Willamette University's College of Liberal Arts has a college-wide writing program, often known as writing across the curriculum. The faculty of the CLA is collectively committed to the teaching of writing. We know that writers always have something new to learn about writing, that writing is an especially powerful way to learn in all subjects, and that growth in writing and growth in subject matter knowledge is a reciprocal process. Therefore, the curriculum at Willamette is not a course or two in the first year, but a curriculum spread over four years.
To ensure that this happens, the faculty approves certain courses as "writing-centered" courses. This designation means that the instructor has made writing central to the course, in at least three specific ways:
- Writing is assigned and used informally, in and out of class, on a regular basis. (Informal uses indicate that the writing is likely not revised and that its principal intended audience is the writer himself or herself.) Students might keep daily learning logs, respond to study questions, summarize reading material, etc. out of class, or they might be asked to write spontaneously during class to prepare for discussion, summarize learning, raise questions to the instructor etc.
- Formal writing is required, appropriate to the subject matter. Formal writing is defined as writing that is intended to communicate to another reader. It will go through at least one formal revision before final grading.
- Students respond to one another's drafts and that feedback, too, is part of the revision process.
Writing-centered courses do not have a set number of assignments or pages or words. They don't require a particular kind of writing: students might be writing dialogues in one writing-centered course, lab reports in another, poetry in fiction in another-or research papers or argumentative essays or reasoned opinion pieces.
Willamette students also write in courses not designated writing-centered. Indeed, almost every Willamette course involves some writing. Only courses with a W in the course number count toward completion of the writing requirement.
The Writing Center, located in Matthews Hall, supports the program by providing opportunities for students at all levels to confer individually with faculty and peer consultants about their writing.