Writing Intensive Course Guidelines

The Board reviews and approves Writing Intensive courses that follow two important learning principles:
  1. Students will comprehend content better through writing, and
  2. Instructors will improve the quality of students’ performance by giving feedback and requiring revision.  

As instructors design and propose Writing Intensive (WI) courses, the Campus Writing Board asks them to consider the following checklist of course elements and principles.

Writing Intensive Course Guidelines

The course and instructor must meet each of the requirements below in order for a course to be approved as WI. Exemplary WI Proposals can serve as a model for future course proposals.

Checklist of Required WI Course Elements
  • Quantity: Writing for the entire course totals at least 20 pages (6600 words) which can include multiple iterations of the same assignment or a variety of forms, modes, genres, and/or audiences as appropriate for the discipline. 
  • Revision: Each course includes multiple assignments that are complex enough to require substantive revisions for most students. There are at least 8 pages (2600 words) involved in the revision process. These 8 pages can be included in the 20 page course total.
  • Distribution: Writing Intensive courses must have written assignments distributed throughout the semester with students receiving timely feedback on components/drafts to support their revision. 
  • Assessment: Writing accounts for at least 50% of the total course grade or requirements. In exceptional cases, the Board will accept a course with writing comprising less than 50% (but no less than 30%) of the total course grade with justification from the instructor.  
  • Mentoring Graders: In classes employing graduate teaching assistants or peer learning assistants, instructors must provide a plan for careful mentoring of other teaching staff. This plan should include regular check-ins with grading staff to review criteria and clarify expectations and approaches to grading.
  • WI workshop attendance: Instructors and teaching assistants are required to attend the Writing Intensive Faculty and/or TA workshops, if not before teaching then within one calendar year of being assigned to teach a WI course. If the Faculty Workshop is not feasible, faculty members can seek an alternative path to WI certification through a professional development plan coordinated with the Campus Writing Program staff. Every five years, WI instructors are required to attend a refresher workshop, monthly seminar, study group, or CWP approved alternative. 
Writing Intensive Course Principles

Writing activities should clearly connect to the desired student outcomes and modes of assessment. A Writing Intensive course provides an excellent opportunity to develop critical thinking and field-specific expertise. In WI courses, the writing, teaching, and course content interact to deepen student learning. 

Writing Intensive courses should engage students in the writing process, including revision. Writing Intensive courses include assignments which require a multistage composing and revision process to complete. Revision involves rethinking and reformulating, not merely editing of conventional and stylistic elements. 

Writing Intensive courses should provide a variety of timely and constructive feedback to support revision. Feedback (from instructors, teaching assistants, the Writing Center, peers, and/or self) is an integral part of the course instruction. In courses where teaching assistants are responsible for giving feedback on writing, instructors should maintain involvement in grading and giving feedback and provide mentoring for their teaching assistants. Mentoring may include norming sessions using a common rubric and sharing grading strategies.

Writing intensive courses should include at least one writing assignment that features complexity in context, interpretation, explanation, analysis, evidence, or evaluation.  Through writing assignments and activities, students will do at least one of the following (check all that apply): 

  • Consider real-world problems which have more than one acceptable solution
  • Practice critical scholarship
  • Perform critical reflection 
  • Take and defend a position on an issue
  • Pick a topic/format and justify the choice 
  • Perform original research and defend research approach Interpret data and evidence to justify conclusions 
  • Other  

**You can access a printable version of the WI Course Requirements HERE.


Supplemental WI Course Guidelines and Policies

Graduate Instructors: If a department chooses to have a graduate student teach a WI course, then the Board needs the GTA’s CV and a letter from the sponsoring department’s chair addressing the rationale for this particular WI teaching assignment and the nature and duration of the WI proposer’s appointment.

English 1000 is encouraged before students enroll in a WI course. For an instructor ​​to add ENGLISH 1000 as a recommendation or a prerequisite to a WI course: Go to CIM Courses to request that a course include ENGLSH 1000 as a) recommended or b) a required prerequisite. Please note that changes to prerequisites require a course to go through the campus level course approval process.


The Guidelines and Proposals are adapted from those developed in 1984 by a University of Missouri-Columbia faculty task force under the leadership of Doug Hunt. The following guidelines were updated on April 29, 2019 by the Campus Writing Board.