CTW Course Approval Process

Critical Thinking through Writing implementation plans and course proposals must be submitted to the CTW Leadership team and the Undergraduate Assessment Committee, a subcommittee of CAP for approval.

Guidelines for CTW course designation:

CTW courses must be proposed by Department Chairs and will be reviewed by the CTW Leadership Team and the Undergraduate Assessment Committee, a subcommittee of the Committee on Academic Programs (CAP). Currently, 117 courses have received the CTW designation. For a list of CTW designated courses, click here.

Policy Regarding the Addition/Modification/Removal of CTW Designation to Courses

  • The underlying principles of the development and adoption of this policy are to assure that:
  • Student progress toward graduation is not unduly delayed.
  • Degree programs retain direct control over subject matter and degree design.
  • Assignments within CTW courses contain CTW student learning outcomes that can be effectively measured and responded to by the degree major.

Process for Submission

To request the CTW designation, the department chair must notify the CTW office requesting the new CTW course addition. Please send CTW course approval requests to Jennifer Lawrence at

The CTW Leadership Team reviews all requests to add, modify, or remove a CTW course from department chairs and recommends a course of action to Undergraduate Assessment Committee (UAC), who reviews the requests and approves or denies requests based on the criteria for review listed below.

Addition Requests Must Include the Following:

  1. a letter or email from the department chair explaining the course’s eligibility and the department’s need to have the course designated as CTW, including an explanation of how the course fits into the department’s CTW plan.
  2. a sample syllabus, including a statement about the course’s status as CTW.
  3. a sample of CTW assignment(s)
  4. an assessment plan for the CTW course.

Criteria for Review

In all instances the CTW course must retain the following requirements as stipulated in the Senate motion:
  1. It has at least three credit hours.
  2. It contains assignments that focus on critical thinking as demonstrated through writing.
    • For purposes of this motion, “assignments that focus on critical thinking as demonstrated through writing” are assignments that use writing to help students develop the “wide range of cognitive skills and intellectual dispositions needed to effectively identify, analyze, and evaluate arguments and truth claims; to discover and overcome personal prejudices; to formulate and present convincing reasons in support of conclusions; and to make reasonable, intelligent decisions about what to believe and what to do.” (Bassham, Irwin, Nardone & Wallace, Critical Thinking: A Student’s Introduction (McGraw-Hill, 2005) page 1.) Typically, students will have the opportunity to revise at least one assignment during the semester.
    • These assignments together should constitute a substantial percentage of the course grade.
  3. It has a maximum of a 25/1 student/instructor ratio. Should a CTW class have more than 25 students, the instructor will receive assistance. If a CTW class enrolls 51-75 students, the assistance of two people would be needed, and so forth. (See Senate motion, section 3.)
  4. It is taught by a CTW-trained instructor. (See Senate Motion, section 4.)
In addition to the above, requests will be reviewed with consideration given to the following criteria:
  • the addition/modification/removal of CTW course is based on assessment of data on student learning outcomes; however, the CTW Leadership Team recognizes that degree programs have other considerations as well.
  • the addition/modification/removal of CTW course include provisions to assure that students on previous catalogs can complete their requirements without undue delay.
  • the addition/modification/removal of CTW course assures that at least two CTW courses remain in that major and are offered regularly.
  • the addition/modification/removal of CTW courses proceed through the appropriate approval processes (e.g., Curriculum Committee) required at the department and/or college level if necessary.
  • the addition/modification/removal of CTW course has a positive impact on existing CTW Plan for the department.
  • the addition/modification/removal of CTW course is part of action plan formulated and based upon reflections in previous CTW Ambassador Annual Reports.
  • the addition/modification/removal of CTW course does not result in an excessive number of courses to track or result in excessively small enrollments, such that the course is at risk of cancellation or lack of CTW trained faculty to teach them.
  • the addition/modification/removal of CTW course includes assignments that are small, frequent, and provide opportunities for feedback to, and revision by, students enrolled.

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