Writing at the College


Quality Writing Paradigm

The Writing-Rich Model:  Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Writing-Rich model?

Along with the implementation of the new IGEP, Saint Mary’s University of MN is moving to implement a new model for nurturing student writing at the College.  The Writing-Rich (W-R) model gives faculty more control in determining what effective and relevant writing means in their content area and supports them in their efforts to infuse writing into their discipline.  The model works with faculty (small scale) and departments (large scale) in developing writing plans that intentionally integrate writing instruction and create a culture of student writing that emphasizes ongoing improvement.

What principles shape the Writing-Rich model?

The W-R model is based on these principles:

  • Writing is flexibly defined as an articulation of thinking. This means that throughout their academic experience, students participate in a variety of writing practices and formats (even those with minimal words!) to communicate their ideas.
  • Writing ability is continually developed rather than mastered.
  • Writing is instrumental to learning, so writing instruction is the shared responsibility of content experts in all academic disciplines.
  • Content experts are most successful at incorporating effective writing strategies into content instruction because they can clearly communicate the expectations of the discipline.
  • Those who infuse writing into their teaching require support.
Why is the College implementing this writing initiative?

Although the previous Writing-Intensive (W-I) model was successful in many ways, most notably in decentralizing writing instruction, the College found that students were not adequately transferring writing skills among courses, and large-scale writing planning and writing assessment were infrequent. As part of our efforts to redesign general education, we envisioned a new model with two overarching purposes: 1) writing instruction would be more intentionally woven throughout the curriculum rather than inserted in pieces, and 2) content experts would be more deeply involved in shaping writing development and assessment. The Writing-Rich model is the result of this vision. With support from the AVPAA, the W-R model is overseen by the Assoc. Dean of General Education and facilitated by the Office of College Writing.

How is the Writing-Rich model different from the Writing-Intensive model?

The W-R model expands and deepens the direction of the W-I model.  While the W-I model was successful in ensuring that Saint Mary’s undergraduate students wrote more frequently in courses from their freshman year through graduation, the model did not ensure that writing instruction was developmentally sequenced, advanced the writing of disciplines, or reflected the needs of departments.

What’s going to happen to Writing-Intensive Course Guidelines?

The W-I course guidelines have been replaced by W-R course guidelines. In the 2017-2018 academic year, the Writing Advisory Group approved first year, anchor course, mid-level, and upper-level W-R course guidelines that incorporate 21st Century literary practices and reflect the philosophy of the Writing-Rich model.

What is the Writing Advisory Group?

In keeping with the College’s commitment to the W-R model, the Assoc. Dean of General Education assembled the Writing Advisory Group (WAG), a working group of stakeholders across campus tasked with reviewing and approving W-R model guidelines, overseeing development and assessment of the W-R model, and discussing faculty support.  Co-facilitated by the Assoc. Dean of Gen. Ed. and the director of the Office of College Writing, WAG meets several times a year.

What are Writing Plans?

Writing plans are documents that define writing opportunities for students, explain how writing will be assessed, and address instructional support.  These faculty-driven plans are flexible in scope based upon the needs of individual courses, the needs of sequenced courses, or the broader needs of departments.  Writing plans address these basic questions:

  • What writing abilities should students be able to demonstrate?
  • What assessment strategies should be implemented?
  • What sorts of support do faculty need to optimally integrate relevant writing instruction?
How will we know the Writing-Rich model is meeting its goals?

Feedback and assessment of the W-R model will occur in several ways:

  • The Office of College Writing will collaborate with faculty on sequenced course writing plans and department writing plans to help name the writing that characterizes the discipline, address the abilities students should master, and map students’ writing abilities into the course curriculum. Faculty will provide feedback on the process.
  • The Office of College Writing will share writing plans with the Writing Advisory Group as a means to share ideas, offer support, and generate a climate of writing.
  • Department writing plans will be rated against faculty-generated criteria by a panel of raters drawn from inside and outside the department. The rating sessions will take place every three years.
  • A sample of faculty will be surveyed each year to gain feedback on the W-R model and to determine the effectiveness of the W-R model.
  • The Office of College Writing will collaborate with the Center for Learning and Teaching (CELT) on assessment procedures and faculty development.
What resources support the Writing-Rich model?

The College’s Academic Affairs office is the administrative home for the writing program, and the Assoc. Dean of General Education provides direct oversight.  The Office of College Writing, which reports to the Assoc. Dean of Gen. Ed. but is situated in the Student Success Center, facilitates the creation, implementation, and assessment efforts of the writing program.  These efforts are supported by the Writing Advisory Group and the Center for Learning and Teaching (CELT).

Is anyone available to talk about the Writing-Rich model?

Yes.  The director of the Office of College Writing will meet individually with faculty and with departments as a whole to address questions and provide information on the W-R model.  These meetings can be arranged easily with the director of the Office of College Writing (pjohnson@smumn.edu). Additionally, faculty can visit with the Assoc. Dean of Gen. Ed. to learn more about the model and its philosophy (cayers@smumn.edu).