Writing-in-the-Discipline Courses

Students develop their critical reading and writing skills by completing at least one Writing-in-the-discipline (WID) course, preferably in the major. In fact, 67% of 2012 graduates took more than one and as many as six WID courses.  WID courses have an average cap of sixteen, allowing professors to provide focused attention on students' writing.

Learning Goals for Writing-in-the-Discipline Courses

In April 2014, faculty approved the following learning outcomes for the writing-in-the-discipline (WID) requirement:

  1. Students will identify and demonstrate discipline-specific writing conventions.
  2. Students will understand that writing is a recursive process and develop an effective writing process.

Competencies Associated with Writing-in-the-Discipline Learning Goals

The expectation is that competencies listed below will be modified and adapted to fit the intellectual traditions and discourse styles of the various disciplines.

Students will identify and demonstrate discipline-specific writing conventions. Members (insiders) of an academic discipline communicate to each other via shared conventions, genres, rhetoric, and language. Disciplinary writing skills address (but are not limited to) the following:

  • identifying a problem/issue and proposing a solution/position;
  • contextualizing an issue using appropriate sources;
  • analyzing evidence;· engaging the disciplinary audience with an appropriate voice.

Students will understand that writing is a process and develop an effective writing process. Developing an effective writing process includes (but is not limited to) the following:

  • learning techniques and heuristics that disciplinary experts use in the planning stage;
  • employing the appropriate form or logical organization in the drafting stage;
  • giving effective feedback, parsing received feedback, and making choices that improve a piece of writing in the revision stage;
  • choosing and executing the appropriate citation format.

Five Best Practices for Writing-in-the-Discipline Courses

  1. Students write throughout the semester in order to produce a minimum of fifteen pages of polished writing. Those fifteen pages could be several smaller assignments or one long project that is sequenced and assigned in stages throughout the semester. In addition, some writing may be low-stakes and informal.
  2. Students write to master course content. This is reflected in the percentage of the final grade attributed to writing assignments.
  3. Students are explicitly taught the genres, conventions, rhetoric, and language of the discourse community through reading and writing assignments.
  4. Students are given regular and specific formative feedback from the professor, peers, and/or writing tutors/Writing Associates.
  5. Students are given opportunities to revise.