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Writign Guidelines Draft 4-9-07

Recommended Writing Course Guidelines (March 13, 2007)

This document describes the Writing Course Guidelines for The University of Montana-Missoula.

 

I. Overview

The ability to write effectively is fundamental to a liberal arts education, essential to academic inquiry, and better prepares students to succeed in their academic, professional, and civic endeavors. Composition and writing courses at The University of Montana (UM) help students become adept at writing for a variety of audiences and purposes. Students should learn to use writing as a means of synthesizing and retaining course material.
 

Writing Requirements

To satisfy the writing requirements at UM and to demonstrate writing proficiency, students must complete:

  • College Composition (ENEX 101), with a grade of C or better
  • One lower-division writing course (numbered 100-200), with a grade of C or better
  • The Upper-Division Writing Proficiency Assessment, with a score of 3 or better
  • Departmental upper-division writing requirement consisting of one of the following options
  • o One upper-division writing course (numbered 300-400), with a grade of C or better defined by the department and approved by the ASCRC Writing Committee
  • o Upper-division writing expectation defined by the department and approved by the ASCRC Writing Committee

College Composition
The Composition Program seeks to advance the University's mission to pursue academic excellence in the context of writing instruction. Composition courses facilitate students' achievements in exploring and enacting rhetorical knowledge; critical thinking, reading, writing and research processes; and knowledge of conventions. Writing is a powerful means of purposeful inquiry, communication, and action in the classroom and in the world.

Lower-Division Writing Courses

Courses numbered 100-200 and accompanied by a "w" designation are lower-division writing courses. These courses use informal and formal writing to enhance writing skills and promote critical thinking in content areas. Students are required to complete the College Composition course (ENEX 101), or its equivalent, prior to taking a lower-division w-course.

Writing Proficiency Assessment

The Upper-Division Writing Proficiency Assessment is a two-hour essay exam that all students seeking their first undergraduate degree must pass. Students pass the exam if their essay demonstrates adequate critical reading, writing, and reasoning skills as measured against a published scoring rubric (available at http://www.umt.edu/writingcenter/documents/17.WPAScoringCriteria.pdf). The exam may be taken after students complete 45 credits and passed before earning 70 credits.

Upper-Division Writing Courses

Courses numbered 300-400 and accompanied by a "w" designation are upper-division writing courses. Unlike the lower-division w-courses, these writing classes typically focus on the student's major area of study; as such, the courses are developed by faculty members according to their expertise in disciplinary conventions for research, analysis and writing in their fields and focus on teaching those same skills to their students.

 

Samples of Writing Tasks

Writing tasks may include formal and informal, graded and ungraded, and in-class or out-of-class exercises.  The range of possible writing tasks includes journal entries; case studies; lab reports; free writing; annotated bibliography; essay; analyses; proposals; abstracts; reviews; field notes; electronic postings; research papers; or proofs.



II. Guidelines
W-courses are designed to fit into a logical progression of writing development as students move through the college curriculum. Therefore, lower and upper-division writing courses have different expectations. Courses that are designated as w-courses are reviewed and approved by the Writing Committee and Academic Standards and Curriculum Review Committee (ASCRC). Faculty proposing writing courses or those that are assigned to teach departmental courses are encouraged to seek guidance from the Writing Center or other campus resources. Departments will determine the criteria for graders, if used.

Lower-Division Writing Courses

Upon completing the lower-division w-course, students should understand writing as means to practice academic inquiry and be able to formulate and express opinions and ideas in writing. Upon completing the lower-division w-course, the student should be able to:

Learning Outcomes

  • Use writing to learn and synthesize new concepts
  • Formulate and express opinions and ideas in writing
  • Compose written documents that are appropriate for a given audience or purpose
  • Revise written work based on feedback
  • Give constructive feedback on written work
  • Begin to use discipline-specific writing conventions
  • Apply appropriate English language usage

Requirements for Lower-Division Writing Courses

 

  • Limit enrollment to 25 students per instructor or grader
  • Identify course outcomes in the syllabus
  • Provide students with detailed written instructions, including criteria for evaluation, for all formal writing assignments
  • Require students to write frequently for a range of audiences, purposes, and genres
  • o Formal or informal
  • o Graded or ungraded
  • o In-class or out-of-class
  • Provide feedback on students' writing and give students the opportunity to revise and resubmit at least one formal writing assignment
  • Require each student individually to compose at least 16 pages of writing for assessment over the course of the semester
  • Base a significant portion (at least 50% of a 3 credit course or equivalent hours) of the course grade on student performance on writing assignments

Upper-Division Writing Courses
Upon completing the upper-division w-course, students should be more active, confident, and effective contributors to a body of knowledge and should understand the ethical dimensions of inquiry. Upon completing the upper-division writing course, the student should be able to:

Learning Outcomes

  • Identify and pursue more sophisticated questions for academic inquiry
  • Find, evaluate, analyze, and synthesize information from diverse source material
  • Manage multiple perspectives and voices in writing
  • Recognize the purposes and needs of discipline-specific audiences and adopt the academic voice necessary for the chosen discipline
  • Understand the value and use of multiple drafts, revision, and editing in conducting inquiry and preparing written work
  • Follow the conventions of citation, documentation, and formal presentation appropriate to that discipline
  • Develop competence in information technology and digital literacy

Requirements for Upper-Division Writing Courses

  • Limit enrollment to 25 students per instructor or grader
  • Identify course outcomes in the syllabus
  • Provide students with detailed written instructions, including criteria for evaluation, for all formal writing assignments
  • Require students to write frequently for a range of audiences, purposes, and genres
  • o Formal or informal
  • o Graded or ungraded
  • o In-class or out-of-class
  • Provide feedback on students' writing and give students the opportunity to revise and resubmit at least one formal writing assignment
  • Require each student to individually compose at least 20 pages of writing for assessment over the course of the semester
  • Base a significant portion (at least 50% of a 3 credit course or equivalent hours) of the course grade on student performance on writing assignments

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recommended Department and Campus Support for Writing Courses

To ensure sufficient support for faculty members who teach writing courses, academic departments and the administration are encouraged to consider the following recommendations:

  • Provide teaching and grading support when class enrollment exceeds 25
  • Compensate for the additional time and effort required for w-courses in unit standards
  • Provide for a reduction in teaching load for faculty who teach w-courses
  • Provide one-time grants for faculty members interested in developing a writing course
  • Provide a venue (e.g., a listserv) for faculty members to share ideas on writing courses
  • Provide development programs and support for faculty members teaching w-courses
  • Develop a list of ideas or examples of writing exercises designed to promote critical thinking
  • Ensure that Banner supports the guidelines for class size, course sequence, and grade requirements