The Committee on Writing administers this requirement.
The Writing requirement is designed to help students develop the ability to do the following: communicate effectively in writing, understand writing as a process, engage in writing as a form of critical thinking, demonstrate rhetorical flexibility by addressing various audiences and purposes in their writing, and demonstrate awareness of the conventions and forms of writing in particular disciplines.
As noted in the Graduation requirements for the College of Arts and Sciences section of this catalog, the writing requirement is as follows:
Students are required to complete two Writing courses, either W-Intensive (W-Int) or W-Advanced (W-Adv), by the end of the second year of study if at all possible. A third writing course, W-Adv, is strongly recommended. These courses must be completed at Oberlin College, with the exception that transfer students may petition to count one transferred course with a comparable focus on writing toward this requirement. The petition to request transfer of credit toward the writing requirement can be accessed here.
Courses carrying the W-Int designation involve explicit instruction in writing, are generally limited in size to allow such instruction, and require multiple writing assignments. These courses are designed to help students develop, compose, revise, organize and edit prose appropriate to the discipline or course. Courses carrying the W-Adv designation aim at helping students develop as writers within a discipline, employing the conventions and styles appropriate to that field and demonstrating the depth and engagement with disciplinary practices typical of knowledgeable practitioners. Students are encouraged to complete one course designated W-Adv in relation to their major field of study. In most cases, these courses will be upper-level or capstone courses geared toward a major, and some may be appropriate for majors in related fields.
Criteria for W-Int courses
Writing-Intensive (W-Int) courses involve explicit instruction in writing, should be limited in size to allow such instruction, and require multiple writing assignments. These courses should be designed to help students develop, compose, revise, organize and edit prose appropriate to the discipline or course.
• W-Int courses attend to the writing process. Faculty in W-Int courses should pay explicit attention to the writing process, including the elements of organization, composition, revision, and editing prose, each as is appropriate for the course or discipline. This does not mean that faculty will need to teach mechanics per se.
• Faculty in W-Int courses should provide mechanisms for students to get feedback on their work and to incorporate this feedback into their writing for the course. This feedback may be in the form of faculty response or peer-review, for example.
• W-Int courses must require multiple writing assignments that total 15 or more pages of writing. A single long paper at the end of the semester would not meet this criterion unless the paper was developed in stages and revisions over the course of the semester. Raw lab notes, unedited journal entries, or similar types of writing would also not meet this criterion.
• W-Int courses should generally be limited to 20 students where possible. Research indicates that this is the ideal limit. Faculty wishing to teach W-Int courses with enrollments above 25 students should plan to incorporate peer-review techniques and apply for Writing Associates.
• The Committee on Writing will review and approve all courses carrying the W-Int designation.
Criteria for W-Adv Courses
Writing-Advanced (W-Adv) courses are associated with the major and aim at helping students develop as writers within a discipline, employing the conventions and styles appropriate to that field and demonstrating the depth and engagement with disciplinary issues typical of knowledgeable practitioners. Students are encouraged to complete one course designated W-Adv in relation to their major field of study. In most cases, these courses will be upper-level or capstone courses geared to the major. Nonetheless, the department or program administering the major will determine which course(s) should have this designation, and which course(s) with this designation offered by related departments or programs would benefit their majors.
• W-Adv courses follow the same criteria as the W-Int courses, with particular emphasis on modes of writing and communication appropriate to advanced work in the discipline.
• W-Adv courses carry the expectation that a certain level of disciplinary knowledge is required to undertake the advanced writing in the field.
• The kinds of writing assigned to students are similar to the kinds of writing used by specialists in the field. This could include, for example, essays, extensive research papers, formal lab reports, and formal presentations.
• The Committee on Writing will review courses designated as W-Adv and work with individual faculty as well as departments and programs on the development of these courses, but will defer to departments, programs, or curricular committees for the designation of W-Adv Courses.