The Writing Intensive Course Syllabus

The Writing Intensive Course Syllabus

The syllabus for any course is a contract between instructor and student, outlining expectations, procedures, and requirements. Your course syllabus is a first impression. It introduces the student to you as an instructor and will set the tone for the semester. When a course is designated Writing Intensive (WI), the syllabus should reflect the general principles of good writing. Set an early example by using complete citations and complete sentences. Take the time to proofread your own work, and use the citation style of your discipline when listing readings for the courses.

Conceptualizing Writing-Related Objectives in the WI Proposal and Syllabus

Before teaching a WI course, here are some useful tips to consider:

• In crafting your objectives of the course, think carefully about how to structure and include writing in your course. Rather than counting as busy work, the seemingly tedious task of including writing can be accomplished in several ways.

Writing Intensive Courses

• Use writing to enhance learning and understanding of course content. Articulate in a specific way how much writing will count for in the syllabus. Students are more likely to take writing seriously if students understand and make the connection between how assignments are structured and the course objectives.

• Create clear guidelines for how specific components of the course objectives are to be fulfilled each week in each assignment so that students view each assignment as a staircase of building skills that enhance their learning of content both within and beyond the course.

• By including a rubric for both informal and formal writing assignments students are more likely to view writing assignments as an investment towards learning and fulfilling the course objectives.

• In turn, having shorter and more informal writing assignments geared towards fulfilling your course objective can highlight the importance of writing in the formulation and articulation of ideas.

• Writing assignments can also prepare students for externally administered examinations such as the CUNY Proficiency Examination (CPE) and examinations related to the discipline.

In the example below, the WI information has been structured to reflect the purpose of the course. This example cites the WI requirement and describes what the requirement means for a student taking this course. Psychology 330 is a permanently designated WI course. All sections of the course are always offered as WI. The instructors of these courses use some version of the statement that follows.

Psychology 330 WI: Foundations of Research in Psychology

This course is a Writing Intensive (WI) course. All students who entered the College in Fall 2001 or later are required to take three WI courses before graduating. Two courses must be in the lower division of the curriculum (at the 100- or 200- level) and one must be in the upper division (at the 300- level or above) within the major design (as is Psychology 330).

This designation does not change the structure of this course as it has been taught. Rather, it acknowledges that this course meets the standards of a WI course as specified by CUNY and has therefore earned this designation. The formal writing assignments for the course are described below. Additionally, there will be in-class writing exercises and discussions that are related to these assignments. This work is meant to enhance your understanding of writing as a process and writing for the discipline of Psychology.

Your syllabus must include information about the way the writing assignments as well as drafts of those assignments will be graded and what portion of the course grade is dedicated to these assignments. Your specific course assignment(s) need not appear on the syllabus, but may be distributed separately.

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