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Writing in the Disciplines Courses

The purpose of the WID Requirement is to provide students with a second-tier writing-intensive experience focused on individual disciplines and professional writing within particular fields. Our goal is to encourage students to write at increasing levels of sophistication and to expose them to contrasting rhetorical situations and a variety of audiences, improving their abilities in writing and critical thinking over time. WID courses are typically situated within individual departments and majors, with some exceptions. (Additional courses fulfilling the WID requirement will be situated in the Writing Program to accommodate students who are unable to fulfill the requirement in their majors.)

The emphasis on writing in WID courses is to expose them to writing, inquiry, and critical thinking within a discipline or field rather than to give them practice in basic composition. Although all WID instructors are expected to provide feedback on students’ writing and require revision, the success of a WID course depends primarily on an instructor’s commitment to the writing-intensive concept rather than a particular formula or method. Typically, this requirement is fulfilled in the junior year, providing continuity of exposure, practice, and challenge. (Therefore, capstone courses are generally not identified as WIDs.) Departments and program may propose a new WID course or adapt an existing course within the major.


  • Each WID course requires a minimum of 20 pages of writing, excluding blue book exams and other in-class assignments, for which students have the opportunity to revise with constructive feedback from the instructor and peers. The number of required pages is not sufficient to qualify course as “WID.”
  • Each WID course will provide opportunities for students to explore and critique potential topics, questions, and arguments in advance of a first draft, to engage in thoroughgoing revision, and to receive substantial feedback on drafts.
  • Students are encouraged to think critically and independently and to articulate ideas clearly, forcefully, and convincingly.
  • Students are introduced to models of professional writing within the discipline or field. Instructor will devote a portion of the course to explaining or discussing the discipline-specific rhetorical features of argument and analysis, including but not limited to thesis statements, organizational strategies, evidence and support, claims and warrants, reasoning, metadiscourse, documentation style, and formatting.

Learning Outcomes

Students in all WID courses will demonstrate:

  • a general awareness of the discipline or field and its genres and conventions of writing and inquiry, including research methods, analysis, argumentation, the nature of evidence, documentation, and style. (Disciplinary knowledge and inquiry.)

  • the ability to read critically within a discipline or field, to annotate texts, and to gather and interpret evidence. (Active reading).

  • the ability to thoroughly (systematically and methodically) analyze their own and others' assumptions when presenting a position within the larger context of a discipline or field. (Examining assumptions.)

  • the ability to critically state, describe, and clarify the issue or problem to be considered so that understanding is not seriously impeded by omissions.(Explanation of issues.)

  • the ability to understand context, audience, and purpose in response to an assigned writing task or assignment  (Context and purpose for writing.)

  • the ability to use appropriate, relevant, and compelling content to explore ideas through writing within the context of the course or discipline in order to shape the work as a whole. (Content development.)

  • the ability to formulate and clearly express a specific position (perspective, point of view, argument, thesis, or hypothesis) that takes into account the complexities of an issue while acknowledging other points of view and previous research or scholarship within a discipline or field. (Point of view.)

  • the ability to access information using effective, well-designed search strategies and information sources appropriate to a discipline or field; communicate, organize and synthesize information from sources to fully achieve a specific purpose, with clarity and depth. (Accessing and organizing information.)

  • the ability to use credible, relevant sources to support ideas that are situated within the discipline and genre of the writing and document sources using appropriate citation formats.  (Sources and evidence.)

  • the ability to draw conclusions that are logically tied to a range of information, including opposing viewpoints; clearly identify related outcomes, consequences, and implications. (Conclusions and related outcomes.)

  • the ability to clearly convey meaning to readers in straightforward language that is generally free of grammatical and mechanical errors.  (Control of syntax and mechanics.) 


Instructors may use a wide variety of formative and summative strategies to assess student writing, thinking, and research, including traditional paper grading, high-stakes and low-stakes assignments, intellectual journals, peer review, reading response papers, sequenced writing assignments, performance tasks (emphasizing problem solving), discipline-specific rubrics, and/or portfolio assessment (emphasizing the writing process and the importance of revision). 

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