Writing at the College


Writing Rich Guidelines

In the First Year Writing course, students learn, as well as practice, foundational academic writing skills. First Year Writing course instructors follow these Writing Rich strategies.

In the anchor course, students find that foundational writing skills are reinforced, at least to some degree, in the writing they produce. Students are also introduced to disciplinary writing. Anchor course instructors follow these Writing Rich strategies.

In their academic major, students enroll in a mid-level writing-rich course, where, as emerging writers, they begin to practice the foundational writing of their discipline. Instructors teaching the mid-level course follow these Writing Rich strategies.

In their academic major, students enroll in an upper-level writing-rich course, where, as developing writers, they produce writing that is increasingly complex in focus and development and more sophisticated in the conventions and style of the discipline. Instructors teaching the upper-level course follow these Writing Rich strategies.

Chart of mid-level and upper-level courses by department

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Writing-Rich model?

Along with the implementation of IGEP, the College implemented a new model for nurturing undergraduate student writing. The Writing Rich (WR) model gives faculty 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) to integrate writing instruction into courses and emphasizes ongoing student writing improvement.

What principles shape the Writing Rich model?

The WR 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 to communicate their ideas.
  • Writing ability is continually developed rather than fully 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 writing strategies into their courses because they can clearly communicate the discipline’s expectations.
  • Those who infuse writing into their teaching require support.
Why has the College implemented a new writing model?
Although the previous Writing Intensive (WI) model was successful in decentralizing writing instruction, the College found that writing skills among courses were not adequately sequenced, and large-scale writing planning was infrequent. Two outcomes shape the College’s Writing Rich (WR) model: 1) writing instruction is woven intentionally throughout the curriculum rather than inserted in pieces, and 2) content experts are deeply involved in shaping writing development and assessment.
How is the Writing Rich model different from the Writing Intensive model?
The WR model expands the direction of the WI model. While the WI model was successful in ensuring that Saint Mary’s undergraduate students wrote more frequently in courses from their first year through graduation, the model did not promote writing instruction as developmentally sequenced, advance the writing of disciplines, or reflect the needs of departments.
What happened to the Writing Intensive Course Guidelines?
In 2019-2020, mid-level WR course guidelines replaced WI course requirements. In 2020-2021, upper-level WR course guidelines will replace WI course requirements.
In 2018, the Writing Advisory Group approved first year, anchor course, mid-level, and upper-level WR course guidelines that reflect the philosophy of the Writing Rich model.
What is the Writing Advisory Group (WAG)?
The Writing Advisory Group is a working group of stakeholders across campus tasked with reviewing and approving WR guidelines, overseeing development of the WR model, providing feedback for faculty support, and discussing writing issues as they arise. Co-facilitated by the Office of Writing at the College and General Education, WAG meets regularly each year.
WAG is an inclusive committee; any person interested in serving on WAG is welcome.
What are Writing Plans?

Writing plans help departments define writing opportunities for students, assess writing, and address instructional support. These faculty-driven plans are flexible in scope based upon the needs of individual courses, the needs of sequenced courses, and 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 integrate relevant writing instruction?
How will we know the Writing Rich model is meeting its goals?

Feedback and assessment of the WR model will occur in several ways:

  • The Office of Writing at the College will collaborate with faculty on 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.
  • Department Writing Plans will be shared with the Writing Advisory Group as a means to learn, 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 the department. The rating sessions will take place every three to five years.
  • A sample of faculty will be surveyed each year to gain feedback on the WR model and to determine the effectiveness of the WR model.
  • The Office of Writing at the College will collaborate with the Center for Learning and Teaching (CELT) on assessment 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 Office of Writing at the College facilitates the creation and implementation efforts of the writing program in collaboration with General Education. These efforts are supported by the Writing Advisory Group.
I’m confused. I’ve heard the College’s writing program sometimes referred to as Writing Across the Curriculum. Is that an error?
The term WAC or Writing Across the Curriculum has come to be used for all writing programs that include writing past composition courses. Writing in the Disciplines and Writing Enriched Curriculum models fall under the WAC label.
Is anyone available to talk about the Writing Rich model?

Yes! The Office of Writing at the College will meet with faculty and departments to provide information on the WR model, address questions about writing instruction, and offer resources on writing. These meetings can be arranged with Dr. Peggy Johnson (pjohnson@smumn.edu).