Guidelines for Large-Enrollment Writing Intensive Courses

1. Before submitting an application for WI status for a large-enrollment course, the department chair and the prospective WI instructor should meet with Campus Writing Program staff and representatives of the appropriate Board subcommittee.

  • The Campus Writing Board envisions these meetings as an opportunity to clarify the role of writing in the course and to anticipate logistical problems and possible solutions. In particular, these discussions should focus on the use of writing to further course goals, assignment design, the role of TAs, and methods for ensuring grading consistency.

2. An instructor who applies to teach a large-enrollment WI course is required to attend a CWP workshop within the academic year prior to the scheduled beginning of the large course.

  • CWP research shows that participation in a CWP workshop is essential to introducing prospective WI instructors to the philosophical principles and practical methods that underlie successful WI courses. Conversely, faculty who teach WI courses without having attended a workshop comprise the largest category of faculty who do not offer subsequent WI courses.

3. Before WI status is granted to a large-enrollment WI course, the instructor should expect to pilot a somewhat smaller version of the course, team-teach the course, or be mentored by an experienced WI instructor.

  • The complexities of teaching a large-enrollment WI course demand that an instructor have an opportunity to rehearse major components of the course—writing assignments, grading standards, training sessions with TAs—before being faced with the myriad logistical problems presented by large-enrollment WI courses.

4. The course proposal for large enrollment WI courses should include an explanation of how TAs will be mentored and how the instructor will handle the grading load of such a course.

  • For example, the instructor should guide the following: Methods for norming grading among the TAs and/or instructors; procedures for grading initial drafts, revisions, and final copies of essays; and policies for grade appeals.

5. The Campus Writing Board recognizes that the teaching loads of faculty who are teaching large WI courses will be heavier and recommends instructors of large-enrollment WI courses not be assigned additional teaching responsibilities during the semester they are first teaching the course. In subsequent semesters, additional teaching assignments should be very carefully considered.

  • The Board understands that this guideline may be difficult for some departments to achieve. In stating this preference, the Board wishes to stress the dual teaching responsibility of large WI courses: teachers of such courses actually teach two classes—one for the undergraduate students and another for the graduate student TAs assigned to the course. The latter is as labor-intensive as the former in order not only to ensure grading consistency but also to achieve the professional acculturation of TAs into the teaching of their discipline that is also a purpose of the WI course. The Board encourages departments to consider offering a concurrent, credit-bearing graduate practicum in conjunction with the WI course for those TAs working with the course. In recognition of the work involved and of the service to the University as well as the department, the Board endorses departmental workload incentives already implemented across some units. For example, a workload model which provides an additional .25 hours of workload credit for instructors teaching Writing Intensive or large enrollment courses has been adopted in certain units.

*Large Enrollment = Courses that include multiple TAs to accommodate an expected 25:1 student-instructor ratio.