Goals of the Writing Intensive Course
- To heighten the academic experience for both professor and student
- To strengthen existing writing skills
- To heighten student understanding of discipline-specific conventions
- To provide students with the tools to help themselves: critical thinking, speaking, writing, and reading
Pedagogy and Application in the Writing Intensive Course
Generally speaking, a Writing intensive course employs two related pedagogies: "writing to learn" and "writing to communicate."
A writing-to-learn pedagogy adopts the following objectives for students:
- to ensure that students read carefully
- to help students make sense of the material
- to teach students think critically about the subject matter (especially through analysis and synthesis)
- to assist students in organizing their thoughts and presenting them in a comprehensible format
- to help students master the text conventions of the discipline (e.g., formats, documentation styles, assumptions, acceptable evidence)
- to reinforce the skills learned in the Foundation Writing course
The writing in a writing-intensive course uses writing as a tool and a test for learning. In the writing-to-learn pedagogy, the teacher moves from "sage on the stage" to "guide on the side." For example, writing that final research paper after students have had a chance to digest assigned readings, practice ways of responding to text that satisfy disciplinary needs, draft out potential writing tasks, and work with the teacher on all of these steps in the process ensure that the final research project is not only carefully approached but the student's best writing.
A writing-to-communicate pedagogy, closely related to writing-to-learn, focuses instead on writing to an audience outside the self. While much writing-to-learn asks the student to reflect carefully on what he or she knows, thinks, values, and believes, the writing-to-communicate perspective has the following objectives:
- to assist the student in communicating to professionals in the field
- to help students revise, craft, and polish written material to disciplinary standards
- to help students understand specific and focused research techniques
- to help students use the conventions of the discipline
To accomplish these objectives, faculty can help by offering students plenty of models of good writing in the discipline and discussing the features that the teacher prefers. The student should also be offered the opportunity to use what he or she has learned to help other students learn and master the material, for example in group workshops that engage on the level of the idea rather than the specific written features of the assignments.