The leap from high school writing to college writing is substantial, and for many students, this transition can feel intimidating, even threatening. How can our campus community create a safe, structured, and affirming environment in which students of all backgrounds receive the instruction and support they need to move beyond the “five paragraph essay” model of high school writing to writing that requires significantly more complexity of thought and creativity?
The primary goal of the Quality Writing Paradigm (QWP) is to address this gap between college writing expectations and students’ writing proficiency by developing a campus-wide culture of writing that places written communication as an essential focus across and beyond the curriculum.
Upon their graduation, students understand that effective writing involves a process that requires them to:
- Consider audience and purpose
- Use evidence effectively
- Apply critical reasoning and creativity
- Choose appropriate language and style
- Follow the conventions of a particular discipline
The QWP features a cohesively organized writing program in which writing is infused at all levels of disciplinary instruction and across the general education curriculum. This cross-disciplinary approach to improving undergraduate student writing begins with the first year writing course, where students are introduced to foundational college-level academic writing skills. Students will find that components of the academic writing they learned in their FYW courses are reinforced, at least to some degree, in the writing they produce in their anchor courses. Students’ academic writing skills are further developed in their mid-level writing-rich courses, where writing assignments encourage advanced critical thinking and critical writing skills. Interdisciplinary minor courses offer students opportunities to broaden their academic writing skills by cultivating their creativity, flexibility, and imagination in the creation of various writing projects. Students will showcase the depth and breadth of their development as writers in an upper division writing-rich capstone experience.
Student writing at each of these touchpoints is assessed through ongoing development of an e-portfolio; embedded, discipline-based writing rubrics; classroom assessment measures; and surveys and interviews..
A three-pronged structure ensures that the QWP meets its goals and program objectives:
- The establishment of a writing advisory group with participation from committed stakeholders across campus
- Enhanced faculty support in their efforts to incorporate writing into their courses and intentional student support across the course levels
- Development of an Office of Writing, which reports to the Associate Dean of General Education and serves as a central hub for writing research and support. This triangulated system certifies that the QWP can adjust program expectations in the best interest of students.
Five High Impact Educational Practices form the core of the QWP:
- First Year Seminars and Experiences: The highest quality first-year experiences emphasize critical thinking, frequent writing, and collaborative learning. First year writing courses and anchor courses provide all students with focused opportunities for critical inquiry, recurrent writing, and collaborative writing communities.
- Common Intellectual Experiences: The writing program, from first year to senior year, includes an emphasis on academic writing. Core academic writing skills are integrated at each level, which promotes both writing development and writing transferability.
- Learning Communities: The writing program emphasizes writing support for all students at all levels through collaboration with peers using tutoring models (Writing Studio, group writing sessions), in-class and out-of-class peer feedback on writing, and ongoing guidance and advice from instructors. These collaborative experiences encourage integration of learning.
- Writing Intensive Courses: Students at all levels of instruction benefit from the repeated practice of writing across their courses, where students are encouraged to create and revise various forms of writing for different audiences in different disciplines. At least two courses (one mid-level course and one upper-division course) must meet writing-rich standards.
- Capstone Courses and Projects: The writing program incorporates a culminating writing experience in upper-division writing-rich courses that exhibits students’ best efforts in integrating and applying the critical thinking, reading, and writing they’ve learned.