FAQs

1. Q. Why does OSU require every student to take a Writing Intensive (WIC) course at the upper division?
 
A. The faculty believes that students need specific and various writing instruction and practice in their major at an advanced level in order to be competent writers upon graduation.

2. Q.
 What other writing course are students required to take?
 
A. Students must take Writing 121 (Composition) and two other courses designated Writing II in the Baccalaureate Core. Some majors require specific Writing II courses such as Business Writing or Technical Writing.

3. Q.
 What are the criteria for a course to qualify as Writing Intensive?
 
A. All WIC courses must go through an approval process and satisfy WIC criteria established by the Faculty Senate. 
http://oregonstate.edu/ap/curriculum/baccore.html#wic

4. Q.
 If my course requires a great deal of writing, doesn‘t that make it Writing Intensive by definition?
 
A. No. WIC courses must also use informal ungraded or minimally graded writing as a mode of learning course content. Also, students must receive writing instruction and be given opportunities to revise after receiving feedback on their formal writing assignments. There are other criteria as well.

5. Q.
 Can any faculty member propose a WIC course?
 
A. Yes, as long as your department wants the particular course to become a WIC course.

6. Q.
 What paperwork do I have to submit to establish a WIC course?
 
A. To make an existing course into a WIC course:
  1. A WIC proposal form, including answers to narrative questions listed.
  2. A complete syllabus for the course -Copies of the handouts that will be given to students describing formal writing assignments.
 
A. For a new course:
  1. A regular Category II proposal form.
  2. Everything listed above for an existing course.

7. Q.
 What are some examples of using informal ungraded or minimally graded writing as a mode of learning course content?
 
A. Response journals, micro-themes, write-and-pass exercises, impromptu in-class writing (example: Write down three things you understand so far in this lecture and one thing that you don‘t understand). You can learn about other techniques by attending the Introductory WIC Faculty Seminar, by reading the quarterly WIC newsletter Teaching With Writing, and by attending WIC Lunch Seminars.

8. Q.
 Why is class size limited to 20-25 students in a WIC course?
 
A. Class size is limited so that teachers can assign lots of writing, give student instruction in writing in the discipline, and give individual attention and feedback on their writing. Our experience (and research on the teaching of writing) shows that larger classes reduce the amount of writing assigned, the quality of writing instruction, and the quality of feedback students receive.

9. Q.
 Can students give each other feedback on drafts?
 
A. Yes. By the time they are junior and seniors, most OSU students have some experience with peer review of other students‘ writing. Peer review works best when the teacher designs a feedback sheet identifying the elements of the writing to be evaluated and if students have several opportunities to practice peer review during the quarter. Peer review is discussed in the WIC seminar.

10. Q.
 Does the WIC teacher need to closely edit students‘ drafts?
A. No. Research shows that line by line editing, which is very time consuming for the teacher, does not improve students‘ writing or eliminate errors in the next assignment. Teachers should look first at global issues:
  1. Does the paper adequately address the assignment and make a clear point or points?
  2. How could the organization be improved?
  3. Where is further development/proof/content needed?
  4. Has the student used appropriate and sufficient sources and documented accurately for the discipline?
  5. Where could transitions and coherence be improved? Only when the student has successfully addressed these issues should attention turn to grammar and mechanics. Rather than marking every error, the teacher might identify typical errors or place a check next to each line that contains an error.

11. Q.
 If I'm not an expert in grammar, how can I give feedback on writing?
 
A. As an experienced writer in your discipline, you can help students improve many elements of their writing (see #10) especially as these things apply to your field. You can probably spot poorly written sentences. Students need to take responsibility themselves for sentence-level correctness. They can do this best if they have a writing handbook. Some WIC courses require students to purchase such a handbook. 

If you have a specific question about grammar, citation issues, and so on, you can email your query to writingq@ lists.orst.edu.

12. Q.
 Where can students get extra help with their writing?
 
A. The OSU Writing Center (123 Waldo Hall) offers writers individual appointments to work on developing papers, revising drafts, and polishing papers.

Some departments have designed writing guides for their own students.
Departmental Writing Guides

13. Q.
 Do students in WIC courses have to write using outside sources?
 
A. Yes. Each WIC course must require at least one paper using outside sources and appropriate documentation. Teachers can arrange for library instruction by contacting their subject area librarian. Also check out the library’s online tutorial on doing research, which takes students through the research process. 
OSU Libraries Research Tutorial

14. Q.
 Have most OSU students been trained in using online sources for research?
 
A. No. A study of nearly 500 OSU students showed that very few have any training in finding, evaluating, and using online sources. They are especially inexperienced in evaluating the quality of what their search turns up. WIC teachers need to address this problem explicitly. You may want to check the library's website on Library Tips for Faculty, and/or ask your subject librarian for help.