Writing Intensive Courses

The Writing Intensive (WI) Requirement

Faculty across the curriculum share responsibility for helping students learn the conventions and rhetorical practices of their disciplines.

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.

The role of the Writing Intensive Course

Writing Intensive courses, which are taught in the majors and are recognized as a high-impact practice, serve as the third course in Mason’s vertical writing curriculum and build upon the knowledge and skills that students develop in Written Communications Lower- and Upper-Level courses. In Writing Intensive courses, students use writing to investigate questions and discover new knowledge, develop and refine their thinking through interactive writing processes, and learn field-specific ways to communicate their discoveries to a range of audiences. To support student learning, faculty devote significant class time to instruction on writing in the major and provide constructive feedback on student drafts. In this way, Writing Intensive courses prepare students to become engaged citizens who can communicate disciplinary knowledge across academic, professional, and civic contexts.

The goals in the WI Course

  • To facilitate students learning professional ways of writing, which are integrally connected with professional ways of knowing and ways of doing;
  • To increase student engagement around learning (since teaching writing across the curriculum is recognized as a high-impact teaching practice);
  • To make explicit the tacit communication practices expected of professionals in a particular discipline, profession, or field of study.

With these goals in mind, the WI course should provide support for learners through explicit instruction in the genres and practices of the discipline, both instructor and peer feedback, and additional instructional materials that specifically engage the practices of writing (e.g., model texts, textbooks, handouts, websites). The major writing assignments in WI courses should be closely tied to the content of the course, the goals of the program, and the activity of professionals in the field; these assignments should not be generic research papers assigned solely to meet the WI requirements.

Writing Intensive Course Requirements

All WI courses are required to satisfy the following:

Propose a New Writing Intensive Course

Additional Resources