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Program Overview

Parameters for Writing-Assisted Courses

Unlike other courses at the College in which writing is assigned, a "Writing-Assisted" (W) course is distinguished by the level of attention a teacher pays to the design of writing assignments, the way that some assignments may promote content acquisition, the process by which they may unfold, the way they may sequence and build upon each other, and the way that they may offer writers opportunities to experience authentic communication with others through a workshop process.  Each W course shares these particular features:  

  1. Formal and Informal Writing: These courses involve at least 12 pages of “formal” writing and at least 5 pages of “informal” writing. “Formal” writing means writing that is responded to by the professor, revised by the student, and then evaluated.  “Informal” writing means writing that might be responded to and perhaps graded, but is mainly designed to help students engage with course content in a “low stakes” fashion.
  1. Revision: The 12 pages of formal writing are the product of a writing process; in other words, students will receive feedback from the professor and then revise; they may also receive feedback from peers. 
  1. Course Enrollment:  All W courses are capped at 21 students (cap may be exceeded with professor’s permission).

 Key Terms 

  1. Informal Writing:  often brief, in-class, or overnight exercises meant to initiate thinking or to deepen students’ engagement with course content.
  2. Formal Writing:  various conventional academic and disciplinary forms of writing, where the aim is the mastery of particular polished features of prose (whether in essays, lab reports, proofs, critiques, student peer critiques, etc.).
  3. Draft:  the initial but full attempt at a “formal” assignment.
  4. Revision:  the process of fundamental alteration and improvement of a draft of a formal assignment usually based upon feedback from peers, tutors, and professors.
  5. Responding:  written feedback on drafts, which often takes the form of global comments.
  6. Grading:  the final evaluation of usually formal writing, often involving a global comment on the effectiveness of the final revision efforts.
  7. Workshop:  a classroom event, often taking various forms, in which the student’s text is the center of the discussion, with a focus on improving student writing.










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