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History of WAC at York

The York College Writing Across the Curriculum requirement legislated by the York College Senate in May, 2001 includes provisions for Writing Enhancement in General Education courses and for Writing Intensive courses in all the disciplines.

The provision for Writing Enhancement reads:

"All courses included among the College’s General Education requirements will be designated and taught as Writing Enhanced."

It continues by specifying that the writing activities and assignments be "designed to develop students’ competence in reading, critical thinking, and writing." Writing enhanced courses not only include writing; they use it as a means to develop thinking and the ability to express thoughts.

The provision for Writing Intensive Courses reads:

"For graduation, the College will require completion of two designated Writing Intensive (WI) courses in the lower division of the curriculum (at the 100- or 200- level) . . . and one designated WI course in the upper-division (at the 300-level or above), within the major discipline design."

"WI courses are subject-area courses that build on the foundational writing courses (English 125 and Writing 301, 302, or 303) to practice and extend skills in reading, critical thinking, and writing by incorporating guided writing assignments."

This second provision of the WAC legislation requires students to select the appropriate number of WI courses and requires the academic disciplines to define and designate WI courses in sufficient numbers for students to be able to meet the requirement in a timely way. Courses may be designated either on a semester-to-semester basis or as a permanent part of the curriculum.

An emphasis on high-stakes writing assignments also distinguishes WI courses from the Writing Enhanced courses in General Education.

Currently, students who entered York College in or after Fall 2003 must complete a minimum of three writing-intensive (WI) courses, two in the lower division, and one in the upper-division within the major.

In 2001, the CUNY Sub-Committee on Models and Methods, endorsed by the University-wide Committee on Writing Across the Curriculum, published Recommendations for Writing Across the Curriculum and Writing in the Disciplines. As part of these recommendations, they specified that “class size should be limited to 20 in Writing Intensive courses,” and that “class sizes larger than 20 should have tutorial add-ons of various kinds.”

In May 2001, the York College Faculty Senate approved the initial proposal for the Writing Across the Curriculum program at York, including the stipulation for Writing Intensive courses: “Course enrollment is capped at 25.”