We believe that writing is central to the academic and intellectual pursuit of students, faculty, and administration across the liberal arts, sciences, and engineering disciplines at Union. Learning to communicate critical, analytical, and creative thinking has been a long-term goal at Union, from the founding of the college in 1795 to the present.
Most recently we have worked to connect our Writing Across the Curriculum program and its structure to best practices in the teaching and learning of college writing, as articulated by an international cohort of scholars, researchers, teachers, and administrators in the burgeoning field of writing studies. WAC leaders agree that the more students write, the better writers they become. Students learn best when they write across a wide variety of courses and contexts, and when writing is integrated into their coursework, so that writing tasks are closely tied with individual course learning objectives. WAC leaders argue that students develop significantly as writers when the disciplinary nature of writing tasks are emphasized within the major, and across the curriculum, and when faculty expectations around writing are made explicit at both the department and college level.
The WAC program at Union is guided by the Statement of WAC Principles released in the spring of 2014 by the International Network of Writing Across the Curriculum Programs (INWAC). This statement, built from the most recent research in Writing Studies, states that WAC “is based on the premise that writing is highly situated and tied to a field’s discourse and ways of knowing, and therefore Writing in the Disciplines (WID) is most effectively guided by those with expertise in that discipline” (1). Through departmental WAC workshops and assessment of the senior writing requirement (WS), Union is in the early stages of developing a Writing in the Disciplines Initiative, so that students can see how they are developing knowledge of writing conventions in their chosen major field(s).
The INWAC Statement highlights the following Writing Across the Curriculum principles, which will continue to guide our program at Union:
- Writing is a highly complex, situated activity that cannot be mastered in a single course but is learned over a lifetime.
- WAC is not a “quick fix,” but an initiative that requires sustained conversations among faculty that extend beyond a single workshop or consultation.
- Though often a faculty-led initiative, WAC programs require administrative support, such as course releases for program leadership, a standing budget, and support for professional development (1-2).
Read the full INWAC Statement here. For more information about how we are working to align our Writing Across the Curriculum program at Union with international best practices in the teaching and learning of college writing, visit our Goals & Outcomes page.