The Writing Across the Curriculum Teaching Circle at UNCP is an informal interdisciplinary group of faculty members contemplating the problems our students have with writing, in and out of the classroom, and critical thinking.
This Web site is one means of furthering discussion among all faculty and providing informational support.
As we build this site, we will include for various disciplines:
- sample exercises and assignments for faculty use in courses,
- testimonials to the importance of writing,
- listing of resources online.
In the future, we hope to organize practical faculty development workshops to provide Writing Across the Curriculum solutions. We also plan to disseminate information on our topic via a listserv for interested faculty.
What is Writing Across the Curriculum?
The Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) concept dates to the 1960s language across the curriculum
movement in Great Britain. In the 1970s, WAC found fertile ground in U.S. colleges and universities amidst a perception of a national literacy crisis.
WAC programs often were started in English departments with all departments invited to participate. Interested faculty in many disciplines attempted to broaden the scope of student writing by incorporating opportunities in their classes.
Why try to get your students to write?
Effective writing can open paths to economic and social opportunities. Strong communication skills are essential for advancement in the professions. Writing proficiency frequently is an important consideration in the promotion of an employee. Persons who write clearly are at an advantage when they compete for jobs or promotions.
Individuals frequently change jobs or careers several times throughout their lives. While they are with us at UNCP, we help our students build the strong foundation of skills they will need throughout their lives. Even as students prepare for an immediate specific career, they should be aware that in a few years they may move to related fields or even completely different careers. We ought to prepare our students not just for tomorrow, but for the day after tomorrow.
Of course, we aren't always preparing students for specific jobs. Often, we provide the elements of an education which offer students a choice of possibilities, including graduate study. We help those students gain necessary scholar skills while here at UNCP so they have the ability to:
- support ideas with evidence,
- synthesize information,
- solve problems.
Students who use a variety of media in these times may not see writing as critical to success in life. We can help them understand the value of writing proficiency.
What's wrong with their writing?
It's not only mechanical
issues such as correctly spelling, punctuating or using grammar. Writing problems also have been observed in these areas:
Writing to Learn. Learning to Write.
- Organizing content, combining bits of information in a usefully coherent pattern,
- Content, knowledge, what to write about,
- Reasoning and thinking logically,
- Grasping questions and analyzing problems,
- Limited vocabulary reducing communication effectiveness,
- Using styles appropriate for an audience and the communication task,
- Poor related language skills such as reading and listening,
- Attitude, motivation and interest in producing written communication.
Writing is a process in which learning occurs. The thought process involved in writing about a subject reveals patterns, ideas, and meanings, and encourages analyzing issues and thinking through problems. The writing process promotes understanding.
Practice improves writing skill. Continued practice across a variety of university courses turns writing into a natural skill and an effective tool. Students achieve the most remarkable successes when they gain the ability to write in the contexts of different audiences.
An ongoing process.
The Writing Across the Curriculum Teaching Circle at UNCP hopes to help faculty try to improve student communication and analytical skills.
This is not a one-time project. It will be ongoing as long as students bring writing problems with them into the university.
Although we may dream of a time when we can concentrate entirely on teaching the body of knowledge in our field, there probably never will be a time when students come to us with a complete set of scholar skills. Until then, we also must help students write and think. Otherwise, they may assume that our message is the content is important and the process is not.
May 10, 2011