Strategies for Upper-level Writing-Rich (W-R) Courses

Instruction in an upper-level W-R course addresses students in the major by advancing their writing in the discipline and promoting their knowledge of the discipline’s writing conventions.


  1. The instructor asks students to demonstrate their familiarity with the writing format, content, style, design, and conventions typical of the discipline.
  2. The instructor determines the length and type of writing assignments for the course based on best practices of the discipline.
  3. The instructor guides students in their development as writers and does not simply assign writing for students to complete.
  4. In each assignment, the instructor identifies a specific audience and valid purpose.

Achieve these writing requirements by:

  • Calculating writing as a significant part of the final course grade: However, promote the relationship between writing and learning rather than emphasize total page count
  • Instructing and assigning writing typical of the discipline: Reinforce the writing conventions, audience expectations, content, organization, and format of writing required in the discipline
  • Clarifying assignment expectations: Offer students an assignment sheet that defines and explains the writing project and a rubric that clarifies how writing will be evaluated
  • Implementing classroom collaboration: Spend class time preparing students to complete the assignment, discussing writing in progress, and engaging in collaborative efforts
  • Emphasizing the composing process: Separate assignments into sections (e.g. prewriting, drafting, revising, editing) so students understand that writing involves stages of learning
  • Implementing information literacy: Ask students to locate and effectively integrate valid and relevant source material to compose an appropriately developed argument
  • Providing opportunities for feedback: Give students feedback and advice throughout the composing process, and allow students to engage in peer feedback in or out of class
  • Including student evaluation: Require students to evaluate the course’s writing component at the end of the term

These guidelines support the undergraduate college’s goals for written communication: Consider audience and purpose; use evidence effectively; apply critical reasoning and creativity; choose appropriate language and style; follow the conventions of a particular discipline.