Writing Center

Writing Program Goals

(approved 13 November 2001, with new Writing Program Assessment Plan, and modified to account for the First-Year Seminar as not designated writing-centered)

The Writing Program for undergraduates at Willamette University aims to provide a culture of writing so that, when students graduate, they will be prepared to use writing as an instrument of their continued learning, in the career paths they follow, and in participation in social and civic life. Toward those ends, the Writing Program offers them multiple opportunities to study and practice writing, throughout their undergraduate careers and in a variety of disciplines.

Specifically, the faculty have required that students take three writing-centered courses before graduating: a course in the student's major, a course not in the student's major, and a fourth course (for students with two majors, this course is in the second major). At least one of these courses must be taken at or above 300. Courses in different disciplines and at different levels will challenge them to expand their repertoire of writing abilities in several observable ways:

1) Students understand that diverse purposes call on diverse processes for writing and become flexible in choosing processes appropriate to the purpose. They recognize a variety of purposes for writing:

  • as a means of learning and discovery,
  • as a means of communicating what one has learned and discovered,
  • as a means of expression and artistic creation.

2) Students recognize the demands of a variety of readers and develop ways to adapt their writing to meet the needs and expectations of diverse readers. They learn to accommodate the needs of readers:

  • to address readers at a level appropriate to their expertise
  • to respect disciplinary conventions,
  • to explain their reasoning, and
  • to provide transitions between sentences and other units of discourse, for example.

3) Students gain comfort and facility in writing in a variety of forms. They learn that organizational patterns vary with purpose, readers, and materials, that some forms are clear and relatively inflexible while others are quite loose.

4) Students respect their readers' expectations for evidence, explanation, and argumentation:

  • they support their claims in writing with appropriate data;
  • they employ logic and good reasoning;
  • especially in writing for academic readers, they acknowledge the larger conversations to which they contribute by documenting their work.

5) Students write in fluent, precise, competent, English in their formal writing; when writing in a foreign language class, they learn the conventions and standards for writing in that language:

  • they observe the conventions of standard edited English (or other language) in grammar, usage, punctuation, spelling, and mechanics;
  • they develop a sense of their own writing voice, or voices,
  • they appreciate the variety of English (or other language) prose styles,
  • they identify styles that they admire,
  • they match their own style to purpose and readers.