Teaching Writing

Resources for Faculty Teaching a WRIT Course

1. Overview of the Writing Requirement at Brown

The writing requirement is designed to allow students the opportunity to gain and develop their writing skills over the course of their time at Brown. Courses that fulfill the writing requirement offer instruction, feedback, and guidance in disciplinary or academic writing conventions for students. Writing-designated (WRIT) courses provide students with substantive formative feedback on a minimum of two writing assignments. For example, students might have the opportunity to draft a writing assignment, receive instructor feedback, and then revise the assignment based on feedback. Research shows that writing is an iterative process and that students learn best when given the opportunity to revise their work based on writing-specific feedback they receive (Sommers, 2013).

More information on the WRIT requirement

Information on the Writing Check

2. Suggested Language and Key Considerations for WRIT Course Syllabi

Sample Syllabus Statement:

"This course is a writing-designated course (WRIT): (1) you have the opportunity to write at least twice, (2) you receive substantive feedback on your writing, and (3) you have opportunities to apply feedback to multiple drafts of the same assignment or future drafts of different writing assignments. There are many resources on campus to support your writing, including the Writing Center, English Language Learning, and Subject Specialists in the Library."

Information to Include on WRIT-designated Course Syllabi:

  • The ways in which the course will either introduce students to academic writing conventions, or help them develop discipline-specific writing skills.

  • The ways in which writing will help students learn the course material. 

  • The amount of time students should expect to spend on writing in your course (drafting, revising, giving peer feedback, etc.).

  • A brief description of the required writing assignments, their due dates, information about writing-focused feedback students will receive, and information about how the assignments will be assessed or evaluated.

  • One or more writing-related course goals or outcomes.

  • Other Considerations for Designing a WRIT Course:

  • Have you considered how you might scaffold longer assignments into manageable smaller tasks for students?

  • Have you considered structuring the course so that students have completed one writing assignment before beginning another?

  • Have you considered defining or describing what good writing in your discipline means for students?

  • If you are assigning multiple drafts, does the course schedule allow time for you or your TAs to read and respond to drafts and also allow for students to read and consider comments in order to make appropriate revisions? (Students can usually revise a five-page paper in two or three days, and a ten-page paper in five days.)

3. Sheridan Center Resources to Help You and Your Students:

  • Sheridan Center staff members Dr. Stacy Kastner (Associate Director of the Writing Center) and Dr. Jessica Metzler (Associate Director, Humanities and Social Sciences) are available for 1:1 consultations. To arrange a consultation on designing a WRIT course, developing writing assignments, responding to student writing, or assessing writing assignments, please email sheridan_center@brown.edu.

  • Faculty who are interested in (re)designing and developing a writing course in their discipline might be interested in the Sheridan Learning Collaborative Writing Across the Curriculum Seminar.

  • You may encourage students to visit the Writing Center, where they can spend 60-minutes working one-on-one with a Writing Associate, Coach, or English Language Learning Specialist on clearly articulating and persuasively arranging their ideas in writing. Please put students who are seeking regular (weekly or bi-weekly) practice with a Writing Associate or Coach in touch with the Associate Director (stacy_kastner@brown.edu). We do request that faculty not require Writing Center appointments because our staff has found that students are more productive when they are self-motivated.

  • Additionally, you may contact the Associate Director (stacy_kastner@brown.edu) if you would like the Writing Center to visit your classes to facilitate peer response sessions and/or writing groups. The Writing Center is also available to develop a workshop or presentation that addresses the needs of a faculty member’s particular course and writing objectives.

4. Web Resources to Support Your Work:

  • The Sheridan Center offers digital resources on course and syllabus design, effective classroom practices, and assessment.

  • The Harvard Writing Project has well-developed resources for faculty regarding writing assignment design and response methods.

  • Carnegie Mellon University maintains a page of resources for faculty teaching writing across the disciplines; their guidance on creating rubrics to assist with writing assessment is particularly useful and includes sample rubrics from across the disciplines.

  • University of Michigan’s Sweetland Center for Writing has also developed an extensive page of resources for faculty members teaching writing across the curriculum, including information about collaborative projects, working with multilingual writers, and facilitating effective peer review.

  • The WAC Clearinghouse, hosted by Colorado State University, maintains a database of resources on writing across the curriculum for both faculty and students, including open-access student-centered readings on writing.

References

 Sommers, Nancy. Responding to Student Writers. Boston, Mass.: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2013. Print.