Frequently Asked Questions

Where is the WAC office?

The WAC Office is located in S424. However, it’s generally easier to reach us on email, either through the coordinators or by sending an email to Christa Baiada


When are the trainings this semester?

Check the WAC Homepage for training information.


Can adjuncts participate in the WAC trainings and refresher workshops?

Part-time faculty are welcome to attend the refresher workshops and enjoy the free coffee and cookies – but we can’t compensate you financially for your time. With that being said, adjunct faculty wishing to incorporate more writing into their courses or revising existing assignments may consult with a Writing Fellow to do so.


How many Writing Intensive courses may I teach at one time?

You may teach one WI course after your training semester. If you successfully complete the Certification Process, you can then teach two WI courses at once. You may be able to teach more courses depending on your department’s needs.


Are there specific learning outcomes associated with WI courses?

Yes.


What support do you offer WI faculty after the training session?

A Writing Fellow will work with you one-on-one during your first WI course to make sure everything runs as smoothly as possible. Your fellow will also help you prepare your final portfolio to complete the WAC Certification process. At the end of the teaching semester, WI faculty are invited to attend a reunion workshop with their training cohort to share experiences. All faculty are invited to attend refresher seminars.


In subsequent semesters, you may request one-on-one help from a Writing Fellow by contacting the WAC Coordinators. We will also be working with individual departments to set up discipline-specific mentoring.


Can someone come to my class to talk to my students about _____________?

If you are currently teaching your first WI course, you can talk to your Writing Fellow about running a workshop. The idea here, though, is that the Writing Fellow will model an exercise that you can use with your students after that.


All faculty can make arrangements with the Writing Center (http://www.bmcc.cuny.edu/writingcenter/) to have a tutor come in to lead workshops about common problem areas such as thesis statements, plagiarism, and revision. You can also work with the Writing Center director to develop more course-specific tutorials.


What's the benefit of putting more emphasis on writing?

Regardless of the topic of the class, writing activities, from informal brainstorming to more formal, thesis-driven essays, are particularly well-suited to help our students become critical thinkers—especially when they are seen as essential elements of pedagogy and course design.


What should I expect when I teach my first WI course?

As you probably know, every class is different. But here are some issues to take into account.


Does assigning more writing mean more time spent grading?

Not everything your students write needs to be graded or even read: writing-to-learn assignments may be for the student's eyes only, or may call for peer feedback. For formal writing tasks, you can "scaffold" your assignments, giving feedback only at appropriate points and can reduce final response-and-grading time by making your objectives and criteria of judgment explicit in the assignment itself using a grading rubric.


Not every WI class needs to (or should) culminate in a long research paper. Your Writing Fellow can work with you to design the kinds of writing assignments that fit your course and offer suggestions on how to break down large assignments into shorter tasks. 


How can I teach grammar and style in addition to the course content?

One of the misconceptions that burdens both teachers and students is that good writing chiefly means absence of error. Surface correctness is highly desirable. But for many students, achieving such proficiency is a long-term project, a skill to be acquired through much practice in many courses, not "injected" once and for all in a composition course.


On a deeper level, however, an error-free paper that says very little or doesn't engage with the issues and problems in your course is not what you want anyway, even though it may be less irritating to read. Content, organization, development come before editing and surface correctness. You may want to intervene once a student has something substantial on paper, but as a teacher in a discipline course, it is not your primary responsibility to teach grammar and punctuation.


How can I balance in-class writing activities with the other material I’m required to teach?

As much as we’d like it to be otherwise, the fact is that writing does take time, especially when you’re piloting a WI course. You may find it necessary to change lesson plans accommodate in-class writing or to spend more class time than usual discussing more formal assignments. And, as a result, you may end up adjusting your priorities—and making difficult choices about content.


We hope, though, that the WAC training will inspire you to experiment with your course design. While you may initially feel like you’re sacrificing coverage, many of our faculty members have made great strides in the quality of student learning overall. You may find that the changes you make to accommodate the WI requirements end up being a good trade-off for superior understanding of other important concepts or information. You'll be the one to decide.  


What’s the best way to make my WI course successful?

Our most successful (and most satisfied!) WI faculty members are those who were able to take the time to really rethink the structure of their courses and built in an emphasis on writing from the foundation. We know that not everyone has unlimited flexibility in this regard. But we do encourage all of our faculty to experiment where they can and to make the WI course work for them. The more that you can make the course your own, the more you will be able to pass on your enthusiasm to your students.


Where can I find out about other approaches to WAC?

See our Useful Links page for some of our favorite websites.


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