Writing Program

Frequently Asked Questions

What are a department coordinator's obligations relative to the W requirement?

Answer: 1) With the input of departmental colleagues, determine which courses in the major and in the Core (if applicable) will be W-designated for an upcoming academic year; 2) communicate with the Director of the Writing Program on an annual basis, concerning which courses have been decided upon (deadline: October 15--nearly a full year in advance of the academic year being planned); 3) ensure that these courses have been through the Writing Committee approval process; 4) and ensure that instructors slated to teach such courses have pursued the requisite faculty development. Please contact Tim Doherty for details (tdoherty@rivier.edu; x8483).

What is the relationship between the Writing Committee and the Curriculum Committee?

Answer: If a department intends to revise a program and has not yet acquired approval of a W course within that program, it must receive that approval before the revised program comes before the Curriculum Committee; similarly, before coming before the Curriculum Committee, any new course that will be designated Writing-Assisted should receive Writing Committee approval first.

If two different professors offer the same course, could one section be a W course and the other not?

Answer: Yes. Simply designate the section # that will be Writing-Assisted; the Director of the Writing Program will take care of the rest. The professor teaching the course should contact the Director of the Writing Program for faculty development if teaching such a course for the first time.

Why should instructors consider teaching a W course?

Answer: Capped at 21 students, W courses afford faculty the opportunity to explore more fully the potentially rich ways that written language can fuel disciplinary learning. W courses are part of a four-year experience, thus promising a more effective and thorough-going instruction in writing, raising the level of competence of our graduates. Further, teaching a W course will make a significant contribution to the teaching portfolio of those seeking promotion and tenure.

Once a course is approved as W, does the Coordinator ever have to have the course re-approved?

Answer: Yes.  Courses are re-approved on a five-year rotation. 

Aren’t some courses at Rivier University already "writing-assisted," filled with writing expectations?

Answer: Many courses at the University already assign various formal writing assignments, and thus could be designated W with little modification, or with only modest changes to meet W course parameters. The critical difference that the W designation seeks to make is to assure that student writers achieve better thinking and communication through a sequential approach to writing instruction, involving drafting and informal modes of writing, and that writers benefit from feedback from peers, tutors, and professors.