Creating a W Course

Proposal Guidelines

A. Decide on the kind of W course you are requesting. While the WISC and UCC welcome new ideas, four kinds of W courses are currently in existence. (Click for new window)

B. Prepare and submit the required paperwork (see links above for instructions on each of the four types of W course).

Normally, requests have to be approved by the WSC, the UCC, and then the Academic Senate; needless to say, the process takes time, usually one semester. Until a W-designated course has been approved by the Academic Senate, the Registrar will not put it into the matrix. Keep in mind that Fall course schedules are made up and printed in March, while Spring course schedules are made up and printed in October. So, if you want a newly designated W course to be printed in the Fall (or Spring) Schedule of Classes, then the paperwork should be sent to the UCC before the end of the prior year’s Fall (or Spring) semester. In short, it is best to plan a year or so ahead.

Course proposals can be submitted to either Committee co-chair: Sue Goldhaber or Esther Muehlbauer.

C. After your request is approved, be sure to change your catalog copy accordingly and to use the W when programming a writing intensive course into QUASAR.

D. Ask instructors of W-designated courses to send a syllabus as well as other course materials to the WSC.
The Academic Senate charged the WSC with overseeing W-courses and the new writing requirement. To carry out this task, the WSC keeps a file of W-course syllabi and course materials. Please be sure that instructors of W-courses know that they need to send the WSC a syllabus and other relevant materials (e.g. paper assignment sheets, sample student essays).

E. If you have questions orconcerns about W-courses, please let the Chair of the UCC or one of the co-chairs of the WSC know.

And if you or another member of your department/program would like to serve on the WSC, please contact either  Sue Goldhaber or Esther Muehlbauer.

What is a W course?

(from the Academic Senate Agenda, May 16, 1996)

Courses are designated W (“Writing Intensive”) by the Academic Senate, on the recommendation of the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee (UCC) and its Writing Intensive Subcommittee (WSC). To be considered for the W designation, a course must meet the following four criteria:

  • 10-15 pages of evaluated writing in three or more assignments (either separate papers or one term paper done in stages) so that students have the opportunity to develop and improve.
  • Some attention to writing in class, in one or more of the following possible forms:
    • discussion of papers before they are written and after they are returned.
    • reading aloud of successful papers or models.
    • discussion of the rhetorical strategies or writerly qualities of course readings.
    • the occasional use of informal, ungraded writing to stimulate class discussion
    • peer editing: opportunities for students to give each other feedback on first drafts.
    • discussion of goals for student writing and evaluation criteria.
  • Exams [if given] that include essay questions.
  • Maximum class-size of 30 students. *

* As of Spring 2010, the enrollment for W courses is capped at 25.

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