course contexts and program learning goals. Our goal is to collaborate with you to develop something important for your students’ learning experience at Drexel.

As you consider the required elements and suggested practices for WI courses, know that you can make an appointment with a faculty member in Drexel’s Writing Across the Curriculum Program to help you think through ways to incorporate writing into your course. We can help you think through the requirements and recommendations: how to structure large writing projects, consider methods of efficiently and effectively providing feedback to students, develop informal writing and thinking assignments, and construct peer review exercises according to the goals of assignments.


Required Elements for WI Courses


Disciplinary writing focus

The course should instruct students in the kinds of writing that are practiced and valued by members of your discipline, and conversations about these writing practices should be part of the course.

Writing assignments should expose students to disciplinary uses of evidence—acceptable evaluation and integration of evidence and research in your discipline—and help them develop information literacy in the context of the discipline (the Drexel Library can be an active partner in this aspect of the course).

Process and revision

The course should promote writing as a process, and course assignments should encourage students to substantively revise and rethink their work on the basis of your (and others’) feedback.

Major writing projects can be broken into stages; they should have due dates for both rough and final drafts, and they should provide some mechanism for draft feedback (whether from Peer Readers, you, or a teaching assistant).

Instructor background

The course should be taught by an instructor (of any rank) who is knowledgeable about writing in the discipline.

Clear syllabus and goals and dedicated course time for writing

The course syllabus should articulate writing goals that the students can achieve during the term and should indicate that time will be devoted to discussing the assignments and expectations for success in those assignments.

Substantive writing element in the course

Writing in the course should amount to a substantial part of the course work and count substantially toward the students’ final course grade (in most cases, writing in the course should amount to 3000-5000 words over the course of the term).


Suggested Practices for Designing and Teaching a WI Course


Readings about writing

Reading assignments that help students think about the writing and communications of their field can help them understand the rhetorical moves of their discipline and gain a broader understanding of what it means for them to write in their field.

Writing as a tool for critical thinking

There are many ways that you can employ short, informal writing assignments to help your students think critically about course materials and concepts.

Writing portfolios

You can use portfolios as a way to gather and evaluate student writing and as a way for students to reflect on their work in the course, building on their experiences in the First-Year Writing Program sequence. Drexel students who have enrolled in Drexel as freshmen starting in fall 2011 will have access to the electronic portfolio system iWebfolio.

Reflection

You can ask students to engage in a variety of reflective tasks, especially a reflective analysis as part of a writing portfolio. This type of writing, which is being incorporated into many aspects of the writing experience at Drexel (including the Co-op experience), will provide students with a way to think about their own writing and will likely provide you with some unexpected insights about how students experience the assignments in the course.

Learning technologies

Many technologies can help you facilitate writing in the course. Students can use tools like Drexel Learn’s Discussion tool, weblogs, and wikis to communicate their thoughts to you and each other about the issues and readings in your course while providing you (and them) with an efficient way to manage their writing.

Social and collaborative learning

Team-based writing projects and other assignments in which team members share writing tasks can be an effective way to incorporate writing into your course.

Rubrics

Rubrics can help students understand the writing expectations of a course, especially if those rubrics were co-created by you and the students in a workshop.

Grammar and style

As a WI instructor, you can help students understand the importance of grammar and style in your field, especially when errors or mistakes in this area can cause an audience to misunderstand the students’ intended meaning.

Class size

In line with national recommendations, we recommend that the ratio of students to instructor in a WI course be no greater than 20 to 1.