WAC Pedagogy

Writing Across the Curriculum – Principles and Pedagogy

The Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) movement started in the 1970s at several universities where faculty engaged in cross-disciplinary writing workshops. The movement quickly spread to other colleges and universities. This movement continues to spread across college and university campuses as a means for improving student writing and learning. McLeod, Miraglia, Soven, Thaiss (2001) state that Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) initiatives are often defined by their intended outcomes: “helping students become critical thinkers and problem solvers, as well as developing their communication skills. However, in their book, WAC for the New Millennium: Strategies for Continuing Writing-Across-the- Curriculum Programs, they emphasize that ultimately WAC is defined by its pedagogy. Recent scholarship on WAC encourages professors to move away from the lecture mode of teaching and incorporate models of active student engagement. (McCleod & Miraglia, 2000). As McLeod and Soven (2000) explain, “WAC assumes that students learn better in an active rather than a passive mode, that learning is not only solitary but also a collaborative social phenomenon”


While it is important for a WAC program to acknowledge the individual modes of instruction that are used in different disciplines, the scholarship suggests that writing pedagogy can be based on several shared principles that can be applied across the curriculum. The International Network of Writing Across the Curriculum Programs’ “Statement of WAC Principles and Practices” identifies these principles as “Writing as rhetorical,” “Writing as a process,” “Writing as a mode of learning,” and “Learning to write.” These principles are supported in a report entitled, “Framework for Success in Postsecondary Writing,” which was developed by the Council of Writing Program Administrators, National Council of Teachers of English, and the National Writing Project. The report emphasizes the following objectives:


WAC Objectives

  • Developing Rhetorical Knowledge – the ability to analyze and act on understandings of audience, purposes, and contexts in creating and comprehending texts.
  • Developing Critical Thinking Through Writing, Reading, and Research – the ability to analyze a situation or a text and make thoughtful decisions based on that analysis.
  • Developing Flexible Writing Processes – the multiple strategies writers use to approach and undertake writing and research.
  • Developing Knowledge of Conventions – the formal rules and informal guidelines that define what is considered to be correct (or appropriate) and incorrect (or inappropriate) in a piece of writing.
  • Composing in Multiple Environments – the ability to create writing using everything from traditional