Writing in the Disciplines
Dr. Laurie Rozakis, Director
Office: Knapp Hall, Room 39
Writing in the Disciplines
“Writing represents a unique mode of learning—not merely valuable, not merely special, but unique.” – Janet Emig, Writing as a Mode of Learning
Writing in the Disciplines (abbreviated “WID”) is program used to assist teachers across disciplines in using student writing as an instructional tool in their teaching.
Teach students to think
Writing in the Disciplines is based on the fact that content and writing are inseparable because writing reflects thinking. Therefore, the primary reason for incorporating more writing in college courses is to foster clearer thinking and better learning. As famed author Joan Didion said, “I don’t know what I think until I write it down.”
Teach the subject matter
Frequent writing assignments give students practice with the language of a discipline as well as with the formats used in that discipline. For example, an engineering lab report, a business memo, and a chemistry lab all have a form, content, and style specific to their subject and audience.
Prepare students for the work force
In addition, being able to write clearly, concisely, and logically is increasingly needed in the work place. ABET, for example, has long recognized that students in engineering courses need to learn to write clearly about their subject in order to do their jobs well. Writing ability is a crucial life skill.
There’s nothing particularly new about WID: scholars in the field trace the program’s origins in the U.S. to the 1870s! And it is widespread: half of the colleges and universities in the U.S. have a WID or WAC (Writing Across the Curriculum) program.
Membership on the committee is open to anyone who has taught a writing intensive course. The main task of the committee is to review proposals for writing intensive courses, give feedback, and certify that the courses meets guidelines. In addition, the committee plans faculty development events and works with the director on new initiatives.
Writing is a central academic process. Therefore, specific classes are designed to include additional writing practice. These classes are designated with a "W."
Page 23 of the 2014 - 2015 Farmingdale College Catalog states that, as a graduation requirement, students pursuing a baccalaureate degree are required to complete a writing intensive course with a grade of C or higher as outlined in their program of study.
All classes designated with a "W":
- Must incorporate at least ten pages of writing (typed/double-spaced) that receive comments from the instructor and which students are then required to revise; (this can be done in one long paper or a series of shorter papers)
- Must include low-stakes writing activities (non-graded writing assignments, often in the form of in-class writing)
- Should include writing on midterm and final exams
- Must have the writing portion of the course be a significant factor in formulating a final grade.
- The writing assignment should be as specific as possible, listing points that the instructor wants students to cover.
- Students should be given sample papers to use as models.
- High-stakes papers should be peer reviewed and revised before being submitted to the instructor for grading.
- Students should be given frequent and ample opportunities for revision to receive an improved grade, even if this necessitates fewer written assignments. If the student ignores the instructor’s comments on the revision, the instructor can return the paper to the student for further revision – without reading all of it.
- If the beginning of a paper is unintelligible, carelessly written, or off topic, the instructor should return it to the student without reading the entire text, with instructions to rewrite.
- If a student fails to hand in required papers in a writing intensive course, even if other course work is satisfactory, the student must fail. Otherwise, students pass or fail at the discretion of the instructor.