WAC Best Practices

The best practices for Writing Across the Curriculum are grounded within the well-established connection between writing and learning. Anderson, Anson, Gonyea and Paine (2016) found writing about a topic is one of the ways to learn about a topic. It is not merely the recording of content that aids learning, but the writing process itself has measurable value in relation to clarifying thought on subjects.


Writing to
Learn

In many instances, faculty think that writing-intensive courses only involve “writing to communicate” which usually translates into formal, graded writing assignments that require more time for grading and providing feedback. However, Mcleod and Soven (1992) suggest that “writing to learn” is vital to improving student writing. “Writing to Learn” involves informal, often ungraded activities that help students develop idea generation and reflection skills. “Writing to Learn” low-stakes activities help students improve their critical thinking skills along with the ability to develop ideas.


Frequent Reading and Writing

Graham and Hebert (2010) propose that frequent reading and writing promotes and enhances student learning. Fitzgerald and Shanahan (2000) state that writing facilitates improved reading and helps students to learn new material. Shanahan (2006) suggests that writing and reading rely on common cognitive processes. Anson (2002) states that opportunities for exploratory writing facilitates recursive thinking. When students engage in the act of writing and reading for the purpose of making connections and expressing their thoughts in the exploratory writing process they become “more engaged participants in class.” (Anson, 2002)


Revision

Anderson et al. (2016) cite involvement in an interactive writing process as an important component of WAC programs. Good writing involves opportunities for rewriting. Even the best writers engage in a process of revision to clarify diction and improve the efficiency of language usage. Likewise, it has been shown that writers on all ends of the skill spectrum benefit from constructing multiple versions of assigned documents. Revision can be accomplished on two levels: editing for content and proofreading for grammar, spelling, and mechanics.


Peer
Review

Peer Review can be utilized for low-, medium-, and high-stakes assignments in varying degrees. Research in this area states that the integration of frequent peer-review in the assessment process increases the efficacy of writing. For instance, the literature suggests that a student makes larger gains as a writer when being critiqued by his/her peers (McLeod & Soven, 1992). Peer review allows students to see a reflection of their own work in their classmates’ work and to understand the evaluation process. This deeper level of participation in assessment gives the student multiple angles with which to view variation in writing quality.


E-
Portfolio

Best practices for integrating technology into instruction includes a philosophical shift about technology. The research says universities have to prepare students, staff, and faculty to see teaching with technology as rhetorical (Seibner, 2004). Electronic portfolios (e portfolios) have become a viable institutional tool to facilitate student learning and its assessment. Many higher education institutions use e-portfolios to enhance student-learning outcomes, conduct institutional assessments, and support students as they prepare for future careers. Electronic portfolios communicate various kinds of information for the purposes of assessment.