Welcome to the Campus Writing Program (CWP) family! As a Campus Writing Board member, you have the opportunity learn from and collaborate with writing-intensive (WI) faculty from across the disciplines through reviewing WI proposals and discussing WI pedagogy with fellow board members.
A full term is three-years but often we need to fill in for a member on leave or who must step down for other reasons. There are two main responsibilities for Board members, maintaining standards and developing policy. The primary ongoing task is maintenance of standards by reviewing courses in one of three sectors: Education and Social Sciences (ESS), Humanities and Arts (H&A), and Natural and Applied Sciences (NAS).
The CWB’s approval process is designed to ensure that WI courses meet the standards set forth in the Guidelines for Writing Intensive Courses, https://cwp.missouri.edu/wi/guidelines/, the foundational document of the Campus Writing Program. Your service on the Board ensures the integrity of the WI designation over time and enables MU students to complete the two-course WI requirement.
*It is important to note that the Campus Writing Board does not approve courses. Rather, it designates as Writing Intensive courses previously approved through the regular campus course approval process. Such courses are listed in MyZou. However, courses are not listed as WI in MyZou as they (1) are tied to specific teachers and (2) must be regularly re-approved. What follows is a summary of the duties involved in this important responsibility.
Board members are responsible for attending 3-4 subcommittee meetings and Board meetings per semester. Subcommittee meetings focus primarily upon the review of WI course proposals submitted by faculty and distributed to Board members by Campus Writing Program staff. Subcommittee members read WI course proposals in advance of the subcommittee meetings and determine whether they adhere to the standards set forth in the WI Guidelines cited above. You will also, no doubt, call upon your own disciplinary expertise to determine whether the proposed courses are likely to succeed as vehicles for teaching students course content through the use of writing.
When the subcommittee convenes, the chair asks members to discuss their assessments of each proposed course, noting both strengths and weaknesses and raising questions unanswered by the proposal form and supplementary documents such as syllabi and sample assignments. A number of actions are possible after each course has been reviewed and discussed. The subcommittee may vote to approve the course. If members vote to approve, the course will be added to the list of courses recommended for approval at the next full Board meeting. Members may vote to table the course and ask the CWP Coordinator responsible for your subcommittee to gather more information. On rare occasions, the subcommittee may vote to reject a course outright, but this action is unlikely unless the CWP Coordinator has already attempted to negotiate with the faculty member and failed. The subcommittees primary aims throughout this process are to help faculty bring proposed courses in line with the WI Guidelines and to alert proposing faculty to potential difficulties with course design or assignment descriptions. Subcommittee members often report that this part of their CWB responsibilities affords them a rich opportunity to adapt good pedagogical ideas for their own courses.
At Board meetings, the full Board hears reports from the three subcommittee chairs and votes on the set of courses recommended by each subcommittee. Board members may raise questions concerning courses on the lists, but it is unlikely that the Board will overturn a subcommittee’s recommendations.
After course approvals are voted upon, the Board generally turns its attention to their second major responsibility, matters of policy. This may consist of hearing reports from the CWP staff, the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies, to whom CWP reports, the Registrar, MSA or other interested constituencies.
What is My Role as a Campus Writing Board Member?
Your primary role is to review and vote on new and updated WI courses and, when needed, provide helpful feedback to the instructor through CWP. Should you feel that a course does not reach the WI guidelines, or that there might be a better approach than what is presented, your comments will be forwarded to the instructor. You will also contribute to and vote on discussions related to larger CWP policy during full Campus Writing Board meetings.
How is a Course Approved WI?
With a few minor exceptions, the trajectory of a proposed WI course follows these steps:
1. Once an instructor proposes a course via our online system, CWP first reviews the course and coordinates with the instructor if we see any errors or major issues.
2. CWP sends all course proposals to their respective subcommittees to be reviewed at the next subcommittee meeting.
3. Each subcommittee meets for one hour to discuss the proposals and vote on their approval.
4. CWP sends all proposals approved by the subcommittees to the Registrar to be flagged writing intensive
5. CWP asks for and receives answers from instructors of unapproved courses and forwards that information to subcommittees via email. Subcommittees approve pending courses, provided their concerns on the courses are remedied.
6. CWP sends the remaining courses to the Registrar to be flagged writing-intensive in MyZou.
What Should I Do First as a New Board Member?
We recommend that you first review CWP’s WI Guidelines on our website: https://cwp.missouri.edu/wi/guidelines/
To give a brief overview of those guidelines:
1. Writing Intensive courses should be designed and taught by faculty members, at a 20:1 student-to-faculty ratio.
2. Each course should include multiple assignments that are complex enough to require substantive revision, totaling at least 8 pages (2640 words).
3. Writing for the entire course should total at least 20 pages (6600 words).
4. Each course should include at least one revised writing assignment addressing a question for which there is more than one acceptable interpretation, explanation, analysis, or evaluation.
5. Writing for the course should be distributed through the semester rather than concentrated at the end.
6. Written assignments should be a major component of the course grade.
7. Faculty members may use graduate teaching assistants to bring the student/faculty ratio down to a manageable level.
8. In classes employing graduate teaching assistants, professors should remain firmly in control not only of the writing assignments, but of the grading and marking of papers.
How Should I Review WI Proposals?
Above all, we ask that you appreciate the collaborative spirit of CWP. Your role is not to criticize the instructor as you might with a grant proposal or article review; rather, we ask that you draw upon your own WI experience and that of your colleagues to provide constructive feedback and guidance to the instructors, when needed.
Specific to the proposals, we suggest that you review each proposal with the above guidelines in mind. The following questions may be helpful as you review the proposals:
1. Do the course’s assignments follow the WI guidelines?
2. Does the course adequately address multiple interpretations?
3. Do you have any friendly advice for the instructor?
Being a member of the Campus Writing Board provides an opportunity to positively impact every MU student and share in the interdisciplinary spirit that makes this program nationally and internationally recognized. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or concerns!
Thank you for your service!
The Campus Writing Program