The Writing Intensive (WI) Requirement
Passed in December 1993 by the Faculty Senate, implemented in Fall 1995, and amended in May 1997, the Writing Intensive (WI) requirement stipulates that,
every undergraduate student must complete at least one writing-intensive course
in the major at the 300 level or above.
While other courses in the major may require written projects, the purpose of a designated Writing Intensive (WI) course in the major is to instruct students in the main types of writing practiced by members of the discipline. Specifically, the course must give students opportunities to draft and revise based on instructor feedback so that they can practice the writing processes, forms, and conventions expected in the field. The WI requirement was mandated by the Faculty Senate, and the Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) Committee convened to oversee the requirement. The WAC Committee understands that writing varies by discipline, and thus instructors in the discipline are most qualified to teach writing practices specific to the major.
All Writing-Intensive Courses Will Meet the Following Criteria
Please note: All WI course syllabi should have a statement that describes WI courses and their criteria; for examples, please click here.
- Section size is limited to 35.
- However, the WAC Committee strongly encourages departments to set enrollments at 25 or lower. Lower student enrollments enable both instructors and students to meet WI goals successfully.
- WI Courses must be offered and taken in the major.
- Departments are encouraged to develop WI Courses within the major as part of the core curriculum offered. In rare circumstances, a new and/or developing program may need to seek a temporary arrangement with a different department or unit to provide WI course credit to students. In this case, please contact the Director of the WAC program to discuss the application and approval process.
- WI Courses must carry 3-credits.
- Departments may meet this requirement via a single course or a series of courses or according to the degree plan. In some instances this requirement will be waived. (Departments seeking to waive this requirement must demonstrate how students are asked to meet all other requirements of a WI course and speak to issues of faculty workload.)
- Faculty will devote significant time to instruction on writing in the course and on how to complete assignments successfully.
- Detailed written assignments with explicit learning goals and evaluative criteria are strongly encouraged as part of this instruction. Expectations should be communicated for all types of writing, including writing in digital spaces, as appropriate to the assignment. For example, expectations for a blog or discussion post may vary depending on the purpose for the assignment and the discipline, and these distinctions and expectations should be made explicit.
- Students are required to revise at least one substantive assignment in the course based on instructor feedback.
- In courses in which students complete multiple short assignments of a similar nature, e.g., mathematical proofs, revision need not be required. However, instructor feedback should still be given so that students have the opportunity to improve. If the only assignment in the course is not due until the end of the course, it should be divided into sequenced sections that receive feedback and can be revised.
- Students will receive instructor feedback on their writing.
- Feedback should focus on how meaning is made in the discipline, including organizational strategies, written forms and conventions, appropriate evidence and source use, etc. The types of writing and the grade value assigned to them will vary according to the discipline and the assignment. Note: While peer feedback can also be a valuable part of the process, it does not replace instructor expertise.
- All of the writing assignments in the course should count substantially toward students’ final grades in the course. To this end, students should be asked to write a minimum of 3500 words, divided among two or more assignments.
- Writing that specifically addresses and is graded on how well students address the content, intended audience, and rhetorical purposes can count towards the minimum word requirement.
- Sample WI Syllabi
- Example WI Syllabus Statements
- Form for Proposing a Writing-Intensive Course (PDF or DOCX)
- Full list of current WI courses: Mason Core Page or Mason Catalog
- More resources for WI Faculty are available here.
“Writing Rich Courses”
Many faculty include writing assignments and discussions of writing in their courses for the rich opportunity writing about content material provides students as learners. But, please note, only courses reviewed and approved by the WAC committee actually grant these credits to students.We know this can be confusing for faculty and students alike, so for faculty who include a great deal of writing in their courses that do not carry the official WI Course designation we suggest adapting one of the following statements for your syllabus. For more information, click here.
This class is includes a good deal of writing as that is a pedagogical approach I value. It is not, however, a designated ‘WI course,’ because it has not been approved but the Faculty Senate’s WAC Committee to provide WI credits to students in the major.
This class uses writing as a form of learning—students will produce a substantial amount of text, discuss, workshop, and revise the writing they produce, and learn about the expectations for writers in the X major via our assignments. (Please note: This class does not carry the ‘WI Course’ designation that students need for graduation.)
Even though this class does not carry the ‘WI Course’ designation, this class includes a good deal of writing. Writing has been shown to deepen learning, especially helping to develop critical thinking skills. You will be asked to revise following my feedback and to demonstrate attention to the conventions of college-level writing.
This course employs writing as a principal method for understanding and making meaning out of course content. It does not carry the WI Course designation granted by the Faculty Senate WAC Committee.