Distributed Curriculum Model and Guidelines

History of the Distributed Curriculum Model

In the traditional model, departments choose a single upper division course to meet their WI requirement. However, in 2004, the Department of Geological Sciences proposed an alternate method. They presented the Campus Writing Board with a distributed curriculum model wherein the upper division WI course requirement would be spread over four core courses required of all their majors. This shift from the traditional WI model enabled Geological Sciences faculty to share the WI-teaching load, and it also provided students with a comprehensive disciplinary writing experience across their upper division courses as students earn the WI designation only after successfully completing the courses in the sequence.


Process of Submitting Course Proposals for Existing Distributed Curriculum WI Courses

The instructor of the last course in the sequence submits a WI proposal. In this proposal, the instructor explains how WI guidelines are met throughout the sequence. Most instructors satisfy this requirement by including a table or list of WI assignments in each course.


Sample Distributed Curriculum Table from Geological Sciences (revised 4/2019)

Course Assignments Writing per student
3650 11 Laboratory Reports 8-10 pages

5 pages revision (optional)

3800 6 Class Projects

8 Laboratory Reports/Assignments

8-10 pages

4 pages revision

4650* Term Paper – includes abstract, draft (optional) and final submission 10 pages

10 pages revisions (optional)

4900 Laboratory Reports

Field Trip Reports – includes revisions

6 pages

6 pages revised

Total 32 pages first draft

10 pages revision (required)

15 pages revision (optional)

* indicates the course with the WI designation


Process of Proposing New Distributed Curriculum WI Courses

If a department or program is seeking to introduce a new distributed curriculum WI sequence, in addition to submitting the customary WI course proposal through the course management system, the department or program will simultaneously submit to the Campus Writing Board a narrative proposal of no more than 2 pages.

This document will comprise four sections:

  • Section 1 will identify the existing problems relating to student workload or departmental staffing that have necessitated the adoption of a distributed curriculum approach.
  • Section 2 will discuss how the proposed distributed curriculum approach satisfies the Campus Writing Program’s published guidelines for WI courses (e.g. range of writing, quantity, revision process, feedback, etc.).
  • Section 3 will collect, in an itemized list or table, all writing assignments that students will complete in the courses over which the WI experience is distributed.
  • Section 4 will overview the department’s plan for oversight, describing how course instructors will be supported and held accountable in implementing the distributed curriculum plan and WI assignments as proposed.

The intent of this narrative proposal is to summarize the purposeful ways writing is being used for learning within the distribution. As departments design their distributed curriculum models, the Campus Writing Program suggests centering the question: What writing experiences do graduates of the degree program need to have?

This narrative proposal will be considered by both the relevant Campus Writing Board subcommittee, and by the Writing Board as a whole, prior to the Board’s approval of the individual course with the Writing Intensive designation.