Program for Writing Across Campus Principles

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The mission of the Program for Writing Across Campus is to offer discipline-linked writing courses that create small intellectual communities focused on students' development as writers. Through personalized instruction, including conferencing over writing in progress, we partner with our students to help them cultivate disciplinary and rhetorical knowledge, and confidence in their communication skills and practices. We celebrate the different communities and audiences that students want to engage with, and we respect their aims as composers. We see collaborative engagement over context-specific writing as an important means of fostering students' academic, professional, and personal success.

The following principles are designed to complement the program mission, and refer in particular to the kinds of writing knowledge that should provide a basis for all Writing Across Campus curriculum.

The Principles

Writing reflects the ways knowledge is made

The ways that writing and communication happen within a discipline or community cannot be disentangled from the ways that knowledge is constructed there. Therefore WAC courses involve conversations, readings, and assignments that explore what kinds of knowledge are valued in the linked discipline, and how that knowledge is communicated.

Writing is context-specific

There is no such thing as universally “good writing.” PWAC courses help students become attuned to different kinds of rhetorical situations, particularly with respect to power and difference, and respond to them appropriately and ethically. Those situations might be disciplinary, public, professional, personal, or otherwise.

Knowledge about writing can transfer to other contexts

While “good writing” is not universal, there are recognizable patterns of effective writing within common situations. PWAC courses will teach students to carry forward strategies for recognizing and responding to the demands of writing situations that may be either familiar or new.

Writing is always a process

All writing profits from a process of brainstorming, researching, drafting, getting feedback, and revising (though these stages are not always in the same order, and they often overlap). Therefore writing in all WAC courses is carefully “scaffolded,” or supported, so that students can learn to develop and articulate increasingly complex ideas over time.

Displinary writing involves multiple literacies

We make sense of the world by receiving and sharing all kinds of information beyond the written word. For that reason, PWAC courses teach different kinds of literacies as they are relevant to the linked discipline, including textual, digital, technological, informational, visual, spatial, geographical, and media literacies. These literacies also include strategies for critical reading that are often discipline-specific.

Writing and learning to write is a communal activity

Writing with instructors, peers, and campus and community partners is the best way to learn to write. Because we view writing as a communal practice, PWAC fosters small learning communities in all its courses. Our aim is to strengthen students' engagements with and contributions to other communities in their academic, personal, and professional lives.