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Advanced Writing Requirements Overview

The Advanced Writing requirement is part of the Global Miami Plan. The formal, university-approved language about Advanced Writing is on the Liberal Education website. The senate-approved policy indicates the following:

  • Courses should be 200- or 300-level, to encourage students to take them in their second or third year, and to ensure that students take these courses at Miami. Capstone courses cannot fulfill the Advanced Writing requirement, as the instruction in Advanced Writing courses is intended to be foundational to writing that comes later.
  • Scaffolded divisional writing requirements (like the CAS writing requirement) can count, as long as they meet the other Advanced Writing criteria.
  • Capping Advanced Writing courses at 20 students is recommended, to allow for more feedback and instruction; however, departments may need to devise creative ways for providing feedback in larger courses, depending upon staffing and enrollment in their majors.

Departments can request approval for courses they would like to be designated as fulfilling this requirement. They can also advise their majors to take approved Advanced Writing courses taught by other departments.

The Three Major Components of an Advanced Writing Course

There are three major components required of all Advanced Writing courses. Here we outline them and provide examples and suggestions regarding how those criteria might be met by a diversity of disciplines. This explanation attempts to demonstrate how courses from quite disparate disciplines can satisfy the AW requirements.

The course should give students frequent opportunities to write and revise with ongoing instructor feedback across time.

Because revision, planning, and drafting are intrinsic parts of the writing (and learning) process, students should practice revision and drafting in conjunction with varied types of feedback (oral and/or written) as appropriate to the task and context.

  • Both formal and informal writing offer opportunities for feedback on content/ideas, structure, style, conventions, etc. Opportunities for feedback include:
    • whole class discussion about drafts, conventions, and writing expectations
    • instructor guidance and feedback during research, analysis, presentation, and/or drafting
    • instructor or TA feedback on outlines, brainstorming, and oral or written drafts
    • use of written instructor-guided criteria to help peers provide feedback to one another

In an Advanced Writing course, there is an expectation that feedback on work (including work in progress) will not only come from peers but also from the instructor or trained TA. Of course, both peer and instructor feedback is desirable.

The course should provide multiple writing opportunities that lead to the equivalent of at least 7500 words over the course of the semester.

  • The forms writing takes will differ greatly across disciplines and contexts. Writing should be in the service of learning, and when considering what kinds of writing to assign, faculty should think first about their desired outcomes and disciplinary conventions and expectations, and then determine the genres/text/assignment types that will help students meet those outcomes.
  • This word count recognizes not only formal but also informal writing. Informal writing can count towards 2500 words of the required word count. Examples of “informal” writing might include the following: lab notebooks, whiteboard notes and problem-solving, written homework, field notes, diagrams, annotated readings, peer response, outlines, problem sets, free writes, blogs, discussion posts on Canvas, one-minute papers, or informal reflections.
  • Writing is multimodal, and proposers are encouraged to consider the role of multimodal texts in their disciplinary texts. Multimodal writing may include graphs, charts, maps, 3D representations, oral presentations, and combinations of alphabetic and visual text. Students benefit from balancing multimodal with alphabetic texts that explain and contextualize.
  • There is an expectation that at least some extended, revised, and formal pages of writing will be produced, equivalent to about 10 double-spaced pages. This does not mean faculty members are expected to assign a 10-page paper. Examples of “formal” writing might include the following: grant proposals, lab reports, white papers, funding proposals, R&D write ups, formal reflections, literature reviews and syntheses, problem statements, letters to the editor, conference proposals, or scripts for formal presentations.

The course should include student writing as a central component.

A majority of class time should be devoted to talking, thinking about, and using writing in the service of learning (the requirements quantify this as “over 50% of class time” in a 3-credit course).

  • Writing researchers understand “writing” broadly, to include all activities involving inscription and composing and the “invention” or preparation and brainstorming processes that lead up to actually putting words on a page.
    • Writing researchers recognize that “written texts” in different fields take many different forms and includes pictures, maps, equations, code, field notes, students engaging in whiteboard problem-solving, proofs, and annotating and discussing annotations of readings, among many other possibilities.
    • “Writing instruction” includes practicing, demonstrating, and analyzing aspects of disciplinary writing and engaging with knowledge-making, as well as reading and discussing readings about writing. Thus, “class time devoted to writing” can include writing for the purposes of learning the disciplinary material and describing or analyzing written texts and conventions of writing in that discipline/classroom (for example, looking at a variety of types of lab reports or field notebooks in order to identify what is common across them).

Students should write consistently across time during the course.

  • Even if there is one large culminating written assignment for the course, students should draft, outline, revise, and/or think about it across time.
  • Drafting happens in many forms and in some disciplines, specifically in the sciences, drafting may include thinking together on whiteboards, collecting data in notebooks, formulating an argument/thesis, and talking with peers and the instructor about written work.
  • Regular deliberation of ideas through writing is key to learning and improvement.

Writing should significantly inform the grade in the course.

  • Students tend to see value in activities to which grades are assigned.
  • Not all writing needs to be graded, but writing for which students expend significant time and energy should be clearly valued.