Writing Guidelines for W2 Courses
Students are required to complete three progressively more advanced writing-attentive courses: the W1, W2, and W3. The First-Year Seminar and Writing Committee approves W1 and W2 courses; individual departments and programs oversee the guidelines for the W3, which for most students is the senior thesis. The FYS/W Committee has established five principles as the foundation of W1 and W2 courses:
1. Writing is taught, not just assigned.
2. Writing assignments of varying scope or genre are a significant portion of
3. Students have multiple opportunities to revise their writing.
4. Faculty members give feedback on writing, commenting on rhetorical
issues in addition to content.
5. Research skills and scholarly citation practices are taught, not just
In addition to these broad pedagogical principles—which underlie specific recommendations at the W1 and W2 levels—faculty have agreed on a shared commitment to specific learning goals for students in writing courses. These learning goals fall under the categories of Inquiry, Argument, Evidence, Organization, and Style. Although the committee does not expect that each individual learning goal will be explicitly addressed in a writing-attentive course, we anticipate that the day-to-day pedagogies of a W1 or W2 course will be logical places to integrate discussions, exercises, and assignments that might address multiple goals as appropriate throughout the semester.
W2 courses continue the work of the W1 with instruction in writing more clearly focused on the questions at issue in particular fields and with greater expectations of sophistication of idea and clarity of expression. Some W2 courses teach students how writing furthers scholarship and learning within a particular field; they may teach skills useful for writing in upper-level courses, and for writing the senior thesis. Other W2 classes may focus on developing students’ ability to be flexible and versatile writers by teaching new genres or forms, preparing students for a variety of writing in their education or careers beyond Bates. Thus throughout the curriculum, W2 courses introduce a range of genres and writing conventions. While only one W2 course is required, students are encouraged to take multiple W2 courses to deepen and widen their thinking and writing abilities. These W2 classes may be taken in any discipline or program to satisfy the requirement. Some majors may include a required W2.
The W2 course encourages more sophisticated practice of the skills first introduced to students in the W1 course under the learning objectives of Inquiry, Argument, Evidence, Organization, and Style. Examples of higher-level goals in each category that might be appropriate objectives for a W2 include the following:
Inquiry: Independently create a question that drives research and writing; decide on the best genre and medium for approaching a particular audience and purpose
Argument: Construct, support, and defend an argument appropriate for the scholarly approach being taken; understand alternative terminology for “argument” and “thesis” within various disciplines or genres (for example, a policy brief, an informative essay, or a literary journalism piece)
Evidence: Show a more sophisticated and nuanced understanding of the kinds of support and source materials deemed credible within a discipline—making choices, for example, among primary and secondary, text-based and data-driven, or print and multimedia sources
Organization: Understand different organizational approaches and choose the one that is best for the purpose at hand; recognize different approaches to organization in different media (such as papers, presentations, and academic posters)
Style: Use fluid and sophisticated prose, showing an appreciation for tone and diction appropriate to the discipline, genre, and medium.
Learning objectives such as these can be achieved in a wide variety of ways in W2 courses built on five consistent pedagogical principles:
1. Writing is taught, not just assigned. Some class time is devoted to discussion of the writing process and craft, practical exercises, or workshops that teach discipline- or assignment-specific writing concepts and skills.
2. The W2 offers a variety of writing assignments—varying, for example, in purpose, genre, sequencing, and complexity. A W2 course asks students to take on several different assignments, or one substantial assignment with components scaffolded across a semester, equaling approximately twenty to twenty-five pages of finished prose. (A course that assigns one large paper without stages for feedback and revision would not meet the expectations of a W2.) W2 courses are also appropriate venues for encouraging writing in different genres or for different media—such as grant proposals, web pages, print publications, conference posters, and creative approaches to writing—as well as for incorporating formal and informal oral presentations.
3. W2 courses include significant revision and rewriting opportunities. When taught as part of the scholarly writing process, revision allows students to revisit their ideas and rethink their rhetorical choices; feedback from readers (whether faculty, peers, writing assistants, or Writing Specialists) is key to guiding this rethinking. Students might undertake revision of one part of an assignment or of an entire draft, or have opportunities for rewriting. Students should be reminded of the differences between revising and editing and understand the importance of each in the writing process.
4. Students receive feedback on multiple assignments from faculty and peers; this feedback focuses on rhetorical issues (such as argument, evidence, and style) in addition to content. Revision and feedback might address all or part of a writing project (for example, feedback on and revision of an introduction, an outline, or a bibliography, as well as on early full drafts). Courses with large enrollment size (more than 20 students in a writing-attentive course) might incorporate instructor feedback on some components and assignments with feedback from peers on others. Feedback on an assignment that does not include a required revision should offer advice that the student can apply to subsequent writing tasks.
5. The W2 course deepens and broadens students’ understanding of research and writing as modes for creating and communicating knowledge. In the W2, students strengthen their skills with the research and writing process through assignments and class dialogue that encourage them to ask, research, and answer questions of interest and significance.
For a complete list of learning objectives for writers see: