A Guide to the Writing Check for Faculty

The purpose of this Guide is to (1) explain why the writing check is in place, (2) provide recommendations to assist you in deciding whether or not to assign a check, (3) provide guidance on how to assign a writing check in Banner, and (4) describe how students are notified that they have received a writing check and the different ways that students may choose to address it before graduating from Brown. 

What is the writing check? 

A writing check necessitates that students spend additional time working to improve their writing before they can graduate. The writing check is a process—noted by a “check” on students’ internal transcripts—that helps faculty directly connect students with Brown’s writing support network. The writing check emphasizes the value the Brown community places on written communication and helps to ensure that learning to write well is an integral and intentional part of all students’ educational experiences. 

Why should a writing check be assigned? 

Faculty are advised to assign a writing check to students if there are significant concerns about one or more of the following:

  • Their writing lacks awareness of purpose, audience, and/or genre

  • They use primary or secondary sources improperly

  • Their sentences cannot be easily understood

  • They are unfamiliar with the kinds of writing required of them at Brown

  • They struggle to complete writing assignments

For less significant concerns about a student’s development as a writer, you may put the student directly in touch with the Associate Director of the Writing Center via email (stacy_kastner@brown.edu) or recommend that they schedule a Writing Center appointment where they can spend 60-minutes working one-on-one with a staff member.

How can a writing check be assigned? 

The WDEF (Writing Deficiency) column in Banner - Faculty Grade Entry can be used to indicate undergraduates who are having difficulty with their writing and would benefit from additional help. Selecting WDEF will post a “⇃” to the student’s internal academic record.  

How can students address a writing check once it has been assigned? 

Students who receive writing checks are contacted by the Registrar’s Office at the beginning of the following semester and directed to meet with the Associate Director of the Writing Center to determine how they will address the writing check and to learn about writing resources on campus. Students with a writing check cannot graduate until they have taken steps to address the check. 

1. Students can enroll in and successfully complete (1) ENGL 0900, Critical Reading/Writing I: The Academic Essay, (2)a Writing Fellows course, or (3) ENGL 1030, Critical Reading/Writing II: Research Essay. When they successfully complete the course, the check is cleared. 

2. Students who have completed a combination of 3 or more WRIT, English, Comparative Literature, or Literary Arts classes without receiving another writing check, have their checks cleared at the end of their 7th semester.

3. Students can enroll in a WRIT course and work closely with a Writing Center staff member. Students generally meet around five times over the course of the semester with the same person in the Writing Center (sometimes with subject librarians as well). When students successfully complete the course, the check is cleared.

4. Students can enroll in a non-WRIT course that will require them to produce a fair amount of writing and work closely with a Writing Center staff member. Students generally meet around five times over the course of the semester with the same person in the Writing Center (sometimes with subject librarians as well). The staff member will clear the writing check when the student has met the requisite criteria.