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The Writing Intensive Course

All students work to develop the critical reading and writing skills introduced in the First-year Seminar by completing at least one Writing Intensive (WR) Course. A WR course is a regular academic course designed to integrate the teaching of writing with the teaching of subject matter. Students usually take the WR course after completing the First-year Seminar, but WR courses cannot be senior seminars. WR courses are offered across the curriculum and are normally taken within the major. Because teaching a WR course requires much time and energy, the class size is generally, although not necessarily, limited to sixteen students.
The central goal of a WR course is to teach students that writing is a process of planning, drafting, revising, and editing. A WR course may also introduce students to the specific forms of writing common to a discipline, teach students strategies for identifying and correcting error and polishing prose style, and encourage students to read attentively for content and an author’s purpose, audience, and context.

Because revision is key to improving writing, students in a WR course should submit drafts of papers written for the course and then revise them in accordance with instructor comments (written and/or oral). Additional feedback may come from peer critiques and Writing Center conferences. In a WR course, students are generally required to submit approximately 4,000 words (15 pages) of polished, graded prose. Kinds of assignments may vary greatly, depending on the discipline, and may include expository essays, lab reports, case studies, and term papers that are divided into stages that receive feedback. The grade for a WR course should reflect the central role of writing. Faculty may supplement formal writing assignments with writing exercises to help students learn course content.

We believe that writing is most effectively taught and learned in the major, at a point when students have committed to a course of study. All departments are thus expected by the Academic Program Committee to offer at least one course that meets the general guidelines for a WR course. The Subcommittee on Writing and the Writing Director will assist each department in formulating specific goals, standards and formats for its WR course(s).

Click here to download the Instructor's Form Requesting WR Course Designation.

Director of Writing: Noreen Lape


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