An Introduction to Writing Across the Curriculum 

Writing Across the Curriculum(WAC) , a  movement begun over 20 years ago,  is flourishing in over 1/3 of colleges and universities across the country.  There is no one definition that fits because WAC is adaptable to different contexts and needs.  However, it is a program that  usually takes two complementary approaches, cognitive and rhetorical, to the dispersal of writing throughout higher education while adhering to some basic principles:

 1. cognitive--using writing to learn; giving students many opportunities to explain things for themselves; thinking on paper; learning as discovery; writing as a way of objectifying thought
 2. rhetorical--learning to write in particular disciplines; introducing students to conventions of a discipline through writing assignments; creating knowledge in a field
 1. Writing and learning are inextricably linked
 2. Writing is different in different disciplines and contexts.
 3. Teachers should help guide the writing process, not merely judge the writing product.
 4. Writing is learned through reading and participating in a community, not merely through lectures, rules and drills.
 5. WAC means reconception of teacher/learner functions; it is not merely additive

 The following are some of the models and options that are pursued in colleges and universities.  Often schools combine more than one.
 1. Six to eight session faculty seminar, during one semester.  Faculty receive released time and/or stipends for attending and working on developing assignments and syllabi.(This model was used in the past at PNY and WP  with Charlotte Rotkin and Phyllis Edelson as faculty directors)
 2. Writing Assistants who take a training course and work with students and assist professors
 3. Writing Intensive courses in core and/or major
 4. Clustered or linked first-year composition course with one in another discipline
 5.Faculty retreat of one-two days
 6. Periodic faculty workshops, consultations and informal meetings with campus director of  WAC and interested faculty
 7. Outside WAC consultants invited to speak to faculty and lead  workshops
 8. Booklets developed for students in different disciplines about writing expectations and guidelines.
 9. Faculty newsletters; WAC website; on-line discussion groups

 We at  Pace have the opportunity to shape our own WAC program that is meaningful for us.  The Writing Assistants program is one model  proposed by Linda Anstendig and Eugene Richie.

Return to Pace's WAC Page