Initiative to Lower Student-to-Faculty Ratio in WI courses

In December 2021, CWP began working with the Office of the Provost to explore ways to support a lower student-to-faculty ratio in Writing Intensive courses. This initiative structured the work of the Campus Writing Board for the academic year as we gathered data on current WI class enrollment and considered possibilities and challenges of such a substantial adjustment to the funding model.

Goals and benefits of smaller teacher-to-student ratios for WI courses:

The Campus Writing Board has consistently promoted lower teacher-to-student ratios, with the goal of being as close to 1:20 as possible.  This is reached through additional teaching staff for large courses as well as through lower enrollment courses.  

The WI Guidelines help support student success in WI courses.

  • Writing Intensive Courses follow two important learning principles:
    • Students comprehend content better through writing, and
    • Instructors support students’ writing growth by giving feedback and requiring revision.
  • Writing Intensive courses maintain a low teacher-to-student ratio (1:20), require at least 6,600 words of writing, and give students ample opportunity to revise their work to improve their performance.
  • Writing assignments are designed to help students learn course content and for instructors to assess students’ learning.
  • Through writing and revising, students not only learn course concepts, they also learn to think and write in ways particular to their chosen disciplines.

On the recommendation of the board, CWP hosted two open forums in summer of 2022 to share the benefits of small WI courses for instructors and students, to provide a historical overview of the WI funding, and to solicit departmental funding needs to present to the provost. Department chairs from 13 programs attended these sessions.

CWP continues to meet with departments across campus for department specific discussions to review the historical enrollment and funding of WI courses in the department and brainstorm which courses would most benefit from moving to a smaller student-to-teacher ratio.

Possibilities for 1:19 Teacher-to-Student Ratio

 If you have a course that could be capped at an enrollment of 19, please consider the following:

  1. Must be a main lecture section, not a discussion, laboratory or independent study section.
  2. Must not exceed 19 students (census day enrollment) including combined 7000-level, non-WI, and cross-listed sections.
  3. Must not be offered 100% online. Blended courses (30-80% online) will still qualify. 100% online courses will continue to be funded under the current 1:25 model.

Based on meetings thus far, CWP has been able to support an additional 17 WI course sections while still maintaining regular support for other WI courses.

CWP is here to help!
Fall 2023 proposals are due January 30th
If you have courses that can meet the enrollment cap of 19,
please send us a note of commitment and
explain what is needed for this to happen.

Contact: Julie Birt