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Frequently Asked Questions

What are a Division Chair’s obligations relative to the W requirement?

Answer:  1) With each department director’s input, 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 (Tim Doherty) on an annual basis, informing him of which courses have been decided upon (deadline:  October 1st (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 “faculty development”?

Answer:  Every year, typically in May, faculty slated to teach a W course for the first time are invited to participate in a week-long retreat which will focus on such matters as assignment design, responding to student writing, using peer groups, scaffolding writing expectations, using rubrics, addressing grammar problems, integrating reading and writing instruction, etc.  Each year, contingent on budget conditions, faculty will each receive a $500 stipend to participate in this retreat; however, the retreat is open to all faculty interested in designing and teaching W courses.  Alternatives to the summer retreat are certainly possible.  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; Sr. Joan Joyal and Tim Doherty will take care of the rest.  The professor teaching the course must enroll in faculty development if teaching such a course for the first time.

Why should instructors consider teaching a W course?

Answer:  Capped at 18-20 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 Chair ever have to have the course re-approved?

Answer: No.  However, the assumption is that any time the course is designated “W,” it will indeed resemble the course which the Writing Committee approved, and be taught by a professor who has pursued the requisite faculty development.

Aren’t some courses at Rivier College already “writing-assisted,” filled with writing expectations?

Answer:  Many courses at the college 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Rob Keplin ('09) & Tim Doherty