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Guidelines for the Graduation Writing Requirement

Graduation Writing Requirement (GWR) Guidelines

To meet the needs of a highly evolving workforce that demands strong written communication skills, Montclair State graduates need to be able to write clearly and effectively.  To accomplish this goal, students should have sustained engagement with writing throughout their undergraduate studies. Graduation Writing Requirement (GWR) courses provide students with the opportunity to become familiar with the various modes and genres of writing used within an academic discipline and to learn how the conventions and expectations for writing differ between disciplines.

GWR courses are based on the principles of writing in the disciplines (WID).  A WID course is designed to both emphasize writing to learn and learning to write. WID courses thus strengthen student writing and, in the process, student capacity for intellectual inquiry.  GWR courses are included in major requirements and are separate from the General Education curriculum.

Because writing varies considerably across the disciplines, word and page counts or numbers of papers are inappropriate criteria for evaluating WID courses.  In addition, departments will need to decide which upper-level course is most appropriate for their majors.  The following principles and characteristics provide a roadmap for designing new, or redesigning existing, courses to meet the GWR requirement at Montclair State:

Principles of WID:

1. Centrality of writing to the course.

Writing is an essential component of the course.  Students not only complete writing assignments, but they also receive explicit instruction in disciplinary-specific writing.

2. Feedback.

Students receive effective and timely feedback from instructors and their peers and learn that writing is a social act.  They also learn how to use feedback successfully.

3. Revision.

Writing is a process; all writers revise their work to meet their objectives and the needs of the audience.

4. Disciplinarity.

What is considered good writing varies according to the discipline.  Students are introduced to discipline-specific ways of thinking, writing, and conducting research, and they complete multiple writing projects designed for different purposes and to communicate with a variety of audiences.

Characteristics of WID Courses:

1. Students write frequently throughout the semester.

Students are given regular practice in, and feedback on, their writing. Assignments will vary widely across disciplines and courses.  Some examples are critical essays, lab reports, grant proposals, marketing plans, literature reviews, and research proposals.  Assignments can be long or short or divided into sections (such as a major research project).

2. Students discuss the work they are doing as they move through the course.

Students respond to each other’s work. That may include presenting papers to the class, collaborating on assignments, posting drafts on Canvas, or writing blogs, among other possible activities.  Students thus serve as real readers for each other’s work.

3. Students reflect on and improve their work as writers.

Students analyze their strengths and weaknesses and consider strategies for improvement.  They become active participants in their own learning.

4. Students consider the roles and uses of writing in the discipline they are studying.

Students analyze the structures of various genres to become familiar with what is expected for both argumentation and documentation in their disciplines.

Submission Process:

Please complete the proposal form in CIM.  The proposal for either a new upper-level course or an alteration of an existing upper-level course to meet the GWR requires the following:

  1. Rationale that addresses how the proposed upper-level course will meet the GWR criteria
  2. A sample syllabus for the GWR couse
  3. A a justification for how the proposed upper-level course addresses the principles of WID (see above)
  4. An explanation for how the proposed upper-level course demonstrates the characteristics of WID courses (see above)

Direct any questions to Dr. Melinda Knight: