Martha A. Townsend, "Writing Intensive Courses and WAC," in: S. McLeod et al (eds.), WAC for the New Millennium: Strategies for Continuing Writing-Across-the-Curriculum Programs (Urbana: Nat. Council of Teachers of English, 200x), 234f.
Experienced WAC practitioners know that for WAC programs to be successful they must be institutionally specific. That is to say, WAC programs must be locally designed to fit within a given institution's particular context. Similarly, WI course requirements should be defined within the local context to ensure the best possible chance for success. The language that defines course requirements at a comprehensive research university may not work at a small liberal arts college or in a large, multicampus, two-year college system. Despite variations in language, however, the guidelines for WI courses at most institutions are surprisingly similar. Farris and Smith provide an excellent overview of features that typify WI courses, paraphrased and summarized here:
The characteristic that is probably most variable among programs is the amount of writing required. Actually, many WAC directors find page- or word-count stipulations one of the least intrinsically relevant aspects of their programs, but they acknowledge the need to provide them so that faculty and students have some common sense of scope. More meaningful to WI course quality are the frequency of writing, the usefulness of instructor feedback, the opportunity for revision, and, most important, the design of the writing assignments and their "fit" with the pedagogical aims of the course. Usually, WI courses will include some combination of both writing-to-learn and writing-to-communicate assignments, although the balance of these will vary based on instructor preference, course goals, and the course's place in the curriculum, e.g., lower division, upper division, for majors only, for general education purposes. Typically, traditional term papers are discouraged unless they are assigned in sequenced segments with teacher feedback and revision incorporated.
The more astute programmatic guidelines are couched in diplomatic language, allow for flexibility among disciplines, and account for individual instructors' teaching preferences. In most universities, oversight committees responsible for vetting WI courses have little finite authority; moreover, they recognize the perils of constituting themselves as the campus "WI police." Instead, most programs are interested in overall pedagogical change. Susan McLeod, in sharing an anecdote on how WAC had changed one teacher's life, concluded by noting that: [end of page]
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