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How to Submit a Writing-Intensive Course Proposal

Information about the procedures to have courses approved to be writing intensive is available below in two formats: interactive PDF that can be saved (.pdf) and HTML (web-based text).

Download copies of the forms and sample proposals in interactive PDF document format: Writing-Intensive Procedures (contains forms, instructions, and explanations needed to submit a course proposal to the Liberal Studies Committee for approval as a writing intensive course)

This packet of materials is for use by individuals and departments who wish to designate courses as “Writing Intensive.” It contains:

  1. Procedures for using the W-designation, as agreed upon by the UWUCC and the LSC
  2. Cover sheet for Request for Approval to Use W-designation
  3. Criteria for writing-intensive courses, as approved by the University Senate, including checklists: “The Liberal Studies Committee’s Most Frequently Asked Questions” and “Summary of Writing Assignments”
  4. Bibliography of materials on teaching writing-intensive courses

What is a Writing-intensive course?

The University Senate defines this as a course that has content as its primary focus but that also reinforces writing skills by using writing in a substantial way to enhance learning.

As those of you who attended an IUP Writing Workshop know, these courses are not created by merely tacking on more writing assignments. Writing is not an “extra”; rather, it becomes an integral part of the learning process. Writing is not added to content; it is a way of improving students’ understanding of content. The motto of the writing-across-the-curriculum movement is “Writing to Learn.”

The best way to begin revising a course to make it writing-intensive is to think clearly about your objectives. What do you want the students to learn or to be able to do? With your objectives clearly in mind, you can then choose writing assignments—from the dozens of possibilities available—that will most increase learning.

This means that there is no “perfect” formula that will work for every instructor in every course. You have a great deal of flexibility in designing your course and in selecting your writing activities. There are, however, minimums set out in the Criteria for Writing-intensive Courses, and you must, of course, observe those.

A note about the two sample proposals: These are not intended to suggest a “best” or “right” or “only” way to design a course. They are intended to define the form that the LSC asks you to follow when submitting a proposal. Committee members will have many proposals to read, and you can help them (and yourself) by arranging material in a standard way.

Any LSC member will be happy to read your proposal informally prior to submission or to refer you to someone with more expertise.

Procedures for Using the W-Designation

The W-designation may be applied to a course or section only when authorized by the Liberal Studies Committee (LSC); attaching a W indicates that the course or section is “writing-intensive” and meets the criteria established by the University Senate. All LSC actions either authorizing or denying authorization for a W-designation will be reported to the UWUCC for information.

How Do We Get the Process Started?

  1. Read the Senate-approved criteria for writing-intensive courses. Consider attending a writing workshop designed to help faculty members prepare proposals, or talk with a colleague who has attended. Read the introduction and look at the sample proposals available from the LSC.
  2. Complete the application form, get the necessary signatures and send one (1) copy of the form and its attachments to the LSC.

How Much Flexibility Will We Have Within the Department?

You have a great deal of flexibility. Because the LSC knows that departments face different situations, it will authorize the use of a W-designation in any of three ways:

I. Professor Makes a Commitment to Writing

A professor may make a commitment to IUP’s Writing Across the Curriculum program. The W may then be attached to any course that she or he elects to teach in a writing-intensive way. (The professor need not emphasize writing in every course, every time; this method permits the use of the W, but does not demand it universally.) To make a commitment, a professor must: (1) indicate his or her intention on the application cover sheet, (2) have completed an approved writing workshop, (3) submit an acceptable proposal for one W-course, and (4) agree to forward to the LSC, for its information, syllabi for subsequently offered W courses or sections.

Professors will be asked to indicate, every five years, if they want to continue the commitment.

II. Department Identifies a Writing-Intensive Course

A department may indicate that one of its courses will be a writing-intensive course regardless of who teaches it. To receive authorization to use the W for a departmental course, a department must: (1) submit an acceptable proposal for that W-course, and (2) attach a supplementary statement explaining how the department will ensure that whoever teaches the course will abide by the syllabus, use the same or equivalent writing assignments, and be familiar with current theory and practice in writing-across-the-curriculum.

III. Professor Makes Individual Course Application

A professor may apply to use a W-designation on a course-by-course basis. A small team of professors who regularly teach a course together may submit a jointly-prepared proposal in this same manner. To receive authorization for a course, a professor or team must submit an acceptable proposal for that W-course. [Note: this form of authorization is both course-specific and professor(s)-specific. It cannot be carried by the professor(s) to other courses, nor can it be used for this course when other professors are teaching it, unless they submit their own applications.]

How Long Will It Take to Get Approval?

The LSC will make every effort to act promptly on applications. Assuming that the proposal contains no insufficiencies, a submission by November 1 will receive action in time for inclusion on the next Summer or Fall schedules; a submission by April 1 will receive action in time for inclusion on the next Spring schedule.

How Does the W-Designation Get on the Class Schedule?

The department chairperson does this when preparing the “Final Class Schedule.” The director of Liberal Studies will provide in a timely fashion a list of writing-intensive authorizations so that chairpersons can do this with assurance. As in the case of all scheduling decisions, it is assumed that the chairperson will have consulted appropriately with faculty and deans and considered the programmatic needs of students served by the department.

In the case of a professor commitment, the chairperson may apply a W to any course or section of a course any time this professor is the instructor (assuming, of course, that the professor agrees to teach this course in a writing-intensive manner). In the case of a departmental course, the W may be applied any time that the department can fulfill its promise to ensure the course is writing-intensive. In the case of a professor/individual course authorization, the chairperson may apply a W only when the specific professor(s) and specific course are paired on the class schedule.

The chairperson has a good deal of flexibility: The W may be applied to some sections of a course without applying it to all. The W may be applied to a course or section for some semesters without incurring an obligation to apply it every time the course is taught.

Because there is flexibility, however, chairpersons have a responsibility, when scheduling a W course or section, to communicate with involved faculty members to be sure that they are willing and intending to teach in a writing-intensive manner on this occasion.

Periodic Evaluation and Review of These Procedures:
(Agreement between UWUCC and LSC)
  1. The LSC will report annually to the UWUCC on how these procedures are working.
  2. These procedures will be reviewed jointly by the UWUCC and LSC at the end of three years.

Agreement Renewed: 10/92

Checklist for Writing-Intensive Proposals Document icon
Interactive PDF File (can be saved). The Liberal Studies Committee’s most frequently asked questions, based on the Senate criteria for writing-intensive courses for all writing-intensive courses.
Interactive Summary Chart for Writing Assignments Document icon
Interactive PDF File - can be saved
Request for Approval to Use W-Designation Document icon
Interactive PDF File - can be saved
Writing Across the Curriculum Document icon
Criteria for Writing-Intensive Courses (PDF)
Sample Proposals Document icon
For writing-intensive courses (PDF)
 
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