Resources for Faculty

Writing-emphasis courses can be among the most rewarding courses to teach because they often challenge students to thinking deeply and critically about important issues in their disciplines and future fields. Often thought of a “big picture” courses, writing-emphasis classes help students learn the ways of thinking, organizing, and sharing ideas that are most valued by our respective fields, which helps prepare them to be effective communicators and thought leaders in their future professions. Below you’ll find some important information and resources about writing emphasis courses that will help you plan a satisfying writing emphasis class for both you and your students.

You can also click here to find a video tutorial on writing-emphasis course requirements.

How to propose a new Writing-Emphasis Course

Your first step in considering the creation of a new course to be writing-emphasis or the modification of an existing course to be writing-emphasis should be to consider whether the course is a good fit for writing emphasis.

Ideal courses for Writing-emphasis are:

  • courses that often have lower-enrollments (20 students or less is ideal for writing courses);
  • courses that include content that help students learn the conventions of knowledge and/or research in a particular discipline or profession;
  • courses that have enough room in content discussion to give writing the space it needs as a matter of course content; and
  • courses that a majority of students in your program must take, thereby ensuring that students experience a writing-emphasis course in their own major program.
  • courses that can benefit from short informal writing assignments as a way to help students learn course concepts, but can also help students express big ideas through longer more formal writing projects.

Other considerations for choosing whether to make a course writing-emphasis:

  • Avoid assigning a “W” to high enrollment courses (+25) that make providing feedback on writing very difficult and labor intensive
  • Avoid assigning individual faculty multiple “W” courses in a given semester as this makes feedback equally labor intensive
  • A course should never seek writing-emphasis designation just to become more appealing in the general education curriculum.
  • Avoid assigning a “W” to courses that have very little content space for the attention required to teach writing.
  • Speak with colleagues in your department to consider whether they would support the course and/or have suggestions for course content, assignments, etc.

If you believe the course you want to propose or modify is a good fit for writing-emphasis and is supported by faculty in your program, the next steps are to develop a rationale that describes why the course is a good fit (a "writing emphasis narrative") and then to draft a sample syllabus to be reviewed by CAPC. The rationale should explain to CAPC why the course is ideal for writing-emphasis, and the syllabus should meet the writing-emphasis designation criteria. Both the rationale and syllabus should be uploaded to the CIM proposal system for review by CAPC.

Writing-Emphasis Designation Criteria

In December 2017, CAPC approved a new set of criteria for writing-emphasis courses, which are provided below. All courses designated writing-emphasis and all courses seeking writing-emphasis designation should clearly meet this minimum criteria.

If you are working to prepare or revise a writing-emphasis course, please take the time to review the writing-emphasis course criteria, but also check out this annotated sample syllabus of an approved writing-emphasis courses as well as this helpful FAQ document .


Submitting a Writing-Emphasis Course For Approval

A proposed writing-emphasis course should clearly meet the above criteria.

A course that is already writing-emphasis and is being re-certified to meet the 2019 program criteria need only update the syllabus to address the above criteria.

An existing course that is being modified and newly seeking writing-emphasis designation, should meet the above criteria in the course syllabus and draft a written rationale narrative that explains why the course is an ideal course for teaching writing in the respective discipline.

A entirely new course being proposed that is also seeking writing-emphasis designation should meet the above criteria in the course syllabus and provide a bibliography at the end of the syllabus. Such courses new courses should also include a narrative rationale that explains why the course is an ideal course for teaching writing in the respective discipline.

The purpose of the narrative is to provide a rationale for the course as an ideal writing-emphasis course in the general education program.

Once you believe you’ve drafted a syllabus that includes all the appropriate writing-emphasis criteria, , log on to the CAPC course submission site “CIM” and click the green icon that reads “Propose New Course”  or find the existing course and select "Edit Course" then complete the information and upload accordingly.

Under "Purpose of Course" select "Additional Baccalaureate Requirement 2019+." Next, scroll down the CIM form to find a new box that reads "Additional Baccalaureate Requirement Information" and select "Writing Emphasis."

Visit the CAPC General Education Program resources page to learn more about the proposal and review process.

You can also find video instructions for navigating the CIM system and developing or editing a writing emphasis course here.

West Chester University Writing and Critical Thinking (WACT) Conference and Additional Resources

Each August faculty are invited to attend a series of workshops and roundtable discussions emphasizing strategies for effective writing instruction across the curriculum. Please find some presentation materials from the 2019 conference below:

Designing Informal Writing Assignments

Providing Feedback on Student Writing

Developing assignments and assessment rubrics for writing.

Dr. Kelly Fisher and Dr. Tricia Davidson on Scaffolding Writing Development in Course Design

Additional resources on assignment design: workshop on assignment design, assignment sheet template , and annotated assignment sheet.

Justin Rademaekers' morning keynote about critical thinking and writing here and approaches to critical thinking in nutrition and biology disciplines with Dr. Sandy Sarcona and Dr. John Pisciotta.

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