Writing Across the Curriculum

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Over the twenty-five-plus years that ECU has had a Writing Across the Curriculum program, we have continuously surveyed business and industry leaders throughout the region and state to find out what they want to see from our graduates. At the top of the list each time is a desire for employees and community members who can write clearly and effectively for different audiences and purposes. ECU has taken that feedback seriously by supporting a robust Writing Across the Curriculum program that requires all undergraduate students to complete a minimum of 12 semester hours of Writing Intensive coursework as they work on their degrees. All degrees, all programs.

If you’ve landed on this page, then you’re probably a faculty member at ECU and you’re looking to find support for teaching your Writing Intensive classes. Well, you’re in the right place. In addition to information about what WAC is at ECU, you’ll also find a host of teaching-focused resources that can help you to develop and teach effective writing assignments in your upper-division and graduate courses. You’ll also find information about various face-to-face and online professional development workshops and institutes that you can participate in to meet other faculty and refine your teaching practices. Beyond teaching support, the WAC program also supports faculty as scholars and writers because we know that faculty who stay active as writers make better writing teachers. To that end, you’ll also find information about writing retreats and writing groups that you can take part in to hone your craft as a writer.

We provide similar support to students at ECU; if you’re looking for those resources, head over to the University Writing Center to see what we can do to support student writers!

What is WAC at ECU?

Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) at ECU mirrors efforts at colleges and universities across the country to support students as writers and faculty as discipline-based writing instructors. Students at ECU typically enroll in their first 6 semester hours of Writing Intensive coursework during their first two years on campus: these Writing Foundations courses (English 1100 & English 2201) help students make the transition from their previous school writing experiences to the expectations that ECU holds for student writers, while also focusing on research-based writing and the effective use of source materials. During their third and fourth years of study, ECU students enroll in 6 semester hours of courses in their majors or in a cognate area; these courses introduce students to the specific ways that different disciplines make knowledge and share their ideas with other scholars and with the general public. All Writing Intensive courses at ECU are designed to help students meet the ECU Writing Outcomes.

While WAC began internationally in the 1970s and 1980s as a grassroots educational reform project, the goals of WAC have remained fairly constant and have been central to our own understanding of writing at ECU. Typically, WAC is centered on three core assertions:

  1. Writing is both an art and a skill that requires ongoing practice; no one ever finishes learning how to write.
  2. Writing is a method of learning, not merely a method to report on learning; as we compose and revise, we make connections, we synthesize ideas, and we extrapolate from them. Writing (and revising) is a practice of continually thinking on paper.
  3. Writing is essential to a university education; all disciplines use writing to generate and distribute knowledge. Therefore, the teaching of writing is the responsibility of all faculty across the university.

More than any other educational reform movement, WAC has its aim to transform pedagogy at the college level. At ECU, our WAC program encourages faculty engage with students in Writing Intensive courses through three interconnected approaches that increase the use and value of writing for students: writing to learn, writing to engage, and writing in the disciplines. Writing-to-learn and writing-to-engage activities that are common to WAC are intended to disrupt the traditional, delivery-of-information model of classroom instruction, what educational thinker Paulo Freire (1970) referred to as the “banking model” of education, as faculty actively engage students with the content and genres of the discipline. On our Faculty Resources page, you will find many different and complementary writing-to-learn activities that you can use in both writing-intensive and other courses; these activities tend to provide useful feedback on how well students are understanding the concepts you’re teaching and can help with brief, formative assessments of student learning.

Writing in the Disciplines (WID) refers to writing and thinking activities that faculty develop in order to support student writers in experiencing and eventually mastering the genres and conventions that are central to the student’s particular major. A WID approach asks faculty to think about the types of writing that academics and professionals trained in a discipline do and then to work backwards to think about the types of writings students might do in order to learn those skills. ECU’s Writing Outcomes are focused primarily on WID-oriented practices. As such, faculty teaching Writing Intensive courses are encouraged to consider carefully the types of research or inquiry that are done in their disciplines, how that research is conducted and represented in writing, and how student writing assignments might be designed to help students to master those research-based writing practices.

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