What Is a WAC course?

Writing Across the Curriculum courses, offered in every major on campus and identified in a list maintained by the General Education Board, are courses that use writing as a central feature of instruction and evaluation.  Consistent with the recommendations of the WAC Guidelines, most departments' and programs' Writing Plans contain two sorts of WAC courses:  discipline-focused seminars, which are offered at the introductory and advanced levels, and intermediate-level writing-to-learn courses, which are less intensive and less centered on disciplinary writing forms than seminars, but which feature regular opportunities for students to write and to receive thoughtful and constructive responses from teacher-readers. 

WAC seminars

Writing Across the Curriculum seminars are intended to give explicit attention to the sorts of writing students are likely to do in the discipline:  what’s it mean to write as a literary critic, a biologist, or a sociologist?  Understood as introductory and capstone experiences, the seminars are expected to incorporate as many of the following elements as possible:

  1. small-group instruction (25 or fewer students), a configuration intended to promote frequent student/teacher interaction and peer discussion
  2. development  of student skills at verbalization and organization of the course's knowledge content
  3. a series of writing assignments that require students to undertake a variety of writing tasks, spaced periodically throughout the semester
  4. at least one assignment, but preferably more, that involves revision as a means of refining the student's understanding of the content
  5. evaluation of writing assignments as a major component of grading
  6. student/teacher conferences

Writing-to-learn courses

Typically offered between the two WAC seminars, writing-to-learn courses emphasize writing as a means to understanding the course content and should incorporate as many of the elements of the seminar experience as possible, though enrollment may well be higher. The main goal of these courses is to encourage students to write throughout the semester in order to enhance the learning process, as well as to cultivate general language skills that will serve students both inside and outside disciplinary writing tasks.