WIN(ning) Initiative

As evidence of the robust culture of writing that exists at Mason, we can point to the number of academic programs that have infused writing into courses throughout their undergraduate curriculum rather than in just one or two designated writing-intensive courses. To recognize these programmatic efforts as well as to support others striving to attain a similar goal, the WAC program is engaging in a new Writing-Infused, or WIN(ning), initiative.

WIN(ning) Programs at George Mason University (Spring 2012)

  • Criminology, Law, and Society
    • in progress
  • English
    • in progress
  • History
    • in progress
  • Philosophy
    • in progress
  • Social Work
    • in progress
  • Systems Engineering
    • in progress

Characteristics of a WIN(ning) Program

WIN(ning) programs include all or most of the following:

  • Descriptions of the most typical genres/kinds of writing assigned to student writers
  • Attention to scaffolding writing tasks with descriptions of the base-line writing skills students will learn/should have learned as they move from course to course across the program curriculum
  • Explicitly articulated expectations/outcomes for student writing
  • A plan for and commitment to assessing students’ growth as writers and/or student writing competence in the course and the curriculum
  • Faculty development in teaching with writing*
  • Some indication on program website that this is a WIN(ning) program and why
  • Students’ accomplishments as writers recognized through writing awards and/or other means best suited to individual programs**

WIN(ning) courses may include different kinds of writing tasks and different levels of attention to writing, but writing is, in some way, a component of most courses in a WIN(ning) program. “Attention to writing” may include all or many of the following:

  • Learning goals for writing in the course are made explicit.
  • Some kind of writing—low-stakes/high-stakes–occurs regularly throughout semester.
  • Informal writing (writing-to-learn), e.g. journals, discussion boards, in-class writing, is used to discover, to learn, to synthesize, to problem solve, etc.
  • One or more formal papers are assigned, but, preferably, not a long paper at the very end of the semester.
  • Instructor explains how writing is used by professionals in the discipline/field.
  • Instructor asks for reflective writing—on learning and on one’s self as writer.
  • Instructor is attentive to developing clearly articulated writing assignments with writing goals made explicit.
  • Instructor utilizes effective response practices.
  • Writing is used as part of the whole learning process to gauge students’ critical understanding of course content.

*Faculty development may take the form of department and peer-to-peer conversations about writing and informal mentoring of new faculty. The WIN(ning) program liaison may lead workshops or invite a writing specialist to conduct workshops and will take the lead on disseminating advice on best practices and other relevant material.

** Writing awards may be given in conjunction with the WAC program, which will support the awards as necessary and as the budget allows.