Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) describes a set of pedagogical practices grounded in the premise that writing plays an indispensable role in developing critical thinking skills and learning discipline-specific content, a well as understanding and building competence in the modes of inquiry and dissemination specific to various disciplines and professions. Furthermore, WAC pedagogy holds that if students are to lay claim to these benefits, they must have frequent and significant opportunities to write and revise writing in their classes–from their freshman year to graduation, whatever their major course of study. College-level WAC programs, therefore, advocate and support university and college-wide adoption of writing as a strong component of all classes in all disciplines, not merely in the composition courses run by English departments. Many WAC programs assist in the development and teaching of writing intensive (WI) courses. WI classes tend to use a variety of kinds of writing to help students build critical thinking skills, learn course material more effectively, and communicate their knowledge. See the WI Courses section of our website for more information on the nature of WI courses, examples of such courses at Georgia State University (GSU), and information on the GSU WI course-approval process.
WAC approaches to learning can invigorate both teaching and student learning. A recent study, for instance, finds that student engagement with the subject matter being taught increases significantly when they are more frequently asked to write about that subject, particularly in courses in their junior and senior years. Teachers at GSU also report great benefits from training in and adopting WAC teaching methodology. Ultimately, WAC, at GSU and elsewhere, aims to increase literacy and intellectual capacity across the board, improving the value of college education and paying dividends to society at large by training students in ways that can help them to become better academics, better professionals, and better citizens.
Richard J. Light. “Writing and Students’ Engagement ” Peer Review 6.1 (Fall 2003): 28-31. Rpt. of “The Most Effective Classes” in Making the Most of College: Students Speak Their Minds by Richard J. Light. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2001. 54-62.