A Guide to the Writing Check for Faculty

What is the Writing Check?

A Writing Check (designated as WDEF in Spring 2020 and WSUP as of Fall 2020) is a way to notify students that they should spend additional time working to improve their writing during their time at Brown. Designed as an adjunct to faculty feedback on student writing, the process—noted by a “check” on students’ internal transcripts—helps faculty directly connect students with Brown’s writing support network. The 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.

The purpose of this guide is to (1) explain why the Writing Check system is in place, (2) provide recommendations to assist you in deciding whether to assign a check, (3) provide guidance on how to assign a check in Banner, and (4) describe how students are notified that they have received a check and the different ways that students may choose to address it before graduating from Brown. Students with two or more checks cannot graduate until they have resolved the checks through the process described below. (Please note that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, any checks issued in Spring 2020 will not count toward this total, as approved by the College Curriculum Council in April 2020.)

Why should a check be assigned?

Faculty are advised to assign a 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 have difficulty conveying their analysis of primary or secondary sources through writing
  • 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 other concerns about a student’s development as a writer, you may put the student directly in touch with the Writing Center via email ([email protected]), contact a Writing Center staff member,  or recommend that they schedule a Writing Center appointment where they can spend 60-minutes working one-on-one with a staff member. You can find more information about Writing Center consultations here.

How can a writing check be assigned?

A WDEF, or “Writing Deficiency,” can be used to indicate undergraduates who are having difficulty with their writing and would benefit from additional help. This checkmark can be applied to a student’s record in Banner under the Faculty Grade Entry.  (Please note that this checkmark will appear as WDEF in the instructor’s Banner grading option drop-down menu,  but in Fall 2020, the checkmark will transition to WSUP, or “Writing Support.”) A checkmark visible to academic advisors then appears on the student's internal academic record next to the course in question; the checkmark does not appear on the official Brown transcript. While faculty referrals are not required for students to have a consultation at the Writing Center, students with a WDEF will receive priority support and guidance about Writing Center resources by Writing Center staff. The first check acts as a warning.

After assigning a check to a student, the faculty member will receive an automatic email with a questionnaire regarding the student’s writing. Responses to this questionnaire will help Writing Center staff best support the student.

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

Students who receive a check will be contacted by the Writing Center to explain the writing resources available to them. If a student has received more than one check, Writing Center staff will contact them to determine how they will resolve the checks to enable graduation.

Students with more than one check cannot graduate until they have taken steps to address the check. There are four ways to address multiple WSUPs:

  1. Enroll in one Nonfiction Writing course: (1) ENGL 0900, Critical Reading/ Writing I: The Academic Essay or (2) ENGL 1030, Critical Reading/ Writing II: Research Essay. When students successfully complete the course, the checks are cleared.
  2. Enroll in a Writing Fellows course. When students successfully complete the course, the checks are cleared.
  3. Meet with a staff member in the Writing Center to be connected with a Writing Advisor and to establish a writing schedule for the semester. Students usually work on a minimum of three writing assignments (at least 12-15 pages of writing in total). For each assignment, a student’s Writing Advisor will read and respond to a draft and then meet with them to talk about their revision plans. The check is cleared at the end of the semester after students schedule a reflective meeting with their Writing Advisors.
  4. If students receive no additional writing checks and complete a combination of 3 or more WRIT, English, Comparative Literature, or Literary Arts classes, their writing checks will be cleared at the end of their 7th semester.