College of Letters & Sciences
Dean's Office 4th Floor Laurentide

Writing Matters

Writing Matters - A Guide to UW-Whitewater Writing Standards

During the summer of 2009, a group of faculty and academic staff members from all four colleges within the University met to examine the state of student writing and writing instruction at UWW. The group read and assessed student writing in the General Education program, discussed approaches to writing in the major, and learned about techniques to enhance both written communication and critical thinking skills in courses across the curriculum.

One of the goals of the workshop was to define a set of core writing competencies that the University expects all students to master, and to draft a document incorporating those criteria and expectations. To that end, the group read and discussed sample papers from Freshman English classes and the junior-level World of Ideas core course. From those discussions, workshop participants generated a list of writing traits and began to define specific expectations for developing, competent, and accomplished writers. Particular attention was given to defining the expectations for "competent" college-level writing. After the conclusion of the workshop, a sub-committee met several times to further refine those criteria; the final result is this guide.

The guide is a "common ground" document that reflects the workshop participants' shared expectations while acknowledging that specific disciplines and individual instructors may emphasize different criteria for their students. Nonetheless, you may find this to be a useful tool for writing expectations and it may serve as a starting point for instructors and departments as they assess student writing in classrooms and programs.

For the General Education program, the guide will serve as a rubric for assessing students' progress in developing writing skills across the program, from the Freshman English survey classes through the junior-level World of Ideas.

Please feel free to share your comments and other feedback on this project by emailing Elizabeth Hachten, Assistant Dean of the College of Letters & Sciences or Marilyn Durham, Chairperson of the Department of Languages & Literatures.