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Writing Across the Curriculum: An Introduction

Summary:

Provides an introduction to writing across the curriculum and writing in the disciplines, a list of links to Writing Across the Curriculum/Writing in the Disciplines (WAC/WID) programs, and a selected bibliography for further reading.

Contributors:Jaclyn Wells
Last Edited: 2013-03-12 09:51:03

For more information, please see the vidcast "An Introduction to Writing Across the Curriculum" on the Purdue OWL's YouTube Channel.

Writing across the curriculum is a pedagogical movement that began in the 1980s. Generally, writing across the curriculum programs share the philosophy that writing instruction should happen across the academic community and throughout a student's undergraduate education. Writing across the curriculum programs also value writing as a method of learning. Finally, writing across the curriculum acknowledges the differences in writing conventions across the disciplines, and believes that students can best learn to write in their areas by practicing those discipline-specific writing conventions. WAC-designated courses tend to apply one or both of the following approaches.

Writing to Learn (WTL)

This pedagogical approach values writing as a method of learning. When students write reactions to information received in class or in reading, they often comprehend and retain the information better. Writing can also help students work through confusing new ideas and apply what they learn to their own lives and interests. Also, because students write more frequently, they become more comfortable with writing and are able to maintain or even improve upon their writing skills. WTL assignments are typically short and informal and can be performed either in or out of class. Examples include writing and reading journals, summaries, response papers, learning logs, problem analyses, and more.

Writing in the Disciplines (WID)

This approach recognizes that each discipline has its own unique language conventions, format, and structure. In other words, the style, organization, and format that is acceptable in one discipline may not be at all acceptable in another. WID believes that to participate successfully in the academic discourse of their community, students must be taught discipline-specific conventions and should practice using these conventions. Some common WID assignments are reports, literature reviews, project proposals, and lab reports. WID assignments can also be combined with WTL activities to help students think through key concepts, ideas, and language of in their disciplines.

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