Send questions to:
Dr. Ann Shapiro, Director of WID
at or call extension 2322
Some faculty and most students regard writing as a discrete subject best left to the presumed writing experts in the English department. They believe that courses in other subjects are about content, not about writing. The writing-in-the-disciplines movement, however, is based on the assumption that content and writing are inseparable because writing reflects thinking. Students typically write poorly mainly because they are confused about a subject, not merely because they are insufficiently knowledgeable about the rules of grammar or punctuation. The primary reason for incorporating more writing in college courses is to foster clearer thinking and better learning.
A secondary goal for writing-in-the disciplines is that writing is a job-related skill because communication skills are increasingly needed in the working 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.
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Writing Intensive Course Requirement
As of the Fall 2005 semester all students enrolled in a bachelor’s degree program must successfully complete at least one writing-intensive (W) course at Farmingdale beyond EGL 101 and 102 with a grade of “C” or better to meet graduation requirements. This course may be one of the required courses in the student’s major, as listed below,
or an elective. EGL 101 is a prerequisite for all writing-intensive courses. Elective offerings will vary each semester, so students should consult course listings and speak with their advisors to make sure that the requirement is met. Students who are awarded transfer credit for a course listed below are required to take an additional W course at Farmingdale.
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The Committee on Writing
Full 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.
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Procedure for Offering a Writing-Intensive Course
When an approved writing-intensive course is offered by a faculty member who has not taught it before, that individual is expected to submit a new proposal. Any faculty member, with the approval of the department chair, may decide to make a new or existing course writing intensive by following the guidelines on the Web site and in the Faculty Handbook on Writing. The proposal should be sent to the director, who will present it to the Writing Committee for approval. Once the course is approved, it is up to the department chair to arrange for the offering of the course with department consultation if needed. While most departments have committed to making one course writing intensive no matter who teaches it, other courses may be offered as writing intensive or not, depending on individual preference.
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Guidelines for Writing Intensive Courses
The guidelines below are similar to requirements at other colleges. Given the broad array of disciplines at Farmingdale, it is expected that some flexibility may be needed, but a course must make a clear distinction between high-stakes and low-stakes writing as defined below, and there should be a mechanism for giving feedback to students and requiring revision. The underlying assumption is that students learn best by correcting their own misconceptions about a subject.
Writing-intensive courses will be limited to 20 students if possible.
Faculty development is an essential part of the program.
Faculty should plan to attend workshops and monthly forums.
Participating faculty must provide a course proposal, including a syllabus and an outline of writing assignments as follows:
High-stakes writing (writing that will be revised and graded) should include at least 2,500-3,000 words (10-12 pages) .
This writing could be one long paper or several short papers including lab reports, if they are corrected and revised. If a research paper is assigned, it should be developed in stages with specific due dates for each assignment so that there is time for feedback and revision. It is expected that the writing will be proofread and word-processed, and where applicable, in an approved format, such as MLA or APA. High-stakes writing should count significantly towards the final grade.
Low-stakes writing (writing that is ungraded and informal) should be integrated into the course frequently.
Low-stakes writing might include journals, responses to texts or lectures, letters, or summaries. Low-stakes writing assignments may be brief enough to fit on a 3 X 5 card or as long as professor and students desire.
Where students have difficulty with basic skill s, they should be encouraged to seek help from the Writing Center, but in no case should students expect to be tutored in course content at the Writing Center.
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Towards Achieving Program Goals: Suggestions from WID Participants
At the WID Luncheon Forum on March 29, 2007, after considering some unsatisfactory student papers, participants made the following suggestions:
1. The assignment should be as specific as possible, listing points that the instructor wants students to cover.
2. To make students aware that grammar, spelling, and organization matter, the instructor should include a statement to that effect, and could even list specific guidelines, such as: reread for correct sentence structure; use spell-check; don’t use “it’s” (it is) when you mean its (possessive); etc.
3. Instructors should make clear that plagiarized papers fail. Note that if there are font changes, even in apostrophes, it is likely that the text was lifted.
4. If the beginning of a paper is unintelligible, very careless, or completely off topic, instructor should return it to the student without reading the entire text with instructions to rewrite.
5. Students should be given the opportunity to revise and receive an improved grade, even if this necessitates fewer written assignments. If instructor comments are ignored in the revision, the instructor need not read the whole paper but return it for further revision. The rationale is that students learn best from their own errors. If the entire class does poorly on an assignment, they should not pass, but rather be given another opportunity.
6. 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.
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