Writing plan

Below is the writing plan for the Criminal Justice Department. Please see your faculty advisor to learn how this affects you as a criminal justice major.

Rationale

Criminal Justice is a program that is concerned with a range of matters beyond the confines of the criminal justice system. It is a field of study that encompasses the origins, missions, goals, policies, and methods of the civil and criminal justice systems, as well as the human services system. This multidisciplinary liberal arts program concerns itself with history, public policy, ethics and social and political organization. Criminal Justice deals with the way laws are made, applied, and enforced. It embraces the policies and goals that inspire those laws and for whose accomplishment the laws are a vehicle. The program involves public service and public institutions that are a part of the enterprise of maintaining order in society and, to an increasing extent, responsible for distributing entitlements to the public. Criminal Justice majors combine a broad-based liberal arts education, in-depth research on topics in which they have a special interest, and supervised fieldwork experience.

Students who wish to pursue careers in the Criminal Justice system must be able to speak and write clearly and effectively, analyze and solve problems, observe events and behaviors and report their observations accurately, and work cooperatively with others. To properly meet these objectives, writing is imperative. Writing is a process that requires development of research and critical thinking skills.


Writing program objectives

A. Behaviors: Through the WAC approved courses, Criminal Justice majors are expected to:

  1. Critically analyze various types of written sources, including (but not limited to) documents, texts, newspapers, legal decisions / case files, criminal records, and investigative reports; 
  2. Identify and differentiate between primary and second sources; 
  3. Demonstrate mastery of Criminal Justice vocabulary and subject matter through writing of term papers, essay exams, research projects, reports, journals, reaction papers, and other writing assignments; 
  4. Employ the library resources and other online outlets to conduct research; 
  5. Write in a manner that allows them to communicate ideas and interpretations clearly to others; 
  6. Summarize and / or synthesize information from multiple sources; 
  7. Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of various arguments and interpretations; and 
  8. Assemble properly formatted citations for sources in writing.

B. Conditions: Students enrolled in their respective writing courses will be provided with written instructions and examples of their assigned writing task by their instructor. Additional examples may be provided through course materials (e.g., textbook or supplementary readers) or rubrics. 

C. Criteria: Each of the WAC major core courses include opportunities for students to satisfy their writing requirements through a variety of both short and lengthy assignments. Those assignments that are considered lengthy will be broken down into smaller components of the work, allowing students to build up to the final project in pieces, receiving feedback at each step that will help them to improve their overall work. Those assignments that are shorter in nature may include (but not be limited to) reaction papers, application assignments, and exam questions. Specific assignment details are discussed in the next section. 

Since writing is a developmental process, various levels and types of writing activities and strategies may be employed in the five (5) writing courses mandated for criminal justice majors. Criminal justice students will be able to complete their General Education writing requirements with courses drawn exclusively from their major program; however, majors may also complete their writing requirements with one or two writing courses from outside the discipline as approved by the department.


Writing courses mandated for all criminal justice majors

CRJ 333 – CRIME THEORIES AND VICTIMIZATION

The main writing assignment for this course is a theory application paper. Students are required to choose a criminal justice topic and relate an applicable theory and its concepts to the topic as a way to explain it. Each student is required to submit a first draft of their application paper; feedback then is provided that the student can use to revise their work prior to the submission of the final draft. Essay questions are incorporated into each of the four (4) exams, providing students with the opportunity to demonstrate their understanding and ability to apply key theoretical concepts. Additional low-stakes writing assignments related to applying theory to real-world situations also are incorporated throughout the semester. Finally, students write online blogs / discussions plus responses about articles they are reading in class to demonstrate how they analyze theory as it is applied to real-world situations.

CRJ 387 – RESEARCH METHODS FOR CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Over the course of the semester, students will prepare a research proposal that will be the basis of their CRJ 388 research projects (as discussed below). Students will begin with four writing assignments: proposal of their topic and research question, National Institute of Health (NIH) training, their survey or guiding interview questions, and an ethics statement. Their main project, a research proposal, is framed across several additional assignments: an annotated bibliography, literature review, and methodology. Students will be provided feedback on each of these, which they then will revise and compile into their final research proposal. Library instruction is a required element of this course.

CRJ 388 – DATA ANALYSIS

Building on the research proposal from CRJ 387, students will collect data, analyze, and present the results of their project in the form of a final research report (to include the introduction, literature review, and methodology section, revised as needed, from the research methods course), including a discussion of their findings. Students will be required to submit a first draft of the research report, which will be returned with feedback. Students then will be expected to revise their report accordingly prior to submission of the final project. Students also will complete labs (mini-reports and worksheets) as they learn the process of data analysis using statistical software (SPSS).

CRJ 401 – SEMINAR IN CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Students are required to submit a 20-page paper (excluding title page, abstract, and references) on a Criminal Justice topic of their choosing. The full paper assignment is scaffolded across several requirements: paper topic proposal, outline and annotated bibliography, first draft, and revised final draft. Additionally, students write ten (10) critical thinking reaction papers based on the topic and reading for the week. Library instruction is a required element of this course

One of the following WAC elective courses:

In Department

CRJ 347 – CRIME & SOCIETY
CRJ 351 – REPORT WRITING IN CRJ
CRJ 363 – WOMEN & THE LAW
CRJ 383 – TERRORISM & HOMELAND SECURITY
CRJ 385 – DRUGS & CRIME
CRJ 425 – COMPARATIVE JUSTICE SYSTEMS

Out of Department

POL 309 – INTERNATIONAL LAW\
POL 345 – AMERICAN CONSTITUTIONAL LAW
POL 355 – CIVIL LIBERTIES
SOC 370 – SOCIOLOGY OF DEVIANCE
SOC 372 – JUVENILE DELINQUENCY 
SOC 373 – GANGS IN AMERICAN SOCIETY

For all WAC elective courses, students complete a term paper as assigned by the course instructor. Each student must submit a first draft on which the instructor provides feedback for improvement. Each student then revises their paper and submits a revised final draft.

Revised 11/2018