Upper-Division Writing Course Information and Materials for Instructors

Upper-Division Writing Courses

All students at UCI must complete the lower-division writing requirement and take an upper-division writing (UDW) course, usually in their major course of study. Faculty across the disciplines teach these W courses, and all W courses are approved by the UCI Faculty Senate before being designated as satisfying the General Education UDW requirement. Proposals for W courses are reviewed regularly by the Council on Educational Policy, which considers the recommendation of the Writing Advisory Group, in consultation with the Campus Writing & Communication Coordinator.

Guidelines for UDW Courses

The Campus Writing & Communication Coordinator and the Council on Educational Policy encourage great diversity among UDW course offerings, and the CWCC works regularly with faculty across the university to develop, implement, and assess a variety of writing and writing-intensive courses. All “W” courses must meet the following guidelines:

1. Papers should be required totaling 4,000 words or more of finished work. Working drafts of the papers should also be submitted for an initial reading and should be returned to the student with useful feedback for revision.
2. The course should include instruction in the kinds of writing commonly practiced in your discipline. Discussion of writing and activities relating to writing should be integrated throughout the course and indicated on the course syllabus.
3. The use of a writing guide or reference book should be integrated throughout the course.
4. If TAs rather than faculty will read papers, the TAs should be appropriately trained, and their work should be closely monitored by the instructor.
5. The Writing Advisory Group recommends that upper-division writing courses be staffed by permanent faculty.
6. The Writing Advisory Group recommends maintaining a ratio of 20 (or fewer) students to one faculty member or TA.

Proposing a UDW Course

If you are considering proposing a UDW course, please do the following:

1. Contact the CWCC for a proposal packet.
2. Work closely with the CWCC Office to think through your course and prepare your proposal.
3. Invite the CWCC to your department to discuss the place of the proposed “W” course within your department’s major courses of study.
4. Follow the above guidelines carefully.
5. Submit your proposal to the Council on Educational Policy (CEP)/Academic Senate.
6. Be attentive to any revisions requested by CEP. The CWCC can help you work through a revision of your proposal, if needed.
6. Work with the CWCC to develop an appropriate assessment plan and TA training module, if needed.
7. Stay in touch with the CWCC! We’re here to help you.

UDW Rubric

We recommend using the UDW rubric as you prepare your upper-division writing course. The rubric focuses on four major areas: critical thinking and analysis, the use of evidence and/or research, development and structure, and generic and disciplinary conventions. Adapt it for your particular course needs and share it with your students. Your feedback on the rubric is welcome.