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For more information on BMCC’s Writing Across the Curriculum program, e-mail Holly Messitt (hmessitt@bmcc.cuny.edu) or Rifat Salam (rsalam@bmcc.cuny.edu).

WAC Principles

  • Writing is not simply a form of assessment but an essential part of the learning process.
  • Frequent and well-designed assignments, formal and informal, promote the kind of active, critical learning essential to genuine mastery of course material.
  • Good writing assignments should be an integral part of course design, devised to accomplish the learning aims of particular courses.
  • Surface correctness (freedom from error) is only one characteristic of effective writing. Equally if not more important are conscious purpose, clear structure, cogent reasoning, and adequate development of ideas.
  • Writing is discipline- or context-specific, involving questions of audience, purpose, tone, structure, and format. Discipline teachers are able to provide the most relevant instruction in writing for their own disciplines.
  • Writing is a process, from the generation of ideas through drafting, revision, and editing -- the same kind of process faculty use. Assignments should be designed to encourage students to make use of the writing process.
  • Some writing is informal or "low-stakes" – done to gather and sort ideas, to respond to reading, to reflect upon work done: in short, writing done to learn rather than to demonstrate learning.
  • Teachers need not grade, comment on, or even read every piece of low-stakes writing they ask students to do.
  • Student writing—and confidence in writing—improves with practice, especially when assignments build in process and allow opportunities for revision.