Writing Competency

Definition of Writing Competency for the Common Curriculum:

The writing across the curriculum "W" course requirements are designed to ensure that writing instruction continues after the First-Year Writing (FYW) courses (ENGL 1007, ENGL 1010, ENGL 1011 or ENGL 2011 for Honors). As one of the fundamental ways through which academic disciplines explore, construct, and communicate their various forms of knowledge, writing is an essential component of a university education.

The First-Year Writing Program provides seminars in multimodal composition that emphasize cross-disciplinary writing, critical thinking, and critical and digital literacies.  The program encourages student "to read and write with (alongside, against) challenging texts not simply to absorb information but to take up an engagement with a larger, ongoing conversation as they make broader meanings and connections from their reading and writing." The W requirement extends that work to other courses with an emphasis on the significance of writing in individual major fields of study.

W courses should demonstrate for students the relationship between the writing in the course and the content learning goals of the course. Students should not write simply to be evaluated; they should learn how writing can ground, extend, deepen, and even enable their learning of the course material. In addition then to the general formal questions concerning strategies for developing ideas, clarity of organization, and effectiveness  of expression, and the discipline specific format, evidentiary, and stylistic norms, the W requirement should lead students to understand the relationship between their own thinking and writing in a way that will help them continue to develop both throughout their lives and careers after graduation.

The W requirement can be met in formats other than the standard three-credit course. For example, a department might add a fourth credit to a three-credit course to convert the course to a W. Another common option is to create a 1-credit "add-on" W course that can be taken concurrently with a non-W major course. Students thus learn the major-related content in the regular 3-creative course while focusing on the writing process and how to address major- or topic-writing in the 1-credit add-on. Please consult with the Office of the Registrar first if your department would like to pursue the 1-credit W add-on option since there are several considerations to be aware.

The W requirement does not limit writing only to courses with a W designation; the requirement is designed to support and encourage writing instruction throughout the curriculum. Courses without a W designation, for example, may still require that students write papers and essay examinations.

Required Student Learning Objectives (SLOs) for Writing (W) Courses

Writing (W) courses must meet SLO 1 and 2, and ideally all four of these objectives.

SLO1: Students will compose work that demonstrates engagement with the writing habits of the course’s field of study.
SLO2: Students will practice writing processes by drafting and revising written work based on feedback by instructors.
SLO3: Students will demonstrate an awareness of the relationship between writing and the content of the course.
SLO4: Students will reflect on the relationship between writing and their own thinking and learning.

Required Criteria for Writing (W) Courses:

Courses carrying the W designation should:

1. Require that students write a minimum of 15 pages or a minimum of 4500 words, excluding references/works cited pages, that have been revised for conceptual clarity and development of ideas, edited for expression, and proofread for grammatical and mechanical correctness;

2. Address writing in process, require revision, and provide substantial supervision of  student writing. (The structure of revision and supervision may vary, including in-class writing workshops, individual consultation, substantial formative commentary on drafts, and so on.);

3. Have an enrollment cap of nineteen students per section;

4. Make explicit the relation between writing and learning in the course;

5. Articulate the structure of supervision of student writing;

6. Explain the place and function of revision in the course;

7. Detail how the page or word requirement will be met;

8. Require that students must pass the writing component in order to pass the course.

9. Meet the Writing (W) Student Learning Objectives (SLOs) noted above and include at least one course-specific SLO related to writing in the syllabus.

NOTE: All of the criteria above (with the exception of #3) should be clearly detailed in the course syllabus for students. Regarding criteria #8 (i.e. the “F Clause”), the following standard wording should be inserted directly into the syllabus: “Students must pass the ‘W’ component of the course in order to pass the course.”

The University Writing Center:

Much of the outside-of-class work involved in writing instruction is supported by qualified tutors in the University Writing Center at Storrs and the regional campuses. The center, directed by a senior, tenured faculty member with another faculty member as an assistant and a group of graduate student (and in some cases undergraduate) tutors from across the disciplines, is a clearing house for writing issues throughout the University. The Director of the Writing Center organizes on all campuses faculty development workshops for W course instructors and is responsible for organizing and supervising the W course instructor orientations/workshops.

W Course Staffing:

W courses should taught by University of Connecticut faculty. When that is not possible, then qualified graduate students may be used to assist faculty in 2000+level W courses or, with faculty supervision, to teach a 1000-level W course.

All new instructors of W courses will be provided with a W course orientation. This orientation is required of all teaching assistants assigned to assist in a 2000+level or to instruct a 1000-level W course. The orientation presents the W course guidelines and the pedagogical strategies and learning outcomes of the First Year Writing courses in order to provide the institutional context and rationale for the requirement.  Supplemental workshops are offered throughout the academic year.