At Smith, we believe writing is a crucial tool in all disciplines and that, as experts in their field, faculty are ideally positioned to teach it across the curriculum. Teaching students how to convey knowledge and communicate effectively is an essential capacity that will serve them both in and beyond the classroom.
About the Writing Enriched Curriculum
The centerpiece of the WEC method is the writing plan, which is iteratively generated, implemented and assessed by departmental faculty working in collaboration with a writing specialist from the Jacobson Center. Smith adopted this program in fall of 2019 as part of a grant funded by the Davis Educational Foundation, and individual departments have begun the process of rethinking and redesigning their curricula to better support students within their fields. Each department that adopts WEC produces a writing plan; the plans already produced by Smith departments are presented below.
The WEC model offers a faculty-driven approach to supporting effective and relevant writing and writing instruction within an undergraduate curriculum. The model is founded on the following principles, gleaned from three decades of research and experience:
- Writing can be flexibly defined as an articulation of thinking, an act of choosing among an array of modes or forms, only some of which involve words.
- Writing ability is continually developed rather than mastered.
- Because writing is instrumental to learning, it follows that writing instruction is the shared responsibility of content experts in all academic disciplines.
- The incorporation of writing into content instruction can be most meaningfully achieved when those who teach are provided multiple opportunities to articulate, interrogate, and communicate their assumptions and expectations.
- Those who infuse writing instruction into their teaching require support.
About the Writing Plans
Writing plans are developed in a series of lively meetings with departmental faculty and specialists in writing pedagogy and assessment. These meetings allow faculty participants opportunities to think collaboratively about the roles played by writing in their fields, attributes they look for in student writing, and ways that writing instruction can be optimally situated in their curricula. Finally they strategize, making plans for locally relevant instructional interventions and determining forms of needed support.
Throughout these discussions, faculty consider various forms of locally collected data related to writing and writing instruction. These include stakeholder surveys, locally drawn samples of undergraduate writing and writing assignments, departmental curricular schemes and direct writing assessments.
The writing plans that result from these meetings articulate relevant writing expectations and outline plans for curricular integration of writing instruction, writing assessment and instructional support. Plan drafts are vetted by facult and subsequently approved by the Committee on Writing and Public Discourse.
Writing & Public Discourse
Writing that matters.
Smith is undergoing a transformation in how we teach students to write, with public discourse at the center. Across Smith’s courses, disciplines, programs and events, students don’t just get a chance to practice writing in the classroom, they also get a chance to put their ideas into action and make a difference in the world.