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Writing Enriched Curriculum

About the Program

To enrich a curriculum with writing is to help students come to understand what composition scholar Judith Langer calls “the ways of knowing” a subject area. As Langer puts it:

“There is another way to view academic learning, however, that transforms the role of writing in schooling. This is to view the classroom as a community of scholars (or of scholars and apprentices) that has its own public forums, with associate rules of evidence and procedures for carrying discussion forward. Students must learn, then, not only the basic facts around which discussion is structured but the appropriate and inappropriate ways in which those facts can be presented in the forum defined by that classroom. . . . Writing (and the thinking that accompanies it) then becomes a primary and necessary vehicle for practicing the ways of organizing and presenting ideas that are most appropriate to a particular subject area.”
–Judith A. Langer, “Speaking of Knowing”

The Quality Enhancement Plan of 2009 encourages all faculty to regard the teaching of writing—or “the ways of knowing” a discipline–as fundamental to teaching their subject area. Not only does writing take different forms in the humanities, in the sciences, in journalism, business, medicine, and law, but the methods of inquiry, the conventions of evidence, and the modes of presentation differ significantly, even as some of the basic elements of writing remain the same. This means that faculty in the disciplines are best suited for teaching students how to think like, argue like, and write like members of a given field.
Moreover, extensive research tells us that:

  • Writing increases student engagement, teaches critical thinking and problem solving skills, and deepens learning of subject matter, the “content” of any course.
  • Writing teaches discipline-specific ways of thinking and communicating that are important to performance in university courses and in post-university professions.
  • Teaching writing in math, science, or art means interpreting and guiding the writing process and responding to student work in productive and helpful ways that encourage revision.

The Department of Writing & Rhetoric is pleased to announce the launch of two new programs as part of the university’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP): Graduate Writing Fellowships and Faculty Seed Grants. One of the goals of the university’s 2009 Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) is to encourage faculty to integrate writing into the curriculum in ways that teach students not only that writing styles and discourse conventions differ by discipline, but also that writing itself is inseparable from the “ways of knowing” of a particular discipline. Thus, students must learn to think like members of their field—understanding the methods of inquiry, the conventions of evidence, and the modes of expression expected. Critical thinking is inextricably linked with the ability to write effectively in any field, and students need both reinforcement of the general principles of writing that cross all disciplines and explicit instruction in the writing in their majors.

Such pedagogical goals require a commitment of time and energy from faculty, and in many cases additional professional development in writing pedagogy. In order to build a culture where writing is considered the normal way of learning any subject, faculty will be encouraged to pursue professional development opportunities and the support of trained Graduate Writing Fellows.